Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rugged Wheels: SM Pro Platinum build for WR250R

The last few weeks have been particularly busy as I work on getting my new business up and running, Rugged Wheels Inc. -- "Rugged Wheels for rugged rides!"

As part of setting up and testing my processes, I've been ordering hubs, rims, spokes, and other goodies from my suppliers, including DT Swiss for bicycles wheels, and Central Wheel Components for moto wheels. Having recently rebuilt my mountain bike wheels, it was time to test some wheel upgrades on my trusty WR250R. The stock rims have taken a beating from trail riding and the front certainly needed replacing.

Central Wheel Components in the UK is an OEM of premium hubs, rims, spokes, and complete wheel sets for several well-known motorcycle brands. Their brands include SM Pro hubs and rims, and Bulldog spokes which are renowned for quality, but don't seem to have much of a market footprint in Canada. Having become a reseller for their parts, naturally I wanted to test them out on my WR, so I ordered rims and spokes to use with my stock hubs as well as a complete front and rear wheel kit with SM Pro hubs. I'll eventually put knobbies on the SM Pro wheels and mount street-oriented tires (probably a Mitas pair of E 07's or other tires to test) on the rebuilt stock wheels.

Everything arrived nicely packed.

The hubs look great: clean machining, laser-etched logo, good bearings, and slick seals and axle inserts.

These are the Bulldog polished stainless steel, straight-gauge spokes with aluminum nipples--the recommended combo for my application. 

The SM Pro Platinum rims are made from 7050 series aluminum and independent testing shows they are both stronger and lighter than the Excel A60 and Takasogo rims. The finish is excellent and so far has proven entirely resistant to scratches from tools and spokes during wheel building.

There is a rainbow of colour options for these rims to match your bike, and the spokes can be ordered powder-coated as well. I often for boring black with silver spokes and nipples, but may rebuild them with black spokes another time.

First step is to coat the nipples with anti-seize. I use Rock-and-Roll ceramic since it's on hand and has proven to be excellent in all sorts of uses on my motorbike. 

Next up is lacing. Here's the front wheel under way. 

Finally there's the meticulous process of truing and tensioning to spec. I found that both rims trued up pretty well--I could get them within 1/2mm laterally and radially without too much trouble. For a rugged wheel, it's also important that all the spokes are evenly tensioned or the wheel will not stay in true and has an increased risk of failure. 

The finished wheels look great! For now I'll transfer my old rotors and sprockets to these wheels, but the rotors are due to be replaced and I'd like to run a smaller sprocket with the street-oriented tires to get more top-end speed. My current setup is 13-48 which is great in the dirt but tops out at around 100km/hr--barely enough for secondary roads around where I live. 

Looking forward to trying these. And soon I'll be able to accept orders for wheel parts or complete custom wheel-sets. Stay tuned!

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