Adventures in Wheelbuilding

I've never built a bicycle wheel before, but I'm giving it a try. I figured it would make a good Winter project. But first the backstory:

My current mountain bike is a 2005 Cannondale Prophet 800 that I bought used last year. It had a few problems, but I got a good deal on it so I budgeted in some repairs. Both wheels were not true and when I tried to true them, it became apparent the they had been bent badly enough they couldn't be fixed by truing. So I bought a 2nd set of wheels that were cheap and OK quality (I'm running them on the bike now), but I wanted better wheels eventually.

I've been slowly collecting the parts. I found some Mavic X223 rims for cheap on eBay months ago. I wanted a better rear hub, but couldn't stomach the price for the good/light ones so I settled for a Shimano XT freehub - tough and reliable, but not light. With the rim and hub chosen I used SpoCalc to determine the spoke lengths I would need. As of Friday I had all the parts so today I decided to assemble my new rear wheel.

I used Sheldon Brown's article on Wheelbuilding as my guide. His instructions are pretty good, but a few points were unclear and I made a mistake somewhere along the way and had to tear the wheel down. But the second time I got it right. Here's the wheel with the right and left trailing spokes installed (feet shown for scale - hehe):

And here's the wheel with all the spokes installed:

Yes, this wheel isn't going to win any beauty contests. For looks I should have gone with a black hub and spokes, but silver was available now and at a better price. As if it isn't obvious already, I'm going for value with this wheel, but still trying to use decent components.

I'm also planning to run this wheel tubeless. I'm going to use the yellow 3M tape as the rim tape / rim sealing for tubeless. Mike did and it worked well for him.

The next step is to true the wheel. Hopefully Yamabiker will have some time to help me with this - he has a truing stand, dish stick and spoke tensiometer.

When this rear wheel is done I'll start on a new front wheel. I have the rim and spokes and I'll rob the Lefty hub from the old, bent wheel. Lefty hubs don't fit in truing stands without an adapter - I may buy one, or jury-rig something or take it to a shop to be trued. The front wheel will also be tubeless. I'm looking forward to running tubeless next year.

Once this wheelset is done I'll even take a stab at bending the old rear wheel (rim) back into shape. I've got nothing to loose - if I can get it true I'll have another spare, if it breaks I'll have a spare rear hub (maybe I'll build a new wheel from it).

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