Thursday, 15 May 2014

Wheel Building - Part 1 - Choosing Bits

Wheel Building - Part 1 - Choosing Bits - Intro

I have by trial and error built numerous wheel for my own personal use. Building your own wheels is very satisfying, and is surprisingly easy. But you will require patience.Key to this first chapter is the Edd Spoke Calculator. When choosing your rim, and particularly your hub, life will be a lot easier if you choose parts that are listed on Edd.

Wheel Building - Part 1 - Choosing Bits - Rims

Choosing rims is a matter of preference but also function. For example very wide rims may cause problems, particularly with rim brakes. For a hassle free experience try and match the width of rim you are replacing. But for the follwoing type of bike choose the folwwoing widths.

Racer - 13mm - 15mm
Hybrid - 15 - 19mm
MTB - 19mm - 27mm

The other dimension to look out for is the ERD (Effective Rim Diameter) which is the diameter of the rim from the inside. Its easy to measure, if you have a rim already.

Rims come with different numbers of holes. 36 is my favorite.

Wheel Building - Part 1 - Choosing Bits - Hubs

Choosing hub is largely preference but be careful to get the right width of hub. The Over lock dimension. Of course if you are replacing a hub, then try and match the existing.

Buy a branded hub, which has measurements in the listing;

  1. Left Flange & Right Flange (on most hubs these will be the same, but not always).
  2. Centre to left flange & centre to right flange ( these will often be different on disc hubs and cassette hubs)
 The above measurements are not critical if you are building from scratch and the world is you oyster. Choose away.

Wheel Building - Part 1 - Choosing Bits  - Spokes

When the going gets tough. Cheat.  Use the Edd spoke calculator to work out your spoke length.

You can select your hub and rim type if they are listed, or enetr your own measurements, using the green buttons.

To the left of screen there are some choices.
  1. Number of spokes. Thats easy. Count the holes. 
  2. Crosses. Pick 3 for anything larger than 16" or 2 cross for anything smaller. More crosses makes for a strong wheel. 
So hopefully you will now have all of your bits in the post. Most spokes come with nipples (the bits that screw on the ends) but some don't. For utility riding get 14 gauge stainless spokes. Butted spokes are fine if you have the money.

Spokes have around 8mm of thread on the ends and that allows for some error in spoke length.It also means that you can somtimes re-use spokes (yes it fine I have done it repeatedly) from an old wheel. For example a hub with a similar flange width could be reused with a rim and spoke combo. In fact if you re really stubborn you can get spokes to work in some very unexpected scenarios. See one of my first wheel builds.

Aiming for Functional turned out Funky !
Sunlight and Daylight Assessment


  1. i see the spoke calculator has the Rigida Sputnik rim in it's database.
    just got to decide which 3 speed to match it up to :-)