I built a wheel (White Industries hub + Deep V rim)

Many years ago I built a few wheels, but I haven’t sat down with a pile of spokes and nipples in a long time. This particular wheel is composed of a White Industries hub from the late 1990s; I believe it is a “Speed Racer” (it shares the identical measurements of the Speed Racer). This is a nice lightweight hub with a nice loud freewheel and cartridge bearings. I’ve had it long enough to have worn through the braking surface of two rims and at least one set of cartridge bearings on my mountain bike. To this hub I have laced a brand new Velocity Deep V 700c rim, using DT Swiss double-butted (2.0/1.8) stainless steel spokes, using the traditional 3-cross pattern.

Spoke Length

The issue that concerned me most going into this was selecting the right spoke length since I was lacing a hub previously used for mountain biking to a 700c deep-V rim for my ‘cross bike. Dan Halem’s Spoke Length Calculator actually has entries in its drop down menus for both my hub and rim, which made entering the necessary measurements trivial. My Velocity Deep V has an Effective Rim Diameter (ERD) of 582.0mm, while the White Industries Speed Racer has symmetric flange diameters of 55.0mm, with a Left Center to Flange measurement of 34.5mm and a Right Center to Flange measurement of 21.5mm. Using a 3-cross pattern and with 32 spokes, the left (non-drive) side spokes should be 282.5mm and the right (drive-side) spokes should be 281.2mm. As spokes tend to be sized every 2mm, I settled on 282mm spokes for both sides.

Building the Thing

To jog my memory I read through Sheldon Brown’s Wheel Building page, which is a great source of information. Lacing the spokes to the hub and rim is straightforward, if painstaking, and I didn’t have any issues. I then started gradually tightening up the spokes. I tried to leave the same amount of thread showing all the way around, tightening spokes in order around the rim until the threads just started to disappear into the nipples. This gave me a fairly tight wheel with terrible dish, which is to be expected since it’s a rear wheel and I tightened everything evenly. I then started tightening only the drive-side spokes until the dish got close. I had actually over done things a bit, and I ended up backing out some of the non-drive side spokes by 1 to 1.5 turns. In the end, some of the threads are visible on the non-drive side spokes. I’m not sure that an extra 0.5mm of spoke would have made much of a difference here.

Final Truing

When building a wheel, one must monitor vertical true, horizontal true, spoke tension, and dish. With my truing stand, I can take care of everything except for spoke tension. I did my best to pluck the spokes and try to get them all, at least on the drive side, to make similar-sounding musical notes. I don’t know anything about music, so my ability to tension-by-ear may well be awful. I haven’t decided yet whether to get a second opinion on whether she’s road-ready or to just give’r and pick up the pieces if I’m wrong.

Riding the Thing

I haven’t put the wheel on my bike yet. The hub is older, and is pre-9-speed, which is the type of cassette currently on my ‘cross bike. My plan is to select and unlucky cog from the cassette and just get rid of it. I’ll readjust the deraillier to cope and just have an unused “gear” at the low end of my index shifter. Nothing I can’t handle, hopefully.


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