Custom Wheels

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.

Summer 2016

posted Oct 10, 2016, 1:30 AM by Scott Bixby

The wheel business was steady over the summer and as fall approaches, so does fatbike season. These wheels are for a repeat customer that is putting together a Ritchey Commando. The 80mm Borealis rims are laced to Salsa hubs to match the Commando's 135/170mm dropout spacing. Sapim Race spokes and DT Swiss ProLock brass nipples hold everything together.



Spring 2016

posted Jun 8, 2016, 2:45 AM by Scott Bixby

Pardon the pun but my custom wheel business is "rolling" along this spring. Here's some of the work that I've been doing recently in between a steady stream of bikes through my shop.    
I selected these wheels mainly because they are all different sizes. Ok, there are two 27.5" wheels here but there's also a 24" wheel and a 29" wheel. Head over to Google + for a bunch more.

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.


27.5+ with Carver hubs and Light-Bicycle rims

posted Jul 27, 2015, 1:33 AM by Scott Bixby   [ updated Sep 19, 2015, 5:18 PM ]

Every wheel build is a chance to learn something and this one is certainly no exception. The lesson learned with this build is to check rim and hub compatibility, especially when building with 135/190mm spaced hubs.

The customer ordered Nextie Wildcat rims and unfortunately the Wildcat is not angle drilled and Nextie doesn't advertise that it won't work with the flange spacing of the 135/190 hubs. The large bracing angle of the spokes in the 190 hub led to deformation around the spoke holes before the spokes were even close to final tension.

Nextie sent a 50mm wide replacement but I soon discovered that the carbon layup on the inside was not smooth, causing the spoke nipples to be misalinged.
The rim pictured is from Light-Bicycle, spokes are Wheelsmith DB14 in black and nipples are Sapim Secure lock brass in silver. The customer decided he'd had enough with Nextie and went with Light-Bicycle. Finally, I was able to get a wheel built without having any problems.

The bracing angle created by the large flange spacing paired with the carbon rim resulted in a super stiff wheel. 

Once the replacement Nextie arrives for the front wheel, I hope to get this customer riding.

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!!

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