Building a custom wheel

I had been thinking about doing a disk brake conversion on the Kona Africa Bike since before I bought it.  The V-brakes on the Kona are great, but I prefer a bit more reliability and wet-weather consistency in my brakes.  The problem would have been that I would have needed a new front wheel, fork aheadset and stem (I already have a spare brake set).  I decided to look at other options, and after being impressed by the coaster brake I decided to get a hub brake wheel.  After looking online I found that no-one sold pre-built wheels and so decided to do it myself.  I used to DT Swiss spoke calculator to determine the spokes needed to marry the Mavic rim and the Sturmey Archer X-FDD  hub containing both a drum brake and a dynamo.

CIMG2073

I ordered the rim and a set of spokes and nipples from Chain Reaction Cycles.  Sadly the set of 36 spokes and nipples turned out to be a set of 37 spokes and 29 nipples.  Thankfully the guys at Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative gave me the remaining nipples for free.  With nothing more than Sheldon Brown’s wheel building guide I set out to build the wheel.  First I put the inside spokes in on the drive side

CIMG2074

Next, the inside spokes on the opposite side

CIMG2075

Followed by lacing in the outside spokes

CIMG2076

Rather than buying a truing stand, I mounted the wheel in the fork and used the V-brake pads to true the wheel.

CIMG2078

The wheel stood up to the test ride well, although the spokes needed a bit more tightening afterwards.  Sadly, the hub didn’t come with the fixings to use a standard brake cable to operate the brake, so I have ordered one and it should arrive in a few days.  The bracket to mount the reaction arm is designed for a much smaller fork circumference than is common on most bikes, so I had to make a work around:

CIMG2080

The build was easier than I expected and I would urge anyone to have a go at building a wheel (without dish), it was a good experience and it wouldn’t have cost a lot to have it put right in the event of failure.  First impressions on the drum brake will follow soon.

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5 thoughts on “Building a custom wheel

  1. Isn't wheel building fun ! I have built 6 wheels now using Sheldon's method and feel that I end up with a far more superior product. LOLIt also means I get to have wheels that I couldn't afford otherwise. I bough a Park Tools spoke tension tester online in the USA (cheaper than UK/Europe) to check my spoke tension and found that I was not too bad a builder. The twang, touchy feely method isn't too bad.

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