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.
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
Next, the inside spokes on the opposite side
Followed by lacing in the outside spokes
Rather than buying a truing stand, I mounted the wheel in the fork and used the V-brake pads to true the wheel.
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:
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.