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Building some road wheels

May 1st, 2011 [print] Go to comments

I had fun learning how to build wheels for my singlespeed last year, so I decided that’d be the way to go for the road bike, too.  The SS wheelset has held up extremely well, so I had no reservations about building another set.  The only new challenge was, I’d be building an asymmetrical rear wheel this time, as opposed to a symmetrical one, like the SS uses.

For hubs, I picked a red anodized pair from BikeHubStore.com, 24-hole front, and 28-hole rear.  I’d considered going 20/24, but ultimately, I’d prefer endurance over weight, and the weight penalty wasn’t too great anyway.

(pretty, huh?)
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I didn’t bother with a photo on the scale, since BHS has one on their site, and the weight of these hubs was accurate to what they list: front 77g, rear 211g.

The rims are Stan’s ZTR Aplha 340, which can be run tubeless or with innertubes (I’ll be using tubes).  The name "340" is supposed to refer to their weight, but it doesn’t, unfortunately; the front weighs 347g, rear 355g.

Spokes are a mix of DT Swiss Revolution and Competition.  I’ve ridden Revolution spokes on my Rolf MTB wheels for a decade or more now, and have always been impressed with them.  They’re also what I built my SS wheelset with.  The front wheel will get all Revolutions, and the rear non-drive-side will, as well.  The drive-side is what will be getting the Competitions.

Nipples are a mix of alloy and brass; alloys up front and non-drive-side rear; brass on the drive-side.

The front wheel was pretty straight forward, although it did require a call to my buddy to ask about the spoke pattern.  I went with a 1-cross pattern, as opposed to 3-cross, so I was lost about how to do it.  After he explained, it went pretty smoothly.  It also helped that I had a Park spoke tension tool on hand this time around.  No more trips across town to the bike shop to bother those guys for theirs.

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For the front, all spokes will have their heads on the outside.  No reason other than I like the way it looks, and since my Rolfs are just the same, I figured it’d be strong enough for a road wheel.

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….And done.  This is prior to tensioning them properly, but that’s the boring part.

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(ready to ride)
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With the front wheel done, I got started on the rear.  I was too busy working to get any photos taken, but I promise it was a pain in the ass, and took much longer than what I’d hoped for.

When it comes to getting the correct tension for the rear, the best advise I found was this:  get the drive-side spokes tensioned properly first, then do whatever it takes to the non-drive-side to get the dish perfect.  Tension seems low on the NDS, but part of that may be the thinner Revolution spokes.  The same seems to hold true for my Rolfs, so I’ll just leave them as-is and see how it goes.

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Weight:  545g front, 742g rear, w/o rim strip or skewers.

If you’ve never built your own wheels, keep this in mind:  you’ll wind up paying less for lighter wheels if you do it yourself, and you get to pick exactly the parts you want.  Sure, it’s difficult if you’re still new to it (or only do it once a year, as I seem to), but it’s a great feeling to know you’re rolling on wheels you built yourself.

Now all I need to do is get my bike built, let the rain end, and get out for a ride.

  1. Thomas
    December 3rd, 2011 at 02:07 | #1

    Thanks for this posting. It, along with other sites helped me get up the courage to build my first wheelset. I ended up using Stan’s, CX-Ray & Dati. All went well with the build. Just got back from a 85 km test ride, they felt good and worked well. Building your own wheelset is definately the go.

  2. Aaron
    December 3rd, 2011 at 05:39 | #2

    Wow, that’s one helluva test ride. Now that you have some miles on them, take the tires off and re-true them/check tension on all the spokes. Then you should be good to go indefinitely.

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