Instructables
Picture of Tie and Solder a bike wheel
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Not many folks do this anymore, but not because it isnt cool. Tying and soldering your spokes effectively shortens the spoke length, so you get a stiffer wheel. Usually this means faster and more responsive, but also not as comfy, and it can potentially put increased stress on the rim. That said I have tied and soldered many a wheel and never had an issue...other than my wheels looking extra awesome.

You will need the following things:

-wire for tying: pre tinned copper wire, I used 32 guage, you could probably go a little thicker, but I wouldnt do much. Radio Shack is where I usually find this. Theoretically any thin wire that will hold the solder will work, but this is how it has always been done, so this is what I use.

-Solder: Its better to use a low temp solder as it will expose the spokes to less heat stress, which in theory would be bad for them. I have used high temp silver bearing solder, and it looks great, but is a pain as it requires a higher heat not always attainable with low grade soldering guns.

-Flux: thick paste flux is best as it stands up to heat better and will let the solder flow really well. 

-Soldering Gun: just about any will do, but I like to use at least a 40W gun to keep the job a bit quicker and easier.

-A Bike Wheel: can't tie and solder a wheel, without a wheel, now can we.

-This Instructable: well...duh.
 
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Step 1: Build or buy a wheel and ride it.

Picture of Build or buy a wheel and ride it.
Nothing to see here, but you gotta let the wheel break in a bit before tying and soldering. A new wheel can potentially settle in and detension so it is best to ride the wheel and shake it out before tying and soldering. It is not that you can not true or tension a wheel that has been tied, but it is a bit more difficult so better to shake the wheel out and get it nice and dialed first.
Mhendri9618 months ago

You are right, they just plain look awesome!

Tied spokes belongs back in the days of wishful thinking and wire and canvas aircraft. In terms of "engineering improvements" and "actual usefulness" - the practice has been debunked as worthless and time wasting. It's fallen out of use, because obsessive and compulsive people found time could be wasted on things that may actually have an improvement, like shaving the inside of ones nose with a straight razor to reduce wind resistance.
macfreshy (author)  Wroger-Wroger1 year ago
Always great when someone stops by just to tell you how pointless and unintelligent your work is. Thanks chap, "positive and constructive" for sure.
macfreshy (author) 1 year ago
While I appreciate all the responses, I'm not always a huge fan of the need to try and make me "wrong". I have been working on bikes, as a profession, for nearly 10 years, and racing them for even longer. I can say, with a high level of certainty that wheels I have tied and soldered have at least felt stiffer, which is fine for me. Considering that a new wheel should be ridden a bit before tying and soldering every one of the wheels I have done this to (not a ton mind you, never claimed it was a huge difference) has been stiffer after the tying and soldering than before. That said, I realize that this is not a big change, and that there is a reason this is often not done anymore. I happen to think it looks cool which is my biggest reason for doing it, but I also happen to know that quite a few pro team mechanics will tie and solder the classicly built box section wheels that get used for select races like Paris-Roubaix and Flanders. These boys know better than most of us so I am keen to think they also feel it adds something.
I tied spokes back in the 80's on freestyle/ BMX wheels and it was one of the worst things ever, but a race lace is great. It's a weave and lets a rim take a huge impact and rebound. I've never tried it on less than a 26 spoke wheel sooo.....results may vary. Oh! and bladed spokes are weaker that standard spokes if used with a lace.
yeah I've never heard of it either. What do you do if you need to true your wheel?
macfreshy (author)  dontstop19901 year ago
you can still true the wheel basically as normal for the most part, it just may prove a little more labor inensive.
That's interesting, I've never heard of tied spokes..