How To Build A Bicycle Wheel | Maintenance Monday

How To Build A Bicycle Wheel | Maintenance Monday

– This is a very special wheel, special to me at least because it’s the first one
I’ve ever laced and built. But I must say with considerable
help from this man here, Marcel Waldmann, who is a master wheel builder at DT Swiss, with over 35 years of experience of building wheels. Who better than to show us, how to build a bicycle wheel. (energetic music) – [Narrator] Building a
wheel is a time-consuming job but with patience, and carefully following the steps, anyone can do it. But it’s probably worth
making a cup of tea and settling yourself down. This is a strangely therapeutic process. We are lacing a traditional wheel with the common three-cross method. So called because each spoke crosses three others. We’ll lace it, pretension it, dish it, de-stress it, true it, and then tension it fully. First though, what do we actually need to build a wheel? (energetic music) – So first step, we’ve got our raw materials. We’ve got spokes, we’ve got the nipples, we got the hub and the rim. And Marcel, how do we actually calculate first of all, the spoke length? – [Marcel] First we need the the rim diameter. – Okay. – [Marcel] From the one
eyelet to the other eyelet. How big is the hub, and how big is the distance
between the middle of the hub to the flange on the right side and also on the left side. – [Narrator] That sounds
remarkably complicated. So there is a cheat online, you could go to the DT Swiss website? – [Marcel] Yeah.
– [Narrator] And it will tell you. Okay, well that’s a relief. (energetic music) – Now it’s for DT Swiss, we have a rule. Every time it’s the DT Swiss, it’s on the valve hole. – Okay. So your tire logo is lined
up with your hub logo. – Yeah. – Nice. We’re going to use Schraner’s method. Now we’ll start on the
right side of the wheel. So that means on the rear wheel, it’s the drive side. With this method, each spoke is threaded into the wheel at an alternate direction, with either the spoke head facing in towards the centre of the hub, or out. The first step is really important so we’ll take a moment to cover it. We start lacing each side of the wheel at the valve hole. We thread spoke one, four holes in the hub, to the left of the centre, with the head out. And then thread one, four holes to the right of centre, head in. Now that is very important. The first spoke is laced to the rim immediately to the left of the valve hole. Then the second spoke, which is threaded into the hub, from the inside out, is laced to the rim in the second hole to the right of the valve. Wow, it feels like we’re getting somewhere. (laughing) Excellent. Okay. We then thread all the drive
side spokes which will have their heads facing out. They will of course be in every other hole, in the hub. Taking the spoke next to
the one that’s already threaded on to the rim, lace it into the rim, four holes to the right. And you then repeat that
for the remaining spokes. – Every time we say one, two, three holes, the next one it’s for us. – [Narrator] Four holes. – [Marcel] Yeah in the fourth. And then you work from the top and the nipple falls every time. (laughing) And now when you work from the side it’s no problem. – [Narrator] That does make sense. Okay. – Okay, around, turn, the wheel. And then you can feel
the hole from this side. – [Narrator] Then we thread
the remaining drive side spokes into the hub from the opposite direction. Starting with that spoke
that was already laced, thread the next one into the rim, four holes to the left. (energetic music) – [Marcel] And next. – So we went from the one that was next to the valve hole right? – Yeah. – Okay. So four across, from that. – Not four across four holes. The outside. – Four holes outside. – Now it’s best is to go in here. Have your fingers on the drive. The drive is very sharp
for the (mimics scratch). – Oh okay. – And then it goes here, nipple. – [Narrator] And it goes … – [Marcel] Over. – [Narrator] So under, over. – [Marcel] Right here, under, over. – [Narrator] Under, over, okay. So drive side, that looks okay doesn’t it? – Yeah, looks okay. – [Narrator] We’re repeating the process on the non-drive side of the wheel now but we use exactly the same method. So we lace those first two spokes, separated by eight holes of the hub. And we do one to the
left of the valve hole and then the other two holes to the right. It’s starting to get complicated, the more spokes we’ve got. – Yeah. – The more complicated it’s getting. – It’s better to cross this way. – Okay. – So you can go up. So one, two, three, four. So that one there. – Yeah. – Okay. (energetic music) – Okay, turn. And fill up the last spokes. – Do we start from, from here again? – Yeah. (energetic music) – I can’t tell you how cool this is. I’ve been riding bikes for 27 years and I’ve never built a wheel before. This is fantastic. Okay. – Okay. – Wha, look at that. – Yeah. – Check it out. I’m tough with that. So what’s the next bit? – The next bit we go to the drawing stand. (energetic music) – The wheel is now correctly laced but we need to tension the spokes. We need to make sure the
wheel is dished correctly, meaning that it will sit centrally in your frame or fork. Remember that by over time, one side or the other you can actually move the rim itself by several millimetres. Then we need to true it, so make sure it’s perfectly round and perfectly straight. By over-tightening some
spokes you can actually create flat spots or bend the wheel from
one side to another. The first job is to pre-tension the wheel. Make sure that each spoke
is threaded into the nipple the same amount. So wheel is in the truing stand. But we’re going to do some cheating now. Is that fair to say Marcel? You’ve got a drill in your hand. – Yeah we have to work with the drill before we worked by hand. And we looked how goes the
nipple over the tread. – So you literally count
the number of threads? – Yeah. Normally we go before. We crank this the whole day. Maybe in the evening you
can feel also in your arms. – Okay, can I have a go with the drill? – Yeah. – Even with a drill
it’s slow going for me. (energetic music) – Now we have a base. And from this one we go. – Take it to the next level. – Yeah, yeah. – Alright. – Every spoke comes from
the inside the turn, a half. – Just a half. – Just a half. – But if say, you were lacing up, I don’t know, Shimano Dura-Ace hub. – Also. – So also you would use a half a turn. – Yeah. – So this little gizmo here tells exactly how straight the wheel is. – Yeah. – Is that right? – It’s still 0.15 maybe. – Okay. – But sometimes it
works to hold like this. – Yeah. (laughing) – Okay now we look for the dish. – What’s this supposed to be on, zero? – It’s zero and five. – So 0.4 millimetres. – Yeah. – Okay. That doesn’t sound too bad. – Now it’s 0.6 so. – 0.6 millimetres. – Yup. – That’s starting to sound worse. – Some brands it’s okay. For us, it’s a little bit too high. Now it’s where 0.6 out. And then we remove the rim on the left side. And not 0.6, 0.3. – Okay. – This side of the rim
comes all to the same. – Okay. So we’re going to increase
the spoke tension on the drive side? – [Marcel] Nope. – [Simon] Not drive side? – [Marcel] Non drive side. Now we can work here. Can turn here. It goes up to the ceiling. Not correct here. But next time when you come, you see, it maybe goes a little bit over. – Okay. And how much are we turning? – Little, little step. Like so. – Oh you’re not doing much though. – I look only on the watch. – So the wheel is pretty much straight, in both directions. But now we need to
check the spoke tension. Just to make sure that, so that says, what’s that 1? – One, in the middle is one. And then you can loosen
it with the nine four. – So 0.94? – Yeah. – Okay. And then do we check
the next drive side one? – [Marcel] Every time on the same side. – Okay. So that’s one point, what’s that, 1.1? – [Marcel] Yeah. – And is that okay? – [Marcel] No. Later we go up and make it more similar. – Okay. And we need to hold the
spoke tension-ometer in the right place on the spoke so it gives the same reading each time. – [Marcel] Not too much
down and not too much up. – So we’re going to add
a little bit more tension to the spokes, a quarter turn. – Yeah. – On each nipple, start with the valve hole. – Yeah. – Okay. Right ready. Quarter turn. – [Marcel] Every time on the right side. – Ah, okay so we’re doing one side, right. – Only right there. Pick up the wheel and we go to the distressor. Here we have three points. If a lot of pressure, then we put it in, like so. Push. You can hear the sound from the spokes. (energetic music) And now we go back to the truing stand. So before I maybe have zero point, it’s the same, 0.5. Zero and five. So all the same. – Okay Marcel, so you still think we need to
get a bit more spoke tension in this? – Yeah. – If a viewer doesn’t have
a spoke tension meter, how can you describe how
tight the spokes need to be on a wheel, before you know that
it’s (mimics popping), done? – For me it’s when you
go there with the hand you can feel it. Maybe this one here it’s
a little bit too soft, maybe we turn a half
turn up with the tension. And then everybody has some, if you want a softer
wheel or a stronger wheel, then it goes a little bit more up or. – So the spoke tension
will actually affect the ride quality of the wheel? – Yeah. – So softer spokes means a softer wheel and a high tension spokes
means a stiffer wheel? – Yeah. – Okay. Unless you have a spoke
tension meter on there it’s an art form. – Yeah. – That’s what you’re saying. It’s just, not enough. – It’s the feeling in your hand. Now we work, every wheel we work with the same tension, the front in this range, and the back rear wheel in this range, and so we have all wheels made similar. Some it’s a little bit higher like the combination between
the half spokes and the rim and the other ones, it’s always the same range. – There we go. Wha. A finished wheel. I can’t claim to have done this completely by myself. – It’s a downhill wheel. Do you have a downhill bike? – No, no I don’t have a downhill. – Then it’s my wheel. – You take it. Well there we go then, a finished wheel. And that is built very
much in the classic style, so a traditional wheel. But Marcel here is currently
lacing up a very new wheel, it’s an aARC1100 DICUT. This wheel design is evolved. You can see the way the wheels are built is also changing, so it’s quite a fluid
technology at the moment. Thank you very much though Marcel for showing us how to
build a traditional wheel. – No problem. – That is something I’ve
ticked off my bucket list. Now do make sure you
subscribe to GCN before leaving this video. To do so is completely free. You just click on the globe. Also, make sure you give us a big thumbs up. Thank you again Marcel for showing us how. And if you want some
more content right now, well how about how to true a wheel? That one is just down there. Or to see a little feature, retro versus modern wheels, click just down there.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Si's instructions are confusing……very confusing. I found it easier with this tutorial. Hope this helps beginners like me!
    I had never laced any wheel before today and achieved what looks like a wheel with the above technique which differs from DT Swiss however it is the same 3x construction using the same building principle.
    Hope that this post will encourage others to NOT give up after watching Si's tutorial. Hopefully GCN will review this post too and perhaps refine/improve the content so it is simpler to understand.

  2. 04:28 Wrong information!
    It is the same method, BUT INVERS HEAD POSITION.
    You will have the head inside at hole 1 (its head outside on drive side),
    and the head outside in hole 8 (its head inside on drive side).

  3. Can someone tell me some good rear mtb wheels that are available in the uk and have 150x12mm sizes available too apart from hope pro 4 i cant seem to find any decent ones out there!

  4. I just started learning to build wheels so maybe I'm wrong but your diagram, like the one at 8:30 seems wrong. I think you want to center the wheel in respect to the dropouts of the frame and NOT the center of the hub…right?

  5. Great video, I have been meaning to get 'round' to building a wheel and after many years I may give it a try! Awesome instructions by Marcel 🙂

  6. HELP 😳I want to retain my 48 spoke wheel but want to change the hub to a 3 speed 36 hole hub SUGGESTIONS ? Or recommendations/web sights to look for help. Please Thanks in advance

  7. This video is terrible. Confused by a master builder who is unable to teach another properly. Shame. Needs remaking.

  8. That's a joke DT, wow. That's the most complicated method I have ever seen.
    I taught myself how to build (solid) wheels at 13, came up with my own method, and have yet to ever see anyone use it.
    Awesome job learning to build wheels though guys!

  9. I think it s a real job to built a wheel.
    Next week, I'm going to start my first wheels on a vintage bike.
    Good job to repair and built bikes.

  10. I have a 24 spoke wheels and I would like to convert it to disc brake. Is it recommendable to do it. The spoke count does affect on performance with a disc brake. Could it be a little risky?

  11. I'm a do it yourself type guy and I built my wheels and they came out like they were done by a professional

  12. I've built my own, using a bike as a stand with zip ties.

    In all honesty it's not that difficult if you are the patient sort. Im sure it's not as perfectly true as these but I really haven't noticed a vibration or whobble.

    I say give it a shot on a cheap set, dont let all this "expert" "black magic" talk scare you away.

  13. this is exactly the sort of thinking i am very very poor at. i learn by rote, then upon successfully doing something, i dissect the process and can understand it from the inside out, but this way of learning is super slow for me. common sense stuff takes me a long time to absorb. good on ya for a good build!

  14. building my own wheel is time consuming, uneconomical, mentally challenging, unnecessary, and difficult which is exactly why I want to do it.

  15. Your voice over sounds like one who would explain how to rally race. A good tutoral voice orcer. I will say your laking the small details needed to understand. How you bringe that up to you. but I like it!

  16. Important question!!! How should I set the spoke path? When a spoke crosses another, should I make it cross from the inside or the outside? Or, should I just cross all the subsequent spokes ON the spokes that are already set?

  17. I learned to build wheels when I was 15. It was harder then. 36 spokes and softer less precision rims made truing a bigger challenge. The better rims have made thing so much easier. Now a days wheels come prebuilt more commonly and wheel building is not a very practiced skill as it was.

  18. This makes wheel building look like a science- it's actually easy as piss. You need a screwdriver- annnd a screwdriver, that's it…

  19. @10:23 Literally right when he said "you can hear the sound from the spokes" the music came on and you couldn't hear anything! thanks…

  20. there are some things you can do yourself on the bike and there are some that you rather pay. This is one of those that your rather pay and safe yourself from a bit of everything…

  21. It's easy to build wheels, however explaining it and showing it is much more complicated than actually building it

  22. as a cyclist this wheel building is the most confusing for me no matter how many tutorials I've watched I still can't do it right

  23. Wow… incredibly complicated process even for Si. Which is saying a lot as Si clearly explain Hysteretic losses in Narrow vs Wide tires very clearly

  24. That has to be the most complicated method to explain the three cross I've ever seen. It must have been who he apprenticed with. It is so much simpler and faster than that.

  25. ON DRIVE SIDE The second spoke (right) face IN? then it says all other spokes face OUT every second hole, that leave 1 spoke face IN. This video not showing every step confusing. MY hub is electric 20cm wide same side spoke 1 to spoke 9, has 18 Holes per side. I give this video thumbs down.

  26. Thanks, I have been saying it for years, building and truing wheels is both an art and a science. Talk about tying and soldering spokes.

  27. It's not that hard to build a wheel. I built up a set once in college and then again just a few years ago. You just have to look at the pattern and it practically builds itself… With just a couple of things to know such as how to lace the spokes so you have easy access to the valve stem and such. That trick you showed for how to get started was convenient.

  28. It's all easy when you have all the tools and follow the instructions properly. I built a rear wheel for the 1st time and have done over 1000 miles and had no issues, but I think it's more to the fact that I invested in a park tool spoke tension tool at the cost of £50 which I personally think it's a must have tool for wheel building.

  29. Guys this is a far over complicated way of lacing don't even bother trying to understand it go watch Ali clarckson's video I'm 16 and built my own from his video

  30. Building wheels this way except with a dynamo hub, where the hub itself has a larger diameter, you would use the 2-skip method instead of 4 right?

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