Guni wheel-build question

So I got my KH/Schlumpf hub today, and I’ve laced up all the spokes to the rim following the Uni Magazine’s instructions. (This is my first wheel build, BTW).

I’ve tightened up all the spokes to the same length and my next step should be “relieving” the wheel, that is, putting the wheel on the floor and standing on the rim. The problem is I have this new bazillion-dollar hub and if I do this it will be holding my weight right on one of the shifting buttons, which I’ve heard are somewhat delicate.

How do I “relieve” the wheel while building with this hub?


Can you get a small cylinder, like a steel can, that is just the right size to act as a protective cup? Ideally it would contact the flange without threatening the spokes and allow the axle to drop down into the can and hang in mid air. A short length of pipe of the right diameter would work as well. PVC is OK and less likely to scratch anything. Then stand on it. A rag around the rim of the can would distribute forces more uniformly on the spoke surfaces if you can’t avoid them.

You don’t need to stand on the wheel; I wouldn’t say that’s a very good way to stress-relieve. (Nor would Jobst Brandt:

You can just put on some gloves and firmly squeeze the sets of parallel spokes on each side of the wheel by hand, going all the way around the wheel.

Enjoy the Schlumpf! I just got my replacement for the one Continental lost. Feh.

Sheldon Brown has a great article on wheel building, and a different method for stress relieving. Take a bar of some sort, like the handle of a hammer, and use it as a lever to twist the spokes around each other.

Hello Steve,
Glad to read you got your hub arrived.

I’m no expert on wheel building, but have built a few. The method I’ve been using do to relieve the stress of the wheel is, when the spokes begin to tighten up, mount the wheel (with bearing caps on) in the fork. Grab the rim near the fork, push and pull side to side within the fork, turn the wheel ~45 degrees and repeat for an entire rotation. The tight wheel often makes a cool creak with each push/pull as the stress is relieved. It takes a little strength, to push/pull the rim towards the fork.

This works out well because if you true the wheel in the fork, and it then becomes a adjust and relieve, process.

Man, you got a geared hub and am building a wheel, that is two great things.


I’ve built several wheels (unfortunately none of them with a Schlumpf!), but have followed the late (and absolutely great) Sheldon Brown’s advice.

The old crankarm trick has served me very well. My 29er rigid singlespeed (bike) has taken an incredible beating and the wheels have needed almost no work.

I’ve also found the cheap Park Tool TM-1 (around $70 or so) to be indespensible for all wheel work. The numbers don’t lie.

steve! what’cha building? I just got my KH24 guni built up last night. I can’t wait to take it for a true muni spin around the block. But I still don’t have a KH36 yet, nor another hub, to do some super fast riding.


I’ve used the sheldon brown crankarm technique. My wheels have all stayed true, with the exception of my muni, which needed a minor truing in the alps after 4 days of hard downhilling, but pretty much everyone had the spoke keys out at some point on that trip, it was quite hard on wheels somehow.


Steve- Congrats on the schlumpf! You are heroic to build your first wheel with this hub. I hope you like it as much as I do. Initially I was discouraged by the amount of slop and my inability to…

  1. Trust my equipment at high speed
  2. Change gears without falling.
    Soon these concerns melted away. The 36 inch guni is a beautiful thing and i am now changing gears pretty well. It is so much fun and I cannot imagine riding a single speed Coker anymore! Looking forward to hearing your impressions!

Also, if you have an ear for pitch, you can get spoke tension even by listening to them and comparing them to a known note - there’s instructions on it on

I always used to build my wheels next to the piano - although nowadays I have a ukulele which is an alright source of pitch - I just make sure one of the strings is tuned to the pitch I want.

If it’s a coker wheel, I can’t remember what the note is though - there are equations on that site for working out tension vs. pitch, you’d need to find out from what tension they recommend.

Alternatively, you can use this just as a relative measure, to tell which spokes are less tight than others by listening to the pitch.


I stood on all four Schlumpf wheels I built! As long as the button facing the floor is pushed in I see no reason why not.

Fat Tony stood on my wheel? :astonished:

No wonder it’s gone all funny

I built up a KH29 guni yesterday and took it for my first guni ride. I zipped down (and I do mean zipped… damn this thing is fast) to the local trail to test it out. Once I got off the pavement in geared up mode, my first thought was “what would this be like on a 24guni?”

Looking forward to hearing about your experience on the 24 Corbin.

new guni wheel-build question

A new guni wheel-build question:

I dissembled my guni wheel, sent the hub back, just rcved new hub, and I’m now looking at rebuilding the 29er wheel.

Should I reuse the old spokes, or buy new ones?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with re-using the spokes, but they will be somewhat more likely to fail than new spokes would be. Depends on your tolerance for fixing broken spokes.

Just like all metals that are put under stress, spokes will also be subjected to metal fatigue over time. If the are still fairly new, and were properly tensioned and kept clean and dry, they should be reusable, but the best course would be to replace them with new black stainless, double butted, brand name spokes.

I have reused spokes and nips up to four times with no problems, just make sure you clean the spoke threads and use a lubricant on the rebuild.

I don’t tend to break spokes, I have only broken one muni spoke to date and it was most certainly not due to heavy use or abuse; the spoke was on a new build with new spokes on a 29er.

Nips are cheap, so I’d use new ones if you have them, aluminum nips tend to wear out from truing, but I have yet to break a nip or strip the threads on a nip, but I have rounded a few over the years :roll_eyes:

I like colored nips and spokes, but I am beginning to think that straight stainless is the best choice with brass nips, so all my future new spoke builds will be colorless; so boring :wink:

Spokes are expensive ($40-50), which is the primary reason I reuse them.

I might risk it. What could possibly happen? <Next scene alone, in darkening winter woods, broken ankle, sprung wheel.>

I’m gonna go for it.


It’s a more than a little adventurous to do your first wheel build on a $1700 hub that takes months to get.

I just built out a triton muni with 26 and 29 inch wheels. I opted to go with straight SS Sapin spokes with brass nipples. The weight difference between using brass and AL on a 36 spoke hub was something like 20g. Probably even less of a difference between double butted and straight spokes. I opted for strength and durability over weight (even though I spent a silly amount on the Ti frame).

I looked at Ti spokes but again didn’t feel like the weight difference was worth the expense (4-5 times the cost for a SS spoke).

Like NurseBen, I opted to go with simple silver spokes and nipples. I didn’t want this uni to be too stylish… something that appears super cool at first but then starts to grate on you after a while, like a canary yellow car.

Somewhere in these forums Sascatawanian suggested using 32 hole hub to save weight; might not be an option for the schlumpf… besides, at this point whatever you have is what you have.

The fewere the spoke count though the better the wheel build needs to be…

Prior to building up my 2 KH hubs/rims I practiced on a 20" torker wheel and 2-26" mountain bike wheels. In all cases I completely disassembled the wheels, cleaned everything up, and started over as if doing a new wheel build.

The rear MTN wheel was by far the most difficult. For starters, the rear wheel on a bike has a cassette/freewheel so the dish needs to be shorter on the right side than the left. Also, this particular wheel had been in a serious crash and was permanently deformed. Just to get it close I had to bend the rim back into shape (I used a foam roller and all of my body weight to do it) before doing any lacing. Manually bending a rim still results in a deformed rim to start with, just not AS bad. It took several tensioning start overs but I eventually did get it, good enough.

It was a ton of work and time but well worth it… by the time I did the KH wheels my personsonal confidence with wheel building was fairly high. The wheels have not been used enought to determine how they will stand up but I can say that when I first loaded them they did not “ping”, a sign of destressing.

I tend to over due the destressing… I destess every time I add tension to the spokes (probabaly about 10 cycles of all the spokes before I have it fully tensioned and true). I used several methods, some from Sheldon Brown and also Jobst Brandt’s book The Bicycle Wheel.

  1. Leather gloves… grab parallel spokes (on both sides of the wheel)
  2. Press the wheel into the floor; turn the wheel 6-8 times per revolution to get all angles (I think this is what you were already doing).
  3. Drive a screwdriver handle (or some other plastic object) into the spokes where they overlap. ( I think someone already described this where a crank was used… I prefer plastic).
  4. While the spokes are lose bend them over the hub to create a better curve at the 90 degree bend.

By destressing early and often you’ll get the wheel to align early on and you’ll end up with a true wheel that is naturally evenly tensioned without effort. It’s the best way to slowly but surely meet all four criteria for the wheel build:

  1. Lateral
  2. Radial
  3. Spoke tension
  4. Dish

Take comfort in knowing that wide rimmed unicyclye wheels are more tolerant than narrow rimmed 700c bicycle wheels. Also, unicycle wheels are under less torque than a rear wheel on a bike (and front wheel when braking)… rotates at a slower speed, and has jucier tires so roundness need not be as perfect as a road bike build.

That being said, I still built my wheels to within 0.005" lateral tolerance and 0.010 roundness. My Park dishing tool is no where near that accurate but for a unicycle, dishing is less of an issue than a road bike since our tracking is single wheeled anyway.

Hopefully you didn’t short change yourself on your wheel building equipment… I know it’s possible to build a wheel with the uni as a trueing stand but it has to be more difficult to build it with precision that is achievable with a good truing stand.

Everyone says to lubricate the spoke nipples. The problem with that is the spokes stay lubricated “after the build” and the grease makes it easier for the spoke to go out of alignment. On a wheel this expensive you should use Wheelsmith’s spoke prep (dope) (There’s at least one other brand… but I don’t remember where I saw it). It will lubricate the spoke during the build but keep the spoke in place after the build, but also prevents rust/oxidation. Sort of a lock-tite for spokes.

It’s also important to lubricate the nipple-rim contact surface(s) so the nipple can spin on the rim during tensioning (reducing spoke axial twisting).

Ultimately, wheel building needs to be fun and un-hurried. If its not both of those, take it to a LBS and let them do it. (They may not take it when they find out the hub $$$) I find comfort in knowing that the precision of my wheels are in my control AND if something does go wrong, I can fix it.

If I could only say that about my riding skills…

Well, this will be my second wheel build, now, but my first was a Schlumpf hub & KH29er rim, too.