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  1. #1
    flinty-eyed moderator
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    Wheels and Tires FAQ and helpful tips

    Making a spot for a FAQ and Helpful tips sticky as requested.
    Dr. Cox: Lady, people aren't chocolates. Do you know what they are mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard fillings. But I don't find them half as annoying as I find naive bubble-headed optimists who walk around vomiting sunshine.

  2. #2
    A wheelist
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    What wheels should I buy?

    On this forum, this question gets asked often -

    Q - I want new wheels for my bike. What should I buy?

    A - Of course, for a good answer, we need as much information as possible. Some of the info we need is -

    • Why do you want new wheels? What's wrong with your old ones?
    • What are you old ones? (rim name, hub name, spokes, their numbers)
    • How much do you want to spend?
    • How heavy are you?
    • Do you ride "light" or "heavy"? Are you powerful or smooth?
    • Have you had problems with your current wheels and if so, what?
    • What condition are the roads in that you ride?
    • What tires, widths and pressures are you using?
    • What do you expect from your new wheels that your old ones can't deliver? (be reasonable and realistic here!)
    • What are you going to use the wheels for - recreational riding, touring (loaded), training, racing, general purpose?
    • Do you want custom hand-built (designed for you) or factory pre-built?
    • Do you want wheels that are easily repairable with readily available, reasonably priced spokes and rims or are you ok with maybe having to ship your wheels back to the factory and wheels that contain expensive, proprietary spokes and possibly un-obtainium replacement rims?
    • Do you need 11spd compatible wheels (can be used with 8 ~10spd cassettes too by using a spacer) or are 10spd wheels ok? (can only be used with 8 ~ 10spd cassettes). Edit - This info is for Shimano & SRAM related cassettes; not Campagnolo.
    • Do you want the wheels to be oriented towards "aero" or "light"?
    • Do you want to use regular clincher, tubeless, or tubular tires?
    • Aluminum or carbon rims?
    • Rim brakes or disk brakes?
    • Rear hub width? (120, 126, 130, 135MM)
    • Do you want adjustable loose ball bearing hubs (almost exclusively Shimano) or cartridge bearing hubs (almost everything else)?



    **If I have forgotten anything, please PM me and I will edit this post**
    Last edited by Mike T.; 07-29-2014 at 06:46 PM.
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    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  3. #3
    A wheelist
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    How can I learn how to build wheels?

    There are many wheelbuilding resources available - in book form, e-book form, online videos and internet sites. As wheelbuilding is my passion and hobby (but not my job) I have either read every source I can find or I own it. These are my favorites -

    • Roger Musson's wheelbuilding e-book. For about $15 you get to download Roger's e-book and then you can get it printed and spiral-bound locally and quite cheaply if you wish. His future e-book updates are always free. Roger's on the 6th edition now. He wrote his own spoke calculator and he shows you how to measure all your parts (to input into the calculator) so you don't rely on possibly incorrect information (which could waste a whole set of spokes).
    • Sheldon Brown's website - the best free resource that I know of from the late great bicycle guru.
    • Jobst Brandt's book "The Bicycle Wheel".
    • My own wheelbuilding tips. My site might give you motivation to try wheelbuilding for the first time. That is its purpose. It gives you basic "Wheels" knowledge. It won't teach you how to build wheels (and it never will!) as the others already do it far better than I ever could.

    There are many other resources but IMO, these are all you need and the best I know of.
    Last edited by Mike T.; 07-29-2014 at 10:16 AM.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  4. #4
    A wheelist
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    Why did my tube explode just after I installed it? Was it a faulty tube or tire?

    No, it was almost certainly faulty installation. You left a piece of the tube pinched under the tire bead and when you inflated it, it eventually lifted the tire off the rim and the tube exploded. Here's how to prevent this happening and to prevent the ensuing heart-failure from that explosion -

    First, carefully inspect the inside of the tire for anything that penetrated the tire that caused your original flat. Take the tire right off the rim and place three flattened fingers inside the tire and run them around the whole inner circumference. Do it twice just to be sure.

    Talcum powder your new tube. I place mine in a plastic grocery bag with one squirt of baby powder. Clamp the bag neck and shake once. Remove tube and shake excess powder off. Don't do that in the living room or your Mamma will get really mad.

    Replace the tire on the rim (one side of the bead only!) with the tire label at the valve hole and on the drivetrain side of the bike.

    Here comes the most important step - with Presta valve tubes, inflate the tube as much as possible by mouth. Screw the little valve thingie down tight. Now you have a rounded tube that has much less chance of getting caught under the tire bead.

    Lay the wheel flat and insert the valve stem into the valve hole. Spend some time on this next step as it makes replacing the 2nd bead of the tire much easier - place the tube into the tire and onto the rim itself. Read those last 4 words again. Get the tube sitting IN the rim for its whole circumference, not just inside the tire.

    Starting at the valve, slide the hands and thumbs down both sides of the tire and push the tire bead over the rim. As you get closer to the final bit it will get tighter and harder. Try to resist using tire levers here as it's easily possible to pinch the tube with them. All my tires go on without levers. When the final bit of tire goes over the rim you know the tube is up inside the tire - the partial inflation really helped here. To prove it, go around both edges of the tire, push it away from the rim and make visually sure you can't see tube under the tire bead.

    Unscrew the valve nut thingie and inflate your tire.

    Here's the 2nd important check - almost all tires have a circumferential line moulded into the sidewall just above the rim lip. See that this line and the rim edge are concentric all the way around on both sides. Now you know there is no tube strapped under the tire bead and that the bead is firmly seated.

    All this sounds like it takes forever but it takes maybe one or two minutes to do all these steps.
    Last edited by Mike T.; 08-16-2014 at 04:14 PM.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  5. #5
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    On this forum, this question gets asked often -

    Q - I want to buy new wheels for my bike. What should I buy?

    A - Of course, for a good answer, we need as much information as possible. Some of the info we need is -

    • Why do you want new wheels? What's wrong with your old ones?
    • What are you old ones? (rim name, hub name, spokes, their numbers)
    • How much do you want to spend?
    • How heavy are you?
    • Do you ride "light" or "heavy"? Are you powerful or smooth?
    • Have you had problems with your current wheels and if so, what?
    • What condition are the roads in that you ride?
    • What tires, widths and pressures are you using?
    • What do you expect from your new wheels that your old ones can't deliver? (be reasonable and realistic here!)
    • What are you going to use the wheels for - recreational riding, touring (loaded), training, racing, general purpose?
    • Do you want custom hand-built (designed for you) or factory pre-built?
    • Do you want wheels that are easily repairable with readily available, reasonably priced spokes and rims or are you ok with maybe having to ship your wheels back to the factory and wheels that contain expensive, proprietary spokes and possibly un-obtainium replacement rims?
    • Do you need 11spd compatible wheels (can be used with 8 ~10spd cassettes too by using a spacer) or are 10spd wheels ok? (can only be used with 8 ~ 10spd cassettes). Edit - This info is for Shimano & SRAM related cassettes; not Campagnolo.
    • Do you want the wheels to be oriented towards "aero" or "light"?
    • Do you want to use regular clincher, tubeless, or tubular tires?
    • Aluminum or carbon rims?
    • Rim brakes or disk brakes?
    • Rear hub width? (120, 126, 130, 135MM)
    • Do you want adjustable loose ball bearing hubs (almost exclusively Shimano) or cartridge bearing hubs (almost everything else)?



    **If I have forgotten anything, please PM me and I will edit this post**
    Only thing to add/clarify is WRT Campagnolo freehub wheels (If you're reading this and don't know WTH a freehub is see Mike's Post #3, or if there are any terms in the following-the topic necessarily needs some vocabulary). If you don't have Campagnolo drivetrain parts on your bike you can safely ignore all of the following 95% of the time.** (see note)

    A) In shopping for a bike...specify any need for Campagnolo (versus SRAM/Shimano). Some wheelsets or wheel hubs are or were only available for Shimano. For example Shimano wheelsets AFAIK only are available with Shimano freehub bodies,or for another example Chris King Classic hubs. There are kludges in scenarios like this...in the former, there are "conversion cassettes" that take a Shimano gear cluster and space it for Campagnolo that work reasonably well if you really want or are stuck with a wheel....in the hub case, you need to shop for other hubs (King for example has a Campy road hub now, finally after years of begging)

    B) For Campagnolo wheels with campagnolo drivetrains, there are no extra spacers to put the cassette on the freehub body correctly spaced. The gear cogs and their spacers just stack. The wheel-dish and hub are designed to "just work" with 9 to 11 speed systems. Simple. Easy. If you buy a campy wheel new, it will "just work" with 9-11 speed is what all this boils down to.

    C) For shopping, NOTE that Campagnolo has TWO different cassette lockrings depending on the size of the last gear. Either 11-tooth or 12-tooth (and higher). Wheels should come with lockrings. ALWAYS talk to your wheelbuilder about that lockring size so you don't get caught feeling stupid having the wrong lockring...that WILL NOT safely work for the wrong final gear cog size. They can be ordered, but no one wants a $1000 wheelset sitting unable to be ridden for a week due to the wrong lockring (Even seasoned ringers, like and including me have done this and felt really stupid and frustrated at ourselves).





    *(note): the other 5% is if you're doing something kludge-ish and bizzare...like using a conversion cassette on a Campy hub with Campy freewheel, to make work on a Shimano drivetrain. Odds are high if you are learning all this for the first time, you do not want to be doing this. As there is little reason to ever do it.
    Last edited by Marc; 07-29-2014 at 07:05 PM.
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  6. #6
    A wheelist
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    Marc, thanks for this great addition. It's almost 30 years since I was into Campagnolo so I'm totally out of touch - until now!
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  7. #7
    Pathlete and Pedalphile
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    If I'm not mistaken, doesn't Sram use a different size lockring on 11 and 12 tooth cogs also?
    If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

  8. #8
    A wheelist
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    Q - How do I service and overhaul the Taiwan type hubs used by companies like Bike Hub Store and Bicycle Wheel Warehouse?

    A - These hubs are very easy to work on and they take very little time and few tools. The steps are too long to print here so feel free to contact me via RBR's PM system. Include an e-mail address and I will send you a Word document and some photos. The steps will tell you how to strip and re-build the hubs with new bearings and how to re-lube the pawl and drive ring unit.

    A request from me!! - please TEST your e-mail address before you send it to me! Already I've had a non-working address. Thanks.
    We fixed the problem but it seems like gmail addresses don't accept my attachments of 6 pics (reduced size) and a 3 page Word document.
    Last edited by Mike T.; 08-13-2014 at 06:10 PM.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  9. #9
    A wheelist
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    Why does my rear wheel vibrate the bike when I spin it up?

    Q - When I'm working on my bike and I spin up the rear wheel really fast, the whole back end of the bike vibrates up and down. What's doing this, how can I fix it and is it a problem?

    A - What you're experiencing, of course, is an out-of-balance condition that could be caused by the rim, tire, or both being out of balance. Rims can be out of balance due to a "plug" that is inserted in the hollow rim extrusion during the joining of the two ends of the rim extrusion, either by pinning or welding. Only those who make the rim or someone with curiosity, an old rim and a hacksaw will know which rims have plugs and which don't. The rest of us just don't care.
    Usually any plug or rim joint is exactly opposite the valve so the valve itself has the effect of tending to offset the rim plug weight.
    Tires also can be out of balance. It's possible for the rubber in one section of the tire to be slightly thicker. But none of this is an issue as when you're riding; this vertical oscillation isn't felt.

    Q - Ok, but then why do unbalanced wheels shake my car but not my bike?

    A - I can answer this one as I was a licensed car mechanic and I've balanced hundreds if not thousands of car wheels. Cars have suspension in the form of springs. Any unbalance, when the force of the unbalance overcomes the pressure exerted by the vehicle's springs, compresses the spring. The oscillation of the weight, as it rises and falls, loads and unloads the spring, resulting in a vibration felt inside the car. Also, the weight of any potential tire unbalance is far greater (in ounces) than the amount of unbalance in any bike rim or tire as there is vastly more material. Plus, a car wheel revolves much faster than a bike wheel (faster speeds, smaller diameters) than any bike wheel. Most car tires oscillate in the 100 - 130kph (60 - 80mph) range. Bikes rarely reach 60mph. But there is another reason we don't feel a bike wheel oscillation - most bikes (road bikes anyway) don't have a suspension system to load and unload. Your wheel is firmly sandwiched between you and the road. Any bikes with suspension (mountain bikes) will never reach the above speeds.

    Q - But even so, why don't rim makers balance their rims?

    A - They could do but if balancing a rim adds no benefit to the bike's ride, any extra balancing weight will then only have the effect of increasing the weight of the rim. And we all want rims and bikes to be as light as possible don't we?
    Some wheelbuilders, over the years, have advertised that their wheels are balanced after they are built. They advertise this as a "my wheels are better than anyone's unbalanced wheels" point of pride. But I guess sceptics could say that this is just a sales gimmick. Liverpool UK's Pete Matthews' "Pianni" wheels have claimed that balanced wheels are better for about the last 50 years.

    Q - Final question - why doesn't my front wheel vibrate the bike?

    A - The same reason that car wheels don't shake at 30mph - you can't get your bike wheel going fast enough on the bike stand for the force to be felt.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  10. #10
    A wheelist
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    Spoke thread engagement pics.

    For those who wonder "are my spokes long enough; will they do?" take a look at the Freespoke site that shows exactly how many threads are engaged and much more importantly, how far the spoke is up into the head of the nipple. Of course, the nipple neck is the weakest link (if not filled with a spoke!) in the whole wheel system -

    Freespoke

    This illustrates just how important accurate rim and hub measurements and spoke length calculations are.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  11. #11
    A wheelist
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    Question - How do I measure my new rim's ERD (Effective Rim Diameter)?

    Answer - go to my new ERD measuring page on my wheelbuilding website.

    Edit on April 14th 2016. This is my recent post on ERD from the forum -

    ERD warning.

    ______________________

    I have to share this in the hope that it will prevent you going through what I'm just going through.

    My wheelbuilding webpage goes on and on about never accepting anyone else's measurements for rim ERD* and hub dimensions. These crucial measurements are needed for anyone ordering their own spokes to build their own wheels.

    *ERD - Effective Rim Diameter - the distance from the end of one spoke in a finished wheel to the end of the opposite spoke in the wheel. Any good Spoke Calculator will show and tell you how to take this measurement and just where to measure from and to. It bears no resemblance to any stated rim diameter (700c, 622 etc etc). Roger Musson's calculator does this (others might too).

    Yes, taking your own ERD measurement means placing two orders - one for the rims and hubs and the other for the spokes, after you have made the measurements and done the calculations. Any other way is a total crapshoot. Read on.

    Recently I obtained a pair of rims, new on the market. To save the sender two mailing costs I went to the rim maker's site and used the stated ERD for my calculations. Then I ordered rims and spokes. BIG mistake and one I vowed never to make.

    The rims arrived and of course I measured them - weight, dimensions and especially ERD. The stated ERD was 593mm. I measured 599. WTH? I re-measured 20x. WTFH? My website (link below) shows you a pictorial of at least two ways of measuring ERD. Heck here is the page -
    Measuring ERD

    I now have 56 spokes that are 3mm too short.

    I sweated bullets wondering where I was going wrong. How could anything be this far out? So I contacted the company with my findings. Long story short - I'm right, they're wrong, changes have been made to their website.

    Moral of this story - trust no-one. Not even me. Not even the maker of the most expensive rims. They DO make mistakes; you MIGHT look up the wrong rim; they MIGHT change the rim specs and not the website; the extrusion die WILL wear.

    Measure your own ERD. Do your own spoke calculations. Order your spokes once.

    No I will not divulge the name of the rim maker or distributor. Yes they screwed up but my intention is not to kick them in the balls while they're down. My sole intention is to warn you guys.
    Last edited by Mike T.; 04-14-2016 at 11:57 AM.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  12. #12
    A wheelist
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    Q. What tire pressures should I use?

    A. This is probably the most frequently asked question on this Wheels & Tires forum and the search function will turn up lots of threads on the topic and it's why we need a forum Stickie (if anyone will ever read it).

    Tire pressures are variable due to personal likes and equipment and road surface requirements.

    Pneumatic tires perform valuable functions for us - as suspension to lessen vibration and shock and to prevent wheel or tire damage. There are a range of acceptable pressures and we have to experiment to find what is ideal for us.

    I'm going to be brief and non-scientific. Hopefully the high-tech forum members will chime in with the technical aspects of tire pressures.

    It's possible to have too much pressure and too little. Here are some of the pluses and minuses -

    Pressures too low -
    1. Potential for pinch-flats - where the tube gets pinched when the tire bottoms out against the rim, usually when a pothole or stone is hit. The tube sustains characteristic "snake bites" - two tiny slits about a 1/4 to 1/2" apart.
    2. Rim damage - the tire compresses to where the shock gets transferred undiminished to the rim material and it bends or breaks.
    3. At very low pressures - soft, mushy handling. Excess drag from energy wasted due to tire casing flexing.

    Pressures too high -
    1. Fatiguing vibration passed on to the rider.
    2. Fatiguing vibration passed on to the bike parts.**
    3. Slower speeds due to the bike and rider being constantly projected vertically, wasting energy.
    4. Clincher tire rim lips do not like the force exerted by high pressures. About 130psi is their maximum tolerance.

    **Many years ago Keith Bontrager e-mailed me to say that he kept building MTB frames and supplying them under warranty to a fellow who used narrow, high pressures tires on bad city streets without unweighting his saddle. He finally fixed the problem - "I bought him a competitor's frame and sent it to him" he said.

    Acceptable Pressures provide -
    1. Rider comfort.
    2. Equipment protection.
    3. Optimum speed.

    Rules-of Thumb -
    1. Acceptable tire pressures range from about 60psi to 100psi on tires of the correct size for us.
    2. If you need more than (about) 100psi to prevent pinch flats then you need bigger (wider) tires. Most of us are better off with 25mm wide tires. Some people need 30mm wide tires. Some need 40! And some are ok with 23mm tires.
    3. If wider tires don't have enough clearance in your frame or fork then you have the wrong bike for you. ie: road racing bikes and tires that are really meant for 120-160lb racers are not meant for 275 lb people, no matter what the bike shop guy says.
    4. The front tire carries the least weight so different pressures for front and rear are beneficial. The accepted variance is about 10psi.
    5. A reasonable place to start is 80psi front and 90psi rear. Go up or down about +/- 10psi as needed. Mine usually get to about 60/70 before I re-inflate. I've had one pinch flat in six years. I'm 175lbs on 25mm tires and my roads are quite good.
    6. With the new wider rims (23-25mm) we can use lower pressures and get the same rim and rider protection. Let's say about 10 psi lower.

    Big Variable - Road surface is the biggest variable after the obvious one of rider weight. Rougher roads need lower pressures. Tires then conform to the surface and roll over it instead of bouncing up & down off it. Higher pressures can be used on smoother surfaces. I use 130psi on a dead-smooth indoor board velodrome with 23mm 160 gram tires and 50 gram tubes.

    Here are two threads found by using the Advanced search functions.........Key Word>Titles>Pressure>Wheels & Tires forum -
    Tire pressure question

    Best tire pressure for 700C tire
    Last edited by Mike T.; 05-12-2015 at 07:21 AM.
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    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

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