By: Jeff Burns
Photos: Scot

To begin, take one head-up spoke and feed that into the first spoke hole to the right of the valve hole. If you look at the rim from the top, this is called a top-side spoke hole because the spoke holes are staggered across the center of the rim alternating top and bottom. (frames 1-4)

1. Once the first spoke is inserted and the nipple is threaded on, every other spoke on the hub goes in every other top-side spoke hole in the rim. This is considered the first set of spokes for the top flange or the head-up spoke on the top flange. (frame 5)

Hint: If all the nipples are threaded an equal amount (for example: three turns each), the wheel will be one-third true when it is completely laced. That’s another thing that makes building wheels easier–continuity.

2. Once all head-up spokes on the first flange are inserted into the rim, the hub needs to be twisted in a manner so that the first set of spokes flair away from the valve hole. Generally, the wheel is turned clockwise. This gives the wheel “spin.”

3. Once the spin is achieved, take the head-down spoke and begin your cross pattern. The spokes are now headed in the opposite direction from the head-up spokes.

4. Now take any head-up spoke and start your count. We’re building a “cross-four rim,” so cross the head-down spoke over the first three head-up spokes, and then cross under the fourth spoke and thread the spoke into the rims spoke hole. (Frame 6) Remember, always through a top hole.

Hint: I use a spoke threaded backwards on the nipple to help me thread the nipple on to the spoke inserted in the rim. (frame 7)

5. Once the spoke of the second set is in the proper hole, it’s all a matter of continuing with the next spoke.

6. Once the wheel is completely laced on one flange, I push down on the spokes around the hub flange. This pre-bends the spokes over the flange, which makes lacing the other side easier. (frame 8)

7. Now flip the wheel over and start on the third set of spokes. We’re now working on the head up spokes on the second flange. (frame 9) Take any head-up spoke on what is now the top-side and go parallel to any head-up spoke from the bottom-side and thread a nipple. (frame 10) This is probably the most difficult part in building a wheel; if it is done wrong it will throw off the spoke positioning. This is the trial and error part of building a wheel. Once that is achieved, it’s the same process as the beginning of the first side.

8. For the second set of spokes on the second flange, just follow the steps from the first side.

9. When you’re finished lacing the rim the best way to make sure that you have laced it properly is to take a look at the valve spokes (the spokes to the left and the right of the valve hole). Make sure the spokes angle away from the valve hole in a manner that leaves the valve hole open.

Hint: If you have too much or not enough spoke sticking out of the rim, something has gone wrong and you need to back track or completely start over. I have found that starting over is the easiest thing to do.

11. At this point, the spokes are still going to be fairly loose. Don’t worry about it. When you true the rim all the slackness will be removed.