Wheel Building - Advice, Tips, etc

Hi All,

I’m just wondering if any of you expert mechanics and wheel builders could provide some advice regarding a potential wheel build.

I am looking up the idea of lacing a new set of rims into my XC Race wheels and I’m wondering if it’s possible/wildly inappropriate to reuse my spokes.

I currently have Hunt XC Wide wheels which I have been really happy with. However I’ve recently been looking at carbon rims (BTLOS M-i30) that as far as I can tell have a very similar ERD to my Hunt’s.

I don’t have any experience with wheel building but have a mate who’s done many and who would hopefully help me.

The obvious risk/downside is the potential to break down a perfectly good and lightweight set of alloy wheels.

The potential upside is for not a heinous amount of money, I could get a lighter set of wheels *with" an extra 5mm Internal Width. I don’t know that I can justify the cost of buying new hubs etc to build up a brand new set. Plus, it appears the Hunt stuff is actually really good for the money in the weight and performance as anything that comes close in weight appears to be 240s/XTR level and that’s more than the wheels complete cost me.

Any feedback welcome. I’m far from committed to the idea and it’ll probably have to wait until after my A-Race in Jan.

I’m far from an expert, but I’ve built a few sets of rims. If I understand correctly, you just want to swap out the rims with new ones, and reuse your current spokes and hubs. ERD is important, but offset also determines spoke length, and it’s likely different if the rim is wider. The same spoke might work, but you won’t know until you try. You’ll have to make sure you use the exact same lacing pattern, as this is also key in spoke length.

My advice is give it a shot! Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll get practice lacing and truing. Spokes are pretty cheap too, and if you got a good bike shop they can measure and give you the exact length you need. Just accept that wheel building is a process and it takes time and patience. It’s extremely satisfying to ride a wheelset that you built yourself.

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I’m hoping to do something similar with a 1990’s road bike wheel build. I need to replace the rims.
I have built a couple of mtb wheels and I would recommend a truing stand, a wheel dish tool, a really good spoke key (Park tool) and also a spoke screwdriver (easy to make) which is definitely useful but not essential.
Spoke removal could be a problem if they’re tight or seized. If you have the time and patience it might be worth leaving them somewhere cold overnight and bring them in the warm during the day and spray with penetrating fluid like WD40 or similar. With the change in temperature you should get expansion which helps the penetrating oil. It maybe worth trying the spokes daily with the key and then concentrate on the ones that are stuck. The chances of getting them all out are slim. So you may need to buy a few.
Good luck

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Thanks heaps!

It’s definitely something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a very, very long time. It looks extremely satisfying. I’m a quintessential tinkerer/optimiser so am always having a play with things.

Rim offset isn’t something I understand well but is definitely a concern. One reason I was looking at the M-i30 rims is that they are symmetrical which I assume would mean the same spoke position. I noticed the two alternate lengths of replacement spokes for Hunt wheels so I am not 100%.

Hopefully I will be ok as I nanny my bike and they’re only less than a year old. I’ll definitely keep that in mind though :+1:

Even symmetric rims will have different spoke lengths for the rear wheel to account for dishing. Spoke measuring and sizing is a major PITA.

It’s a definite tinker to build them. I learned during covid as a hobby, and similarly had a friend help out. As someone else said, get a good truing stand, good spoke keys, and a good tension measuring device. The latter is crucial because usually you will build and true them, but then tension will be way off.

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Great information thanks!

I want to plug Ali Clarkson’s wheel building tutorial: How To Lace Every Common Spoke Pattern : In-Depth Guide to Radial, 1X, 2X, 3X And 4X - YouTube

I used his older tutorial to swap rims over after a crash. It worked well, the wheels are still strong after 2 years, and it was my first attempt at something like that, I couldn’t even true a wheel properly before. The new tutorial (there’s a part 2 too) is more in-depth. I just learned a lot feom it, so wanted to post it here.

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A tip to avoid frustration, when tensioning remember the priority round, dish, true.

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I’m deep down the rabbit hole now :rofl:.

https://www.sapim.be/spoke-calculator

Useful potential calculator for future reference.

I think I’ll order some rims in the New Year or if they go on special and try and source some hubs. I won’t order any spokes until I have the rims and hubs to measure.

Looking at some online pricing, I might be able to get some DT Swiss 350 hubs for ok-ish money. If I do that I could possibly sell the Hunt wheels and recoup the cost of hubs anyway. Decisions for later in the process.

Edd, an easy to use spoke calculator is one that I have used. Decent database of components or plug in your own measurements

First, whether you reuse spokes or buy new ones, you’re going to need to know the spoke length for your hubs and rims. That’s non-negotiable.

As far as the question of whether you can reuse spokes, the answer is “yes,” if they’re “normal” stainless steel spokes, and they haven’t sustained any trauma, the used spokes are stronger than new ones.

One other thing: If you don’t already have a copy, Google “Jobst brandt wheel book” which is pretty much all the info you’ll ever need.

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This is useful. The motivation kicked off with the idea of being able to reuse hubs and spokes assuming (under my limited knowledge) ERD was the same or close enough for it to be a straight swap.

It’s now looking like it might be a slow burning project where I accumulate some bits and do it from scratch :crossed_fingers:

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I just had a quick play there. Using the 350 hub option that’s there and an ERD of 600 it came to 283.6 and 284.1mm for spokes.

Hypothetically, in this situation would you order 60 284mm spokes and the nipple accounts for the difference?

The Jobst wheel building bible is such an amazing resource; so much stuff in there. For instance, he explains a technique for accurately measuring a rim’s ERD by using a pair of spokes.

There’s so much mystique built up around wheel building, but after I bought my first copy of the Jobst book, I went out and built my first set of wheels and never looked back.

Such a shame it’s out of print. (Rumor has it that there are PDF editions available out there.)

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I’d go with the extra mm (unless the -1mm spokes are cheaper. You won’t notice a difference, but a smidge too long is better than not reaching the nipples. Lol

(One other thought: try several different spoke length calculators, and invest in an inexpensive caliper tool so you can verify your hub measurements, too!)

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LOL. I can imagine!

I’ll get some rims and measure before anything else.

And look for that book. I should be able to do it between YouTube and that (if I can find it).

Don’t be put off by the first half, the second half is step-by-step instructions with illustrations.

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I’ve got a 2nd and 3rd edition of the Jobst book. Wish I’d bought more copies before they went up in value. I’ve tried other books, but his one is just so simple.

I did upgrade to a shop quality wheel stand, dishing tool, dial indicator gauges etc.

I would, and have, 100% do a swap. I bought a used DT240 rear wheel on a Stans Olympic 26" rim. I despoked the hub and built it onto a 29er wheel, and then found a particular year XT front hub could use the same spokes as the DT rear when building with the Stans olympic. so I got a $15 XT hub on clearance and made a sweet front wheel out of it.

Wheel building is not magic, it’s just something that isnt that hard if you’re very methodical. Do what Jobst says, in the same order etc.

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