Wheel-building accomplished! Phase 1

Building wheels is tricky business, but also extremely gratifying once it actually works. If I had to reduce wheel building down to basic parts I would say it’s broken down into 3 main phases: lacing spokes, tensioning and finally, truing the wheel. This post is all phase 1. I’ll update you on the rest of this project soon!

Awwww yeaaaaaa. That's the look of accomplishment right there.
Awwww yeeaaaa. That’s the look of accomplishment right there.*

Why it scared meΒ 

I have never built wheels before nor did I even know where to begin with rims and what kinds of spokes and spoke lengths etc. I was afraid of getting in over my head and starting a project but never finishing it because the endeavor was too intimidating.

What led me to go for it anyways

My amazingly encouraging and handy boyfriend, Andrew, was the one that empowered me to do this. I had the chance to observe him building his own wheels and bike the winter before. He was also learning and he helped explain things to me along the way. I leaned heavily on him to guide me. He is the MAN! I love him πŸ™‚ It’s so helpful to have support in anything you do no matter the difficulty level. Don’t ever mistake getting help as weakness. People want to help if you let them. Plus once you’ve learned from them, then you can, in turn, help others down the road that want to do what you learned from those that helped you earlier.

Here’s a look into the steps along the way and a link to the wheel-building guide I used. This guide (and my boyfriend) were invaluable throughout this process.

Step 1: Spoke Prep
Coat the threads of each spoke with spoke prep. It should be a thin coat.
IMG_0003 Here I’m lacing the first couple of spokes and attaching the spoke nipple to the spoke so that it’s secured to the rim.
The first round of spokes are in! We’ll see if this actually works as I start lacing the other side…


It’s working! Once the first round of spokes are in on both sides, I’ve twisted the spokes to make sure the lacing pattern is accurate. Whew! It’s on track (I don’t remember if this was the first or 3rd time I had redone this…like a said, tricky business.
Putting in the last few spokes…
Lacing completed! This is a 3 cross lace pattern. Next: tensioning and truing the wheel.

*Notice the very first picture and the very last picture. I’m in different outfits because I finished the same wheel two different nights due to erroneous spoke lacing the first time. If you want to know more about how I messes up, refer to the section called “boxing” in the guide I mentioned earlier. That part is very important, and I didn’t box the valve the first try.

Another thing, it’s really helpful to have someone around that has done this before just for a sanity check. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Wheel building is tough! It takes a lot of skill and patience, but YOU CAN DO IT!!!

2 thoughts on “Wheel-building accomplished! Phase 1

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