Video: Can Luca Shaw Learn the Dark Arts of Wheel Building on Zoom?

May 13, 2020 at 2:16
by James Smurthwaite  

After the first episode with Greg Minnaar and Jason Marsh, "On The Spanners" is back for round 2.

In the next episode we witness Tom Duncan, back in the UK trying to navigate the dark of wheel building over the medium of Zoom, to Luca Shaw at home in North Carolina.

"I don't have a truing stand", - Luca Shaw, ready for his first wheel build.

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Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 42 1
 Title should say “Harry Potter forgets his glasses and learns the dark arts level 2 wheel building with Snape”.
  • 10 7
 What did Mike Levy say before hucking the Pole to flat? "Avada Kedavra!"
  • 19 0
 I think most people could learn how to lace a 3 cross pattern pretty quick, it's the fine tuning, dishing and getting the spoke tension right that takes time. I usually grab a beer, put on a movie or show I've already seen and set up shop with the truing stand on the coffee table. I'd say the best way to learn is to get a old used wheel take it apart and put it back together again until you're confident. Nothing like riding a set of wheels you built..then you start building your own frames... etc etc
  • 52 0
 What I've found is that the more beers I have the easier it is to get the wheel straight and true
  • 20 0
 @tezsmith: Agreed! It always seems off by morning though. Must be the nipples settling in.
  • 1 0
 This guy knows what's up. I just accept this will be a tedious process and my evening is devoted. Now if I would just do it often enough to get better at it.
  • 4 0
 I dunno, its a lot easier to build a wheel with new everything. Rebuildling an old wheel with the spokes that may or may not be the correct size and a rim that is guaranteed to not be perfectly straight and a couple of disintegrated nipples is much harder.
  • 4 1
 @coyotecycleworks we haven't move on to building our own frames yet. How embarassing for us Wink
  • 2 0
 Agreed, not that hard and somehow therapeutic. I always lace mine in a different order than the vid though, do all my inside spokes on both sides, then twist the hub and do all the crossed spokes. Guess either way works!
  • 1 0
 Same here. I don't drink but I will have a movie going and sit on the couch and build. Very relaxing and enjoyable.
  • 18 12
 Yes. Wheel building isn't that hard.
  • 3 0
 "Relax, don't do it"
  • 8 6
 I agree. If you know how to turn a screw and have some patience, wheelbuilding is embarrassingly easy. The only point where you can break stuff is by vastly overtorqueing the nipples at the end and snapping them or a spoke. But that’s hard.
  • 3 0
 Honestly, I figured it out in a few hours and my first wheel build is still going strong a year later.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: ...and that song is stuck in my head now.
  • 2 0
 @theobviousfaker: I’ll second this. Just built one last night. Walk in the park. Therapeutic also imho.
  • 1 1
 @theobviousfaker: it gets tricky once you want to true a used wheel with "dirty" nipple threads.
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: Sorry for that. The word "relax" popped up in my head when I saw the article and this is what it turned into. But yeah, that's the mindset you need to have for building your first wheel. Relax, chill, take your time and you'll be fine. The first wheel I ever built I built as a spare rear wheel to take to the Megavalanche. But I actually rode that wheel all week and it held up just fine. For years afterwards too. Just like for that wheel, I prefer to build with DT Alpine III spokes. They're 2.3mm thick near the spoke head. I don't think they ever break.
  • 1 0
 @Citrons: Yeah, but that's true of every mechanical job where bolts are rusted, etc. Aluminium nipples tend to disintegrate after a couple of years all-round usage. Sometimes its easier to just exchange every nipple one at a time for new ones. They are dirt cheap.
  • 6 0
 Like a lot of things, it's easy to do but not so easy to do well.
  • 5 0
 I count at least 32 places I can screw up. When you use compounding formulas, my potentional to jackknife an 18 wheeler in the snow at 80mph is equivalent to this task.
  • 5 4
 eh, with the proper tools and a wheelbuilding guide, you can build your own wheels nice and solid. after your 2nd wheel, the only difference between you and a pro is how quickly you can get it done. a pro can easily do it in under an hour, it still takes me 3.5 hours because i only build like 2 a year. the quality of the build and longevity of the wheel is no different though
  • 3 0
 @xeren: there are certainly more difference thank you lead on to, I think. I communicate regularly with some very fine wheel builders, some with over 40 years of experience, and I'm not sure any of them are building their very best wheel in an hour. I'd say anyone who's building a wheel in an hour is not working to the same tolerances, and doing the same prep as a real 'pro'. Just my 2 cents.
  • 1 0
 @xeren: I've always found that over the years, my wheels only last as long as the guy at the shop re-tensioning it and how consistently I have them tweak it back in shape.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: totally. If you change the shape of the rim, all bets are off. Doesn't really matter how good the initial build was, it will need tweaking
  • 3 0
 Idk, I feel like if you can disassemble your bike then you can build a wheel. People make it out to be much harder than it really is. It's not rocket science!
  • 1 0
I've tried to teach wheel building to a few people and its surprising how many completely struggle to wrap thier heads around the concepts of leading and trailing spokes, aligning hub logos and valve holes, tension balancing, measuring and calculating spoke lengths etc. As you says it's not rocket science, but it's definitely more involved than taking a bike apart when you get I to the details!
  • 2 1
Ha. Oh you’re that guy hey.
  • 1 0
 Who needs a trueing stand anyway? Lace it up and then bung it in the frame or fork to do the dishing and trueing. Although it was a bit harder when I did a Lefty front wheel because, well, it's not a fork... Razz That was a 24-spoke 2-cross XC wheel - super light!

The shop guy who did my first DH wheel was a genius - it's still running true - 20 years later... think the metal fatigue is well and truly setting in now, but it's hard to find affordable DH-quality 26" rims or wheels now!

Definitely worth learning to build your own wheels though, saves a fortune and gives more choice. I was forced to learn years ago when I got a V10 Mk1 with those custom Hadley rear hubs, and had to move my old rim on to the new hub. Thanks to the great Sheldon Brown guides! That first time took me nearly 2 days (not least because I completely fubar'd the lacing and had to dismantle the whole thing), probably down to 2 hours now and picked up quite a few nuances along the way. Next job will be to rebuild my trail back wheel - good Hope hub but really heavy rim and old mismatched badly-tensioned spokes - got a lighter rim in the house. I use Alpina DB spokes and brass nipples for my own builds.
  • 5 2
 I would have assumed anything that has a ubiquitous amount of "Nippling" would be something that all dudes would be into?
  • 3 1
 Visited SantaCruz back in 2017. Got drunk with one of those wheelbuilders at the bar nearby, even found some Belgian IPA over there!
  • 1 1
 I have seen many ppl call themselves wheel builders. But if you have to true your wheels after the first or second ride your not a wheel builder. The true Master was John Kovachi rest his sole. I got to learn from him on tensioning and prestressing the spokes. All the wheels I use what he taught me and once the wheel is built I never have to touch them again.
  • 3 1
 I think people confuse building a wheel, and building a fantastic wheel, by some of what is being said in here.
  • 1 0
 IDK - it's not rocket science man
  • 3 1
 @camcoz69: it certainly isn't rocket science. I never said it was. But I think a lot of people miss many of the nuances that go into making a really great wheel. And discount the value of the experience of someone who has built many many wheels. Someone above made the argument that the only difference is speed, and that couldn't be the furthest thing from the truth.
  • 2 0
 @privateer-wneels: nuances? Like what, hub logo under the valve hole?

Just kidding Big Grin . I built a total of around 20 wheels in my life, wouldn’t be able to do it to any even average extent without occasional help my mechanic friend. The issue is that for me most wheels come easy, but the biggest difference between me and a good builder is when shit just won’t come together when truing. Some wheels will just come straight and evenly tensioned right away, like my daughters rear wheel. But the front this time around? Oh God... it was a tornment despite having a softish rim. 3 days later I built myself a front wheel from a panzer wide rim, zero problems. Zero.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: with wheels, sometimes it works out, and other times the parts just aren't perfect. Lots of rims out there that just aren't made flat and round - as a builder, you are from the outset, chasing the best version of imperfection you can. Add to that, that some hoops (every hoop) reacts differently to tension. You get to learn that after a while, and adjust building methods to the rims and parts you are using. These are nuances missed by many who aren't building a lot of wheels.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wheels: i probably couldn't build ANY wheel brand as well as the ones i typically build, since i build 2 a year, but i only build up DT swiss rims on DT swiss hubs and spokes. maybe that consistency is what makes it so easy to build a good wheel. in that case, that's what i would recommend other amateurs like me do.

what nuances are you referring to? all my wheels are still going strong, i check the tensions now and then and nothing has drastically changed, indicating a very stable build. only downside is the time they take to build up
  • 2 0
 They made wheel building seem like a nightmare. It's way easier than they made it look.
  • 2 0
 Anyone know why Dougie no longer wrenches Luca's bikes?
  • 4 0
 I'd take a guess, that since Doug works in house at Santa Cruz, and has been a professional-touring mechanic since the early 90's, I would have to guess 30yrs of traveling was enough eh?
  • 1 0
 Fuck this is gold, I want to build a wheel now
  • 1 0
 Eat zoomers and build the wheel
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