Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wheel building at P2P

I have been doing a ton of Pedals2People stuff on the side lately. Mainly, we opened our shop. There's a million moving parts there that we had to align but now we're open. Go there and check it out.

In addition, a few of us spent a lot of time on a grant for P2P. What a huge pile of work. The goal, now that we have the shop open, is to keep it open. We now have expenses (a bit of staffing and some rent) that we never had before. So, we're running down grant money; we're hoping to sell our used stuff by keeping the shop open consistent hours; we've got work stands, tools and knowledgeable people that you can rent for $5/hour.

Another thing we're doing is classes. Liza and John Gaz have been rocking the Ladies Classes. The next 3 series are nearly sold out. There's one opening.

Wheel building is one of those weird things that tends to mystify some cyclists. It's sort of held up as a skill of the "serious" cyclist. That's how I thought of it for years. So, we figured we should figure out how to offer a wheel building course.

I gave it a lot of thought and came up with a series of three 2-hour classes ($60 for the series + wheel components) where students will build a wheelset and learn to repair out-of-true wheels. On the surface, the goal of this class appears to be wheel building -- since you end up with a new set of wheels.

But really, the point of the class is to give you practice dealing with wheels and understanding the basic workings of a spoked wheel by going through the process of lacing, tensioning, dishing, and truing a wheel. What this will give you is a basic competence to fix most wheel issues you may encounter on tour or a long ride. It will also give you the confidence to replace a broken spoke and true up screwy wheels that you encounter along your cycling life. It won't make you a pro wheel builder. That takes building at least a hundred wheels. That's an opinion.

I've built about 20 wheels. I'm no pro, and my buddy Willy can identify the wheels I've built by how I've mis-laced the spokes around the stem. It's not a structurally significant mis-lacing, but it makes filling the tires a bit more of a chore. I've since mended my ways and I lace them correctly.

Anyway, my hope was to talk Glen (of Elephant fame) into leading this class. He's built hundreds of wheels. He's a pro. But he's not comfortable teaching such a class. So, I'll be the official "instructor" and Glen is the "facilitator" to make sure I don't teach anything silly. That works for me.

We'll be walking students through the Sheldon Brown method. On the first night, you'll build a front wheel, step-by-step, with the rest of the class. On the second night, you'll build up your own wheel on your own, while Glen and I roam. On the last night, we'll fix up bent screwy wheels.

For the wheels you'll be building: think utility, commuting, touring, mountain biking. We're not doing a low-spoke-count (less than 28 spokes) weirdo materials ultra-light race wheel.

A great example of a solid first wheel: Velocity Synergy rim laced to a Deore-level hub with 14 gauge straight (non-butted) spokes. Velocity is not the cheapest rim, but it's the roundest for the money. Deore or Deore LX are solid hubs that just work, don't cost a fortune, and are serviceable. And even though butted spokes are usually stronger, they like to wind up when you tension them, so straight gauge 14s are good value strong choices for your first build that remove the wind up potential.

We've got a deal (10% off) with Two Wheel Transit for tools and wheel parts for this class, so connect with us after you sign up for a class and we'll do a bulk order. P2P has used hubs and a few new rims if you really want to go budget. We're not going to let you build up a used rim though -- or re-use spokes.

So that long-winded explanation pretty much lays it out. We're doing 6 students a class. We're figuring out when the first series is. Or if you have 5 friends that want to do the series, we can work with you on your dates.


Dan O said...

That's awesome. Good luck with the new shop.

Mike Sirott said...

That's pretty cool that you guys are teaching wheel building and truing. Every cyclist should know how to true a wheel! I've been using the "Sheldon Brown Method" for a while, maybe building up 7-10 wheels over the last several years. I printed out his page and refer to it with each build. Good stuff. :)

Rob Brewer said...

I think my friend Andrew and I would be interested depending on the schedule. I'm available on Tuesday or Friday evenings for the next couple months. I would also be interested to see this as a 6 hour single shot on a Saturday morning.

John Speare said...

Robert: can you send mail to pedals2people at gmail dot com? then we'll get your (and Andrew's) email and figure out the first class.

Rob Brewer said...

Sure, Thanks John!

Erik Spokane said...

I'd like to dispel the mystery of wheel building from my personal views. Your class sounds like just the thing to accomplish this task. I'll send you an email.


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