Fixie wheelbuilding

Discussion in 'Singlespeed' started by legit, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. legit

    legit New Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm looking at building up a fixie, but since this is a new topic to me I know nothing. I want to build the wheels myself (never done it before) for experience but I know nothing on what makes a good wheel for a fixie. I was wondering if anyone could tell me good brands/good tips for choosing rims? Also are there any hints as to what makes a good rim for fixies in particular? How about tires?

    Thanks,
    - legit
    PS. any good resources on how to build wheels would be great too
     
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  2. lisandom

    lisandom New Member

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    hi legit
    i was looking here today to kind of ask the same question. I saw a couple punks riding fixies this weekend and thought I should try it out.

    you haven't gotten any replies to your question though, so that tells me one of two things...
    1- it's too difficult a topic to cover on a message board.
    B- the fixie people are too cool to help non fixie people.

    have you had any luck elsewhere? maybe a visit to the local shop would help. i saw a nice fuji track bike for $400 today...

    ride on
     
  3. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    I tried the instructions on sheldonbrown.com with an old rim and hub and some fourteen cent chrome plated spokes and got a nice straight wheel on my first try building a wheel ever. Cannot vouch for the longevity of the junk components; just wanted to try it before investing money in good hubs, rims, etc.

    Price some spokes; no one seems to currently be selling single ones and you may need at least three different kinds, which means three boxes of fifty from some places. The way I look at it, there's no economy to building your own wheels unless that situation changes again.

    I tried to get an answer here about a year ago on whether you could solder or silver braze a fixie sprocket and lockring onto a tenspeed hub, but no one seemed to know. (Those hubs don't have reverse thread lockrings, so are in danger of losing the sprocket during braking).
     
  4. legit

    legit New Member

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  5. Europa

    Europa New Member

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    There's nothing hard in building a fixed gear wheel. Sheesh. Buy a track hub. Buy some spokes. Fire up Sheldon Brown and lace it all together. My first wheel, out of the grand total of 3 that I've built was done just that way. It's not hard. Just sit down and take your time.

    You can get all worked up about what hub and what rim and what spokes and what colour and what goddess to sacrifice the cat too and all that shit. Go to your lbs, tell them you want a track wheel, but in bits. They'll give you a good hub, even if it's a cheap hub, it'll do the job. The rims aren't critical and I don't give a stuff about the fashion fairies who are currently soiling their tutus - the rim is NOT critical. I've got bloody good wheels with generic Taiwanese rims, bloody good wheels with some lovely old Ambrosio wheels, bloody good wheels with Velocity Aero wheels and some DeepV wheels. The rim makes a difference but it's the way it's built that's important. Just go to your lbs and buy what they use in their workshop. If they aren't willing to support you building your first wheels for your fixed gear steed, find a lbs that gives a fuck. Same with spokes, just buy what your lbs uses in their workshop. Straight 14guage has built many fine wheels, and it doesn't have the ten commandments engraved in latin on each spoke.

    Sure, some will argue that if you go for 'this' rim and 'that' hub laced with 'those' spokes you'll get a better wheel. Sometimes they'll even be right :eek:

    But for your first build, you can't go wrong by going to a trusted shop, asking them what they'd use, then taking the bits away and having a go yourself. The worst that can happen is you'll take the sorry mess back for them to fix up. But if I can build three dead straight wheels with no-one to nag me about the process, YOU can too.
     
  6. dale ditzler

    dale ditzler New Member

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    Good Advice. It's easier to build a fixed wheel than one with a lot of dish for gears. All new parts make it much easier than using old stuff. New rims will have hook bead (even the cheap ones) so your tires won't blow off. New hubs will take away the concern about breaking a hub flange that's been laced another way for all of it's life and new spokes are a no brainer. As a Clydesdale, fixed 32 hole have been totally reliable for years, where 36 hole is nearly mandatory on my geared bikes. You won't save any money, but you'll learn a lot. Have fun!
     
  7. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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  8. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    I concur. I've been building my own wheels since my college days over 30 years ago and I trashed both rims on my first Raleigh. After that, building wheels for my friends became a source of occasional walking cash.

    If you remember to lace, model your pattern after a good wheel that's already built (or follow instructions from Brown or Jobst Brandt), and work gradually and methodically, you will build a good wheel. The worst that might happen is your valve stem might pop up between crossed spokes. Tacky, but not fatal--I've seen factory-built wheels from some fancy makers with that problem.
     
  9. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    What's a good economical source for spokes, so you don't have to buy several boxes and have more left over than used?
     
  10. dale ditzler

    dale ditzler New Member

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    Nashbar is pretty good on price though size selection can be hit or miss.
     
  11. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Performance (performancebike.com) is good, too. Before everything go so esoteric I used them exclusively. They've got inexpensive straight-gauge and less inexpensive butted spokes.
     
  12. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    I don't think that's so good. You used to be able to get 14ga SS spokes with nipples for 20 cents each in practically any size you want; UCPs were 14 cents.

    Not a problem if you are building a special wheel but if you just want to get a wheel, you'll approach the cost of a new one after buying just the spokes. If you're just getting the spokes to convert an old tenspeed hub and rim, then just buy one for $27 from bikepartsusa and redish it. You spend $10 more and a bit extra for shipping but get a new wheel.

    Plus, performance currently lists four sizes, and Nashbar had about fifteen.
     
  13. reckon

    reckon New Member

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    I think wheelbuilding is something every cyclist should try, it's NOT THAT HARD, especially if you spring for a tensionometer, but even without one, following sheldon browns (RIP capt. bike) pages on wheelbuilding I think anyone could build wheel, especially a front, or rear fixed/SS wheel, because as was mentioned above, you do not have to dish the wheel to make room for the cassette, and all the spokes will be the same length.

    I encourage you to try this, and as was also mentioned above, if you just cant get it, you can always, take the spokes, wheel and hub down to your LBS, and shell out $25-$75 and have it done by a pro (I still am amazed at how FAST an experienced wheelbuilder can assemble a wheel)
     
  14. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    If you live in Chicago, check out West Town Bikes.

    http://westtownbikes.org/


    It is a non-profit place with lots of tools, stands, and classes.
    In another big city? check around for a place like it.

    The wheel building class costs $50. You don't initially save money this way, but in the long run the knowledge is valuable and will likely save you time and money.
    I build wheels as part of my living, but I support others in knowing how to D-I-Y.
    I have had people come out to me via the METRA train, buy spokes, hubs, and rims to take to the class. One young lady bought a wheel and the parts for the front wheel so she could take the parts to class.
     
  15. joblue

    joblue New Member

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    Don't get all worked up over it, just sit down and do it....my first wheel took me 3 hours to lace, now I'm down to less than 10 minutes (truing is another story, and cannot be rushed or done under duress!)

    Send me any questions you'd like. My 4 reference materials that I use are

    Sheldon Brown
    Gerd Schraener's "The Art of Wheelbuilding"
    Roger Mussons pdf
    Jobst Brandt's "The bicycle Wheel"

    Its a great skill to develop. The general population thinks that there is so much mystery and tech know-how surrounding wheelbuilding....however, its a skill and craft that is learned and perfected like any other (through repetition, patience, the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, etc)
     
  16. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Good advice. Jobst Brandt is a bit of a blowhard, but a beginner can't go wrong following his instructions.

    I used to lace my wheels up at home and then true them on the stands at the Bicycle Repair Collective. Now, of course, I use my own stand.
     
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