How to build a wheel part 1: lacing and initial tension

How to build a wheel part 1: lacing and initial tension

Thanks to everyone who took the survey, and if you haven't then please do. It takes just a couple of seconds and you might win $100 off in the November store and obviously we will share what we learn and have grist for another month's worth of blog posts. The response so far has been quite good, and the results are interesting (you still like those forums, huh?).

On to the video. 

I've now watched this sucker straight the way through twice - first after editing and before posting, and then after posting to see it how you will. Tarantino I am not. Nothing about the film making is what you would call groundbreaking, epic, competent, smooth, whatever. The costume and make up departments get special shout outs - I'm sporting a weeks worth of corona fuzz face and the "I haven't been to a barber since January" bouffant, while dolled up in my best ratty old t-shirt. This will be the first time most of you have seen me, or heard me. I'd never in my life come fully face to face with my strange verbal pacing, so you get to enjoy that.


Despite all of the shortcomings, I'm proud of the final product. If you were going to lace a front wheel, watching this would give you a huge head start on getting there. The next part is where some of the trickier work comes in, and that will be next week's art project. I already screwed up by taking a still photo when I thought I was taking video of this wheel getting tensioned and trued, so the truing video will have a stunt double (the wheel in this video will probably be ridden by the customer who owns it today or tomorrow already. 

Anyhow, filming takes a long time and it slows wheel production to a crawl, and then editing is a whole other kettle of time sucking fish, but the result is pretty cool and improving from here will... not be all that hard. So I'm psyched to see where this goes. 

If you're of a mind to give wheel building a try, remember that coupon code "rollyourown" at checkout knocks $180 off of any build we do, and you get all the parts and correct spoke lengths to build yourself a sweet set of wheels. 

Enjoy, post questions if you have them, and we'll be working on the thrilling sequel. 

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Kirk – Thanks. We never contravene a manufacturer’s rules, so as an example we won’t radial lace a hub that doesn’t allow it. A lot of people think Chris King restricts radial lacing on fronts, but they don’t (they did on their old hubs). Beyond that, there’s not all that much difference from one pattern to the next, so we tend to stick with what we know works well for us. For disc wheels and rim brake rears, that’s 2x for 24 and 28, and 3x for 32. For rim brake fronts, radial for 20 and 24, s2 for 28, and 3x for 32. For a hub with abnormal flange dimensions we might vary it, but we haven’t seen one. The substantial one here is that we get scared with radial lacing on hubs with more than 24h – a 28h radial laced front seems to place a lot of stress on a flange that’s got more holes than metal.


I too appreciate the time you spend sharing your thoughts and wisdom.
I would love to hear your take on the various lacing patterns. I know some hub manufacturers specifically don’t recommend popular patterns such as radial.


I’m really interested to see the results of the survey!! I think your early teaser about where we (the surveyed) are getting our info speaks volumes about the industry, and that those of us who’ve listened to/ read what you’ve put out realize that marketing is NOT necessarily a valid source of info!!

Scott Booth

HI Matt – Thanks for the note, and easy question. I think the carbon rims we use for Cafe Racer, RCG, etc are basically as good at being carbon rims as HEDs are at being alloy rims. I’ll be discreet with which rims I don’t find to be as good, but I will say you don’t get more by spending more.


Thank you for continuing to be so generous with your time and knowledge posting these type of blogs. It is amazing all the fine details that go into the wheel building process. Question, is there a carbon counterpart to the HED Belgium + that you hold with the same amount of reverence?


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