Wheel building time

This has been bugging me for a long time. Finally I splashed some money and dedicated some time to wheel building gear. Essentially I combined some DIY tools with more expensive bits. So far I managed to just try it, but looks like all will work great together.

At the moment I have a very basic truing stand from ParkTool (TS-8). Which does the job, but ultimately I want to make my own one (second covid lock down… stay tuned). The rest of the gear I’m pretty happy with and goes as follow:

The most expensive bit in my weaponry is from now on Hozan – spoke threading tool C-702-22 with heads for 13, 14 and 15 gauge spokes.

So far I can’t say anything about usage that much, as really I did some testing only, but quality looks second to none. I’m big fan of Japanese engineering, this is one of the finest example. I havd really a choice, between Weldtite (cyclo) threading tool, and Hozan, but after watching some photos and videos, I decided to splash some more money to have it from Hozan. Speaking of the purchase. I ordered it from a place called Plaza Japan and took 6 weeks to deliver it to UK. Not too bad as purchased during lockdown. The only annoying thing is the duty and other crap, like handling fee, etc I had to pay (fricking £69!). All in all the tool was 20 quid shy of £300. Bloody expensive, but I have what I wanted. As a bonus, the original box, came wrapped in Japanese newspapers, so we tested google lens. Amazing and exotic 😉

To that I finally added a DIY dishing tool. I was sick and tired of other methods (two beer cans and coins etc…). Really self explanatory how I made it, if you look at the photos. I had all the alloy pieces already (leftover from other projects). The job was really to cut with angle grinder slots for adjusting to different wheel sizes. I’m quite happy how it works.

Final bit, which makes the whole building procedure faster are nipple handling tools. After googling a bit I decided to go for IceToolz nipple pick. I bought two of them. One will be used as per original design – to pick up nipple and place it initially on the spoke. The second one I modified slightly to act as a nipple driver. Literally replaced the spring with a piece of wire (I had to drill slightly bigger hole). This way I can use it alone like that to turn a nipple (even without a handle) or put it on an electric screwdriver if I need to.

Future project (apart from truing stand) I’ll make a spoke tension calibration tool. I already have a digital scale up to 200kg. All I need to figure out is a frame and spoke/nipple clamping method. This way I can calibrate my cheap Chinese spoke tensiometer quite accurately without relying on the provided table, which (I got feeling) is not really precise 😉

Stay tuned, and keep’em rolling.

Alfine gear hub – oil additive

Covid lockdown made me try couple of things. One of the biggest (positive) surprises was test of an “oil additive” for Alfine hub.

So, a while ago I swapped (actually during first service) on my Alfine hub to Automatic Transmission Fluid (Castrol – £9.99) instead of expensive “you-must-be-fuckin-kidding-me” Shimano oil (£69). At the moment my hub milage is around 30000 km, and I can confirm, that I never had any issues with that solution. On each service I inspect the internals, and it all looks like new.

If you riding geared hub, you must know that the biggest difference, comparing with normal drivetrain, is internal friction. You can spin pedals backwards by hand and you’ll see the difference, so I’ve been looking for a solution to make the ride easier for a while.

A bit of diversion. Some time ago I joined dark side. I bought old 600cc Yamaha motorbike. I spent 500 quid on the bike, so as you expect, was plenty of wrenching at first (I think I put around 40h), to get the bike to useable state. A bit of story itself, but in process of doing it, I’ve been watching plenty of how to’s on youtube, and I discovered this guy – Allen Millyard. I must say, my first reaction was OMFG! The guy for example is adding two extra cylinders to Kawasaki bike making custom 6 cylinder engine, customizing crankshaft, customizing crank case, you name it. All in his garage converted to workshop. Amazing guy. So, Mr Millyard is using stuff called ZX1. It’s an oil additive, made my British company with the same name – zx1. It’s extremely hard to convince me to all mambo-jumbo-magic oil additives. I never used them, as almost all of them doing absolutely nothing to the engine. Similar way as taking diet supplements. Just absolute bollox in my humble opinion… Yeah, you guessed. I bought that stuff ;-). Mostly to test it on motorbike, but I’m quite reluctant to put into engine oil. The motorbike has “wet clutch”, which means the same oil is used to lubricate the clutch and the engine.  That might be a bit of a disaster, as clutch might slip. In the end, I tested it only adding to fuel. Nothing spectacular happened, apart from subjectively easier start (but I need to confirm that and do some miles on it).

Anyway, let’s get back to bicycles. (by the way, Mr Millyard making bicycles as well! check it out). I decided to put it inside my Alfine hub. So again, I didn’t use any scientific method to test it, but subjective feeling is that hub is running extremely efficient now. When pedals spined backwards they spinning effortlessly (almost like on my Willier with ceramic bearings inside BB and jockey wheels). So that’s the feelings and thoughts after first ride. Before you rush to buy it wait for some more tests. For example I discovered when zx1 is left outside (contact with air), it became milky, almost like brake fluid. Alfine hub is not by any means sealed system, but might be “sealed enough” to use it. My plan is put some miles and then test it again. So far all looks ok to me. Stay tunned.

Winter grind…

Gorgeous weather whole week, so I tried last week put new chain (3rd) on my bike, and suprise suprise. I had to order new cog.

Old cog vs new after grinding English mud for three winters 😉

Anyway I did hub maintenance, as well. After almost 1 year not looking inside my gear hub (Alfine 8 sp) everything look nice. Castrol ATF oil looks still a bit pinkish, so that’s good sign. This is my third year after switching to Castrol ATF, strongly recommended as Shimano oil is very expensive. I’ll post whole procedure (as I’m doing it) soon but basically I’m using plastic pet bottle and hub on cordless drill to “stir” the oil. Afterwards, again using centrifugal force I’m removing oil excess from the hub (rather than dipping and than leaving for 30 minutes – stupid, my whole procedure takes maybe 20minutes).

The other thing I noticed (which is quite annoying), that cone on non drive side was loose. I don’t know what people are doing to prevent this, but is right pain in the arse. God knows how many times I tighten that…

Happy pedaling spring is just around the corner

Alfine/Nexus explanation video

Dan Burkhart made brilliant video to explain how planetrary gears works on Shimano Nexus/Alfine 8 speed hubs. So far I found this video most digestible among others you can dig out. Have a look.

Check out his other videos, there’s lot more mechanical stuff. Some of the videos might save couple of quid. Big thumbs up!