Wheel Building and Truing

Wheel building is an art in itself, as is wheel truing. A good wheelwright can build and true a wheel in less time than it takes me to describe the process in print.

If you have a burning desire to build your own wheels, there are books and videos that can walk you through the wheel-building process from start to finish. Frankly, this isn’t something the novice mechanic should undertake lightly.

Wheel Building and Truing

Here’s a quick look at the process. Building a wheel is more than just lacing the rim to the hub. First the spoke pattern, or cross, is determined. Does each spoke cross its neighbor twice, three times, or even four? Rim offset is then measured or looked up in the shop manual (if it lists it).

The offset determines where the edge of the rim is located in relation to the hub. Not all rims are offset, of course, but it’s a good idea to find out before you dismantle a wheel or start to build one from scratch.

Next, the new inside spokes are all inserted in the hub. The pattern is established and the nipple ends placed in the appropriate holes of the rim. The nipples are greased and installed. Next, the outer spokes are installed and their nipples run down. The wheel is then trued radially (up and down) and finally axially (side to side).

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