How to Build Bike Wheels

How to Build Bike Wheels
Repairs and maintenance are inevitable activities associated with bike ownership. Whether you ride daily or just during summer months, components will wear and some may even break. Wheels are no exception. Stress on bike wheels results from continual force pushing and pulling on the spokes and rim. When these forces exceed the wheel's limitations, the wheel will be damaged or broken. Traditionally, only professional bike mechanics built wheels, but with the widespread availability of tools and components, a well-informed cyclist can save money and take control of their bike maintenance.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Set your truing stand, spokes, nipples, spoke wrench and grease beside your work area. Place your hub on your work surface with the sprocket facing up. Lay your rim down so the writing reads from left to right and the hub is in the center.
Step 2
Push the threaded end of a spoke through the hub flange from inside toward the outside. Pull the spoke through the hub flange. Face the spoke counter-clockwise running parallel to the hub flange.
Step 3
Align the rim so the first hole to the right of the valve stem is at the threaded end of your installed spoke. If the first hole to the right of the valve stem opening is on the lower side of the rim, move to the next rim hole to the right. Thread a nipple onto the spoke.
Step 4
Thread another spoke through same side of the hub two holes to the right of the spoke you just installed. Line the spoke up four rim holes to the right of the previous spoke. Continue this pattern with eight spokes total.
Step 5
The ninth spoke threads through the hub flange on the same side as the first eight, except enters the hub from the outside. Rotate the spoke clockwise until it crosses over three existing spokes and lies in the middle of two connected spokes. Screw a nipple onto the spoke end. Connect the remaining seven spokes with the same pattern.
Step 6
Flip the partially laced rim to the opposite side. Place your finger on the spoke to the right of the valve stem hole, and follow it back to the hub. Place the next spoke in the hub hole immediately to the right of the spoke you just traced connecting it to the rim hole to the right. Thread the spoke from the inside of the hub towards the outside. Screw a nipple onto the spoke. Continue this pattern for seven more spokes.
Step 7
Place the remaining eight spokes in the hub from the outside leading right, to the remaining open holes in the rim. Connect each spoke with a nipple.
Step 8
Tighten every other spoke 1/2 turn. Follow by tightening the remaining alternating spokes 1/2 turn. Continue this process until you have evenly tightened all the spokes, firmly seating the spokes in the hub and the nipples in the rim. Turn the wheel on the truing stand and adjust spokes until the wheel is straight and round. Apply the rim tape to the wheel. Apply a dish gauge to rear wheels requiring dish adjustments before tightening the spokes. Tighten spokes on the same side as the wheel dish twice as many turns as you turn the spokes from the other side.

Tips & Warnings

Installed spokes must connect on the same side of the hub and rim.
Apply a thin layer of grease to threaded spoke ends, spoke holes in your hub and nipple seats in your rim. Grease application reduces friction and unnecessary wear on your new rim components.
As you apply each nipple to a spoke end, tighten the nipple three or four revolutions.
Sitting or standing at a bench or table provides a flat work surface off the ground where small supplies are easily lost.
Forcing nipples to thread onto spoke-ends is likely to cause cross threading and ruin the spoke and nipple.

Article Written By Jeremy Slaughter

Jeremy Slaughter is a tax, accounting and small business expert. After completing his master's degree in accounting at Keller Graduate School of Management, Slaughter co-founded an accounting and tax firm where writing plays a daily role.

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