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Wheel Building 101

Posted by Raleigh Twenty on July 21, 2010 at 12:01 AM

I build my first wheel today. I started with a hub, rim and a packet of spokes and nipples, and after two attempts produced my first wheel:

The rim is made by Araya (the VP-20 model) and was a street find. I salvaged a pair of wheels of a cast-off kid's BMX-style bicycle. The rims are used, but in reasonable condition. No cracks, splits or anything else to cause concern. The are slightly concave, however, I believe that this is not due to wear, but a feature of the manufacture. I have encountered several brand new rims which are slightly concave. I have no idea why manufacturers would do so, but it is the case.

I had to un-lace this wheel because I made an error:

As you can see by the markings, it is intended for a 20" x 1.75" tyre. I have gotten around the issue of fitting a rear brake with a long enough reach by simply using a 3-speed coaster-brake (back-pedal) hub. SRC-3 (II) by Sunrace Sturmey-Archer.

I corrected this error by starting all over again. This time I remembered to grease the threads of the spokes during assembly, so not all was lost. There is a matching front wheel already waiting in my workshop, which only needs to have the hub re-packed with fresh grease (I don't own cone spanners, so I'll have to take it down to my bicycle club this week to have it done).

Poor Radar (My blue Raleigh Twenty) has been in pieces in the garage for some months now, and will finally get a new lease of life as my travel bicycle. I hope to be able to make it fold up so that it will fit into the 130cm x 70cm x 25cm bicycle boxes supplies by Countrylink, instead of having to partially disassemble it every time I travel.

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Reply Velo Lobo
9:49 AM on July 22, 2010 
Looks good!
I hope to begin building up my own Twenty wheels in a few weeks, as soon as I get some other bike projects done.
Reply 2whls3spds
5:57 PM on July 23, 2010 
Oops...wheel building gets easier the more you do it.

Araya rims are pretty decent. I have a pair that are still in use on my MTB converted to expedition bike, they have been in use since 1989...probably need to be replaced but I am a cheap old bastid.

Reply Timothy Wooi
11:37 AM on July 25, 2010 
Araya Rims are light ,have thicker walls, strong and good looking especially the later models with embossed spoke niple holes.
A very good choice for reducing rotational weight ,used with stainless steel spokes!
Reply blackbrrrd
10:43 PM on July 25, 2010 
Wow... perfect timing. I have MY new blue Twenty all apart in the shop and am eyeing a 1977 SC3 Sturmey Archer 3-speed coaster brake hub on eBay right now... I'm thinking the same way - eliminate the need for brakes by going coaster. I've never laced up a wheel before. My hope is to get it at least close and then possibly have the local bike shop finalize it. You've given me courage to dive in!

My one question: The hub I'm looking at is 28 hole. Any thoughts about using this on a rear wheel? Strong enough?
Reply Raleigh Twenty
6:06 AM on July 26, 2010 
28-spokes in the 20" rear wheels are strong enough. If you are using an old hub with a steel shell, get yourself a packet of 2mm brass or copper washers to put on each side of the flange. Modern stainless steel spokes are intended for alloy-shell hubs, and can be prone to breakage if put straight into a steel-shell hub.

Another viable option is to use a drum-brake hub from Sturmey-Archer such as their AB3, SAB3, XRD3 or XLRD3. I've just gone with the coaster brake because that was what I happened to have in the workshop.
Reply Timothy Wooi
8:38 AM on July 26, 2010 
Im using non Araya Older Version Alloy Rims with 28 holes and Stainless Steel spokes with only 1 Cross tangentially on a 28 holes 1938 AB 3 Speed
drum-brake hub from Sturmey-Archer.
The 20" rear wheels are very strong with 1.5 tires for my weight of 70kg.
I have been riding it for almost 3 months on other mini bikes riding about 40km,twice a week without any problem.
Mine dont even have any washer between the nipples and rim holes to further strengthen it but if you have access,you can strenthen the wheels further, distributing the forces alongside the perimeter of the rims.
Reply 20 Zone
12:27 PM on August 18, 2011 
I am intending to do something similar and have a couple of questions for you Martin.
Is the SRC-3 the same diameter as the AW? and what size spokes did you use?
Reply Raleigh Twenty
7:47 AM on November 25, 2011 
20 Zone says...
I am intending to do something similar and have a couple of questions for you Martin.
Is the SRC-3 the same diameter as the AW? and what size spokes did you use?

I used a couple of online spoke calculators and compared the results. I bought the spokes off ebay (of all places!) which supplied them much cheaper than any bicycle shop. You can find the dimensions for the hubs on Sturmey-Archer's website.
Reply Tamisha
2:21 AM on May 13, 2017 
You don't need years of training to build a reliable pair of wheels. Whether you are a distance tourer, weekend racer, or commuter, building your own wheels is a rewarding and economical way to keep your bike on the road and out of the bike shop.
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