On a cold morning in June, 9 men gathered around a table in Sydney. The topic of conversation was nipples.

No, it's not what you might be thinking. Perverts!

I'm talking of course about the first BikeWise Wheel Building course


When Patrick announced the course back in May I said I'd consider coming down for it, the more I considered it the more I decided I really wanted to do it. Dave has built several wheels for me now for various bikes, and they've all been amazing and held up to all I can give them. This is a stark contrast to the stock wheels they've replaced and I've destroyed!


Since moving to Brisbane, I don't have a Dave nearby so I've been making an effort to learn various mechanical skills as I need them rather than seeking out a shop to fit me in on their schedule. It's been working pretty well for me, I figured that if I learned how to build a wheel I'd know enough to be able to just maintain mine better. This turned out to be a common desire for people attending the course, knowing how to maintain even if not being ambitious enough to want to build ones own wheels. That and seeing if you had the ability to do it before investing in wheel building tools.


I'm happy to report that by the end of the day I not only know how to build a wheel, having just done so successfully, but I also probably will build my next set of wheels, and I think most of the other participants felt the same.


We started the day having a bit of a catch up and a chat outside the Sydney Park training facility, it was great to catch up with a few people I've not seen in a while. After that was over we went inside and talked about some basics and the days agenda. The running order of the day was roughly three sessions. The first, lacing a wheel. Secondly truing the wheel and finally bringing the wheel up to a good, even tension and finishing things off.


We had a class of seven, which meant that help and advice from the experts was always available, and by the end of it we all had pretty decent wheels on the stand. Some were faster than others and were into their second ones by the end of the day (not me, I was determined to get the last little bump out of the rim and make it as close to perfect as I could!)

All up, a very valuable course, and good fun too. I would have been happy with it being a two day course, and done a few wheels (including front) to get the practice in, but I know enough now that I could also do it by myself. I also know now to to go about truing and servicing the wheels I have so I'm really happy that I made the trip down. Anyone who'd like to know more about wheel building or get some hands on instruction and supervision should totally hassly BikeWise and get on the list.


I wanted to get some pics to put up here, but ended up too busy listening or doing and totally forgot to grab the camera.


A couple of other highlights for me, I got to see some more of the Bourke st cycleway (I saw the Mascot end last time I was down). Looks very much the Danish utopia, lots of people on it even at 8am on a Sunday morning. Oh and speaking of Danish... Bourke st Bakery!! (had forgotten how good that place is).

Anyway.... Thanks Paddy and Dave for a great day!

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Comment by Michael S. (Boxhead) on June 29, 2011 at 2:59pm

One picture only - my first wheel laced and waiting for tensioning before morning tea:

I also have plans to build my own wheels. I've wanted some higher spoke count wheels for my road bike for a while.

I will also put my new wheel truing knowledge to good use servicing the wheels on the tractor. There are a couple of loose spokes on the rear wheel that have resisted previous correction and I reckon I can fix them up now.

Just working on budget, shopping list and business case.

Comment by CM on June 29, 2011 at 7:06pm

Good to see you again on the weekend Damian.  I think this wheel building course would have to be the most fun I've had learning to do something practical in a long time.


The best part for me was when that loose wobbly collection of bits of aluminium and wire in the truing stand started to straighten up and become a wheel.  The moment that little light bulb goes on in your head and you think AHHHH!  NOW I get it!  


There's nothing quite like learning how to do something new and cool  :-)

Comment by Dan on June 29, 2011 at 7:59pm
Thanks for sharing. Sounds very cool and a lot of fun. Something I'd definitely consider doing!
Comment by Neil Alexander on June 30, 2011 at 12:02pm

Nice looking wheel, Boxy.

I don't build wheels very often but, when I do, I usually copy the spoking pattern from an existing wheel. Unless I concentrate very carefully, I get almost to that stage and realise I have made a mistake with the lacing so that the last few spokes are strangely too short. Then I have to take it all apart again.

Very annoying!!


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