Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

Wheel Works walks us through how to build a spoke motorcycle wheel

When it comes to anything to do with wheels, there’s no better experts than Wheel Works in Garden Grove, California. They have been our go-to guys for years and are the ideal people to show us how a wire wheel gets made. In some cases, it might be cheaper to have a new wheel built and laced up than going out and purchasing a new one, especially if you have a good working hub. While lacing a wheel isn’t the most complex type of work, it does require some very specialized pieces of machinery. The truing of a wheel is also a bit of an art form to know how to tighten just the right amount on each spoke to make the wheel as balanced as possible.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

We started with a new wheel hoop from Harley-Davidson, a stock hub, and new spokes.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

First the stock hub was polished with steel wool to clean up nice and shiny.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

 Using a specialized classic (read: old) piece of machinery, the spokes were cut to the proper length.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

This classic machine adds threads back into the spokes by rolling them in.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

On a flat surface the spokes were put into place.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

Here’s with all the spokes installed on one side.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

 Tape was added to the outer edge of the hoop to protect it from being scratched.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

 Wheels are laced using a specific pattern depending on the size and number of spokes. This wheel was cross-four.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

Next all the spokes were snugged up, careful not to put too much tension.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

Once laced, the wheel was mounted to the balancing and truing stand.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

 It’s important to add a little bit of oil to each spoke. Make sure when tightening you get an accurate torque. If not, they will unbind and become loose after a few miles.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

After removing the tape truing begins. This involves tightening of different spokes as you spin the wheel to create a balanced wheel (as possible). Knowing where and how much to tighten is a bit of an art.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

Finally the offset must be set. Each wheel has a slight offset depending on your application. The amount of offset was measured before the original wheel was taken apart.

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Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora

Once correctly trued, it spins like a top!

Finished!

Wheel Building 101

Motorcycle Wheel Building 101

John Zamora