Wheel Building…

12 01 2011

Adjusting a little bit at a time...

I can build a bike wheel if I have to, but I don’t build my own wheels. Why not?  The difference between building an okay wheel and a great wheel is significant and only happens with years of experience under your belt and many sets of wheels rolling out the door. If I built my own wheels I’d probably build one or two sets a year – enough to be competent, but not enough to be great at it.  Add in the fact wheel building is cheap at $30 – $50 a wheel and it makes a lot of sense to use an expert for your bike wheels.

A well built wheel with parts selected sensibly should never need any major attention unless you have an accident or ram a deadly pot hole at speed so it’s money well spent.

The building blocks to a bike wheel...

Even though I don’t build my own wheels in general I have built two wheel [front and back] just so I understand what’s involved.  That allows me to make good judgement calls on a wheel I’m looking at and should I need to do some on the road tweaking after an incident I have the skills to get my wheel back into rolling shape.  If circumstances demanded I could build up a wheel for my bike and keep a tour going.  Of course if an expert bike mechanic was close by I’d just drop off the parts with him and go find a pub to kill some time!  It’s good to have options.

If you’ve never built a wheel find yourself a cheap used wheel that’s in okay shape.  Borrow a truing stand and tear the wheel down to its basic parts and rebuild it.  There are lots of tips on how to build a wheel online and Jobst Brandt’s book shown above is a handy reference.

Proper tension is key...

Bike tourists in particular fret a lot about how burly their rims are and how many spokes they have in each wheel. I think this worry is often illogical.  If you are concerned about the strength/reliability of your wheel it’s far more important how it was built than the parts used.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t care about the parts used, but that should be secondary to proper wheel building practices.  I’d much rather ride a well built 32H lighter duty wheel set on tour than a poorly built 40H heavy duty wheel set.

If you are riding machine built wheels.  [If you don’t know who built your wheels they are machine built wheels.] Take them to a wheel builder and have him adjust the tension.  This will be the best $10 you ever spent and will make those wheels last much longer and head off any problems before they happen.





Customizing the RRD for Sharon…

12 01 2011

Tweaking my big twin tip for Sharon...

Sharon will be using my big twin tip RRD Placebo board when she comes down to Baja.  It’s easy to ride and provides lots of lift making it easy to get out of the water and stay planning even if you don’t fly the kite perfectly.  That’s why it’s smart to learn on a big board and keep it around for light wind days and for new kiters to use.

Installing an Ocean Rodeo GoJoe...

The nice folks at Bellingham Kiteboarding let me swap out Sharon’s all black Ocean Rodeo GoJoe for one with some orange on it for better visibility – thanks!  As a new kiter you lose your board a lot and body dragging back to it all the time gets old fast.  The GoJoe keeps your board a lot closer to you by acting like a sail so that it’s easy to spot in the waves and easier to get back to.  Definitely a worthwhile investment.  Even when Sharon is past the learning stage we’ll keep the GoJoe around for tough conditions where losing your board is a real risk.

Adjusting pads...

You’ll notice the lower pad is closer to the heel edge [left side of photo] than the top one.  I moved both pads in to the centre as far as possible and towards the heel edge so that Sharon [who is a lot lighter than me] has some help putting weight on the heel edge.  That’s the edge she’ll be riding 90% of the time and with small feet and lower body weight it’s not as easy for her to  load up that edge as it is for me.  A narrower stance also makes sense with shorter legs.

The final touch...

Once I had it all setup I cleaned it off and personalized the board for Sharon…=-)