Building a Cannondale AI wheelset
- A custom DT Swiss wheelset for the all-new Cannondale asymmetric integration gravel bike -

Typically, a wheel is 'dished' when the rim is aligned in center between locknuts of the hub so that it is symmetrical. But with the all new Cannondale AI, the frame is designed in that way that the offset shifts the rear hub and drivetrain 6 mm to the right, thus delivering several benefits. Since this was my latest project, I thought it would be interesting to document the process of building a custom DT Swiss wheelset according to the all-new Cannondale AI (asymmetric integration) for their Topstone gravel bike.

Cannondale AI (asymmetric integration)

According to Cannondale, there are several benefits of their all new AI, asymmetrically offset rear triangle and drivetrain. The Cannondale AI offset shifts the rear hub and drivetrain 6 mm to the right, delivering super short chainstays without any of the usual compromises, and a rear wheel that is dramatically stiffer and stronger because the spoke tension and angles are equal on both sides. By doing that Cannondale claims benefits, such as the shortest chainstais on the market, for incredible traction, better stiffness and agility, up to 60% increase in rear wheel stiffness, and ample tire clearance.

Cannondale AI Asymmetric rear triangle
By moving the hub to the driveside, rear wheel strength is increased. The result is a stiffer interface than a thru-axle while still retaining a quick-release rear wheel.


By looking at available wheelsets on the market, the main problem was that they were already ‘dished’, meaning having rim perfectly in the center of the hub underneath. One alternative my client pointed out, was buying such a standard, already “dished” wheelset and modifying it to fit the Cannondale’s frame by “re-dishing” the rear wheel 6 mm to the left by tightening non-drive side spokes to an equal tension which would even out bracing angles on both sides of the wheel.

Doable, of course, but that would inevitably mean non-drive side spoke length would be shorter while drive side spokes would need to be a bit longer. Spoke length was my main concern. But, what would be that difference in reality?

To check my presumption, I entered some data into and got approximately 0.5 mm difference in spoke length for both sides in standard dished rear wheel versus the wheel I was building, following Cannondale’s asymmetric integration idea.

Standard dished wheel versus cannondale AI offset rear wheel
Spoke length for a standard, dished wheel (above) versus the wheel that would follow Cannondale’s Asymmetric Integration offset (below).

Yes. From knowing the difference in spoke length for a dished wheel versus Cannondale’s Asymmetric Integration offset wheel, one could very well re-dish existing wheelset, available on the market.But for multiple reasons, including some elements of personalization, the idea of re-dishing a standard wheelset didn’t go through.

In the end we decided to make a completely new, custom disc brake wheelset that would fit in the frame of my client's Cannondale Topstone gravel bike.


First let’s look at components, that were picked for this custom offset wheelset.

  • Hub: DT SWISS 350 100/142mm 28H
  • Rims: DT-SWISS RR 521db 32mm/24mm 28H
  • Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray J-bend
  • Lacing: 2x (front DS/NDS), 3x (rear DS/NDS)

*Low spoke count and lacing pattern were chosen accordingly with client’s low body weight and a wish to have a premium, almost competition ready aluminium wheelset.

 Components for this custom Cannondale AI (asymmetric-integration) wheelset
Components for this custom Cannondale AI (asymmetric-integration) wheelset. Mainly DT Swiss with evergreen Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes to make this wheelset premium.


If the front wheel is to be completely conventional, standardly dished, with the rim centred between locknuts of the hub, the rear wheel would have to be 6 mm offset to the left in order to fit into the frame’s rear triangle.

So, how would one include Cannondale’s recommended 6 mm offset of the rear wheel into the spoke length calculator? Either by modifying effective left and right flange to center dimensions or by including offset spoke bed (OSB) measurement.

If my original DT Swiss 350 hub’s left flange to center and right flange to center dimensions were 32.5 mm and 20 mm respectively, I subtracted 6 mm from the left flange to center (26.5 mm) and added the same amount to the right flange to center (26 mm). In that way I took into account a 6 mm offset of the DT Swiss RR 521db rim. In the screenshot below there is a spoke length calculation in using real hub dimensions instead of effective flange to center dimensions with combination of 6 mm offset spoke bed (OSB).

 spoke calculator spokecalc
Spoke length calculation with real hub dimensions and using 6 mm offset spoke bed for Cannondale's AI offset to be taken into account.

Note how using a 6 mm offset of the rear wheel to the non-drive side of the wheel gave us almost identical spoke length for both sides and as a result also more even spoke tension.

Note: one could very well use only one modification in rim/hub measurements, and that is the offset spoke bed (OSB). This would trick the spoke calculator in such way that even though the rim is symmetrical, spoke holes are 6 mm offset to the non-drive side of the rear wheel. Result would be the same as with the method mentioned above.


Surprisingly, dishing the rear wheel in accordance with Cannondale’s Asymmetric integration 6 mm offset was even easier in practice that I thought it would be. I started by winding all spoke nipples onto the spokes up to the end of spoke’s thread. That was also my starting reference that all spokes are tightened the same way.

 truing and dishing cannondale ai wheel
Dishing and truing this rear wheel was done mostly by using a spoke tension meter.

The process was followed by counting turns of every spoke nipple around the wheel and simultaneously observing radial trueness of the wheel. Still, to that point, I haven’t touched my spoke tension meter and I was already feeling tension on spokes. Only then I continued with my Park Tool’s TM-1 spoke tension meter.

On the other hand, literally most of my rear wheel’s lateral trueness and offset I achieved just by using spoke tension meter and tightening all spokes to an almost equal tension. If I normally check if a wheel is properly dished several times, here, I was almost spot-on on the very first try.

 truing and dishing cannondale ai wheel
Using wheel alignment tool, the reference position of a rim was taken first on the drive side by leaning the calliper of the tool on the right locknut of the hub.

For checking my rear wheel’s AI offset, I used my Park Tool’s WAG-5 wheel alignment gauge. Except, contrary to standard, dished wheels, calliper of the dishing tool shouldn’t touch the locknuts of the hub on both sides of the wheel. If I was aiming for 6 mm offset to the left, when my calliper touched the right locknut of the hub (freehub side), then on the non-drive side, there should be exactly 12 mm of space in between wheel alignment gauge’s calliper and the locknut.

 park tool wag 5 cannondale ai wheelset
Using wheel alignment tool, the reference position of a rim was taken first on the drive side by leaning the calliper of the tool on the right locknut of the hub.

Finally, it was time to mount the tire and test how this custom DT Swiss rear wheel fits Cannondale Topstone frame. Fortunately, everything came out nicely with an offset that is just right for this gravel bike. In the end, this Vittoria Corsa Graphene tire with its width of 30mm still has a lot of clearance on both sides.

 park tool wag 5 cannondale ai wheelset
In the end, the rear wheel fitted the frame just perfectly with still a lot of clearance on both sides.

Final thoughts

Building a custom wheelset in accordance with Cannondale’s all new paradigm of Asymmetric Integration frame designs was an interesting project for me and as such, worth documenting. Achieving the same spoke length and almost even spoke tension is also a breath-taking feature for a contemporary bike's rear wheel to have. Such a wheel is indeed much stiffer and stronger, so all in all, chapeau to Cannondale for giving us that innovation.

Happy wheel building!

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