Wheel Build Advice Thread

Nambra

Postmeridian
I've decided to teach myself some basic wheel building, have a home made truing stand and a Park Tool TM-1. Last week I put together a new front wheel - DT Swiss EX 511 on a 28h straightpull 350 boost hub, 2.0/1.8 Comp spokes and brass Squorx Prolock nipples.

After reading Gerd Shraner's somewhat dated and occasionally humorous Art of Wheelbuilding (on crows foot spoke patterns: "Yet, young bike freaks, apprentices and mechanics seem to like this kind of spoking pattern. My advice: Leave them at it and let them continue to show their enjoyment and enthusiasm in this way. It's better to see them rolling spokes than rolling joints.") and watching a few YT vids, I've managed to get the wheel together and fairly true.

I'm at the stage where I'm trying to get nice even final spoke tension, whilst simultaneously trying maintain radial and axial accuracy, and sort of feel that I'm at the point of diminishing returns where tweaking spoke tensions to get them as uniform as possible comes at the cost of trueness and vice versa.

So, I'm after some opinions from those more experienced: for a wheel build from all new parts, how true and evenly tensioned should you be able to get it? In other words, at what point do you say 'close enough' and stop messing with it?

For reference, here's the spoke tension spread based on the TM-1 readings (I'm using Excel - blue line is brake side):
350602


I'm targeting 1200N as maximum tension, and with the above I've got maybe <=0.2 mm axial and radial runout (don't have a dial gauge, only an eyeball). There seems to be a slight radial deformity of maybe 0.1mm in the rim at the weld that I've tried to iron out as best I can but I reach tension limits before I can get it fully round. Tension on each side is withing +/-18% of the average for that side. I could probably go slightly tighter as average tension is only around 900N - it is a front wheel though.

Any thoughts or suggestions from the Wheel-building Illuminati?
 

creaky

The obviative
A couple of tensions look a bit out but I'd give it a ride or two with that build to let them bed in then have another shot on the truing stand. If you try to get it perfect now, it will probably need a tweek after a few rides anyway.
 

SummitFever

Likes Bikes and Dirt
For mtb wheels without rim brakes I'm not at all fussy with runout. +/- 0.5mm is fine and unnoticeable with a big tyre in the dirt. It's great to get everything perfect, but I'm always prepared to sacrifice trueness/runout for more even spoke tension. Looking at your graph, R tension 7-8-9 and L tension 14-1-2 show the classic pattern of too little tension on the middle spoke and too much of the spokes either side to compensate. See if you can't relax the tension slightly on those flanking spokes (eg. back off a 1/4 turn) and then put a 1/2 turn on the centre spoke.

I'll typically get all spokes on the one side within +/- 1 unit on the TM-1.

It's also odd that you don't have much difference between the L/R sides. When you did the spoke calculation, there will normally be a % tension imbalance figure (something like 80% for a good front hub). This means, if you get all the disc side spokes to say 20 on the TM-1 then the non-disc spokes should be around 80% of that (eg. 16).
 

ChrisJC

Likes Bikes and Dirt
If you have the right tools, the only other thing you need is patience.

You need a decent stand (doesn’t have to cost a fortune); a dishing tool; a spoke tension guage, spoke keys and some spoke assembly compound or linseed oil. ( don’t use loctite.

Once you have all your spokes laced in the correct fashion,turn the nipples till the nipples just cover the last spoke thread. This way they are at a good starting point. Go all the way around tightening each spoke at 1 turn initially and the less as they start to gain tension.

From here it is just time and patience. Check tension and wheel dishing regularly.

If your wheel is slightly out of round, find the mid point of the high spot and then tighten slightly, 4-5 spokes either side of it and loosen by the same amount 180 degrees opposite.

Make sure you don’t exceed rim manufacturers max spoke tension recommendations

Als, keep in mind the tension always ends up being a bit higher on the rear drive side and front disc side due to shorter spokes/ rim offset.
 

Nambra

Postmeridian
Thanks fellas - much appreciated. I find that trying to even out the tensions as Summit suggests pulls the wheel out of round, but perhaps I'm just not adjusting enough spokes either side as ChrisJC says. I'm finding that as you increase tension, it becomes more difficult to make adjustments at a specific point in isolation - stresses transfer around the whole wheel and you end up in a two steps forward one back game.

I did have more of a differential between L/R tension over the weekend, but it seemed to become less so the more I fiddled with radial and axial trueness. I think I was correcting radial trueness by loosening spokes more than tightening as I was getting close to maximum tension on the left side. It does look like I could tweak the left up a bit more though.

The main thing I wanted to confirm was that even with all new parts, you won't necessarily build up a perfectly straight and evenly tensioned wheel?

Edit: one last question - when the wheel has been 'ridden in' a bit and you throw it back in the stand to adjust, it's without the tyre (or at least not inflated), right?
 

Flow-Rider

Wheel size expert
The main thing I wanted to confirm was that even with all new parts, you won't necessarily build up a perfectly straight and evenly tensioned wheel?

Edit: one last question - when the wheel has been 'ridden in' a bit and you throw it back in the stand to adjust, it's without the tyre (or at least not inflated), right?
Q1 The closer you can get it to being perfect the better the wheel will be but depending on many factors of your build it will rarely be perfect. You can get away with a lot on mountain bike wheels, as in you can put up with a slight buckle or runout for the better of consistent numbers but a bit different to road bike wheels with braking tracks and thin hard tyres.

Q2 I always do the last true with the tyre on, even with new wheels when I have the time, people act like MTB wheels are a piece of glass, one thing wrong and they shatter and it's far from the truth.
 

ChrisJC

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Thanks fellas - much appreciated. I find that trying to even out the tensions as Summit suggests pulls the wheel out of round, but perhaps I'm just not adjusting enough spokes either side as ChrisJC says. I'm finding that as you increase tension, it becomes more difficult to make adjustments at a specific point in isolation - stresses transfer around the whole wheel and you end up in a two steps forward one back game.

I did have more of a differential between L/R tension over the weekend, but it seemed to become less so the more I fiddled with radial and axial trueness. I think I was correcting radial trueness by loosening spokes more than tightening as I was getting close to maximum tension on the left side. It does look like I could tweak the left up a bit more though.

The main thing I wanted to confirm was that even with all new parts, you won't necessarily build up a perfectly straight and evenly tensioned wheel?

Edit: one last question - when the wheel has been 'ridden in' a bit and you throw it back in the stand to adjust, it's without the tyre (or at least not inflated), right?
Just check your tension with the tyre inflated and write it down. Recheck after a few rides with the tyre inflated.

There are articles around relating to acceptable tolerances when building wheels. Park tool state .5mm radial and 1.0mm lateral trueness is fine. So far as tension goes, I think within 10% is acceptable but I tend to get better than than that.
 

Nambra

Postmeridian
So I'm calling it on the front wheel, pending a recheck after a ride or two. It's within 0.2mm lateral and axial and <0.1mm dish using my home made dishometer. Spoke tensions as follows...
350669


The anomaly around spokes 8 & 9 correlates with the welded seam in the rim - it was a bit of a trade off between even tension and radial true. Speaking of rims, I only just noticed what appears to be a difference in one side of the EX511 rim bed compared to the other, as highlighted in this photo:
350670


Is this internal ridge feature something important and should it have been orientated with one side of the hub or another? I couldn't see anything in the DT Swiss information that came with the wheel that mentioned it or any information to say "this side is brake side" or similar. I'm thinking (& hoping) that it's just something that occurs through the manufacturing process, and is aesthetic only?

Thanks again for the previous comments too - they helped a lot.
 

Attachments

Flow-Rider

Wheel size expert
The anomaly around spokes 8 & 9 correlates with the welded seam in the rim - it was a bit of a trade off between even tension and radial true. Speaking of rims, I only just noticed what appears to be a difference in one side of the EX511 rim bed compared to the other, as highlighted in this photo:
Yeah, that's pretty common. Some rims are worse more than others and they place thick stickers over the welded joints that drives you nuts as you complete the final stages of the rim because it clicks on your pointers as the wheel rotates around. Sometimes you got to ignore that part of the rim because they have a slight radial flat on the joint.

I've never used those rims but can I only guess that extra ridge on the rim floor looks like something to help retain the tyre on as you pump it up from flat.
 

Mywifesirrational

I however am very normal. Trust me.
I didn't want to be mean and say anything, as I thought the first spoke tension image was pretty bad, tensions were all over the place. However, this is now looking pretty nice, well done .
 

Nambra

Postmeridian
Can't help you with those truing stands as I ended up building my own, but if you do buy one make sure it can handle all the axle types you need, QR, 12mm, 15mm, etc.
 

shiny

Likes Dirt
Can't help you with those truing stands as I ended up building my own, but if you do buy one make sure it can handle all the axle types you need, QR, 12mm, 15mm, etc.
Thanks, yes, they fit all axle standards. Using Roger Musson’s book as a guide. Have looked at building my own from the guide in the book, might revisit. Cheers.
 

T-Rex

Template denier
Bit of a thread dig but planning to attempt to build a set of wheels in a few months time. Looking at the following truing stands, are they the same? They look the same only difference is that Cyclingdeal include spoke wrenches.

https://www.wiggle.com.au/x-tools-pro-mechanic-wheel-truing-stand/

https://www.cyclingdeal.com.au/buy/bikehand-bike-wheel-truing-stand-bicycle-wheel-mai/YC-512N
I've had a Park TS-1 for years, they look like a knock off of it, in which case they will be OK design wise. Can't comment on the quality obviously. The four sided spoke keys in the second ad are worth having.
 

MTB Wanabe

Likes Dirt
A few recommendations for wheel building,

  1. I recommend to my customers not to use spokes older than 12 months, but this depends on the amount of use the wheels have had. The spokes are subject to cyclic loading and are subject to metal fatigue. Changing the spokes out is very dependent on the amount of use and abuse they have had. At the end of the day, it is up to you to make this judgement, eg am I going to rebuild this wheel to only have to have to rebuild in the not too distant future because I start breaking spoke due to fatigue.
  2. Buy the best components you can afford and ensure they fit your riding style, weight, etc. No sense in buying a lightweight cross country rim if you plan on doing dh racing.
  3. In any wheel build, the more even the tension, the better and more reliable the build will ultimately be; and tension to the rated limit of the rim. The tension may be a little off in places, such as either side of a weld joint, but it shouldn't be out by over 10%, minimum to maximum. So if you're aiming for 120kgf, the minimum you should be aiming for is 108kgf and the maximum 120kgf. Most rims are rated to 120kgf but some are lower such as Crest rims at 95kgf. If you can't feel or hear an even tone when the spokes are plucked during a build, then a spoke tension meter is a must. If your spoke tensions are not even, you will get premature spoke breakage.
  4. Get a good quality spoke key. They fit the spoke nipples better and they will last a lot longer without stripping the nipple. Personally, I use Park Tools spoke keys and I've never had to replace one nor had any issues with stripping a spoke nipple.
  5. Get Roger Musson's book and read it from cover to cover at least twice before starting your first build. You will learn more from that one book than you will by reading all of the wheel building posts on here or anywhere for that matter.
  6. A truing stand can be fashioned out of anything that is capable of holding a wheel securely and enables both radial and lateral references to be gauged. I've heard of people using old frames with zip ties, it really doesn't matter, just find something that works.
7, Be patient. A good quality wheel build takes time. I like to do it whilst watching tv and having a beer. Truing and tensioning is easy but is time consuming to get the wheel true, both laterally and radially, dished to the center of the axle and with even tension.

Hope this helps.
 

born-again-biker

Is looking for a 16" bar
OK, couple of questions for potentially rebuilding my rear 29" wheel....(noooob!)

Do I need DT Swiss washers to go with the DT Comp. spokes ? (EDIT: I meant under the DT Swiss nipples)
(load spreading etc?) Rim is WTB KOM 29i

If so, do I add 2mm (1mm x 2) to the ERD number to allow for the washers?...or does the DT Swiss online calculator assume you're using their washers?
 
Last edited:

The Duckmeister

Eats Squid
Washers are to do with the rim, not the spokes. If it's a DT Swiss rim which requires washers, the ERD will take them into account. For other rims you will need to add 2x washer thickness to the rim measurement.
 

born-again-biker

Is looking for a 16" bar
Washers are to do with the rim, not the spokes. If it's a DT Swiss rim which requires washers, the ERD will take them into account. For other rims you will need to add 2x washer thickness to the rim measurement.
OK thanks.
So would you still use washers under DT nipples on other rim brands?....do all wheel builds use washers all the time?

(I edited my first post when I realised how it read....Washers are for nipples, not spokes :rolleyes:)
 
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