Blog: 2013

Road tubeless has been around for a little while and it has gotten good reviews from the likes of Leonard Zinn. So far I’ve been reticent to try road tubeless but when Schwalbe released their excellent Ultremo ZX tire in a tubeless variant, I figured I’d give it a try.

To make this project work I dug up some NOS Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 hubs. For my first try I turned to my offroad rim vendor, Stan’s Notubes. I got their Alpha 400 rims in 24/28h to match my hubs and put them together with Sapim CX-Ray spokes. The Stan’s rims built up very smoothly and total weight came to 1500g on the nose — plenty respectable. On top of that I installed two layers of Stan’s 21mm yellow tape and 44mm road valves.

Mounting the tires was a little hairy. The Ultremo ZX tires needed levers and I drafted a pair of toe straps to hold the tires in place as I worked their final sections. There’s some skill involved and my speed was better on the second wheel. In the end I found compatibility between tire and rim was excellent. I had my air compressor ready to go but was able to seat the bead with a floor pump. Each tire got 2oz of Stan’s sealant and neither shows signs of leaking air.

Of course it’s all about the ride. My short test ride was very positive — I find the wheels extremely comfortable even with a skinny 23mm tire. Before blabbing too much I want to put more miles on these wheels and play with tire pressure. Details to follow.

08 May 2013

Nipple lubrication and locking

Webmaster

Nipple lubrication and locking is a subject that arouses a little too much passion. Most methods have merit — after all wheels aren’t falling apart at every turn. In the past I’ve used linseed oil, different brands of anti-seize, grease, Wheelsmith SpokePrep, light oil, heavy oil and DT Spoke Freeze.

Products such as linseed oil and SpokePrep combine lubrication and thread locking in one. That’s convenient but I prefer to separate these functions. With an oil lubricant, I can add more during the build if I feel it’s needed. If you let the wheel tell you when it’s done, then some builds will take longer than others. And sometimes I have to leave a wheel and finish it later. With oil it’s no problem. My preference is for a heavy oil over a lighter one since heavy oil is more likely to stay where you put it. To ensure total lubrication I submerge my nipples oil, which is messy but effective.

In theory thread locking isn’t necessary but life is real and stuff happens. If you want low maintenance wheels that can handle a breadth of conditions, thread locking helps. I use DT Swiss Spoke Freeze, a product made in collaboration with Loctite. You might think Loctite acts like a permanent glue and without oil it does. But, combined with oil, Spoke Freeze locks nipples while leaving wheels serviceable. Soaking my nipples in oil ensures this outcome.

There are other thread locking strategies but I reject them for one reason or another. You can use a bit of glue on the nipple but at the risk of preventing future adjustments. You can buy self-locking nipples. In some cases these have thread lock compound pre-applied. In other cases, such as the Sapim product, nipples are manufactured with deformed threads that cause friction and prevent unwinding. A neat idea but increasing friction can induce windup during the build.

Nipple seat lubrication

It’s also important to prepare the nipple seat for building. On a rim with eyelets I use a drop of light oil. On a rim without eyelets, which I prefer, I first deburr the nipple seat with a light touch from a handheld drill bit. Then I lubricate the area with a small amount of grease. These steps help nipples turn freely and reduce the possibility of damage from friction during wheelbuilding.

30 Apr 2013

New life for an IGH commuter

Webmaster

This was a job to salvage nice hubs and rebuild with fresh rims and spokes. Normally I would lace the rear wheel in a mirror image pattern but I follow the previous builder’s decision for rebuilds. This extends hub life. With renewed rims and spokes, these hubs are ready to roll again.

05 Apr 2013

Wheelbuilding gone digital

Webmaster

It’s true that you don’t need a lot of equipment to work on wheels — you can eyeball alignment, feel tension with your hands, hear tension from plucking spokes, etc. I want to do better anyway.

I’ve incorporated three digital tools in my process. First, I use a Park Tool truing stand with Mitutoyo digital gauges. The roller tip on the lateral truing gauge is made of teflon to prevent scratches. Second, I use a Park dishing tool with a digital gauge attached so dish is known quantitatively. The next best alternative is using feeler gauges but digital is much faster. Last, and just recently, I’ve been using the Wheel Fanatyk digital tensiometer. The Wheel Fanatyk people are cool cats and I’ve updated my spoke tension utility to support their tool. Check it out!

18 Mar 2013

Pretty neat new utilities

Webmaster

This post is to announce two new tools I’ve built in tandem with launching SpokeService.ca. These are my runout tabulator and spoke tension visualizer found in the utilities section at top right. I offer them 100% free for enthusiasts and industry professionals.

The runout tabulator is more a thought experiment than a problem solver. The idea is uncomplicated — simply measure the runout at different points on a wheel and note the measurements of smallest and largest magnitude. The difference is a measure of alignment. But should every point on the wheel be examined or should we sample deviation at each spoke? Should any special consideration be given to the join area? How much do decals and paint finishes distort readings? And so on.

The more important tool, my spoke tension visualizer, is pretty neat. It does two jobs: it converts tensiometer deflection readings to tension values and shows a graphical view of the same. For now it only supports the Park Tool TM-1 but I can add support for other tensiometers in the future. I’ve coded an option to insert dummy values in the data collection screen so you can see how it works without faking anything (this will likely go away in the future).

I hope these tools stimulate the wheelbuilding part of your brain. I enjoyed creating them.