Rebuilding a Spoked Wheel for the Royal Enfield Bullet




Introduction: Rebuilding a Spoked Wheel for the Royal Enfield Bullet

About: general bloke type of tinkering

Part 1: The Pattern
Rebuilding a spoked motorbike wheel, this involves lacing the spoke pattern and for Part 2, truing the wheel.
This particular pattern belongs to the Royal Enfield Bullet.
Before starting it’s a good idea to take photos of the wheel, recording need to know info for later, such as pattern and layout of the spokes.

Take note of the spoke head symbol of the visible spoke heads facing outward which should all be the same, in my case a triangle,more  about that in the next step.

Step 1: Preamble and Layout

This is a first for me both tackling a wheel rebuild as well as working on a motorbike so I stand to correction in respect of my terminology/procedures.
Here I’m going to tackle the front wheel, bearing in mind that there are 2 different types of spokes in the front wheel. There is the slightly longer 144mm one, and a shorter one 142mm. In addition to the length of the spoke, the 2 types also have different amounts of bend in the hook, which can be seen more clearly in the second pic.

Correction to previous offset hub story:
The reason for this is that the sharper bend 90° shorter spoke goes on the outside of the hub with its head, which is marked with a bisected triangle, always facing into the hub. It leans over more into the wheel and hence the need for a sharper angle.

The longer spoke with a less acute angle goes inside the hub with its empty triangle head symbol facing outwards, ie all visible spoke heads should be the same symbol.

The hub is always centered with relation to the rim to maintain correct balance and symmetry.

All my spokes with the 90° bend and shorter length were marked with a bisected triangle symbol, however its not to say all short 90° spokes will be marked in this way.

Step 2: Loading the Hub

Loading the hub with spokes should take approx 5-10 min.
I do the whole hub at once, if you do half the hub and then attach the rim, the other half of the hub is blocked by the 1st set of spokes that were installed.

This is the way it is on my hub, others may be different, but it’s something you need to keep in mind.

Step 3: Half Loaded Hub

Here is the hub half loaded, 10 of the short spokes and 10 of the longer spokes.

At this point I turn the hub over and do the other side.

I also put a small dab of copper grease on each spoke thread before I start the whole procedure, it prevents corrosion, cold welding or seizing of the spoke and nipple, and accounts for the dark look of the threads in some pics.

Step 4: Completely Loaded Hub

The completely loaded hub awaiting the rim.
Hopefully you’ve kept your wits about you and not mixed up the spoke sets.

Step 5: Attaching the Rim

In this pic the leading edge of the wheel would be to the right. The outer spoke sets I angle up at a trailing angle. (the spoke nipple trails the hook on the hub in the direction of rotation of the wheel)
I’ve seen this in a few pics of the bike and presume it’s to take the forces exerted under braking conditions.
Thus the inner spoke sets naturally go in the opposite direction, downward at a leading angle to the hub.

Step 6: Where to Begin?

Where to begin¿ things look confusing!
I start at the valve hole area and work my way around the rim clockwise. The 1st spoke seat/dimple points to the bottom layer/brake linkage side, so I cant use that one, which leaves the 2nd dimple, which happily points to the layer that Im working on. Upon popping in the spoke you’ll see that it fits neatly and obviously in the hole. Then I count 4 dimples and pop a spoke in the 4th one till I’ve done all 10 of the upward pointing spokes.

Step 7: A Closer Look

A closer view of the angle of the spokes to the rim and hub, this way they fall naturally into their respective holes, also the 4 hole spoke spacing can be seen.
These 3 spokes should be the shorter 90° bend ones regardless of which side of the hub they are.

Step 8: Top Set Complete

The top outer set completed, next the inner (2nd set) which should be all the triangle symbol facing outwards. ie visible on the outside of the hub when installed.

Step 9: The Inner Set of the Top Layer

Now the 2nd set in the top layer, i.e. the downward leading set. I start at the valve hole area again, but this time I count 6 dimples from the 1st upward spoke seat and pop in a spoke in the 6th hole.
It should be obvious to the eye that it points to the correct layer and correct spoke position.
Once I have the 1st downward spoke in position, then it’s a simple 4 count again working my way around the rim clockwise till the top(speedo) layer is complete.

Step 10: Complete Top Layer

The complete top(speedo) layer, both the inner and outer sets.
Now its time to turn the entire assembly over and start on the other side, namely the brake linkage side.

Step 11: The Brake Linkage Side

The brake linkage side is done in the same way as the speedo side. Firstly I pattern the spokes so that the outer set points upward but on the left side of the wheel which is now the front, previously they were upward on the right. With the inner set going in the opposite direction, I rest each spoke in the pentagon opening made by the bottom speedo side layer.
This setting out of the spokes makes life a little easier as well as preventing blocked spokes.

Step 12: Blocked Spoke

A blocked spoke is one which can’t be swung around to its respective seat because other spokes previously installed are blocking its path. Sometimes its just 1 but usually its 2 or 3.
The blocking spokes then have to be undone, the blocked spoke swung round to its seat and the undone blocking spokes redone again.

Step 13: Partially Completed Brake Link Side

Here the 1st set have been completed and part of the 2nd set.

Step 14: Finally

Tada!!! The completed pattern.
Note the exposed spoke threads, I’ll see to that next.

Now I screw in all the protruding nipples evenly, till they’re finger tight. I use a rechargeable drill/screwdriver on the lowest torque setting for the job, makes the job go a little faster.

Step 15: Spoke Closeup

A close-up of the spoke nipples showing how far I screw each one in, pretty much till the end of the thread.

Step 16: The End of Part 1

Keeping in mind that this is the first time I've done this sort of thing, I took roughly 45min to get to this stage.
Your mileage may vary :)

The next step is truing the wheel. This involves centering the rim on the hub, in the axial plane (up and down) as well as radially (side to side), but keeping in mind that the wheel must be centered in the front forks.
This I will leave for part 2, being content to sit back and admire my handiwork and the light twinkling on the new spokes for the time being.

Of course at this point you could always take the assembly as is to the professionals to complete the rest of the longer and trickier part of the job.
Be that as it may
Until Part 2, Tallyho old chap

Part 2 now complete ---> Here

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    10 years ago on Step 4

    Hello it looks like the outer spokes on the brake linkage side are backwards, if you look at all the RE Bullet wheels for sale on ebay as a complete unit, they are laced opposite to yours on the braking side of the hub. Maybe I am missing something? But I laced my spokes the way they are shown on the ebay wheels, hope that is correct. But the point is thanks very much for this lesson, it helped a lot!

    Joe Crow
    Joe Crow

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Peter

    I found your instructions when I was looking for advice on tightening the spokes and keeping the back wheel 'true' on one of my Royal Enfie I think the extra weight of a sidecar has stretched the original spokes a bit.

    Your instructions are clear; concise; and comprehensive (well done!) but there is one small flaw: you mention correctly that there are 2x types of spokes with slightly different lengths and bend angles, however, you suggest that the shorter spokes go on the speedo drive side and the longer ones go on the brake plate side due to the offset. This is not correct - the longer spokes (with tighter bend) should be laced from the inside of the hub flange, while the shorter spokes (lesser bend) are laced from the outside of the hub flange (leaving their button heads visible on the outside of the hub). On a related point, I'm not sure that there is an offset between hub and rim, as I think the speedo drive / brake plate / spacers keep the whole plot in line. Both my Bullets have the original wheels intact, so I'll measure the lateral rim to hub distance to see if its different on each side...

    Finally, thanks again for the excellent wheelbuilding and trueing instructions: I'm happier to tackle the job now…in the knowledge that I can ask a pro to fix it if I get it badly wrong!



    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comprehensive comment, I was informed of the wheel offset by a bloke who been in the enfield servicing game for quite some tme, which is why I posted the different spoke length story that I surmised at the time.
    Of course I could be wrong and your explanation seems quite logical.

    Alas I didnt measure my wheels before dismantling them, Im wiser now. :)


    12 years ago on Step 4

    Better way is to only lace those spokes that come from the outside in - or better put that shows the shiny buttons on the outside of the wheel.  These are the interior spokes.  Then go around the wheel in order / sequence clockwise or the other way to ensure no crossing and interference.  Applying the nuts loosely as you go.

    Once these interior spokes are laced complete with nuts applied (loosely) and set you can then do the interior ones without any interference very quickly - this will save you a ton of time, cursing and other antics!!


    13 years ago on Introduction

    How would you determine spoke length if you were building a wheel from scratch and didn't have the old spokes?


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Hop onto one of the many dedicated forums dealing with the specific bike and ask them, other than that you're screwed. I first tried all the local bike shops for new spokes, but they were all too long or else too thin. So my only option was to rechrome and rebuild. If you're talking about a custom or unknown wheel, then Id measure the ID of the rim and OD of the hub and work from there, find something similar etc.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    You might want to put a few motorcycle keywords in this instructable. We call them motorcycles in America so your instructable doesn't show up when people do a general search.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    thanks, a very good point. On it right away :)


    15 years ago

    thanks for that, funny it didnt show up in the preview last nite. unfortunately I cant delete the last step, some error "ERROR 401: can not delete: The end of Part 1" tried unpublishing and another browser, still no luck. best I can do is delete all the info in the unwanted step


    15 years ago

    If this is too longwinded, let me know and I'll try to shorten it


    Reply 15 years ago

    looks good... lacing wheels is not as easy as it may sound :P I think the last two steps are identical though :/