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I am considering getting an older Raleigh 3-speed for everyday riding and, if I do, I think I would want to replace the steel rims with alloy rims for better braking.

This is my understanding: because of the nonstandard 110mm rear/90mm front hub spacing on these bikes I am pretty much limited to building new wheels around the original hubs and cannot just buy a factory-built wheel.

Where in Chicago can I have these wheels built cheaply? And what is a reasonable price to pay? Since this is an inexpensive bike I don't want to sink too much money into it. I've also considered trying to do the initial build myself and then taking the wheels to a shop for truing to save money. Is this a good idea or a bad idea?

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OK, so that video is exactly what I am talking about when it comes to buyer beware.  That is not a very good wheel building video if you want to build a quality wheel.

For one thing he never mentions spoke prep or lubing the spoke bed in the rims both of which are important to have a wheel that holds tension and is easy to true in the future.

He not once mentions lining the logo on the hub up with the valve hole or making sure the logo on the rim is readable from the drive side.

Using the method of lacing he does where he winds the wheel up to determine if the initial round of spokes are leading or trailing can result in the valve stem being under a cross in the spokes making it difficult to fill the tire up.  

It also means that it is not set if the leading or tailing spokes have the heads out.

The way his spokes were not more even when he started to tension the wheel is often, but not always, a sign that the wheel is not properly laced but I can not tell that for sure because...

He tensions the wheel without a tensiometer which means he has no idea if the wheel is properly tensioned either. 

It's a BMX rim which means it takes a lot of tension to get it in/out of true so how true the wheel is at the end is not much of an endorsement of his wheel building.

Wheel building is not hard, anyone can do it, but it does take some knowledge and proper tools to do it correctly.  Wheels built like the one in that video are not going to be as high a quality or last as long.  In fact I would bet that the only reason that kids wheels hold up, and yours as well if you build them like that, is that small BMX rims like that are wicked strong on their own.


Jerry Lee said:

When I wanted to get some wheels laced, LBS gave me the runaround, saying they are busy, or get the spokes and rim and , and they would lace it. I went on UTUBE, and looked up some videos, what I thought was a magical procedure, was nothing other than ordinary instructions. hence, I built my 1st wheel, a 20" front hub with disc brakes, 3 cross. I also have a truing stand, spoke cutter, and spoke ruler, spoke wrenches.

   Since then(a year ago) I have built more than 10 disc brake wheels for myself. I even got me a cheap spoke threader powered by an electric drill, and started to make my little wheels(16"), as ordering spokes for small wheels is hard to find unless you order cut to order. Like the 16" wheels, spokes were between 96mm to 100mm in a 1 cross pattern. 

   Below is a utube video on lacing a 3 cross BMX wheel by an young bmxer.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbUm9NFRtHQ

I've never known a DIY wheelbuilder that has a tension meter.  I knew a guy who said if the wheel is properly tensioned, the spokes will all ring out at the same key when struck by a screwdriver.  So apparently, you have to have perfect pitch and will have to know that all your spokes are singing B-flat or something.  Probably bullpoop, right?

It is possible to build a round and true wheel without a tension meter, so lots of guys cheap out on the expensive tool.  My tension meter cost me $100 many many years ago.  They're going online for about $70 these days.  I wouldn't consider a round and true wheel to be a good wheel until the tension is even. 

As reasonable as the Parktool tension meters are today, I dont know why anyone would build wheels without a tension meter. It's about equally important as a spoke wrench in my opinion.

If you want to build these wheels yourself, be sure to thoroughly read up on the subject and take a class that offers hands-on experience (like West Town's). Also be prepared for the possibility that your first set of DIY wheels may not stay true for long. Even the best of us have learned things from trial and error early on.

That said, if your intention is to get this one wheelset at the lowest possible cost, and you have no desire to learn the ins and outs of building and trueing....maybe your best value is to have someone build them for you. For $50ish per wheel, you can have them built up. You can ask your builder to supply the components or shop around for them yourself and ask him/her to just charge you for labor. (You may need their help in calculating spoke length)

Good luck :)

 Juan;

 

  As a diy, I have also a spoke tension gauge. There are many spoke length calculators out there. I usually use 2, to check the math. At $50 a wheel, times the 12 that I built for my self, comes to about $600, that pays for my truing stand, spoke cutter, spoke threader, Parks tension gauge, wheelsmith wheel prep. I use Sun rims, and wheel smith, DT swiss or Odessey spokes, cut to calculated length. Now days, I just buy 100 spokes at 260mm and cut them down myself, and thread them.

   Here is another no no that we ebikers do, we lace the motor hub radially. I have them on 3 of my 7 ebikes.   later,   Jerry

How about 650b? the BSD is barely different from 26 x 1 3/8 and there are plenty of good rim and tire choices. Not that this is likely relevant to what the OP is doing, as he seems to be on his way.

And now that I have watched the Triplets of Belleville again, I am totally convinced that I can tension and true a wheel properly using a model of the Eiffel Tower, a pair of pliers, and a tuning fork. What could go wrong?

notoriousDUG said:

I find the concept of a 700c wheel on a Raleigh to be distasteful at best...

I do have some spare Kool Stop pads and I think I will try those for a while before going for new wheels. If nothing else hopefully that will get me through the summer and I can get the wheels done this winter when the shops are less busy.

Thanks all for the advice.

650b makes sense, 700 does not.


David P. said:

How about 650b? the BSD is barely different from 26 x 1 3/8 and there are plenty of good rim and tire choices. Not that this is likely relevant to what the OP is doing, as he seems to be on his way.

And now that I have watched the Triplets of Belleville again, I am totally convinced that I can tension and true a wheel properly using a model of the Eiffel Tower, a pair of pliers, and a tuning fork. What could go wrong?

notoriousDUG said:

I find the concept of a 700c wheel on a Raleigh to be distasteful at best...

+1 to the above, Kool Stop Continental (Kontinental?) brake pads do make a difference even on steel rims. 

We had a c. 60s Raleigh Sports for a while, daughter used to ride it to school.  I did everything to overhaul and improve it (new pads, cables, overhaul S-A rear hub and front hub, new gorgeous Schwalbe Delta Creme tires) EXCEPT for changing the rims out.  Daughter ultimately felt bike was too heavy and clunky for her, so I sold it to a very happy U of C student. 

In retrospect new alloy rims would have been worth doing, would have made it feel lighter to pedal, and probably could have upped to resale value enough to balance out.

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