Bicycle rim, hub, spokes and nipples

Building a wheel

I haven’t had time for a few weeks to get back to sanding down Ol’ Paint. But I’ve been looking at the growing pile of schwag in my den and decided today was the day to build a wheel. There are a lot of guides available for wheel-building, but I found this video to be very clear.

(OK, it’s a bit verbose and the background music sucks, and he tends to over-explain things. But I found the basics to be very clear.)

I laid out all the necessary bits in preparation. It’s a 32-spoke wheel, so that means four groups of eight spokes each.

Bicycle hub with 8 spokes inserted and key spoke selected
This one’s the key spoke

Wheel and hub with eight spokes inserted
First set of eight done

Bicycle rim and hub with first 16 spokes inserted
Second eight on the opposite side

View of label on hub through valve hole in rim
Confirming the hub label shows through the valve hole
Using a spare spoke to guide the nipple into position
Using a spare spoke to guide the nipple into position

Bicycle wheel with three-quarters of the spokes inserted
One final set of eight

Wooden desk with laptop, four spokes and nipples, and a glass of sparkling water
And then there were four …

Fully laced bicycle wheel with spokes still loose and bent
Ready for tightening

With the wheel fully laced, I was ready to tighten the spokes. As recommended in the video, first I tightened each nipple so no threads showed on the spoke. Then I went around the rim again, tightening each spoke two turns, then one.

Laced and tightened wheel on floor with spoke wrench and tension gauge
One built wheel

I finished for the moment by going around the wheel and checking each spoke with the tension gauge, tightening as needed. I’ve got all the spokes close to their final tension, within a tick of each other. And that’s where it’s going to remain until I’ve done truing the wheel (which will not be for a while yet).

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