Great care is taken building our wheels. Between us, my father and I have over forty years experience of building bicycle wheels. We always ensure that all spoke tensions are balanced and that all cup and cone hubs adjusted after building to allow for the tightening effects of the quick release. Our aim is to ensure that a set of our handbuilt wheels does not need to come back in the short term having gone out of true.
Over the years, we have built wheels using a great many different products. Those that proved reliable and with a good spares back up have been retained. The others will not be found on our site.
The spoke tensioning process
After hand lacing the wheels, the spoke nipples are tightened by "feel" until the rims are both round and central. At this point tensions are balanced with the aid of a tension meter.
Front wheels with rims centred between the hub flanges have equal tensions. Back wheels where the rim sits off-centred in relation to the hub flanges will have a higher tension on the right hand (sprocket) side than the left.
Too much imbalance is a bad thing and is a common cause of unreliability. Some people scoff at the use of tension meters (we suspect those who don't have one) and claim that a good wheel builder doesn’t need one. To a degree, we would agree but say, "a good wheel builder doesn’t need one... as much as a novice".
In the real world, not all rims are as well made as others (This doesn't mean they are faulty) and a spoke tension meter assists in achieving a balance, between spoke tension balance and roundness. It also helps confirm that a completed wheel is good; often if the rim is a good one and the wheel builder is competent, very little or no adjustment of the tensions are required upon checking. When you are trying to provide the best, we feel that any aid to this end is worthwhile.
Points to consider, when choosing wheels.
Standard stainless steel spokes are inexpensive and reliable. Factory built wheels generally use bladed spokes, which are specific to one model of wheel only. They may be very expensive and, if the wheel is a few years old, no longer available.
The spokes are the only points that connect the hub to the rim. Too few spokes combined with too light a rim will cause the rim to undulate. Few, if any, minimal spoke, factory wheels are as completely round, as a traditional 32 or 36 spoke wheel. The reduction, in the number of spokes, results in the need for a heavier rim, which is able to tolerate being supported in fewer places. In quite a few cases, this results overall in a heavier wheel.
The wheel builder should be somebody reliable and a person, with whom you would trust your life, as you descend a steep fast hill, perhaps in heavy traffic. Be careful of the wheel wizards, who claim to be blessed with mystic powers and skills from above. Wheel building is not a mystic art, but requires somebody with the right attitude to the job, the necessary aptitude, the right equipment, and the right experience.
The handbuilt wheels, listed on our site, are not all that we do. They represent what we consider to be good specifications, at certain price points and they are generally available from stock. We can build other combinations to order.