21 Mar 2015

All terrain wheels

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This year I’ve built two sets of Rolhoff wheels using different models of Surly fatbike rims. Coincidentally both wheelsets are headed for epic adventures in Australia: the first set is headed for Tasmania and the second to the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia.

Happy spring!

16 Feb 2015

Tire check every time

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Sometimes it’s the simplest things that get overlooked. When mounting tires, are you checking the bead is seated evenly? All the way around? On both sides? Not pinching the tube?

If you care about true wheels, you should care about true tires. You should give this topic special consideration if you run tires with supple sidewalls (e.g. Compass/René Herse) and it’s mandatory to ensure your tires are well-seated for stable tubeless applications.

Last month I replaced a worn set of tubeless tires with fresh rubber and overlooked the bead not being seated evenly in one spot. I achieved a tubeless seal so surely everything was fine? No — over a span of a few centimetres I allowed the bead to fold under itself. It was immediately obvious that alignment was lost because a big wobble developed in the rim. I inspected it in the truing stand and the wheel was physically out of lateral true by over 2mm! I pulled the tire off and the wheel sprung back to fine form with runout less than 0.2mm (that’s also low spoke count wheels for you).

28 Jan 2015

Stan’s Grail rims

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Stan’s Grail: a wider road rim for disc applications. Recommended and sold here.

12 Jan 2015

Tubeless silver bullets

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Phil Wood makes classic silver hubs but you can save money and weight with White Industries.

This everyday wheelset mates classic-looking White Industries T11 hubs and Stan’s Alpha 400 rims. These rims build light wheels and offer the option of running tubeless or with tubes. With 28 DT Competition spokes per wheel and brass nipples, they’ll be rock solid for years.

01 Jan 2015

Doing digital dishes

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A few times a year I get a query about the digital dishing tool I have in the image slider on my homepage. It’s something I came up with myself though I’d be surprised if I was the first.

You’ll recognize the base tool as the standard Park Tool WAG-4. It’s a decent tool with sliding blocks that lets you check dish even with tires mounted. Checking dish with the analog indicator probe is fast and easy. The problem is it’s not quantitative. I record a ton of stats about every wheel including tension at every spoke and three kinds of alignment. To record dish alignment with a conventional tool you need feeler gauges and that’s a bit cumbersome.

I had a spare digital gauge in my toolbox so I mounted it up with no fuss. The lug back on the gauge can rotate 90° so I oriented it perpendicular to the shaft. I re-used the existing hole on the WAG-4 so no drilling required — I simply removed the existing screw and replaced it with a slightly longer one to accommodate the thickness of my gauge mount plus a washer. It’s a wood screw and I was able to find a longer one of the same diameter and thread pitch at Home Depot. That’s it.

The issue with my gauge is the throw of the indicator — the range isn’t appropriate for all axle lengths. I could find an indicator with more throw but this was a project done on the cheap (the cost of a screw if you discount the bits on hand). I deal with this problem by installing indicator contact points of different lengths, suitable to the axle in question. Actually I do gross dishing using the regular analog probe and then install the correct tip to record final dish. When using the regular probe it’s handy to remove the contact point altogether so the digital indicator is out of the way.

How does it work? Pretty well. Having the accuracy of a digital gauge makes you realize the limitations of the underlying tool. I balance the digital dishing tool over the wheel and hold it with the lightest touch otherwise the tool flexes and tilts, distorting values. This amount of distortion wouldn’t lead to bad wheels but it doesn’t hurt to sweat the small stuff if you’re bothering to measure.

Happy New Year!