Wheels That Work

I'm a wheelbuilder! I've built a few wheels, and hope to build more in the future. Hand wheelbuilding is a fun craft, one that I hope never dies.

My favorite book on this topic is The Art Of Wheelbuilding by Gerd Schraner. It's an excellent and thorough 100-page introduction to the art and craft of hand-built wheels.

In short, your wheels are a very substantial component of your bicycle, and, like your frame, should be carefully chosen to suit the task at hand. Your wheels should say something about you, your body, and the type of riding you do. I recently built a bombproof pair of wheels for myself for long-distance touring and city riding. I chose Chris King road hubs, DT Swiss RR 1.2 rims, and 32 butted DT Swiss 2.0/1.8/2.0 spokes. They're very traditional, very solid wheels.

For a Bike and Build trip, I would suggest bringing wheels that have at least 28 spokes in a radial, 2-cross, or 3-cross lacing. The wheels can be as fancy, or not fancy, as you'd like.

I've alluded to the fact that I don't recommend paired spoke wheels, such as the Bontrager Race Lites, for Bike and Build. Though the spokes rarely fail on these paired spoke wheels, a single spoke failure is more than enough to ruin the rim. There are not enough spokes on these wheels, and they are spaced too far apart. Don't get me wrong, paired spoke wheels can be very light and fast, but they belong on the race course, not the open road. (If you do have paired spoke wheels , you'll probably be fine.)

Shimano seems to agree that paired spoke wheels are a bad idea. Their Dura-Ace wheelset has returned to traditional spoke lacing after many years.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/wheel/index.htm provides some interesting technical information on wheels, if anyone cares. :-)