The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I finally built up this wheel that I've been scheming for months. You ever get some crazy, change-the-world idea in your head and life is too busy to execute it? That's how this went. I'm not sure how strong it will be, or whether it will flex like Spinergy mags, but it was a fun project.

I had an old set of XTR FH-M950 hubs laying around after the Mavic 517's they were laced to gave way. (Two-cross with Revolution spokes and aluminum nipples. Raced them for 6 seasons before I wore through the sidewalls.) They were begging me for redeployment, so I said "OK, you win" and bought a pair of Alex Adventurer rims.

If you haven't familiarized yourself with Alex Adventurer rims yet, you probably should. They are the most cost-effective training rim out there. They build up almost perfect, have eyelets and machined sidewalls, and are a true double-wall. "RACER'S EDGE" glares at you prominently from the decals, but at 540 grams for a 26" rim, they're about a third of a pound on the chubby side for number plate duty. But for beater wheels, they're a great option!

My idea was this: crow's foot lacing only works with spoke counts in multiples of 6: 24 hole, 36 hole, or 48 hole drillings are the only conventional ones that work. Otherwise, there is a hybrid crow's foot that looks pretty cool and works on wheels with multiples of 8 (which is most of them, except 28 hole). I've got these sweet hubs just pining to be used again, but they're 32 hole. So I thought about it for a while, drew some pictures while daydreaming in service meetings (sorry, Pete), and figured that if I took the crow's foot pattern, but used two adjacent radial spokes, crossing spokes would be three cross length and tangent at the flange. It would probably be a nice, strong, stable wheel, and it would be something different.

At last I had time to execute it, so I cut some spokes on the handy Phil Wood Spoke Cobbler: 16 radial (253 mm) and 16 3X (265 mm). I made the 3X spokes black, thinking it would look all awesome and stuff, but it wasn't as striking in appearance as I'd hoped. It looks more like I patched a disaster back together with some franken-spokes. That's OK, we'll call it theft deterrent.

Lacing was a snap. I did all the radial first, alternating heads in and out, and then ran the crossing spokes inside the radials. This was a somewhat arbitrary decision, but it seemed like there was better bracing this way. Plus, if I bust a spoke, it won't require a major tear-down to get at any of them. Given the type of service this wheel will see, this is a good thing.

Test ride coming soon!