Enter Phil Wood

15 July 2009
Installing a bottom bracket is an interesting process of trial and error. It all comes down to aligning the chainline. The basic idea being you want to center the freewheel in the back with the crank in the front. It’s easy to measure the alignment of the freewheel in the back, so it’s just a matter of getting the crank to line up.
The Procedure:
  1. Screw on the bottom bracket cups and roughly center the bottom bracket
  2. Put the crank on
  3. Measure the chainline, if it’s all lined up, go to step 7
  4. If it’s not where it’s supposed to be, take the crank off
  5. Adjust the bottom bracket cups to improve the alignment
  6. Go back to step 2 and repeat
  7. Things are properly aligned, so measure how far the threads are exposed on each side
  8. Take it all apart
  9. Generously apply Loctite to threads of the BB cups.
  10. Thread it back in using the measurement from step 7 to get the alignment right.
  11. Pray to God that the Phil Wood logo lines up in the star cut out of the frame because that would look awesome
  12. Jump up and down in victory
  13. Attach the cranks
Rejoice:
Didn’t get a good picture until a bit later and a few more components were installed. Oops.
The italian frame adds an extra kink – both sides of the bottom bracket are threaded right-handed. As a result, the left side has a tendency to unscrew itself. Less than ideal if you find yourself on a long ride. Best you can do is crank it down during the install and put Loctite on the threads.
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Making it yours…

13 July 2009

Why build bicycle wheels… Mostly pride, some necessity, but really mostly pride. When it comes down to it, why pay a professional to do it properly when you could screw it up yourself? Basically the motto of my life.

With lots of experience fixing a pair of finicky wheels on a bike kitchen salvaged bike (The Green Monster), eventually I decided it was time to just start from scratch. Which resulted in the first pair of wheels I (re)built. The result wasn’t great, but here’s my analogy: if even the greatest carpenter (Jesus) builds a house out of balsa wood, it’s probably still going to be pretty flimsy.

Learning to build wheels is pretty fun, if not challenging and infuriating at times. Sheldon Brown describes it all, although I’ve recently gotten my hands on Jobst Brandt’s “The Bicycle Wheel”, which is also a great reference. Between the two, lacing and building a “3-cross” wheel is a piece of cake. By piece of cake, I mean you will probably insert and remove the first and/or second rounds of spokes about 5 times until you actually do it the way it’s properly described.

Rear Wheel
Since the rear wheel will take the brunt of my brunt-filled bike riding, 3-cross makes the most sense, so I won’t go into details, other than to say – pretty:

Front Wheel
And with that, onto the fun, where all the real action is – up front. Here’s what we want the final product to look like:

Standard protocol is to start with trailing spokes on the right side of the bike. The only thing you really care about at this point is getting the oil port on the hub (opposite the logo) on the side opposite the valve hole. From what I understand, traditionally this is for pro cyclists that lube their hubs with a lighter oil when they have an important race or are trying to set best times. This alignment helps keep oil from dripping all over the valve hole.

That means you want to align the first round of spokes like so:

Where the two dots correspond to the valve stem and oil port. Or in real life

Now onto the trailing spokes on the opposite side

It took a few attempts to figure out the which spokes should be crossed, but with moments later

And the finished front wheel

(apologies for the contrast difference, but the flash really brings out the lacing pattern)

Tensioning and Truing
One of the many following aspects I didn’t do a particularly good job documenting… mostly because nothing too interesting happens. I can only stress, nothing will teach you how to true wheels better than having a useless pair that continuously needs truing. Beyond the advice in Sheldon’s article, I can’t say I have too many secrets on this. Possibly more on this if the wheels are really good or bad at staying in true.


The blog is back!

13 July 2009

The much delayed return of the blog. So much has happened undocumented…

  • Wheels have been trued
  • Stem and handlebars attached
  • Bottom bracket installed
  • Cranks tightened on
  • Shifters and derailleurs made functional
  • Crazy delta brakes bolted down and much later actually working

Oh the details to come…