BMX wheels are strong enough to endure significant punishment when built properly.
Lacing a wheel is arguably one of the most challenging projects of BMX bike maintenance and building. However, if you are serious about your riding and would like to be capable of maintaining your own bike, you will need to learn this skill at some point. With the proper tools and equipment, some basic knowledge of wheel components and plenty of patience, lacing your own wheels can save you time and money in the long run.
1. Purchase your hubs, rims, spokes and spoke nipples if you haven’t already done so, and make sure that they are all compatible. The bike shop that you purchase your parts from should be able to help you with this; otherwise you can use a spoke calculator.
2. Separate your spokes into four groups of 12. Two of these groups will be used per side and will be threaded into the hubs in a slightly different manner. When you begin lacing the wheel, make sure that you begin by inserting spokes into the drive-side of the hub—the side where the freewheel is on a rear wheel—and thread them to the spoke holes oriented specifically for the drive side of the hub.
3. Insert the “key” spoke—the initial spoke—through a hole in the hub flange on the drive side of the hub from the outside. Let the spoke rest along the opposite side of the hub. Beginning with the hole directly to the right of the one you just inserted a spoke through, count nine holes to the right and thread another spoke through. Use a spoke nipple to attach each of these spokes to the holes in the rims on either side of the valve hole in the rim—where the tube valve will eventually be inserted—and secure by using a screwdriver to turn the spoke nipples onto the threads of the spokes for two to three turns.
4. Insert the remaining 10 spokes of that first group through every other hole in the hub flange and attach them to the rim with two to three turns of a spoke nipple. Make sure that you skip four holes in between each of the spokes when attaching them to the rim to ensure that they are going to the correct holes and leaving room for the remaining 36 spokes.
5. Take the second group of 12 spokes and follow the previous instructions for the opposite side of the wheel.
6. Return to the initial side to begin installing the external spokes. Take one spoke and thread it through the inside of the hub flange. Since you are using 48 spokes, use a four-cross pattern when lacing your rims. Cross the inserted spoke over three already-installed spokes to its left and underneath one more before attaching the spoke to the rim with a spoke nipple.
7. Repeat step six for the rest of the spokes in your third group of spokes. Do the exact same process for the opposite side of the wheel with the last group of 12 spokes. At this point your wheel is laced, but will likely feel wobbly and loose.
8. Insert your wheel onto a wheel stand and use a spoke wrench/tensioner to true it. Start by tightening up all of the spokes with one or two turns on each spoke nipple until the wheel feels relatively snug. Spin the wheel in the wheel stand and watch for bends in the wheel. If for example, you notice the wheel pulls to the left, tighten the spoke nipples to the right of the bend, and vice versa. You may even have to slightly loosen the spokes on the left, depending on how much adjustment is needed.