BIKE TECH: Wheel Building Tools

Bicycle wheel building is truly an art. Typically, you have a hub and rim, both of which are as light weight as possible. This rim and hub are then built into a wheel, most commonly by 32 stainless steel spokes. These spokes must all be tensioned to the identical tension (usually about 120 kg worth of tension force).

If any spoke has tension that is off, it will throw the wheel way out of true (create a wobble) and compromise the integrity of the entire wheel. Yes, there is nothing quite like a well built hand built wheel!

Truthfully, wheel building is something likely best left to an experienced bicycle wheel builder, but it is possible for an aspiring home mechanic to build a solid wheel. Afterall, there is nothing quite like going out on a ride on a wheel that you just built with your own hands! Starting out with the right tools is key.

In today's post, we will review the necessary wheel building tools and tomorrow, we will go through the wheel building process step by step.


The most critical tool in any wheel builder's tool kit is a quality truing stand. The Park Tool TS-4 is the industry gold standard.


A good spoke tension gauge is also critical to ensure even and proper spoke tension. The new Park Tool TM-1 is a great tool at a great value.


A wheel dish gauge ensures that your wheel is symmetrical, that the rim is centered between the axle lock nuts and in your bike frame/fork.


Perhaps the most commonly known wheel tool, the Park Tool Spoke Wrench has become an iconic piece amongst cyclists.


Perhaps not as glamorous as other tools, the spoke ruler is still critical for measuring spoke length or anything else that needs to be measured.


The Spoke Nipple Driver by Bicycle Research will save you a ton of time in starting the spoke nipples, during the first part of the wheel building process.


Not exactly a tool, but a critical thing for any home wheel builder to have on hand, Wheelsmith Spoke prep will ensure that spoke tension stays where you set it and that spoke nipples don't unthread.




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