Introduction: Twisted Spoke Bicycle Wheel Lacing - Flowers!

Picture of Twisted Spoke Bicycle Wheel Lacing - Flowers!

I've never given my girl flowers.... Except for the surfboard with frangipanni's on it. When i recently built her up a light'n'sexy single speed for running about town i decided to braid into each wheel a flower complete with petals. Here's how.

Step 1: Front Wheel

Picture of Front Wheel

36 spoke hub
hole spaceing (measured between hole centres accross the hub.) = 38.4mm
hub width: 68.4mm
314mm spokes
608mm diameter rims.

Step 2: Choose Your Spokes.

Take a look at all the online spoke calculators. Largely ignore them.
Basically just take a set of spokes way too long to build for the equipment you have.
Take a best guess at the twisty pattern. I've included 3 configurations in this how-to as a guide. I don't know of any spoke calculator for doing these patterns...

Step 3: Lace Very Loosely One Side of the Wheel.

lace all spokes loosely on one side of the wheel. I'd suggest looking at sheldon brown's wheel lacing guides as an excellent guide.

Step 4: Now the Tricky Part. Lace the Other Side

put in half the spokes only in alternate holes. loosely tighten them in with the nipples.

Step 5: Put in the Second Half of the Spokes.

you should be able to wrestle the spokes into place. the first half are easy, then they get increasingly hard.
try and lace them opposite each-other ie for each one on this side of the wheel, insert one on the opposing side next....

Step 6: Tighten and True Wheel

This is also a tough bit. Trueing these wheels isn't anything like trueing normal wheels. tightening a spoke somewhere has untold effects elsewhere on your wheel...
the secret is to tighten all up to firmish, then to proceed very slowly, sort of 1/4 turns on each spoke

Step 7: Ride, and Re-true.

Unlike a normal wheel, these will take a while to settle in. You'll need to ride a few times and re-true after each ride. The first ride in particular will be kinda scary as your wheels make a lot of noise. The spokes are rubbing on each-other and settling into their final configuration.

Step 8: Alternative Lacing Pattern.

Picture of Alternative Lacing Pattern.

36 spoke wheel.
62.4mm hole diameter.
66.8mm wide hub.
266mm long spokes.
540mm diameter rim.

Step 9: Alternative Lacing Pattern #2

Picture of Alternative Lacing Pattern #2

36 spoke wheel.
hole spacing accross hub: 61mm
hub width: 74mm
304mm spoke length
608mm rim diameter.


HarreBar (author)2006-04-25

And one for the testing on my a.t.b. let's just check if the city-curbstones will prove too much. This one's in 26" with 280mm spokes (14) haven't measured the hub, it's a standard shimano (ALTUS!) one. Firts ride now, adjusting already needed. But very little. Fun to make and nice to PIMP MY BIKE!!! Thanx for putting the design on the web. Greetings from Zutphen (Netherlands)!!!!

frenzy (author)HarreBar2010-06-08


This post has won today's I Made It Challenge! For that they will receive a 3 month PRO membership!

Thanks for using!

tloftis (author)2011-07-19

that is really far out. I won't to try to make a wheel like that myself.

mukac (author)2010-11-26


randywatson (author)2010-11-04

Anyone notice these two pictures, the spokes are laced differently.

In the first picture; all the spokes from the left hand hub flange go to the spoke/nipple holes in the left hand side of the rim. And vise versa for the right hand side. As it should be.

In the second photo; some of the left hand spokes (left hub flange) go the holes on the right side of the hub. Every 4th hole! I can see why - it is more aestetically pleasing to the eye.

My question is, is this ok for show but not for the road? its obviously puting more of an angle on the spoke/nipple/rim hole. Would you ride the miss matched wheel in terms of left/right handed rim and flanges.

I hope that makes sense!

really depends on the wheel. most rims with directional eyelets wont even allow for that kind of lacing without some force, but if you use a velocity deep v for instance without eyelets at all, or say a single wall rim you may find that it works alright, but the actual truing of the wheel after the fact will be hard to accomplish. i mean, theres a reason that wheels have the four spoke pattern. probably ok to use with the right tension, but you can bet on it if you lace it properly.

FrogFace (author)2010-11-13

Great pattern but where can I get the lacing instructions? Can you send me them? Or is there a website for exotics??? Thanks.

leeski (author)2010-05-24

 Awesome job.  I bought my wife a mtn bike for mother;s day - she would have loved a set of wheels laced like yours...

daniel! (author)2009-12-02

jeez, that must be a huge pain to keep them wheels true

mntbikersid (author)2006-04-27

I ahve built up a set of these, a general rule of thumb is to take the length the spoke calculator gives you, and add 10mm

clifzelf (author)mntbikersid2009-09-15

hi, do you mean 10 mm compared to a cross-3 pattern?

ll.13 (author)clifzelf2009-10-01

Yes, I think that is what the OP was referring to.

theburn7 (author)2009-07-11

How is the integrity of these?

555mst555 (author)2009-06-18 any patterns for BMX?

btw if u go to the web :
and go to the section called 'nipples'......u'll get a good laugh there :)

SyR (author)2008-10-18

Thank you for sharing your beautiful spoke patterns. However, I think, in structural engineering point of view, the double twisted one has too much degree of freedom in each twisted point to sustain severe external lateral loads, which can overwhelm the frictions and bending forces in the joint(twist) and finally cause the deflection of the rim. For example, when it is deflected like the Pringles, which causes specific part of the rim to be lengthened while making the other 90 degree locations shortened, the spoke pattern may just easily changes its lengths by pulling the adjacent "petals" gradually because the location of the first twists from the hub are not firmly fixed and the second twist point can also be moved by the external load. In my opinion, the double twist one can be trued for internal static equilibrium, but cannot be fully resistant to external forces. Regardless of my opinion, I feel your pattern gives us, amateur wheelbuilders all over the world, a great inspiration. Thank you.

kiki2021 (author)2008-03-28

Amazing work. I'm not so familiar with bike mechanics, but I want to spiff up a bike I already have. Is there a way to remove the spokes from the wheels I have, twist them, and put it back?

sinned96 (author)2007-09-21

I did this over 20 years ago and twisted the spoke 3 times. I built the wheels for Laguna Bicycles back in the late 70's early 80's

kishida (author)2007-05-22

Very cool & clever. I want to attempt it, but I'm already challenged a bit, when lacing up a standard wheel.

thetable (author)2007-02-28

I haven't seen the double twist, but I have built several wheels with a single twist design. I always used spokes that were about 5mm longer than whatever the spoke calculator called for on the single twist. Downsides of the wheel are that if one spoke breaks you effectively have two broken spokes, and they are VERY difficult to build round. Getting them true is easy, but keeping (or at least trying to keep) them round in the building process is a nightmare. Upsides of the wheel, once they settle they do a great job of staying true. The cross gives GREAT torsional stiffness, which makes them great for rear wheels and disc brakes. It is somewhat akin to the old style of tie and solder. I would suggest getting a few normal three cross wheels under your belt before going for the twist. For a professional look, make sure that any labels on the rim are readable from the drive side. You should also be able to read the label on the hub through the valve stem hole. And last but not least the valve stem should not be in the middle of the last cross. I edited your image to show the proper placement. (I hope you don't mind.) For those interested in building wheels, look into getting the book "The Bicycle Wheel" Great reference manual and Great information.

ana.log.ue (author)thetable2007-03-26

hi, could you quickly explain how the single twist lacing works? and maybe post a picture of the complete wheel?-)

thetable (author)ana.log.ue2007-04-04

I think I still have twist lace lying around. I will try to get a pic of it up in a couple days. But I only twisted the spokes on the third cross on a three cross wheel, verses the second and third on the one pictured here.

thetable (author)thetable2007-04-04

Check out the wheel on page (step) 8, that is what I mean.

SugarTeen52 (author)2006-06-19

It`s a great project. It`s really very pretty. Yet it might help a little if you had a picture or two of the work in progress.

DiamondBack (author)SugarTeen522006-10-25

Definitely need pictures of in-progress! Will this work on a 20" wheel? How do I decide what length spokes to use? Where would I get the spokes? (because I have no idea)

Any decent local bike shops in your area should be able to sell you the spokes you need and provide you with the info and spoke length you would need for your project.

HarreBar (author)DiamondBack2007-01-16

well, for the spokes; bicycleshop. for the size; quite a bit longer than normal, even centimeters!!! best use normal spokes (non-ferro is weaker) succes!

chully (author)DiamondBack2006-10-27

It will work for any size wheel, with spokes you buy at your local bike shop, or at a place like The length of spokes will be different for a different sized wheel, like the instructible says you will have to make your best guess at the length.

trailgrind (author)2006-12-08

I've never done the flower design but I have done the 3cross with single twist in the past, and they were awesome. They were rock solid and were on my bike that was stolen. Don't even think of using aluminum nipples though and make sure you use a good quality rim with eyelets. Also, make sure you use a straight gauge spoke and carry some extra spokes in your seatpost just in case a spoke snaps. And for the spoke length use a spoke 2-4mm longer than suggested for a 3 cross pattern. The wheels are extremely stiff when properly tensioned. I think the twisting essentially increases the effective hub diameter and that is why they are so stiff.

jongscx (author)2006-12-03

I'm sure, that I'm asking something that many others are thinking...


Just wondering, as I have had a wheel collapse under me and leave me belly-up on the side of a sidewalk a few feet from mountain bike with a tacoed wheel...
Though I guess i can't argue with the two years you said you've ridden yours.

trailgrind (author)jongscx2006-12-08

I don't know about the flower design but the 3cross twist is safe I ran them for years and abused the heck out of them. I used them for trials and mountain biking. I also built them for a few other people.

fixxieCorazon (author)jongscx2006-12-07

uuummm, yeah...I think that's kinda not very safe. I'm a bike mechanic and I have heard some horror stories. This may have worked for you, which is cool but I really hope it doesn't cause injury. It looks badass though!

Phoghat (author)2006-10-01

I love the pattern. I'm wondering if I couldaccomplish the same thing with a motorcycle wheel for an old-school bobber I'm building.

percy Wheeler (author)2006-05-14

I have been running these for years when i was a messenger and they hold up wonderfully.I sometimes build them for downhill bikes and they are tried and true.

BuilderboY (author)2005-12-22


fettling (author)2005-12-16

Hi Saul, great wheels (and other stuff).
I have been building a website for bike maintenance, very much a work in progress. I have a few articles on wheelbuilding. Would I be able to use your pictures to show some unusual paterns?
This is the current page for wheelbuilding reasources;

hensonkid (author)2005-10-27

That's really great looking. How has the trueness of the wheel held up after all this time? Did they do ok after the break-in and initial readjustments? You could offer this as a commercial service. If I lived nearby, I'd buy a couple from you.

saul (author)hensonkid2005-12-15

it takes me 4-5 hours to make one. they definitely hold their true a good while (maybe no as long as a straight spoke, but i have been riding one for 2 years without truing) anyway, hard to make it economic to make them for a living at that speed.

maxwell (author)2005-09-01


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