Wheel Building at Reynolds Cycling w/ Julia Hofmann - Video

Aug 5, 2016
by Julia Hofmann  
This spring, professional mountain biker, and world traveller Julia Hofmann was on a road trip in the USA and popped in to visit her sponsor, the carbon wheel building company, Reynolds Cycling to learn about the art of wheel building...

Views: 7,621    Faves: 5    Comments: 3

bigquotesI've always been interested in technical things. All of my bikes, forks, cars, etc. I disassemble them into their component parts to understand how they work. So I wanted to know how my carbon wheels are produced.

While on my US road trip this spring, I visited Reynolds Cycling to get to know the secrets behind their carbon wheels. When I arrived at the headquarters, I was immediately and warmly welcomed by the whole team and fed locally baked Popcorn, mmm. Along each step of production, I had one person teaching me (with a lot of patience) the details on how to built my own wheelset.

But when it came time to test the wheels, I did it my way. Moab Baby! Follow me as I get to go from carbon layers to a rim, to a complete wheelset and then on to riding them. - Julia Hofmann

My new Reynolds Cycling BlackLabel MTN 27.5 Enduro wheel set built by myself Pic Philip Ruopp
My new Reynolds Cycling BlackLabel MTN 27.5 Enduro wheelset, built by myself.

Then layer by layer the fabric is carefully inserted into the mold taking care to ensure a correct fibre pattern.
Then, layer by layer, the fabric is carefully inserted into the mold, taking care to ensure the correct fibre pattern.

Reynolds uses only the best materials to create a perfect wheel system. For the BlackLabel MTN 27.5 Enduro wheel sets they work in direct contact with Industry Nine and they develop perfect fitting hubs for the Reynolds Cycling rims.
Reynolds uses only the best materials to create a perfect wheel system. For the BlackLabel MTN 27.5 Enduro wheelsets, they work in partnership with Industry Nine to develop the perfect fitting hubs for the Reynolds Cycling rims.

With critical eye Pat makes sure that I would not make any mistakes while mounting the hub and the spokes into the rim.
With a critical eye, Pat makes sure that I won't make any mistakes while mounting the hub and the spokes into the rim.

Mike usually he is responsible for the decals at the wheels but every day at noon he is the Popcornman in house...
Mike is typically responsible for the decals on the wheels, but every day at noon he is the in-house Popcornman.

My wheel set turned out super...but safety is paramount tomorrow I will test them again... -
After several hours of work and a lot of patience, the wheels are ready and the bike matching decals are mounted... Finally, we are able to start the testing - Let's got to Moab! Until the sun goes down, I carefully check the stiffness of the wheelset in various berms, jumps, and landings as well as check the handling in rocky sections, while braking and speeding up... It's tough testing, but someone's got to do it. My wheelset turned out super...but you can't be too careful, tomorrow I will test them again.

MENTIONS: @ReynoldsCycling / @sunnyrideoflife


  • 69 5
 Stopped watching it after phrase "Before a wheel can be produced, it has to be designed". Are we at school in the first grade or something? Yes I understand that all these tech videos are advertisement but could you at least made it more interesting and less infantile? Could you at least tell us some really interesting facts about wheel building except "we use only the best materials", "we have only the best designers" bla bla bla.... Kindergarten!
  • 35 11
 Yeah, second that. Too many manufacturers go the way of Donald Trump. Long on hypebole, short on specifics.
  • 15 63
flag Beez177 (Aug 5, 2016 at 7:58) (Below Threshold)
 @RunsWithScissors: Yeah and Hillary has all the answers!? Her famous last words " I have a plan for that" oh yeah Hillbillary what's your plan? ( silence...)
  • 23 5
 @Beez177: take it easy, he or she didn't say that. But Trump is long on hyperbole, short on finger length.
  • 1 1
 Yeah & she's talking in gibberish too like we're babies or sump'm. WTF? Ô.o
  • 20 1
 Damn brah, I like videos where everything goes perfectly. Like, "let's build this house!".........starts hammering...........20 seconds go by.............."voila, here is our perfect house!".
  • 3 1
 If carbon wheels were that easy to make, max I would pay for a that wheelset would be 20 bucks. Haha
  • 7 1
 A video about hot European chick building her own carbon wheelset. Then goes out and rides the Shit out of them in moab bucket list riding. Hell yeah I'm down with that as cheese as it was.Except for the riding Thanks Reynolds
  • 10 3
 Nominee: Lamest technical composite construction video ever.

Glad my expectations were low as this is not a composite engineering forum.

There is also no way those wheels are ready in a couple of hours. Resin takes time to cure, even in an autoclave.
  • 8 1
 apparently the video is password protected...
  • 2 1
 Apparently is not
  • 10 4
 I'd like to see more about the nipples.
  • 6 2
 Nice video. Wish I could watch it.
  • 4 0
 I can't even play the video by myself moreover building a wheelset.
  • 1 0
 These cats make a solid rim.. I've had 3 sets and will continue to purchase.. Only with i9 or dt hubs though. Only complaint is they need a little help with decal designs.
  • 2 0
 Video password protected. Poor advertising strategy, I would have thought.
  • 5 4
 Laying up carbon without gloves on? Reynolds just lost a potential customer.
  • 4 0
 Health and safety reasons? Or something to do with oils/sweat contaminating the carbon layers?
  • 3 0
 Both. Perhaps they should look at the MSDS sheets and microparticulate structure in the epoxy resins. Typically the only way to really remove the resin is using acetone while it is still uncured. To add to the seriousness of that, acetone is easily absorbed through the skin and straight into the bloodstream. Mix dissolved epoxy resin particles to the solution and you have a potential for instant transfer into the body. We are all at risk of cancer with the way we live today, so why increase the risk for absolutely no reason.
  • 9 1
 No they didn't; you were never going to pay that much for quality wheels.
  • 1 0
 @b1k35c13nt15t: I wouldn't be so sure - I am actually in the market for some carbon rims, and I'm waiting for my new fork to arrive that cost about the same again. Where I work, working on carbon without gloves would get you a disciplinary at best. If you're going to flaunt your latest and greatest in an advert, at least do it properly.
  • 1 0
 @meesterover: We also use acetone, but I've only seen it used as a de-greaser before surface activation prior to secondary bonding. With uncured pre-pregs the key is to prevent contamination in the first place.
  • 1 0
 @DokonjoDaikon: I agree. However, I am a hobbyist (15+ years messing with composites, but still a hobbyist). Trust me, I have learned all the things not to do, the hard way. There are still small, quasi-permanent areas of epoxy resin stuck to my dad's garage floor.
  • 9 11
 Wheel building basics: get a cheap hub or a quality hub with easily obtainable spares, in any instance, one accepting J-bend spokes. Get easily obtainable J-bend spokes like DT comps or go right away for aero spokes, in between sucks. Get brass nipples. Get a cheap rim or a quality alu rim. Become friends with a guy with the truing stand and tools, or buy a truing stand. If you can afford a quality truing stand, just give the spares to some psychopath wheel builder or just buy a complete wheelset...

I like watching forum posts where some dude buys wheel parts for 1000$ Or more and then uses his 3k frame with 1,5k fork as truing stands. I pride myself with building all my wheels myself. No... The question is whether there is any qualified wherl builder who would be proud of you.
  • 3 0
 that's fuuny, that's me! well not really, never a built a complete wheel and never thought anyone would seriously build one without a truing stand. I love using a good stand for wheel maintenance and sorting buckles and eggs but without one i have to use the frame, pegs, cards, pencils, squinty eyes, side tongue and whatever works.
  • 3 1
 @WasabiJim: "i have to use the frame, pegs, cards, pencils, squinty eyes, side tongue and whatever works" Me too))) But in my case I build all my wheels by myself. And they stiff and totally smooth. I jump some little street riding and till now everything is cool.
  • 1 1
 I built my wheels w/o truing stand, tried to get it in ok-shape. Then went to the local shop, gave them some change and went through fine-tuning there (by myself ofcourse). First wheelset pays off to be cheap, because you're bound to make mistakes.
  • 1 1
 Doing wheels by hand it a black art. Doing a wheel it's easy. I made my first wheels whit a youtube video but making it totally OK and perfect straight it's another game. I make all the hard job and take my wheels to the local shop or firends to make the last touches.Of course I make the job in and hour or so and a professional guy can do it in a few minutes.
  • 3 0
 Good tip for you would be wheel builders. When choosing parts for your first build don't use a second had rim or spokes. If there is and variance these components it will only hinder your wheel building efforts
  • 3 1
 I've built about 10 wheelsets now, & this is my takeaway: truing stand is a convenience tool. It's a lot of convenience, to be fair, because using the jury-rig methods with your frame suck, but it's doable.

It's the tension gauge that makes or breaks a build. equal tension makes a huge difference in every respect of how a wheelset feels & performs. & while I'm sure someone will chime in that their "pluck & listen" technique is calibrated, nothing beats repeatable, accurate measurements.
  • 3 4
 @groghunter: this is all true. Your home mechanic will be happy with a thumb and an eyeball though and in the real world once a wheel has been throw about a bit and tweeted and trued all that even tension has gone straight out the window.
  • 3 2
 @randybadger: Everything I have found with truing, retensioning, & fixing bent wheels says that your statement is untrue. tension may vary to fix bent spots, but making sure as much of the rest of the wheel as possible remains at ideal tension has huge impact on remaining lifespan of the wheel, & keeping the wheel from feeling like a wet noodle.
  • 5 4
 @groghunter: i understand the principles of tensioning well enough but as soon as you apply additional tension to one area of a wheel it has a propotional affect on the opposing pairs of spokes. You could conceivably build wheel with an off center hub with all spokes having equal tension and variable length. The tension you place on the individual spokes in broad terms is to ensure you diminish any inperfections in the rim. Even tension is not gauranteed to remove lateral and horizontal variance.
It is still true that a home mechanic will be satisfied with his efforts if he has created a round servicable wheel. He will gauge overall tension by feel. Its a fact.
  • 4 2
 @randybadger: So a home mechanic is fine if his wheel is round & serviceable, but doesn't last due to uneven tension? I find that very hard to believe. No matter how much you label your opinion as fact.
  • 2 6
flag randybadger (Aug 5, 2016 at 9:28) (Below Threshold)
 @groghunter: there is no "uneven tension" the dish requires tensioning of spokes on one side to be specific, to ensure the wheel has no kinks or blebs or wobbles additional (or lesser) tension is applied to individual spokes. Yes tension is in the same ballpark but individually each spoke my differ.
  • 2 1
 @randybadger: "You could conceivably build wheel with an off center hub with all spokes having equal tension and variable length."

This is false.

If the spoke angle relative to the hub axle (and therefore, the effective spoke length) is different from one side of the wheel to the other, as is most often the case, the average spoke tension on each side must be different. It is basic statics.
  • 1 1
 Edit: ...assuming the same spoke count and lacing pattern on each side of the wheel.
  • 3 0
 @mrleach: I'll give you that, to a degree I'm playing devils advocate. The initial point still stands though that spoke tension isn't entirely uniform throughout a wheel.
  • 1 0
 Not only that, but I would add that I don't care how well you can "tune" your spokes in. You cannot build a proper wheel without a tension gauge.

My first wheelset came out perfect and bullet proof. It doesn't care what I do to it. It holds tension and stays true.
  • 1 0
 @groghunter: what kind of variance do you find is acceptable when equalizing spoke tension? my LBS mechanic shoots for ~3%, but he's built hundreds, maybe thousands of wheels. what kind of variance should a home mechanic shoot for, to avoid things slowly going out of true?
  • 2 1
 From what I have heard from a fetishist wheel building whacko was that he always finds balance between wheel being true and having spoke tension as even as possible. Another mechanic confirmed that. I had just one set of (actual) factory wheelset: Crossmax STs and it was unbelievable for me what those theoretically whimpy rims could take with factory tensioning. My friend tensioned spokes for my current custom DT build, again: fantastic durability. The wheels that I've built all by myself? Not so much, despite getting them true to a milimeter, both vertically and laterally
  • 3 2
 I think there is something that needs to be said at this point. I've been building wheels since the late 80s for some time at a professional level. It's possible I've built upwards of 3000 wheels. When I started we didn't use a tensiometer. And to this day still don't. There is quite a broad range of tension within the scope of a wheel build. From a feel point of view even tension is important but beyond that festers sing the wheel and removing spoke twist is far more important. It's not a job that requires micromanaging with a device. It's something every home mechanic is capable of and every pre internet generation pro wheel builder was entirely capable of.
  • 3 0
 @xeren: if you are +/- 5% it will be a quality build, it's very difficult to have a precise measurement anyway.
More important is the lowest absolute value and the homogeneity (avoid having a low tension spoke between high ones).
And highest importance: stress relieved wheels will last longer than high tension ones. If you hear ping noises on the first pedal turns, it means you have a shitty wheel, no matter how high tension is.
  • 1 0
 "Fester sing" = destressing
iPhone auto spell
  • 1 2
 @groghunter: just please be quiet groghunter
  • 2 0
 @xeren: I don't have a fancy tension meter, just the park one, so I imagine my guage's accuracy is worse than 3%. I just get every spoke the same on the park scale (for most builds, that's around 20 - 21) then dish the wheel. double check that things are even & that the high tension side is below the spec for the rim, then bring the wheel true(which, with a new rim & equal tension, usually is about 95% by that point.)
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: agreed on factory wheels. between modern rims & better truing machines, factory wheels are amazingly good these days. one more case of even the cheap versions of bike parts still being really good these days. Unlike 20 years ago, if you destroy a factory wheel early, it's probably because of a cheap rim, or a bad hub, not the crappy machine truing.
  • 1 1
 I've built hundreds of wheels, mtb, road, bmx, wheelchair, trotter carriage, pro, amateur, whack-job,... on the work bench, in the stand, without the stand, on the couch, in the kitchen, down the basement, in the back yard, out in the garage, on the front steps, single butt, double butt, triple butt, j-hook, straight pull, aero, 3x, 4x, 2x, 1x, radial, twist cross, good spokes, bad spokes, ti spokes, and you know what? aah sort it out yourself my 20yo wheels still rockin'
  • 1 1
 @toddonbike: that's because wheel building isn't the esoteric art some would have you believe.
Keep keeping it real.
I like to lace mine at the kitchen table.
  • 1 0
 @randybadger: if you build 4 wheels per year then it is a very esoteric art. I tend to call upon demons sometimes...
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: they come out straighter and stronger if you sit in a circle surrounded by candles listening to Judas Priest drinking sacrificial cider.
  • 1 0
 @randybadger: I rarely get the lacing right for the first wheel I build after a year long break. If you do something rarely, no matter how much you know about how to do it, sht just happens. This one time I got friends wheel straight and tensioned and then I noticed the rim is 6mm off the center... It takes me at least 45 mins to build a wheel and 1 hour to true and tension it. It may not be a mystical art if you do lots of them.

It is very hard job to live up to average Pinkbike users standards Big Grin You have to be able to true wheels, repair a Reverb, service fork, fill the shock with nitrogen, do a wheelie, scrub like Brendog, send each jump on Crabapple bits, visit Whistler, Chilcotins, NZ, f*cking Nepal, spend at least 2 weeks in Morzine (BTW your bike must survive that and you are allowed only to fix punctures and oil your chain) pack the bike for a flight, build trails, weld a frame, and on top of that be an expert in bear attacks. List is long my friend...

Inside my heart is braking, my make up may be fading but my smile, still stays oooon!
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: i think the original point may have lost its way a bit.
In not expecting anyone to be marvellous immediately but there was the insinuation that a home mechanic can't build a safe wheel without tensiometers, truing jigs, dishing tools and so on.
While it is a more complex task than many, it is still one well within the capabilities of a home mechanic with a good eye and a bit of savy.
Not bellitling your efforts, if anything I'm encouraging more home mechanics to have a go and not be put off by the pseudo science.
  • 2 0
 @randybadger: I was just channeling a thought about the grudge of accomplishment/perform generation. So to sum up: if you're a home mechanic then if you are building a crappy wheelset, do it yourself, but if you are to get a decent wheelset - build it at home if you dig that sht, and then give it to a proper dude for truing and tensioning.
  • 1 0
 had soo much trouble with their free hub (actually 3 of them...) Changed wheelset (brand), now it's all good!
  • 1 0
 Reynolds wheels were having really shitty hubs. Not sure if anything changed.
  • 2 1
 Video is password protected :/
  • 2 0
 The password is "Ryan"
  • 2 1
 Sorry guys, you should be able to watch the video now!
  • 4 0
 Doesn't matter, it's mostly a bunch of keyboard warriors with self-aggrandized opinions. That's just my opinion.
  • 2 0
 Worked or me
  • 1 0
 No problem with the video for me!!
  • 1 0
 Bahaha, think I preferred when it was password protected
  • 1 0

... hey, Reynolds, I make a pretty good pizza... hire me?
  • 2 0
 haha cool video.
  • 1 0
 winner of most awkward corporate video of the year
  • 1 0
 I'd like her to feed me some of her popcorn. Wink
  • 1 1
 Err, poopcorn. Sorry I meant poopcorn. Smile
  • 1 0
 I'd buy my rims from her. Nicely done Reynolds
  • 2 1
 best video since long.
  • 1 0
 Dear oh dear oh dear...
  • 3 4
 shes hot
  • 2 5
 How much for these?....not wheels, Julia

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