Monday, September 29, 2008

How To - DV46 Spoke Lengths and Rebuild

The White Industries equipped 16H front and 20H rear Reynolds wheels uses spokes.

Of course.

I broke one of them a month or two ago, and with buying a house, moving, and even working, rebuilding the clincher rear has taken a bit of time. I finally got around to it, after overcoming a hurdle.

I found it a bit difficult to find exactly which size spokes the wheels use, and with the hidden spoke nipples, it was hard to see where they ended (and the broken spoke wasn't of much help). Reynold's site doesn't have specs for older wheels, especially those with hubs other than the ones currently used.

But they do have a support number.

So I called Reynolds, got a friendly and competent customer service person, and he looked up the spoke length for the White Industries equipped 16/20 spoke DV46 wheels.

The inner rim, where the spoke nipples sit, are the same for both the clincher and the tubular. The outer cap differentiates the two models. Since I have matching tubular and clincher DV46s, I decided that I better rebuild everything - the clinchers now, the tubulars after the clinchers.

Fine, I'll skip the front tubular I rebuilt two years ago, since that already has newer spokes. I used non-aero spokes, the better to make the wheel less flickery in sprints - for some reason I can't track a straight line when sprinting on aero-spoke equiped wheels. It must be me since no one else seems to have (or notice) this problem.

Anyway, for reference sake here are the spoke lengths:

264 mm non drive
274 mm drive

266 mm front

I'll be re-using the original spoke nipples. I hadn't even taken one out to see what it looks like, but this last spoke popped way up top so the spoke nipple is rattling around in the rim.

The Reynolds spoke wrench (consumer version).

It is double ended, one longer than the other. I used the shorter end as the handle since it's easier to twirl. The wrench gives you tons of leverage so you don't need the long end except to free up old frozen nipples.

Here is the culprit. It broke on the threads. Brass nipple because it was a drive side spoke. Note the spokes are round for drive side, aero for non drive side. As mentioned before, I'll be using all round spokes, DT 14G Revolution spokes.

Preparing the new spokes.

Since it's a rear, I'm using two different color Spoke Prep, one for each side (they have different length spokes). In the Reynolds case the spokes are really different in length, but in normal wheel builds they differ by about 2 mm. This is hard to see right away and to avoid confusion and mis-laced wheels, it's better to play it save and use two colors. For front wheels you just use one color.

Nothing like some nice Spoke Prep. Dip and then rub it around.

Two different sides, ready to go. In my case I did Right Red (or beige). This makes Blue Left. The Blue side is visibly shorter, even in this not-too-close-up picture.

I started by removing one old spoke, then replacing it with one new one.

Spokes can be bent a bit. I'm doing this with an old spoke but I did it with new ones too. Don't bend too much, but relacing a wheel, one spoke at a time, will require some spoke "tweaks" to thread certain spokes through the mesh of spokes on the other side of the hub.

Respoking is a pain, especially since I didn't want to rotate the rim around at all. Since I didn't know how the rim reacts to different spoke angle stresses, I left the wheel intact (but loose) as I relaced the wheel.

Progress is when all the Red (beige) spokes are gone.

With hidden spoke nipples it's a real pain to thread the nipples onto the spoke. First you have to make sure the nipple gets on the spoke (I dropped two into the rim). Then you tighten it down. Since the spoke wrench for a hidden nipple rim is so far from the spoke, I can't feel the spoke twisting. Therefore I need to hold the spoke with my other hand to feel its twist.

Holding the spoke to feel it twist. Or, if removing a spoke, to hold it in place.

Turning the spoke nipple from the top. I couldn't take the two pictures at once because I don't have a third hand.

Wheel is laced but not tensioned. Note that all the spokes on the grey plastic bin top are the old black ones.

Favorite part of building a wheel (or relacing) - the spoke bend. I did it early on to make the relacing a bit easier, but at the end I did it properly using a screwdriver.

Wheel tensioned.

The wheel after its (my) record breaking run of 244 watts for 20 minutes. Note empty Gatorade bottles.

Its maiden run was on the Monday night group ride out of Granby Bikes. The wheel felt immediately responsive, stiff, rigid, just a joy to ride. Sure, you say, you've been riding other wheels, another bike, of course your "nice" bike will feel fine.

Fine, I admit that I've ridden the Giant on training rides, mainly with the Granby group. But I've been racing the Cannondale a couple times also, and I've ventured out a few times on it shod with race wheels, tubulars (no spares or anything). Although the tubulars are nice, they're not as, well, immediately responsive as the clinchers. I may have (a lot) more tension in the rear wheel but I'll have to check. Any differences or similarities should stand out when I rebuild the tubular DV46 with the same type of spokes.

Regardless they're nice wheels to ride now, and with a 20 spoke rear, instead of 19, it's a heck of a lot better.


Anonymous said...

Building/rebuilding wheels seems like such a 'zen' thing to do. I really want to learn how to do it at some point.

Come to think of it, I actually don't even know how to replace spokes.

-Young Rider.

Mike said...

Zen if you like things that are generally a pain in the ass. I HATE lacing wheels. You always end up dropping a nipple in the rim or not getting one of the crosses right, then tensioning the wheel before you realize it.

Once it's laced correctly, tensioning and truing could be somewhat zen until your hands start to hurting from turning the spoke wrench so much.

Although, 16/20 hole wheels do take a lot of the pain in the assness out of wheel building.

Aki said...

Building wheels has its prices - sore thumb from spoke wrench, indents in fingers from holding spokes, black brake stuff everywhere. But it's all good.

The best wheels to build are box section, lower spoke count wheels. Less spokes = less work, as hocam says. Box section are nice because spoke nipples don't go anywhere. Mavic has a couple tall rims that have fully boxed eyelets so that's nice.

Since I usually do the rote thing, I'll even lace 1/4 at a time when doing radial. So crossing or not doesn't matter for speed, but for pure satisfaction, nothing beats bending down the spokes after lacing a wheel, so I like crosses.

Now for two more Reynolds wheels (DV46T rear, DV46C front), and then I don't know what.

Yokota Fritz said...

Aki, did I ever point you to this photo of you and Mrs. Aki?

Aki said...

ha. no. And would you believe that I started a post that has "all the bloggers I met at IB". Right now there's one in the post. Yokota Fritz. It's still in draft mode. lol.

Unknown said...

First time caller, long time listener.

Fantastic post. To agree with young rider, rebuilding wheels is such a wonderfully focusing experience. I always feel better atop wheels that I was responsible for... I know who to blame if they don't hold true.

Aki, have you found that working with carbon rims is significantly less forgiving than alloy? I really want to build up a carbon wheelset (in the future, when I've the money) but everyone looks at me cock-eyed when I say I'll lace it up myself...

Aki said...

I built a lot of wheels when carbon wasn't well utilized, and there were various teething pains. But overall I'd say carbon is forgiving. The rim is quite strong (hence the low spoke counts) and is usually very very straight and round from the mold. Molds are very expensive, very stable, and meticulously made. The spokes only holds the hub in place, but the "true-ness" is already in the rim.

On the other hand AL rims are extruded, looped, and joined (welded or pinned). Tiny variances in extruding die wear, cut length, and joining procedures can make a big difference in how a rim turns out. Plus, once you make the rim, rims can be bent prior to build - shipping, dropping on the floor, bouncing down the stairs, etc. When I got to hand select rims (I'd go to the distributor personally to select rims), I'd pick them from the middle of a new box in the hope that the rims there would have been better cushioned during its long trip from the factory. If the box was already opened I'd hold two rims together and see if there were any gaps - and swap them around until they looked good. I'd even build a wheel, be unsatisfied with the seam area, unlace, exchange. Wheels I built in this era held up really, really well - a friend of mine is still riding a pair, and he touched two spokes in about 10 years (The spokes are old enough that I tell him he should have the wheel relaced but he thinks they're fine).

Carbon rims, nowadays, are similar to those hand picked rims, except they're stronger (hence less spokes).

This does NOT apply to an aluminum rim faired with carbon - Bontrager, Mavic, Flashpoint, maybe some Zipps (not sure of construction), etc., because those rims depend on an extruded piece of aluminum for "straightness" and the same issues can hit those rims as an all aluminum one (save the strength - faired rims are usually strong enough with a low spoke count). This whole "carbons are stronger and straighter" only applies to full carbon rims.

I think the Reynolds rims are a pain because you have to dismount the tire to true them. I'd use exposed nipple rims if I had a choice.