How to Lace a Bicycle Wheel.




Introduction: How to Lace a Bicycle Wheel.

Being able to lace and true your own wheels is a very important skill to learn. Not only will you save money and be able to look after your wheels better, but you will also have the ultimate trump card over your mates!

Although wheel building looks a little complicate and often scares riders, it is in actual fact much easier than it looks, I actually find it quite therapeutic.

In this article you will learn how I lace 32 spoke 3 cross pattern wheels.

you can see more How To's on my site:

The pics are a bit small, but if you pop over here:

how to build a wheelhow to build a wheel

You should be able to click on the pics for larger images.

Step 1: Tools, Parts and Step 1


  • Small flat head screwdriver (for turning nipples)
  • Spoke key


  • Rims
  • Spokes
  • Nipples

Make sure your hubs and rims match!! Dont use disc only rims with non-disc hubs and make sure the hubs and rims have the same number of holes.

This tuition will tell you how to lace a 32 spoke wheel using a 3 cross pattern.

First thing to do is to choose your rims and hubs. Im using Sun Singletrack rims in camo) and Novatec hubs (however some pictures will show different hubs and rims). This set up will not only look slick but also last a hell of a long time with minimal maintenance.

Once you have chosen your rims and hubs you need to calculate the length of spoke you need. There are plenty of spoke calculators on the Internet. The manufacturer of your rims or hubs might even have one. If you are really lucky the owner of the shop you bought your parts will know the size you need.

Usually the lengths of spokes needed for a front wheel are the same on each side, USUALLY. Spokes for your rear wheel will be of different lengths, USUALLY. The drive side of the wheel will use shorter spokes than the nondrive side, this is due to the rear wheel being dished (flatter on the cassette side).

Ok, We have rims, spokes and hubs (and nipples try to avoid alloy nipples) lets start lacing up that wheel.

This is how I build my wheels, Im not saying its the best way but it works for me and I have never suffered a broken spoke or pringled wheel.

Look at your rim you should see that the holes are positioned a certain way. One to the left one to the right, one to the left one to the right and so on.

If you are lacing a disc hub start on the disc side, it will make life a lot easier.

1. Pop your first spoke in from the outside of the hub and lace it through the appropriate hole (left/right) nearest the valve hole.

Step 2: Step 2

2. Ok, now pop the next spoke into the hub from the same side but one hole along. (Every other hole)

Step 3: Step 3 and 4

3. Look at the rim and count 4 holes from your first spoke put the next spoke into the 4th hole.

4. Great, continue doing that and you should get this.

Step 4: Step 5

5. 8 spokes down and counting. Next thing to do is twist the hub. So you know you are twisting in the right direction the spoke nearest your valve hole should run almost 90 degrees from the rim.

Step 5: Step 6

6. Now, from the other side of the hub pop your 9th spoke through (we are still on the same side) This spoke is going to run in the opposite direction from the first 8 and it will cross 3 of them.

Here it is crossing the first 2 spokes.

Step 6: Step 7

And now at the 3rd. As you can see this spoke runs over the first 2 spokes and then under the 3rd.

It fastens to the rim at the middle hole of the first 2 previous spokes.

Step 7: Step 8

7. Continue doing that and you should have this.

Looking like a wheel.

As you can see the 2 spokes nearest the valve hole are running at almost 90 degree from the rim. We want this for 2 reasons. We dont want the spokes to cross near the valve as it may make it difficult to attach a pump and 2 I think it looks nicer.

Step 8: Step 9 and 10

Difficult part.
9.Offer up a spoke running from the correct spoke hole near the valve hole going to the hub. The non threaded end should meet up with the the hole on the hub opposite the big triangle (Big triangle with 2 smaller ones at the base)

10.From the disc side push a spoke through the big triangle (like an odd looking A) and into the hole near the valve hole.

Step 9: Step 11

Phew, that is a little complicated I know but if you have done it wrong dont worry you will soon find out and be able to correct it.
Again lace up the spokes as you did on the disc side. You should end up with your spokes looking like this near the valve hole. If not or your spokes seem to be to short you did step 8 wrong.

From the drive side push in the spoke and aim it above the second spoke intersection on the opposite side.

Step 10: Step 12 a Newly Laced Wheel

12. Cross the 3 spokes this time under, under over and pop It through the hole on the rim. Continue this and you should end up with this.

Yeah, your laced up wheel.

The last and most time-consuming step is to tension and true the wheels (get the spokes tight and the wheel running with no wobbles)

This I will show you next time.

Good luck

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    2 years ago

    Would be great if photos were high res. Other than that, this is really great tutorial!


    2 years ago

    My Speedway 500 5 speed, which I think was an Azuki, Louisville Cycle & Hobby's house brand made by Nishiki(?), came with chromed steel rims, which I replaced with aluminum. While I was at it I built the wheel around a Sturmey-Archer Dyn0hub, which I bought at a bike shop in Dayton, Oregon for $5 about 30 years ago along with a 1974 36° Dyn0hub and a 1957 AG Dyn0three, both of which I somehow have managed to hang on to.
    As the cups of the other Dyn0hub were badly spalled, I turned them with a carbide bit on my lathe with plenty of Magic cutting oil to press in sealed bearings. I made a through-drilled axle of stainless steel barstock for a quick release. Tough stuff, that! I installed the wheel on the Speedway, head and tail lights for the 6VAC Dyn0hub and got several years out of it before it was stolen by a man who my mother hired to clean out her garage. By the time I visited her he was long gone. Got my 1970 Gitane Tour de France, spare rims, other bike parts and supplies while he was at it.


    2 years ago on Step 10

    Since it's been over 40 years since I built a wheel, I think that it's a good idea for me to review the process.
    Way back then I didn't know of a spoke calculator. Eugene Sloan's book didn't have the formula. My Italian racing book didn't have one, though I found the 109% of inside leg length for saddle height in it. So, I had to set up the formula myself. Now I can jump on the WWW to get one!
    Someone stepped on my Kuwahara tandem's back wheel and pretzeled it. As I have had no success getting it straightened, I'm going to have to break the wheel down to straighten the Ukai 27x1⅛ rim, then build it back up. If I simply had to replace the rim I'd like to change to 700C but I'm not sure if my brake pads can be adjusted 4mm closer to the axle. 27x1⅜ tires are getting hard to find. 27x1½ tires are apparently non-existent now.
    The rear wheel spokes were replaced before I bought the bike in 1992. I prefer butted spokes as they give a tiny bit more springiness than straight gage and curve more easily when assembling and lacing.


    I wish the pictures were bigger, especially the ones showing spoke patterns.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    woa thanks m gonna try thins i get free spokes,hubsmnipples and things fromour school field we get bikes dumped there