Introduction: Custom Star Bikewheel

Picture of Custom Star Bikewheel

As a bicycle mechanic I like to experiment with different designs for bicycle
wheels, especially since I got in contact with building custom bikes like:
Chopper, Cruisers and Full Customs.

I have written this instructable to my best knowledge, however no rights can be
drawn from the contents off these pages.
U build and/or use the shown wheel at your own risk.
Be warned, you will during this tutorial alter some parts in such a structural way
like drilling extra holes  that all warranties provided by the manufacturers will
be void.

Step 1: Tools & Parts

Picture of Tools & Parts

1. Materials used:
rim: Alesa 26inch ( 22x559 ) aluminium
hub: Shimano fronthub HB-MN72
spokes: Union steel plated 14g 262mm
nipples: Union nickel-plated brass 14g
This hub is chosen because of the large flanges, this way there is enough space between the spoke holes to drill an extra hole between them.

If you want to use a donorwheel look for one with nice large flanges and you can measure the spokelength to go and buy the 33 extra spokes + nipples you need, the donorwheel must have a standard 3 cross spokelayout to meet the requirements for making this wheel.

2. Tools used:
Dremel multitool
Drills 2,5mm, 4mm and 8mm
Spoke wrench Park Tool
Hand drill
Marking tool steel
center point
truing stand
a Dremel drillingstand ( not in the picture )

Step 2: Setup the Hub

Picture of Setup the Hub

First off we measure the width of the flange from the outside of the spoke hole to the outside of the flange ( in this case that's 3,25mm )

After that we measure the diameter of the spoke hole ( in this hub that's 2,5mm )
With this information we can calculate that the center of the spoke holes is at: 3,25mm + 1,25mm = 4,5mm

Adjust your caliper to this.
If possible lock your caliper and use the back-end.
Put the bottom of the caliper against the side of the flange and hold your steel marking tool against the measure pen.
Let someone help you by gently turning the hub with the bottom flange.
The result, a nice parallel marking line.

Now measure the distance between 2 spokes holes.
On this hub that's 13,5mm divide by 2.
With the results of 6,75mm
Adjust your caliper to this and lock.
Mark the halfway between the spoke holes with the calipers top by holding it in the spoke hole and gently scratch on the parallel marking line.

Now you can center where the drilling holes are going to be.
If your center point is sharp enough you can slide it in a little sideways and you will feel the marking line.
Now upright the center point and gently hit it with the hammer, dont slam it the first time because if you are off the mark you can still correct it by doing it once more.
When you are happy with it slam it once more.

Ready to drill.
Not shown in picture, I used a dremel drilling stand. .
For the best results put a slight angle on the drilling stand to go with the flanges angle (about 5 degrees)
This hub can be clamped on the axle because of the flat sides. If the axle is round use a special axle clamp to not damage the thread.
Drill the holes using a 2,5mm drill.
Debur the holes by using a machine or hand drill.
Debur the inside of the spoke holes of the flange by using a oversized drill.

Step 3: Prepare the Rim

Picture of Prepare the Rim

Measure the width of the rim and divide by 2.
In this case the rim width is 28mm divided by 2 = 14mm.
Adjust your caliper to 14mm and lock it.
Gently mark the center of the rim between the nipple holes.
Make small lines so that in the final product they wont show up as much.

Measure the distance between 2 nipple holes and divide by 2, here that's 51mm divided by 2 is 25,5mm.
Mark the center between the nipple holes.
You can do this with the calipers top.
Use the center point to mark them for drilling.

Drill the holes with a 4mm drill or whatever size your holes are.

Debur the holes with a hand drill or a lager machine drill.
Don't forget the inside of the rim.

Now you are ready to build this wheel.

Step 4: Lacing the Wheel 1 ( Start Inserting the Inner Spokes Into the Hub )

Picture of Lacing the Wheel 1 ( Start Inserting the Inner Spokes Into the Hub )

Insert the first 6 spokes from the outside of the flange towards the inside of the hub next to each other, skip 6 holes put in the next 6 and do this once more.

Turn over the hub and insert 1 spoke from outside in so that it matches the other side exactly.
Insert all spokes mirrored to the opposite flange into the hub group by 6.

Step 5: Lacing the Wheel 2 ( Start Putting the Spokes Into the Rim )

Picture of Lacing the Wheel 2 ( Start Putting the Spokes Into the Rim )

Take up the rim and start next to the valve hole (this is an original nipple hole ) by inserting the first spoke from one group of 6 spokes.
Screw the nipple on about 3 turns turning clockwise.
For the next hole in the rim (this is a drilled one) take the spoke from the opposite side of the hub, insert it and put on a nipple.
Take the next spoke from the side you started with and insert this into the next free hole ( you are working away from the valve hole )
Remember to fasten the nipples no more than 3 turns.
Keep going until the first group of 12 is setup.

Skip 12 holes in the rim and start over again with the next group of 12 spokes.
Watch out !! Start this group with the same flange-side as you did starting next to the valve hole.

Repeat the last step to do the last 12 spokes.
If everything works out you will get a result similar to the photograph. Use this moment to check if you didn't make any mistakes, at this time it's easy to correct them.
3 times 12 spokes & 3 times 12 holes free in the rim with one being 11 nipple holes and one valve hole.

Step 6: Lacing the Wheel 3 ( Determine How the Hub Twists )

Picture of Lacing the Wheel 3 ( Determine How the Hub Twists )

Now determine what way you should turn the hub to make the most room for the valve.
Image 1 is wrong, image 2 is the the way it should be.
Look at the top of the pictures.
There is the valve-hole.

Step 7: Lacing the Wheel 4 ( Insert the Outer Spokes Into the Hub )

Picture of Lacing the Wheel 4 ( Insert the Outer Spokes Into the Hub )

Now we start with the spokes that are inserted from the inside out.
Take a close look, you want to start with the same side of the hub with the spoke that is closest to the valve-hole.

Insert one spoke from the inside out into the hub at the exact spot shown in the picture.
This spoke sits next to the group of 6 already placed in the wheel, cross over these 6 spokes and insert it next to the valve-hole, put a nipple on it turning it about 3 times.
Sometimes it is hard to get the first nipple on, this is because the other nipples from the spokes already inside the wheel havent fallen far enough into the rim when you turned the hub making space at the valve-hole. ( the way described on the previous page )
Turn the wheel over and insert all spokes on the side of the hub where you just inserted the previous spoke.
I think this is the easier way but you can also insert them one by one if you wish.
Turn the wheel back gently holding the loose spokes and lay them flat on the hub.
Starting at the spoke you already put in there next to the valve-hole you insert the spokes skipping one nipplehole in the rim at the time.
Do them all.

Turn the wheel over and start on the other side.
Watch out we leave one hole in the hub free and start at the next free hole in the rim away from the valve-hole.

We do this with the 3 groups we are about to do, so instead of 6 spokes per group we only use 5.
If everything is in order it will look similar to the last photo in this step.

Step 8: Truing the Wheel 1 ( Fastening the Spokes Up to First Tension )

Picture of Truing the Wheel 1 ( Fastening the Spokes Up to First Tension )

Now we start fastening the nipples up to the end of the thread on the spokes, do this as accurate as possible.
Start and stop at the valvehole.
Accurate work will make a big difference later on at the truing stage.
A screwdriver is easiest for this job.

With the wheel I made the spokes where bulging a bit.
No fear this will be fine.
If there is a lot of space on the nipples you can start fastening them by turning them 1 full turn at the time, and when tension start mounting half a turn.
Do a full round every time.
Now we get an exceptional situation, on and off one spoke will have tension and the next one will be very loose, with a normal spoke layout all spokes would have about the same amount of tension.
This is because of the extraordinary spoke layout.

Before we start correcting this we first want to check if the wheel is fairly true.

It is better to correct this before going on.
The way you do this is a little bit further on in this instructable.
When this is done you can start fastening the spokes that are loose.
Only fasten them up to the point where they start building tension.

Step 9: Truing the Wheel 2 ( Make It Straight )

Picture of Truing the Wheel 2 ( Make It Straight )

After this we are start truing the wheel.
First off find the spot where the wheel is centered best.
This is very important due to the lining of your bike, adjust your truingstand-marker to match this spot.
With a good truing stand this is no problem but as many of you readers wont have tools like this you can use a makeshift stand by using an old front fork and use a tape measure or your caliper to find the right spot.
There are some good instructables on making your own truingstand.

Start turning the wheel to see where the rim is further away from the marker, like in this picture.
Here we want the rim to be closer to the marker.
Determine how long the offset is (how many spokes)
Remember where the start and finish is.
You now need to fasten those spokes on the side where the rim is too far away from the marker.
Or if the tension is too much you can loosen the spokes on the other side, this is basically some sort of feel you need to get / learn on what is best.

Pay attention to the turning direction for fastening of the nipple as in the picture ( looking at the nipple from the rim side ) you need to fasten the nipples counter clockwise.
Always think about the way you would fasten the nipples, this will become second nature when making more wheels in the future.

Before you can mount your tire you need to check if the spoke-thread is showing on the inside of the rim, as is the case here.
This thread showing needs to be removed with, for example a Dremel with a grinding stone or with a grinder.(be careful not to damage the rim or yourself).

Step 10: The Endresult

Picture of The Endresult

This rim was already prepared to make another wheel, because of this there where two extra holes in it.
These holes I filled with dummy valves, in my opinion this gives a nice look to the wheel, decide for yourself.
Even with completion this wheel feels very solid I want to remind you that you make/use these wheels at your own risk.

Have fun building.


rickpaulos (author)2012-06-07

Here is another advanced wheel project:

Biohazard1194 (author)2010-04-23

Looks awesome. I'll see if I can't get some spare rims and spokes to make this. Just incase I mess up and end up ruining a rim I still have the original.

jcg (author)Biohazard11942011-07-16

Try to find second hand rims, it doesn't matter if they have a wobble in them because your respoking (probably not the right word) anyway. So on top of making awesome wheels your fixing something too. And it's cheaper.

enyceckk (author)2011-04-13

This wheel has a Mercedes Benz logo on it.

PyroBuilder15 (author)2011-02-15

I know what I'm doing tonight to my bike.

unaffiliatedperson (author)2010-10-16

this would look awesome on the cruiser i found in the dumpster i found the other day. thanks for posting.

maurice1993 (author)2009-09-08

hey, I simply can't use the original wheel, un-assemble, make this, and then, re-assemble?

MasterRed (author)maurice19932009-09-09

Yes you can the spokelength is the same, so basicly you can just relocate the spokes in an existing wheel. And if you want to you can go to a bikeshop and buy the extra 33 spokes in the same length as the ones already in the wheel to make it the same as in my instructable here.

maurice1993 (author)MasterRed2009-09-09

hmmm sound cool...... for sure I'll do this in my next bike!(when I buy it... I'm on foot... cryiiiin)

minhocaloka (author)2009-05-30

woot man!!!=D


¬¬ i'll try!!!=P

Unmortal (author)2009-05-21

i geuss the wheel is very save bechause if ya ride a bike the wheels need to carry you around and not be like yellie puding and in this instrutabal are very much spokes that go to the center of the hub thos empty space wont be a problem i geuss you can make money with this in the neterlands bechaus we use bikes almost al day and this is just art!!

geppetto425 (author)2009-01-02

This would be cool on a Unicycle!!!

mikepenton (author)geppetto4252009-01-08

Definitely - there's going to be an article on funky wheel builds in Uni - The Unicycle Magazine soon :)

vanpaun (author)mikepenton2009-02-01

I didn't know you guys were on here! sweet!

ntappin (author)vanpaun2009-04-07

we are everywhere.

Alecw35 (author)2009-01-22

It would be neater if it was a plain undimpled rim I've seen factory custom motorcycles with similar wheels

mynameisjonas (author)2009-01-01

very nice! have you been using this wheel?

MasterRed (author)mynameisjonas2009-01-02

Not this is one but something similar I have been using in my hobby chopperbike project HERO. In fact the idea to make this spokelayout came to me when I was making the frontwheel for this bike. And as you can see this bike has some extra weight to it, but I haven't encountered any problems with it yet, not even with the 50K cruise I cruised with it last summer.

SerJ (author)MasterRed2009-01-14

hey MasterRed :) the 50K cruise was a big laugh :) - and never thought id find your bike on Instructables, but happy i did! its in my top 5 favourite bikes ever :)
anyone wanting to see more pics and vids from the Amsterdam event , heres the link:-

See you next summer! :)

MasterRed (author)SerJ2009-01-15

Yeah it sure was, I really like riding with all these same (crooked;-) minded people. Thanks for my bike being in your top 5 ever. Sure thing I'll be there, just thinking what else I am going to do to my HERO bike before the FBI starts. My next project is going to be a slow build ( years I would say ) so that won't be ready for this years FBI event.

rachel (author)MasterRed2009-01-08

Whoa! How did you make that? Do you have more pictures? It's so worth an instructable or, if you haven't time/energy, a forum topic.

MasterRed (author)rachel2009-01-09

Yep you are right that it would be worth an Instructable but...but...but...... there you go time is the one thing I have in short supply.
Go here to the forum to read the (kinda)full story on how this bike was made.

And overhere on the Freakbike-forum is some extra info on the things I've done to the bike after I finished it for the BBO ( Biker Build Off )

Maybe I will start a forumtopic over here this weekend when I am @home.

mynameisjonas (author)MasterRed2009-01-02

very nice!

krode (author)2009-01-02

Since you have extra valve holes anyway, why not add a deflated tube utilizing one of the extra holes. That way, you have a redundant tube already installed and ready for inflation if you get a flat. I think there's an instructable on that here somewhere...

cornflaker (author)krode2009-01-12

That would be kind of hard to figure out which one to pump up would it though? lol I guess it wouldn't be too bad if you tire wasn't too flat though because you could see which one still had pressure in it.

MasterRed (author)krode2009-01-03

Yes that would be nice.
Here is the instructable by Chr1s on that.

myuu (author)2009-01-11

This is the one I've been doing for a few years now, it's a 36 spoke cross lace or "snowflake".

Archergal52 (author)2009-01-08

This is one of the most thoroughly documented instructables I've seen. I've never been interested in building wheels, but I think I learned a LOT about it here. Well done!

MasterRed (author)Archergal522009-01-08

Comments like this make it all worth while. Thank you

rhubarb (author)2009-01-04

This looks like a variation of a 3(or 4) leading, 3(or 4) trailing lacing pattern. You can do a version of this with similar effect without drilling out your hub flanges or rims. The photos attached are of a 3 leading / 3 trailing wheel I built up around an old Bendix coaster hub. As you may notice, the spokes are interlaced. I'd only recommend doing so with a rather large hub flange, as the spokes are put through some sharp angles. The cool thing about this lacing pattern is that it is that uses the same length spoke used in a standard 3 cross lacing, so you can usually use the same spokes that are already on a built wheel.

I got the information on this wheel at

Check out the site if you're interested in exotic patterns.

MasterRed (author)rhubarb2009-01-04

You are right, basically this is an 3 leading 3 trailing pattern but because off the extra holes I made in the hub and rim this wheel is an 6 leading 6 trailing pattern. I was and still am very surprised how many people did these sort off lacings before I started making them, I've did most off mine without knowing they where done already but the more I post them over on different forums and websites the more people I start to know who have the same passion. Here is one for ya that I haven't seen anywhere else: 3 rims / one hub / 108 spokes / basically an standard 3 cross pattern but then stacked 3 times. p.s. I like your website about your hobby

xerxesx20 (author)MasterRed2009-01-08

As if the standard spoke count doesn't make for a b*tch to clean, looks pretty good though! :-)

rush_elixir (author)2009-01-05

Can i use this on motorcycle rims, if its possible. I like to try it sometime with my front wheel.

Koil_1 (author)2009-01-05

This is really awesome. However, wouldn't it be easier to just not mark or drill the holes for the missing spokes?

MasterRed (author)Koil_12009-01-05

Yes and no, Yes you could leave the 2 extra holes in the rim out by counting 12 off the original holes from the valve hole when marking the rim. And no for the hub because you would really need to pay very good attention when starting to layce the wheel where you start so that you end the right way. For estatics I agree that the extra holes should be omitted in the hub although I like the extra valve's with caps on the rim.

theatre_tech_guru (author)2009-01-04

i love it

watermelonhead (author)2009-01-04

that's cool. what would be cooler, though, is if you added one of those spinny hubcaps, like on gangsta cars. :]

mweston (author)2009-01-03

Wow, this is really interesting. I think I have a few ideas for this - you could make a ton of different designs with the spokes...

MasterRed (author)mweston2009-01-03

Yes you can, here are 2 more photo examples off wheels with out off the ordinary spoke lacing's that I did.
The first 2 pictures are from a wheel with a twist spoke layout.
I have made an .pdf tutorial on this wheel also that I offer for download on my website as I do with the Instructable here, in time I will put it up as an Instructable also.
The third photo is the frontwheel I mentioned in the reply to mynameisjonas's comment.

I've done some radical wheels with 72 spokes with 2 rims put into 1 wheel and also 2 rearwheels with 108 spokes with 3 rims laced together, but for these wheels I haven't got tutorials............. yet ( but if time permits me I will do them someday )

mweston (author)MasterRed2009-01-03

Great job on those as well, they are all very cool, I might try something like the last picture, It will take some planning but hopefully I will get to it soon :-)

monterto (author)2009-01-02

very cool lace pattern, how strong is it vs radial lacing?

MasterRed (author)monterto2009-01-03

On a radial lacing you need a hub thats suited for the forces the spokes make on that hub because there is a lot more tension on them than when the spokes cross each other, but because this wheel has 33 spokes more in it you don't need to fasten them as much as normal. Strength wise I would say that this kind off lacing has the advantage to radial but a normal 36 spokes laced with a standard 3cross pattern is stronger still.

jongscx (author)2009-01-02

this instructable scares me >_<... I spent 3 days truing a bike wheel once, only ride it off and have half the spokes snap or the nipples break because they were over-tightened.... First and last time I tried it.

MasterRed (author)jongscx2009-01-03

I can understand your frustration about having put so much work into that wheel and that it breaks after just a few miles. There is more to making a sound wheel than meets the eye ;-) I for that have the luxury of a dad who has been in the bike business for over 45years who learned me and he also learned it from his father, so I am third generation bicycle-repairman with over 18years experience.

Andruha1123 (author)2009-01-02

wow, u've put a lot of work into this, great job!!

cokecola (author)2009-01-01

Have you noticed any difference in the structure strength of the rim?

MasterRed (author)cokecola2009-01-02

No I haven't found any problems with it yet, but as I stated in the instructable you are altering the rim and hub in such a manor that the manufacturer hasn't foreseen that there is always that possibility that it will brake earlier. I wouldn't recommend using this type off wheel in a mountainbike or any other sports related bicycle.

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