Help with building a 36er wheel

Alright guys, I’m almost ready to order the parts that I need to build a 36 inch wheel. I haven’t built a wheel before so this is going to be an adventure. Please don’t tell me not to try myself.

I have devised a cunning strategy in the form of a plan to get the job done.

Step 1:
Ask those on the unicyclist community all my questions and attempt to build the wheel myself.

Step 2:
Take the wheel to my lbs after giving up trying to build it myself.

So without further ado I’ll get started with step one by listing my questions.

  • Where do I order 36er spokes? I know that UDC sells them but it says that they do not cut them. Can I cut them myself if I have a tap and die set with the appropriate threads?
  • Can I trust UDC's spoke calculator?
  • I have an Oracle ISIS lite 125 mm disc hub, so I'll have to dish the wheel. Ordinarily it seems that you'd count how many turns you put on each spoke but how does this work when one side is different?
  • What spoke tool should I buy?
  • Can I use a musical instrument tuner to make sure that the tension is the same everywhere? How would I do it?
  • Is there anything else I should be aware of? [/LIST]
  • This guy knows a lot:

    I tried to lace a wheel once, years ago, and before the internet (we’re talking decades). I figured I could use the other wheel as a guide (this was a bicycle). I made great progress – I got to step 2 (give up and take it to a local bike shop) after only about an hour.

    Good luck!


    I was about to suggest Sheldon Brown’s excellent tutorial but see that Lance beat me to it.

    36er spokes are hard to come by, If UDC UDA won’t cut the spokes to your desired length I would give UDC Canada a call. It will probably end up being cheeper anyway.

    I wouldn’t trust the UDC calculator by itself. If ordering cut spokes I use freespoke to check with dimensions I measure myself, but you need to have the hub/rim first or know the ERD and offset etc. Or if ordering from UDC Canada tell them what you are building and they should know what length(s) you need.

    You can start out building a dished wheel just like any other wheel but just before you do the final true and tension you need to dish the wheel by pulling it to one side with the spokes. To check dish flip the wheel in the frame to make sure it measures the same distance from the same leg, don’t trust your frame to be strait.

    Buy the best spoke wrench you can find. Even an “expensive” one is $12. You will want either the black or green one depending on what nipples you use.

    I used a clip-on guitar tuner for a 26" wheel once, it was finicky but it worked. It didn’t work when I tried it on a 36 though as the tone was too low, maybe if you used a bass tuner? I really don’t know what note to tune to for a 36er though, perhaps someone on here with an ear for that sort of thing could tell you. (I now use a Park tensometer)

    Be aware that lacing is the easy part, and most bike shops have no idea how to tension a 36" wheel as it falls outside their experience, they should be able to be it nice and strait for you though.

    Thanks for the info!

    Quick hop-on thread capturing, sorry.
    What tension do you adjust your spokes too using the park tool? I used an app for ipad that calculates frequncy to kpf when given spoke length, diameter and material.

    Back to topic: I orderd all my 36" wheel parts from UDC germany and had to wait two or three weeks for the spokes to arrive.



    please fork out and buy Park tool’s spoke tension meter specailly if your doing a 36er. They are very long spokes, easily over tensioned and stretched, and expensive.

    ebay is the cheapest for the park tool.

    Any calculator that you can put all your rim, hub and spoke data in should give you the same spoke lenght within 1 or 2mm

    If you email roger at he will help you calculated your hub i am positive.

    And has anyone ever tapped a 2mm thread on a 2mm hi tensile piece of stainless steel? i havent and would never want too… 36 or more times :astonished:

    maybe a moment hub nimbus brake adaptor and spirit cranks would be much easier and spokes available factory cut through UDC? any reason for the inboard disc on a 36er?
    Just thinking if you get an oracle 36er rim you can find out what the spokes are used on the nimbus and just copy thier wheel build maybe?

    All good fun, but hope it all works out easy and smooth rather than difficult and problematic… All the best with the hub build

    Just in case anyone is curious, I think I’ve decided to just have Josh at UDC build the wheel. I would have in the first place except that I already have a hub and I didn’t know if I could mail it to them for the wheel or not. I wrote UDC and they said I could. It’ll be a bit more expensive, but it will be done right…

    Good advice, and especially so for someone with a lot of years and wheels ahead of him. The Park tool isn’t that much more expensive than the guitar tuners some suggest, actually about what I paid for the tuner I got several decades ago and still use.

    I have, now that you’ve brought it up. I had to make new control rods for my pedal steel guitar and used stainless TIG filler rod. It’s pretty much impossible without first making some kind of fixture to clamp the end of the rod into, to keep it from winding up. It’s also a big help to file a slight bevel on the end. That gives the die something to bite into when starting the thread. Tightening spoke nipples shouldn’t be as bad as cutting threads though. But I’m way fascinated by those spoke-thread cutting machines, Phil Wood and Morizumi. It’s too bad they cost thousands of dollars.:frowning:

    I think you’ve made smart choice. You will have saved yourself a lot of time and effort. If you still want to build a wheel, start with a 29er, it will be a much more enjoyable project.

    I was under the impression that spokes usually had rolled threads, not cut. Am I mistaken?

    Nope, you’re right. I should have said “spoke threading machine,” not “cutting”.

    I know you’re not building this yourself anymore but for anyone who comes across this thread for info in future

    You’ll get 2 different sizes of spokes for each side, if you build it correctly with equal turns the shorter spokes on the disc side should keep the wheel dished over correctly or at least near enough to only require minor tweaking at the end of the build.

    Alright, ordered the rest of it along with a wheelbuild. I sent my hub in the mail to UDC and ordered online. I hope it gets here in the next week or two…

    16th birthday present to me from me!

    udc usa only sells 371mm spokes for 36er and says they can’t cut them for other lengths

    so, if I want to build wheel using any hub other than 125mm non-disc nimbus isis hub (kh 100mm or 125mm oracle) I would need to find another spoke source? or would the 371mm spokes be okay since it should only turn out to be a few millimeters too long… :thinking: ?

    I would rather build an in-board disc since I like to switch cranks often.(but im still thinking about outboard disc option.)

    (i’ve only built a 27.5" wheel before, but I’ll certainly buy a parktool tm-1 tensionmeter when i build 36" wheel)

    Contact them to see if it’s really the case that they won’t cut them. I’ve seen posts where people had them cut 36er spokes. If they won’t, you can buy them from UDC canada.

    Josh at UDC US should be able to cut them for you. He did mine anyway. He just told me to order the 371mm spokes, and then email him the length I’d need them cut to.

    I’m already planning my own christmas/bday combo gift for december :slight_smile: