Custom Wheels

Finish off your custom Llewellyn with a set of Llewellyn-built custom wheels.

Wheel BuildingHand Built Wheels

I hand build wheels, selecting the components for the intended wheel use with reliablity and functionality as the main criteira for the end product. Building quality wheels with care and attention is a satisfying project but the most important result is they will give you, the owner, many years of confident trouble free service and performance.

Wheels can be built quickly, or they can be constructed with meticulous care and attention to give even distribution of spoke tension and a very accurate final rim roundess as well as side to side trueness. In the long term the correct wheels will save the rider a lot of their hard earned dollars.

But, why hand build wheels rather than use one of many hundreds of wheels that come out of a box? To have the correct tool for the job. The need has never gone away for the correct wheel to be used for the type of riding intended.

The most common tale of woe I hear is the phone call or email from a rider who was let down by their low spoke wheels and is looking for a solution. Often the call is from a 90 to 110 kg rider who has been riding expensive low spoke aero wheels they bought, thinking that these expensive wheels are the bee’s knees…which left them at the side of the road calling a taxi. Yes the wheels they have are nice, high quality race wheels which have their place and a correct use, but for every day training one requires a wheel that keeps on rolling, with minimal fuss over a span of 10, maybe 15 years.

10 to 15 years? Yes this is posssible and always has been possible. Having a sensible number of spokes to carry the loads and the correct weight rim all laced onto a high quality hub does require a small sacrifice in areodynamic drag at over 40 kmph, but the wheels won’t leave you calling a taxi. Road wheels were always built this way untill not very long ago when marketed wheel sets took over.

32 Spoke hubs and Rims

Oh-so-boring, but brilliant for the rider who needs a bike that can be pulled off the hook each day and ridden in training, commuting, or touring, covering many kilometers over all types of surfaces without a thought to the wheels, the wheels just keep on rolling, they do their job. They are stiff and responsive. If you ride over a pot hole that should have had a bridge built over it then there is a good chance the wheel and you just bounce out the other side unharmed, but if the rim does suffer damage it is a simple job to replace it. The rims and spokes are all a standard pattern and dimensions which have been available for many decades, so there is never a problem with parts being out of stock or no longer available. No matter where you are in the world, a 32 hole rim will fit any 32 hole hub, and spokes are available. The default wheel one needs to ride daily is a 32-spoke or 36-spoke wheel for hard day-in and day-out use.

32 spoike wheel with tied and soldered spokes

Good quality hubs are fully serviceable, they have cone, ball and cup bearings. The hubs can be relaced with replacment rims when the rims are knocked up.

Rims and spokes are selected to suit the use the rider’s size and intended use. I use Campagnolo hubs for Campy bikes and Shimano hubs for Shimano bikes as no one makes a better hub, they just cannot be bettered. I use Mavic or Ambrosio rims, as again, no one makes better rims. I use Swiss DT spokes, as no one makes a better product.

Tie and Solder

Tie and soldering of spoke-crossing points is an enhancement I can do for the high quality wheels I build for you. This technique is little done today as it requires skills that just do not exist anymore in the retail land of bike shops. At the spoke’s crossing points a small length of thin wire is wound around 5 to 7 times with and then soft solder is run into the tie which binds the wire and spoke crossing into one unit.

Applying tie and solderThe rear wheel benefits by reducing hub wind up and increased lateral stability, giving positive response to pedal force input. This is all the more important with low spoke number or light wheels. If a spoke is damaged or broken, one can still continue riding as the spoke does not flay around smashing the frame and paint. The wheel stays closer to trueness and you can ride home and the wheel is easily repaired.

I tie and solder all the rear wheels I build for road, track, touring and randonneur bikes. The wheels can be trued as normal and spokes are easily replaced during repairs just as normal. I generally do not tie and solder the front wheel on road bikes due to the lower stresses and strains the front wheel encounters in service while retaining the wheels suppleness. For hard ridden fixies and track bikes where one will muscle the bike it is common to tie and solder the front wheel. For tying and soldering my hand built wheels I use a special wire made by DT SWISS.