Wheel building

In building up my latest fair weather commuter bike  i wanted to make it as simple and durable as possible. As part of that, i wanted to keep the drivetrain simple and use generator lights to avoid battery replacements.

The idea really started when a friend gave me this old Bendix 2-speed kickback hub:

2-speed hub rebuilt

It was in working condition, but pretty filthy and felt gummy inside. So i found some schematics for it online and commenced to rebuild it.

2-speed hub cleaning

50 year-old grease gets pretty sticky.

2-speed hub parts

Luckily everything cleaned up well, and none of the parts were really unusable, just a little worn. I even repainted the red stripes with some fingernail polish.

To complement the vintage hub, i bought a high-tech Shutter Precision generator hub. Rivendell was selling them for a while, though they seem to have dropped them from the website.

bike hubs

It's a really efficient dyno hub, putting out nice power at low speed, and lightweight too. The only odd thing about it for wheelbuilding is that the flanges are pretty narrow. This builds into a wheel that isn't as strong as it could be, if the flanges were farther apart. Since this is going into a light road bike and won't be seeing much rough use (and as long as the spoke tension isn't too high), it seems like a low risk of tacoing the wheel.

I didn't take pictures of the rear wheel build. Front wheel parts assembled, ready to go:

front dyno wheel parts

Assembled, in the truing stand to tension up. I've built about a dozen wheels, but it's often a year or two between wheels, so i always double-check the lacing pattern and info that Sheldon Brown's website.

truing stand


Fully built and trued wheels installed.

2-speed rear wheel

 I have a couple hundred miles on these wheels now, and still working great. The 2-speed hub has been pretty solid, just an occasional looseness in the cones. The coaster brake also works well, but i also have front and rear rim brakes because the mustache bars looked silly with just a front brake.