Custom Wheels

October 2017

posted Oct 11, 2017, 5:28 PM by Scott Bixby   [ updated Oct 11, 2017, 5:28 PM ]

One of my suppliers had a sale on IRD Sawtooth hubs so I bought two pair and built some wheels for sale. These have 27.5 WTB Scraper rims and went to a customer in Massachusetts.

This pair got laced to Surly My Other Brother Darryl tubeless ready rims. With the Surly tubeless kit, they're ready for sealant and tires. These went to a customer in New Mexico.

Summer fatbike wheels

posted Apr 26, 2017, 6:05 AM by Scott Bixby

Spring is here and while you could keep pedaling those really fat, snow friendly fatbike tires, why would you? Narrower, lighter rims and tires will give your fatbike real versatility.

These Nextie Black Eagle rims are 550 grams. They have a robust 3.5 mm thick bead lip to stand up to summertime roots and rocks and they work perfectly with tubeless tire setups. If your winter setup is 4.8 inch tires on 80 mm rims, you can expect a 2-3 pound weight savings with wheels like these. Your fatbike will feel almost fast!

Fall 2016

posted Nov 11, 2016, 12:26 AM by Scott Bixby

27.5 Plus wheels are popular right now. These custom powder coated Sun-Ringle Mulefut 50SL wheels are going into a fatbike for summer use. Hubs are Novatec 197mm rear and 150mm front.

These are for sale. Shimano XT CLD Boost spaced hubs are laced to Nextie Jungle Fox carbon rims. Wheelsmith DB14 spokes and Sapim black brass securelock nipples hold it all together.

2015 Summary

posted Jan 19, 2016, 3:24 AM by Scott Bixby

I've started the dreadful task of preparing for tax filing. It's given me a chance to realize that 2015 was Blueline's best year yet! Thank you for the support.

After tallying my wheel building data, I learned that I built fifty-two wheels in 2015. Maybe not high volume, but enough to keep me busy and allow me to continue to fine tune my methods and skills.

Here's a link to my photo album on Google+. I try to post pictures of every wheel build for future reference.

H Plus Son and White Industries

posted Sep 19, 2015, 5:30 PM by Scott Bixby

My friend Jeff in Texas needed new road wheels and I was happy to build these for him. H Plus Son Archetype rims are laced to White Industries T11 hubs with black Sapim CX Ray spokes and gold aluminum Sapim nipples. 

Jeff was looking for some bling bling and I think he knocked it out of the park! The H Plus Son Archetype rims were very round and the profile is very attractive. Initial ride feedback from Jeff was very good.

Stan's Iron Cross CX wheels

posted Nov 5, 2014, 9:29 PM by Scott Bixby   [ updated Sep 19, 2015, 5:18 PM ]

Jeff from Texas needed a set of wheels for his new CX bike. He opted for Stan's Iron Cross rims with Sapim CX Ray spokes and Sapim Secure Lock nipples. White Industries hubs make everything spin smoothly. His color selection is spot on in my opinion!

The secure lock nipples require a little more labor than regular nipples but they tensioned up very nicely. With evenly balanced spoke tensions and virtually no run out, I think Jeff will enjoy many trouble free race miles on these wheels.

Dt Swiss 350 and Stan's ZTR Iron Cross

posted May 18, 2014, 2:10 AM by Scott Bixby   [ updated Sep 19, 2015, 5:18 PM ]

I'm building these CX wheels for a local racer. This is my first time working with Stan's ZTR Iron Cross rims but as usual, they were round out of the box and the finished wheel came out very nice. The customer selected Wheelsmith DB14 black spokes and Wheelsmith silver brass nipples.
My customer was hoping to be around 1600 grams for the set. Based on the weight of the front hub, this set should end up very close to that weight.
This front wheel turned out just as nice as the rear wheel. Spoke tension was very even and I'm confident that the customer will enjoy many years of trouble free service from these wheels.
Those quick with math have already noticed that the set came out a little heavier than 1600 grams. His stock set was nearly 2 kg. so he did achieve a decent weight savings. 

Shimano Zee and Surly Marge Lite offset for Pugsley fat bike frame

posted Nov 28, 2013, 11:16 PM by Scott Bixby   [ updated Sep 19, 2015, 5:18 PM ]

If you're not familiar with the Pugsley, it has track style dropouts AND a derailleur hanger. As I wanted to experiment with a single speed fat bike, the ability to easily switch between gears and SS pushed me to the Pugsley.
Continuing with the convertible drivetrain theme, I selected the Shimano Zee hub for it's steel freehub body and 10mm thru bolt capabilty. 
I selected Wheelsmith DB14 spokes and Wheelsmith brass nipples for this wheel. The corrosion resistance offered by the brass nipples should help minimize the harmful affects of road salt that this bike is sure to encounter during winter riding. My friends at Wheel Fanatyk offer Wheelsmith products at great prices.
The Surley Marge Lite rim has two rows of thirty-two spoke holes to accommodate offset lacing. As seen above, lacing the wheel with all the spokes in line offsets the rim and tire to the non-drive side and creates chain clearance around the fat tire. Surly has detailed lacing instructions on their website. For a symmetrical wheel, you would lace side-to-side using alternating spoke holes. Click here to see my symmetrically laced front wheel.
I really like these DT Swiss 10mm thru bolts for the stiffness they add to the rear triangle and the extra bit of clamping pressure they offer that you can't get from a standard quick release.
The DT Swiss thru bolt also has the added benefit of fitting nicely through the Surly Tuggnut I will be using on the drive side drop out.
So how do I use the Surly offset wheelbuilding tool with my 10mm thru bolt hub? I'm a big fan of Roger Musson's excellent wheelbuilding book and it includes instructions on page 18. Just as Roger describes, the Surly spacer is 35mm long, or two times the Pugsley offset of 17.5mm.
Proof that I was over thinking this offset build, Roger provided this elegantly simple solution for checking dish. Hold the spacer in place on the axle face and measure as normal. There's no need to have the tool in the truing stand during tensioning.
I built a truing stand from the plans in Roger's book. As he demonstrates on page 45, you can use a standard quick release to hold the wheel as you are tensioning the wheel.

Maybe you've read this far and you're wondering if there are allowances for offset when calculating spoke lengths? The answer is yes. I tried to simplify the method I used in this short tutorial. For you engineering types, please forgive me for not including the mathematical explanation. 

Once you've got the spoke lengths and offset lacing figured out, Roger's standard wheelbuilding procedure applies.

Regarding spoke tension, these rims are thick and over built in my opinion. As the spokes approach final tension, there is different feedback through the spoke wrench than with a standard mountain bike wheel. Based on this feel, I ended up with a final tension slightly less than I would use with a standard mountain bike wheel. Sorry, I can't offer a scientific explanation regarding this "feel". It's something I've developed from experience. Here is the (mostly) finished complete bike, now for some snow!!

Calculating spoke lengths for an offset Pugsley Fat bike wheel

posted Nov 27, 2013, 7:55 PM by Scott Bixby   [ updated Sep 19, 2015, 5:18 PM ]

This table of correction factors for calculating fat bike wheel spoke lengths is published by Quality Bicycle Products. The complete table covers many of the QBP house brand frames but I only included the Pugsley numbers. As a practical example, here is how I calculated the spoke lengths for my offset Pugsley rear wheel with Shimano Zee hub and Surly Marge Lite rim.

Shimano Zee 10mm x135mm

[A] Left flange diameter 44.5mm

[B] Right flange diameter 45.5mm

[C] Left center-to-flange 33.5mm. Corrected per chart 28.5mm (33.5mm-5mm=28.5mm)

[D] Right center-to-flange 20.5mm. Corrected per chart 25.5mm (20.5mm+5mm=25.5mm)

Surly Marge Lite

Effective rim diameter 544mm. As always, measure your ERD. It’s especially important with these fat bike rims as I have found them to be "less round" than typical mountain bike rims.

I very carefully transferred these numbers into the spoke calculator at

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