Lacing a Wheel

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  • Knowledge when you need it

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Bob gives us an overview of something that is in every Harley-Davidson service manual but often avoided. Lacing a wheel and truing it.

Lost Art

In this day and age, it is more typical for a rider to simply purchase a new rim rather than repair a quality OEM rim. Unfortunately, the men that can fluently handle this task are a dying breed. This should not be.

Start Clean

Before lacing a wheel, it is important to clean any rust off of the inside of the rim. Do everything/anything necessary to learn and chronicle the style and design of the rim you are repairing. Take photos, take notes, draw diagrams and have the correct service manual for your reference. Remember, if you are re-lacing your front rim, your best reference may be your rear rim. It is important to know your rim style and valve stem orientation in relation to the sprocket/rotor sides of the hub.

Know Style

For instance, Bob’s demonstration is lacing a wheel in a cross four pattern. One spoke crosses four other spokes and the valve stem hole is on the rotor side of the hub (rotor side uses smaller diameter hardware than the sprocket side). You can cut the old spokes out of the rim with a die grinder, or an electric grinder but cutting with bolt cutters is both cleaner and quicker.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Once all of the old spokes are removed, install all of the new spokes into the hub. Turning the hub clockwise will “shorten” the spokes and make them easier to handle/install into the rim. Install spokes loosely. Take your time. This is not something that can be accomplished quickly. It takes patience and practice to become fluent in lacing and truing. If possible, watch somebody that is already fluent at this lace and true a wheel. Take notes and learn any advice offered. Try to practice on a wheel that was discarded before repairing your good rims.

Pride In Work

Do it over and over. You will eventually get a feel for it. You can take pride in doing a repair that most riders avoid. Restore your stock Harley rim rather than replacing it with a cheap knock off that was made in China!