Getting my homework marked

So the bike shop rang today, my wheels were all trued up and ready for collection. Somewhat nervously I pitched up and asked the guy what he made of them. “I was really impressed” he said, “you got the valves in the right place, spokes symmetrical on both of them, they pull in at the join and all in all they’re really good” So I think that’s an A+ for my wheelbuilding then! Either that or he’s impressed with how much I’ve spent in the shop lately…

All that remained was to buy some rim tape, and the wheels are all complete save for tyres and tubes. To put the rim tape on I fashioned a little tool by cutting the valve out of one of the inners I blew apart a few months ago. This keeps the valve hole of the rim tape in place as you apply it to the rest of the rim. I took care to have the tape maker’s name read right-way-up from the freewheel side, just because I can.


So let’s survey the damage:

Hubs: £18.80

Rims: £38 (pair)

Spokes and nipples: £46 for 74 of each

Trueing, rim tape, spoke key etc: £42

Total cost: HOW MUCH???!!! (About £145, not including freewheel)

Well, that’s quite a dent in my wallet. Still, I have some great new wheels, and I’m quite sure that not even the most high-end rims, hubs and spokes could give a better feeling than riding on wheels I’ve personally built with my own bare hands

At this stage in the post I’m supposed to dutifully umm and ahh about tyre choices, but there’s really no debate to be had. There’s only one tyre I’m going to put on these wheels: Continental Grand Prix Classic. It’s a retro-looking version of Conti’s modern Grand Prix tyre range, and it comes in 25c and errr… that’s it. The bike had 25c tyres on 17mm rims, so there may be a small adjustment to make when I first try out these tyres on the 13mm rims on the new wheels.

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8 thoughts on “Getting my homework marked

  1. “I’m quite sure that not even the most high-end rims, hubs and spokes could give a better feeling than riding on wheels I’ve personally built with my own bare hands”…

    I’d take that bet. Not to diminish the coolness of you building your own wheels, because that is cool indeed. But I’d take my Velocities over hand building those any day of the week and all 100 miles on Sunday. But that’s just me. 😉

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      • And as I wrote, I’d never deny you that feeling. You earned it. I view everything though the speed and weight filters though.

        Looking at those, I’d bet they’re between 2,300 and 2,500 grams… My Velocities (also hand built, but by the guys at my local shop) are 1,550.

        If I offended, it wasn’t intentional. I apologize.

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      • Not offended in the slightest. You’re probably about right on the weight, I haven’t got accurate enough scales but they’re over 2kg. They’ll be comfortable wheels though, one thing I learned reading about wheelbuilding is the crossing of the spokes means they spread out shocks better. The radial spokes on your front wheels don’t do this at all, so maybe this has a bearing on your spoke breakages? Somehow I think you’d still go for the weight and aero savings though… 😉

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      • Ah, excellent. As for my wheels, it was cheap rims that did me in with the breaking of the spokes. With cheap, light wheels they save the weight in the rim. With expensive, light wheels they save it in the hub construction. The combined torque of pushing down on the pedals while pulling up on the bars was bending the rim too much. That was causing the spoke nipples to fail. I had the spokes and hubs laced into Velocity hoops, added 100-ish grams (total) and they’re bombproof now. Decently aerodynamic, fairly light and very fast. Next up will be ceramic bearings when the current ones start to go. I can’t wait!

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    • It’s not too hard, it just takes a little practise and a certain amount of confidence. The dishing scared me too but if the spokes are the right lengths (and you put the right spokes in the right sides!) it mostly takes care of itself. The building is easier than the tensioning and trueing, which is why I left that to the bike shop. Next time I’ll try and do it all myself when I have the money for some extra tools.
      Sheldon Brown has a good guide, and I’m sure you’ll have an old wheel knocking around to practise on…

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