Digital dish

This video shows how Wheel Analytics can track wheel centering, also called dish. First the tool takes samples from both sides of the wheel using cues from the foot pedal. Then the visualization calculates dish at the same time as lateral and radial alignment. In the example above dish error is 0.10mm, which is a great result. In all it takes about 35 seconds to measure dish accurately and quantitatively. From this point the wheel can be adjusted and dish will be automatically recalculated without further setup (calibration stability depends on the truing stand).

In normal use perfect dish means a dish error of 0.00mm. If you’re building wheels with offset dish, then perfect dish could be some positive value. Cannondale Ai wheels, for example, have 6mm offset dish. Wheel Analytics accommodates these wheels seamlessly and is the only truing tool that can measure such wheels without adapters.

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Indicator tips

For your convenience indicator tips are available with Wheel Analytics. You don’t need to buy indicators to buy indicator tips.

Many were tested before coming up with this kit. Mitutoyo tips are the gold standard and these are just as good. Possibly better if you appreciate the large-diameter knurled locknut on the lateral probe.

Note: Islandix tips are for indicators with M2.5 threads, which is the standard for indicators in most of the world outside America. Indicators offered in the Islandix online shop are all M2.5-threaded.

Scaling Wheel Analytics

The Islandix WA-1 controller has two ports because that’s the most common configuration — one port for the lateral indicator and one port for radial. It’s the least expensive to produce, which makes transistor truing available to the most workshops.

If you want to true a disc rotor, you need to borrow one of the ports. If you want to compute tension statistics with your tensiometer, you need to borrow one of the ports. Normally this is no big deal.

Even so sometimes the busiest workshops want more than two. Instead of offering separate electronics with three ports and four ports, the Islandix solution is to deploy multiple WA-1 tools — as many as you like, when your needs require. The included USB power supply supports up to three already. And now there’s a splitter cable that lets two controllers share one foot pedal. Sharing a pedal keeps your workbench simple and organized.

Currently a Wheel Analytics expansion kit is $349 CAD (approx. $249 USD, €229 EUR). It includes a WA-1 controller, foot pedal sharing adapter and USB cable.

On necessity

The ability to build a workstation with more than two ports is a customer-requested feature and that’s why it exists. We also think it’s perfectly reasonable to use a tensiometer without a cable and without software most of the time — and this is the best way to get started. If you only need the extra port at the end of the build, swapping isn’t too onerous. If you find yourself swapping often, the expansion kit may be for you.

A subtle but very nice benefit of having a second controller is redundancy in your toolkit. If you break one, you can fall back to using a single controller (with cable swapping) until you can manage a warranty repair.

Visual wheel centering

The Target Plot is a unified visualization of lateral and radial alignment, which helps reasoning about both dimensions at once. From version 1.2.2 it can track wheel centering too (the term centering is used because it translates better than the word dish).

How does it work? Wheel Analytics needs to learn the ideal/centered position of the rim. This can be established two ways, either (i) using a single lateral reference as you would with the Centrimaster v-block or (ii) checking two lateral references by flipping the wheel in the stand. The second method is universal so it’s the default and discussed here.

Initiate setup with the ‘c’ key on the keyboard or click/tap the scale in the bottom corner of the Target Plot. A dialog opens waiting for the first lateral reference. Rotate the wheel so the valve hole is at the lateral indicator and press the left foot pedal to record lateral position. Flip the wheel in the stand, rotate to the valve hole and press the foot pedal to record again. That’s it. Now when you snapshot the visualization, direction and magnitude of any centering error is displayed.

A good proxy for the accuracy of this method is the repeatability of position when you remove and re-install a wheel in the truing stand. Technique plays a role — tighten the wheel in the truing stand to the same degree with the same force every time. Do not overtighten. Better truing stands do a better job of resisting twist and deflection, which improves accuracy. More will be written on this topic in a future article.

The image at the top of this article depicts a real wheel built in the Islandix lab. With a bit of luck the wheel landed 0.01mm off center to the left. The wheel was built using a Park Tool TS-2.2 and Wheel Analytics 1.2.2. This result was externally verified with a digital dishing gauge.

Radar re-homed

The free spoke tension graphing tool I’ve hosted online since 2013 has been re-homed to Please update your bookmarks.

This tool is also available with Wheel Analytics under the name Tension Radar. When used with the Islandix ecosystem, you are independent of the cloud (functions without internet access). It works with your Islandix FP-2 foot pedal and supports custom tensiometer calibrations.

Tensiometer winner

Photo courtesy of Tomi Biloglav

Congratulations to Tomi Biloglav of Sweden — you are the winner!

Tensio time

Check out this futuristic implementation of the Jobst Brandt tensiometer. We prefer this design for its insensitivity to distortion from the technician’s hand. Its symmetrical layout makes it equally natural to use left or right. Simple operation with highly repeatable results.

This tool is a limited edition, more than a year in the making. Machined to tight tolerances and finished beautifully. The tensio is equipped with the same Mitutoyo indicator we trust for truing and a specially relieved handle to accommodate the data cable. Each tool is individually calibrated.

How do you buy one? Unfortunately they sold out before being posted online (join the Islandix mailing list to get in on these deals). There’s hope — one tool has been held back and will be awarded to a Wheel Analytics owner by random draw. There are two ways to enter:

  1. Entry is automatic with every purchase of Wheel Analytics between today and the draw date.
  2. Past Wheel Analytics customers may enter by submitting a photo of your wheelbuilding area to Submissions will not be reshared.

Draw to take place December 1, 2022 or as soon as practical thereafter. The winner agrees their name may be publically disclosed. Tensiometer to be picked up in Victoria, British Columbia or posted at the winner’s expense (postage only, can be marked as a gift for customs purposes but carries a declared value of $599). Prize includes no warranty and has no cash equivalent. Order today to enter!

Shop standards

A fireside story from my wheelbuilding career:

A customer brought in a brand new set of wheels. He purchased them online, a nice deal, but they arrived with insufficient spoke tension including one slack spoke. He didn’t feel safe riding them, which was the right instinct. The job was simple — finishing an incomplete wheelbuild. I provided before-and-after tension graphs and the online seller sheepishly reimbursed the customer.

What changes for your shop when you become a team of wheelbuilders? Does quality depend on who pulls the ticket? Do you talk about quality out loud? Write it down? Do you enforce quality standards? How do you keep quality high when there are changes in the team?

Wheel Analytics can help. Decide what constitutes a properly true wheel in your shop. Configure it in Wheel Analytics and your benchmark will be visible to staff as they work. The line between in-progress and complete is clearly defined. Tension too — for the low price of visiting each spoke with a connected tensiometer, Wheel Analytics calculates average tension and tension variance. Use this information to prevent spoke breakage from undertension, rim damage from overtension and re-truing comebacks from unbalanced tension.

It’s just as likely you have the opposite problem since most wheels can be made better with more effort. Some team members need to be told when to stop and defining standards puts a ceiling on how much to invest in one wheel. Move to the next ticket efficiently without second guessing.

Truing in 2D

The Target Plot is a visualization that combines lateral and radial alignment in one view. That’s useful because it helps us reason about wheels in a smarter way compared to dealing with one dimension at a time. For example fixing lateral alignment may help or hurt radial alignment as a side effect. We can increase efficiency by preferring adjustments with helpful side effects and mitigating harmful ones as they happen.

To steer wheelbuilders in this direction there’s an AI function that relates the visualization to steps required to improve the wheel. How does it work?

Read more →

Announcing 1.1

This week Islandix reached a new milestone. After six patches, Wheel Analytics has graduated to version 1.1. We’re happy with the software and gratified by your feedback.

The 1.1 series will continue this work, adding one new visualization. As thanks for your support Islandix welcomes all existing customers to this series without charge. It’s available now through the Update tab on your Wheel Analytics tool. For everyone else, Wheel Analytics is in stock.

Starting with 1.1.1, the tool is capable of checking for software updates automatically. Enable this feature by selecting Check for updates on the Settings tab. When an update becomes available, a banner is presented on the main screen — download and install with a single click.