Demystifying the bunk re: straightening /truing/rebuilding GS wheels
hi,,,i'm woody from woody's wheel works in denver ,colorado,,,i have decided to put an end to all the misinformation and guesstimating going on regarding truing/re-building/modifying/straightening/anodizing/powder-coating etc the GS series X-laced tubeless wire wheels,,,,same goes for any alloy/cast wheel
i have perused this web site and finally decided to partake in this process,,perhaps to shine some light on this subject,,,i am new at this chat-room stuff so hope you experts take me under your wing and provide me with your tricks of the trade,,,i was told this vendor forum is the optimal place to say what i'm saying ,,,,i do not want to say the same thing over and over again....others have advised me to get a website to share the data
let me start by alleviating the concerns/suspicion of one rider whose front wheel is out of spec within the warranty period,,,i can rest assure you that the machine and it's technician at bmw can and do consistently produce a wheel that turns out within the lateral/left-right and longtitudinal/up-down specs of 1.5mm/.060" or1/16"......these specs are looser than what i consistently true these wheels to.....ie circa 1/3 of the bmw specs..+/- .010''or less are routine if we have a straight rim to start with.
i have ascertained what causes some wheels to go out of true quicker than others....every wheel that leaves here undergoes my rigorous QC process that alleviates the cause of coming untrue. Have done Hundreds..in last 10 years,,,offer one year warranty [pointless] because none have come back..the one wheel that was returned for checking proved way within my tolerance [ 3 x tighter than BMW specs ]
i measure these specs on the inside lips and bead of the rim,,,this is what controls where your tire is located,,,,,measuring from the outside of the rim is only good for an approximation since the rims themselves vary in thickness especially in the area where the rim is welded together,,,whoever is in charge of grinding out the weld spot is a bit enthusiastic 'cuz there is a consistent divot in this area measuring .020" -.080"!!!....anything over .030'' gets cleaned and filled with JB-weld or Devcon and machined to .000''
so...if you are getting readings beyond these limits you are not going to maximize tire life and the handling of these great bikes..... here in Colorado,, chuck holes are the biggest culprits in creating out of round wheels. they hammer the rims especially if you have inadequate tire pressures. they contribute vastly to loosening your spokes...and once your spokes are loose it is a geometric descent into wheel failure....
checking the sound of your spokes and giving a quick spin of the wheel while your bike is on its center-stand are the simplest preventive maintenance measures you can use to ease your mind and get an early start at rectifying a potential problem. your eyeballs can be trusted to notice any hop or wobble when you spin the wheels ,,,your ears can be trusted to notice if all the spokes ring the same or if there extra high or low or dead spokes.,,,,you can NOT assume you have no broken or defective spokes just because all the heads of the spokes are in the rim,,,all to many times we find that the head stays stuck from dirt/corrosion,,,,REMEMBER to check spoke tension with the wheels up in the air,,,checking for spoke tension with the wheels on the ground gives erroneous readings because your bike is actually 'hanging from the rim'....therefore these spokes will always ring higher than the unloaded ones when the bike is resting on the ground!!
i try to explain that what goes on in your wheel is akin to what goes on when you fire a shotgun...hold it tight and you absorb the energy and you can fire it all day,,,,the looser ya hold it the more it is going to hurt you..same goes for your wheel and its spokes...they will get hammered till the head of the spoke pops off(the most common point of failure),,,,it is always better to have tight spokes than ANY loose ones and it is BEST when all 40 spokes are EQUALLY tensioned AND the rim is PROPERLY LOCATED on the hub AND that the RUN-OUT is within or less than factory specs!!!! anything less than that will create problems one way or another,,,it is a package deal
next,,,i want to let ya know that to achieve the desired run-outs we need to start with a rim that is TRUE /STRAIGHT,,,it is absolutely crazy making to try to true bent rims of the bmw/moto-guzzi/aprillia caponord tubeless X-lace configuration,,,,,we have over 42 years of practice at straightening bent objects,,,if i can not straighten it for far less than you can buy a new one,,,i don't know who wants to!!!!...these wheels are unlike regular spoked wheels and it is near impossible to get the straightening equipment situated to perform the job of straightening...hence they need to be completely dismantled,,,straightened/replaced and re-laced and trued
we routinely save 90% of what others called impossible to do wheels...woody's wheel works has been in operation since '73,,,i do not advertise,,,this business has been run by word of mouth from satisfied customers many of whom have egged me on to put my two cents into the fray and create a fact based data base for all of you so that you can explore your options and make better decisions,,,i am rather dismayed that there is so much BS in these chat-rooms,,,where's the beef?????,,,i intend to give you straight facts and usable info,,,please pass the word
we can enhance and personalize your bike/wheels,,,,make 'em stronger ,,,,shinier,,,unique while they are apart,,,,folks, we have done more wild and crazy setups in wheels than you can imagine,,,,tell me what you would like to do and let me help you bridge the gap,,,now that get's my juices flowing....
i would like to express my kudos to Ricardo Kuhn/John MacDonald for their effort in trying to convey their adventures in rebuilding /truing these wheels via the thesis they wrote on this subject....and to Tim Bond,..he was the only other person i know of that is/was willing to rebuild these,,,,hope i can synthesize their and my wisdoms into easy to use and understand commentary...'mastery is no mystery to me'...
sincerely and le bon temps roulette,,,
tg 'woody' witte,,,master wheel-smith
FYI-,,,Tim Bond has moved on to the great wheel building center in the sky in the early part of '09,,,his services and integrity will be much missed. i had the good fortune to meet him , albeit in the last days of his ongoing struggle with Hepatitis.,towards the end he too surrendered re-building the X-laced wheels along with Ricardo Kuhn....they told me that they were getting too many migraines,,,,So have many others and that included me:wink:
last but not least,,, Here is Ricardo Kuhn and Jon Jen's report on how to rebuild these:
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Fixed it for ya!
Bit easier to read now.
Was thinking about that yesterday while I was installing new tires and spun them on the balancer to see how bad they were. Mine are pretty bent and beat up right now.
So what is the $$$$ ball park we are talking about here for a rebuild and powder coat black? If you got to estimate, give me worst case.
Excellent post. :thumb
*lace and true is $150
*unlace/clean spokes/nipples and grub screws $30-90 easy-difficult spoke removal
*straighten rim $100+/-50
*new rim $ 300-400 +/-
*prep and powder coat less than $100
*plus whatever spokes and nipples need to be replaced
*media blasting hub and clear-coat runs circa $50-60
*strip and re-anodize satin finish= $75 or glossy finish add $25 to re-polish the rim
we usually always call with an estimate after our analysis before we do the work..woody
Woody The Wheel Dude,
I tend to be pretty hard on my wheel espcially when I am changing tires. I firmly believe in the "bigger hammer/longer bar" mentality whey it comes to changing them. The anodized Adventure wheels have not help up very well to my abuse. DO you think powder coating will result in a more durable mongo resistant finish?
another possible problem we are noticing and investigating with the metallurgists is a correlation i'm noticing on MXrs that have brought me their powder-coated rims to lace up,,,are coming back with more flat spots to repair,,,,the 375 degree temperatures required to bake on the powder coat may be annealing/softening the original temper,,,haven't had any of the powdercoated GS wheels we've done come back with flat spots ,,,perhaps because the GS rims are supported better by the X-lace design...KTM Adventure riders are moaning and groaning how easy their stock rims get tacoed...too soft alloy rim,,heavier bike,,,standard style laced wheel,,,all these are contibuting to their problems,,,we are currently swapping their rims to Sun rims and beefier spokes/nipples with a better lace pattern,,,durability has increased dramatically
ANODIZING would be a better finish ,,we always have the rims 'hard anodized' for more durability,,,,,they do scratch when gouged by tire irons or rocks and if you are that hard on your rims i suggest ya stay with the shiny aluminum finish..we use touchless tire changers here,,,but when you are out in the toules anything goes,,,what's nice is ya can always use a colored sharpie/magic marker to touch up the spots.....woody
ps..there are products out there called rim protectors that can be slipped over the rim lips ,,unfortunately the GS rims have a very thick lip,,,the other thing is we use real michelin tire irons and they are polished up real nice to minimize marring the lips of your rims
Highly recommended, and now I see why
Great introduction, and now it's obvious why you're so highly recommended on Advrider. No wheel troubles yet, but with a resource like your's I'm comfortable with any problems that might arrive.
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hi,,,here's some more answers to various questions raised recently,,,,
the mystique regarding repairing /re-building/truing the GS series wheel is WELL deserved....ricardo kuhn and john mc donald wrote a 15 page thesis chronicaling their adventures at trying to true/rebuild these wheels...i can save ya the read by warning you ahead of time that ya are entering a territory that is akin to the giant whirlpools of our oceans...the ones that will suck you down and leave you wandering into ever murkier corners,,,a labyrinth of confusing effects in unexpected locations for every twist of your wrist....CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!
.....AND that's with a straight rim!!!!!!.....you WILL NOT stand a GHOST OF A CHANCE with an even slightly warped/bent rim!!!!!!
yesterday,,,i straightened the front rim of a GS .120" major flat-spot and .090" lateral runout,,,,needless to say his symptoms of shaking handlebars were well founded....6 hours of R&D time at trying various /alternative ways to dealing with the one major (.120") and 5 minor (.080-.020)flat spots on his rim yielded several new techniques at saving your rims and your money,,,,net result....the wheel ran true,,, way under BMW's allowable .060" runout specs at half the cost of a new one
WELD AREA DIVOT...FYI,,,whoever is responsible for grinding down the material at the weld joint on the bead is excessively removing the material at the joint yielding a .020"-.080'' divot on the bead seating surface.....this customer's divot measured .050" !!! and left a tell-tale mark where the tire was seriously trying to fill the divot,,,you could actually see a slight deformation in the sidewalls of the tire in that location,,,, Rx,,some scotchbrite, J&B WELD and a quick spin in our lathe had the bead back where it should have been from the factory,,,,
YES,,,we can make wire wheels tubeless,,,,HOWEVER we only seal rims that have the safety bead on them...all the old rims pre tubeless had much looser specs since the tube was counted on to hold the tire against beads,,, tubeless tire and rim/wheel manufactures agreed to a new international standard including the addition of the safety bead,,,tires have to really pop up and over this bead,,hence the extra energy required at dismounting tubeless tires as many of you may have experienced....PLEASE do not drive over your tires to dismount them,,,,you will only add to my work-load...
YES!!! that is the BMW GS wire wheel assembly machine and its technician that i referred to in my article,,,,don't know how to download it to this spot,,, it was in another thread,,,here's a link to the picture on my website #12/60
NEW for 2012,,,my all new super-duty ss spokes and ss nipples for you heavy duty Adventure riders.....
as well as the ss nipples for all the OEM 3.5mm spokes!!!.....No More rusting ,corroding nipples with 1/8'' =2-3mm of thread showing...thes babies are 3mm longer than oem and stunningly machined.....will get pics n prices soon
stainless or chrome spokes????,,,,i only use stainless spokes made by buchannans or the factory BMW versions,,,,for any serious rebuilds,,,the chromed ones are only used for rebuilding street versions or low budget patching of the older GS wheels which came with chromed spokes,,,,if ya need shiny,,,we show polish ss spokes for $1each,,,,,main differences,,,chrome has a cold look to it ,,,polished ss looks warm,,,ss spokes won't rust like chrome and the shine remains a long time without much maintenance,,,,NEXT,,,the ss pokes are less brittle than their chromed counterparts,,,something in the chroming process makes them more brittle than the original bare steel ,,,the chromed spokes break under the head and where the threads begin,,, the ss ones usually at the juncture where the thread begins,,,
REPLACING spokes,,preferably do no more than one at a time as advised in your service manual,,,,you MUST take a punch and tap the head of the spoke in order to seat the spoke and then re-torque it or tighten to match the ring of the adjacent spokes,,,your old rim will already have a notch that you should be able to feel when you spin the spoke,,,ALL new rims installed by us have the heads seated in an additional process that is reflected in the higher cost of re-building these wheels
SET/GRUB screws,,,ALL the wheels and parts diagrams i've seen have these little set screws installed,,,,it's these little screws that i didn't know about til the late '90s that thwarted all my earliest attempts at truing these wheels,,,i would bang up against these grub screws without knowing it thinking had bottomed out and there was no more tightening available to me ,,,,frustrated i threw in the towel after 4 days of monkeying around,,once the epiphany hit me that these set screws where there,,,,i revisited these wheels and fiqured out the rest,,,,with all the dirt in the nipple hole it is easy to miss them,,,these screws are so tiny ,,require a 2mm allen,,,and if ya don't want to add to your woes,,,CLEAN out all the dirt embedded in their heads,,,we use dental picks and compressed air and charge you accordingly,,,otherwise you will strip the allen head because the dirt embedded in them doesn't allow your allen wrench to drop in for the required purchase,,,,i personally think that the wheels can survive without them ...IF all the spokes are tight and the heads seated in,,,,,once the spokes get loose however,,,the nipples could start unwinding,,hence BMWs pro-active insurance policy of over engineering thus adding to your safety
here's why i never saw them..the grub-screws..thanks poolside for pics..
Great post Woody!
This might be useful for your shop. Here is a quick and very thorough method for cleaning the set screw wrench flats, and the threads.
A friend of mine with an unnaturally clean GS (the one we used for the tensioner replacement thread) has a steam cleaner. You could have guessed, right?
He took a shot at the rear hub on my bike. Just distilled water in the steamer.
And here are the results. Look how clean the threads are.
The time spent steaming each spoke nipple seemed about the same amount of time you would spend with a dental pick and air nozzle on each spoke. . . Only without the dental pick. You know, just a couple of seconds of steam for each spoke nipple.
I stopped him before he could do too much damage.
the facts on unlacing GS wire wheels
thanks for the tip regarding the steamer,,,how much and where can i get one????,,,,am always on the lookout for any tool that makes my life easier....how much it will save on the cost of unlacing a wheel will have to be fiqured out,,,
currently, the brunt of the unlacing job isn't the grub screw cleaning process (anywhere from 5-20 minutes but rather removing the spokes from the rim,,,
more often than not the spokes are so thoroughly jammed in the rim because of all the crud buildup being packed in there by centrifugal force...this takes 10-40 minutes and that's after soaking the rim's lips in solvents and detergents...we have to beat the spokes far enough to get a good purchase on them from the outside,,,
next,,, i take my big DeWalt cordless with a keyless chuck and latch onto the protruding spoke outside of the lip,,,,once more ,,,i lube everything around the area of the lip,,,normally,,they self tap out,,,,however,,too much dirt in there and the threads of the spokes get wasted,,,ya get the drift?????,,it's tedious work,!!!!!,and then...
ya have to go back and clean ALL the remaining crud out of the spoke holes,,we use a messed up spoke for that ,or chase all the holes with a drill,,,ALL these holes need to be thoroughly clean so as not to contaminate the threads of the spokes when you are reassembling the wheel,,any crud on the threads changes the torque readings,,,,
i'm looking at one of those vibrasonic cleaning tanks ,,,the high frequency vibrations may aid in shaking loose all the dirt jammed between the spoke and the rim-lip and around the head of the spoke,,will keep you all posted,,,woody
I think that in addition to or instead of distilled water, you can use a commercial detergent from a Safety-Kleen parts washer. Their detergent is not flammable and does not foam. If you have a prospective detergent that you might want to use, try boiling some in a pot so you can see what it will do in a steamer.
Thanks Woody! I appreciate your sharing your knowledge with us.
Could you tell us how you go about straightening one of these rims once it's unlaced?
I spent a major amount of time one week (about 40 hours) trying to true a front R100GS wheel. I got it much better than it was originally, but still not good enough for me. What tended to happen (once I'd figured out how to tighten the spokes down - I tore it down and started over many times) was that it was absolutely true until the last tightening, and then it would wow out.
Evidently the rim was slightly bent. Now, Ricardo says that you can adjust that by adjusting the spokes - but totally opposite to the way you true a normal wheel. Do you disagree with that?
what's involved in straightening
1..i spin the wheel and mark the hi and lo spots with my sharpie,,,,as well as the lateral hi/lo spots
2..i check to see if there are any loose /broken spokes that may be contributing to this condition...
3..i loosen all the spokes and see if the rim straightens out or if it has a definite bend or wave/wobble in it
4..if it 's bent ,,,i remove it and place it on my surface plate and confirm where it wobbles with the marks i made the at the time i spun it,,,,
5..then it's either onto my press or one of several jigs i've built over the years to push/pull it back in place,,numerous trips back and forth til that sucker lies absolutely flat on the table and the diameter is within .5mm/.020"
6..reassemble and center it laterally and then longtitudinally..then tighten and torque them to 5Nm/85in/lb,,,followed by inserting grub/set screws and tightening them to 1Nm/7in/lb....shooting for less than 1mm /.040"runout ie:+/-.020'' in all directions
FYI<<<,those specs were my standard 10 years ago,,,in recent yeaars, I have perfected my techniques and shoot for 1/2 of my old standard In recent time we routinely get our final runout to be closer to +/- .010'' or >020 '' /.5mm TOTAL run-out....This was achieved by scrutinizing /checking the rims more carefully on our surface plate,,,We assumed brand new OEm replacement rims were straight,,,got snookered by the ASS-U-ME syndrom....Now we KNOW better...''measure twice/cut once!!!
7.. that's essentially all there is to it!!!http://www.advrider.com/forums/image...s/Laughing.gif
ps..once again...if you value your sanity,,,i'll say it again,,,,starting out with anything less than a true rim,,,is a descent into the hell you have been experiencing,,,if you all visualize the importance of EACH SPOKE PERFORMING THE SAME AMOUNT OF WORK,,,,imagine what goes on when you try to straighten the rim from where it is bent,,,ya gotta add MORE torque,,,and then even more torque to move it alittle more in that direction,,,and before ya know it...ya have a wheel that has a few spokes doing more work than they were designed to do and others just loafing off,,,,,and ya apply pressure to the wheel and ,,,,the spokes want to even the load out,,,and the only way they'll do that is by relaxing here and there and ya have a wobbly wheel again...whoooopshttp://www.advrider.com/forums/images/icons/bluduh.gif
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