Zero to Hero
– Schmolke C45 TLO dream wheel build with the App SpokeCalc -

Crafting a superior cycling experience begins with careful selection of components. And, »Oh, boy!«, do we have some here. Enter Schmolke rims from a German premium carbon-fibre components manufacturer, renowned for their excellent stiffness and lightweight. Together paired with the industry leading DT Swiss 180 hubs, a dream combination that would stage a journey into the world of refined engineering and high performance. To top it all, such a detailed breakdown of a wheelset assembly presented an opportunity to point out key features of a total wheel building tool, App Spokecalc, during the quest.








internal nipple type rim
Schmolke TLO 45 - one seriously eyecatching wheelset.


Trying to put aside the subjective view about what a dream wheelset concept actually is, to me, ticking checkboxes like premium materials, exceptional performance, craftmanship and last, but not least, customization, would imply we are generally dealing with it. The more you think about it, basically the paradox around the concept is that more you start to maximise single one of the above parameters, or even all at the same time, the more you start to lose the “one to fit them all” tag of a wheelset. And with it, different opinions arise. Simple as this.

As it happens, I am actually into exotics. That is why these Schmolke TLO 45 Clincher in Black Edition instantly caught my eye. To provide a little context, Schmolke rims are made in Germany by Munich composites, employing a sophisticated braiding carbon fibre technique, where black-grey carbon fibres are feeded alternating from coils to braiding machine and then braided into symmetrical plait patterns.

Because of such distinct, almost raw looking layout, with carbon fibres meticulously woven into shape, these rims not only look stunning, but also beckon to elevate the ride beyond mere motion.

schmolke rims dt 180 hubs cx ray spokes
A real dream build setup for most of us; Schmolke rims, DT180 hubs and Sapim CX-Ray spokes.

Following their moto expressed in #everygramcounts hashtag, Schmolke strives for exceptional performance that combines both lightweight carbon construction with excellent material stiffness, therefore knowing that, nothing but high performance is expected. And that was also the case for me as I would most likely use them as racing wheels. The interesting fact is that this rim model is actually cross compatible for either rim or disc brake wheel builds.

Dark, minimalistic and elegant style would be further accompanied by DT Swiss 180 hubs. Renowned to optimize performance and reliability, they undoubtedly represent a pinnacle of precision engineering and are a preferred choice to many top-tier, “dream build” wheel projects.

At this point, it should be pointed out that such a wheelset is available already assembled for purchase from Schmolke directly and via their distributors. But being a wheel builder, can you blame me for wanting to elevate a wheel experience to the full degree? Yep, to our kind, the whole journey of carefully selecting components and enjoying the assembly phase is equally important as seeing the final result and then riding the wheels.

Although the primary focus of this article is on providing wheel building insights of the dream wheel build itself, I also wanted it to revolve around utilizing capabilities of the App SpokeCalc, and how such a complementary software can enhance a wheel builder's workflow.


The main premise behind the App Spokecalc lies in two major aspects. Firstly, there is data organization and files storing while on the other side there is optimizing the daily workflow of a wheel builder.

total wheelbuilding tool app spokecalc
App Spokecalc, a total wheel buidling tool. #addcomponents #savewheels #sharefiles #tensionapp #spokecalculator #printsheets

Organizing data in a structured format like having all tension meter tables, components measurements, and wheel builds’ details like serials or notes on hand will inevitably save you time and energy, as it can prove useful for future repairs, part replacements or similar builds. On the other hand, with newly released features such as “Assign a wheel/component”, enhanced search and the Clipboard of your current project, the optimization of your daily routine as a wheel builder is now a lot easier.

Reinforcing the concept of simplifying every day’s routine with data organization, a wheel builder will also appreciate apps like Spoke calculator, Tension App or Tension Chart maker. One can use this apps from the start without even investing much time in the app. However, to really get the most of it, I will show a more holistic, and also preferred process, which is based on the pattern Add components – Create wheel - Connect & files.


Again returning to our project, when it comes to wheel building dimensions, I generally go by the rule “Only trust your own measurements”. I consider getting precise dimensions as a very important prerequisite to a successful kickstart of any wheel project and later on to the quality of the final product.

But here lies the catch. With their uniquely designed 180 model compared to other more standard shaped straight pull hubs, DT Swiss engineers give wheel builders a real hard time getting measurements on their own. In the end I cheat sheeted using the super useful wheel building information from the Fair Wheel Bikes.

Of course, be aware that hub dimensions depend on the spoke hole count choice of the hub. In the end, it didn’t go without double checking with my height gauge and digital caliper before saving hubs as components into the app’s database.

total wheelbuilding tool app spokecalc taking hub measurements
Saving DT180 hub's dimensions for a 28H version into the app.

The very next thing was turning attention to Schmolke rims which come with internal nipples and require the use of washers underneath them. You might wonder why internal nipples in the first place? The quest to employ internal nipples technology is supposed to prove beneficial in making a smoother surface of their rims and consequently reducing aerodynamic drag to some degree. Moreover, let’s be honest, there is also some aesthetic appeal to it!

That meant taking the ERD measurement of the rim had to be done using internal nipples in combination with supplied Sapim HM eyelets. In one of my blog articles, Measuring rim ERD, you can read more about how a nipple & eyelet choice affects the Effective rim diameter measurement.

schmolke rims braided carbon techonology
Looking at these eye-catching Schmolke rims, don’t they just scream “Special experience”?

As for spokes, the choice to go with Sapim’s CX-Ray aero spokes was completely natural. Usually referred to as the best of the best of what a stainless-steel type spoke can actually offer, bladed shaped CX-Ray spokes combine excellent aerodynamics with low weight and unparallel strength. That said, perfectly suitable for the dream wheel build project.

Having all the measurements, the share function of the app comes in hand at this point as it allows a wheel builder to view a summary of a single component. Since those pages are prepared in a A4 format, they are meant to be opened for preview using a wider screen device such as a laptop or on a desktop PC. Check it out below!

A4 print and share app spokecalc component measurements
Viewing the article on PC? Click on the icons below to preview print sheet of a single component. Share it with your client, a fellow wheel builder or just print it for your workshop.

DT Swiss 180 EXP XDR 28H Schmolke TLO 45 Clincher Sapim CX-Ray Straight Pull

But the real value of the App Spokecalc proves in the power of connecting all components into one unique unit - the wheel.

app spokecalc open new wheel
"A new wheelset" popup window for creating wheels in the App Spokecalc.

After creating a new wheel, all “generic” wheel information can be duplicated when needing the same exact wheel in the app again. To make a wheel in the app really a one-off, a user can add more specific wheel information like the serial number, client details, connecting calculation files etc. But more importantly, when created, every wheel is assigned with system-generated identifier code to allow for easier tracking of it in the future.

app spokecalc open new wheel
The wheel page inside the app. Once components are created, it is very easy to assign them to a new wheel.

After that, adding details to a specific wheel is actually straight forward. Assigning every component was optimized recently with an added Assign function that integrated a more intelligent search function where you can see pre-selected items from your Clipboard, items that were last updated or simply search them via multiple filters. The real benefit of adding wheel components to the wheel building app lies in using all the measurements later on or, as in this case, importing them when needed elsewhere in the app. Even for future wheels!

app spokecalc assign components to a wheel
Assigning our DT180 straight pull hubs to the Schmolke 45 TLO wheels.
schmolke rims lacing assembly wheel
Wheel and spoke calculation file for the rear wheel.

Only now it was time to import both wheels created into the spoke calculator. Having added components to both wheels, the spoke calculator would now know where to fetch wheel building measurements, so I just had to import a wheel into the calc and get all fields automatically filled out and calculation done. Investing time into the app in the early stages pays off in the following steps of a workflow.

Front wheel spoke calculation Rear wheel spoke calculation

Besides raw calculations, the app also allows for an actual spoke lengths used to be stored in the system. In the end I went for 288/288 mm with 12mm internal nipples for the front wheel and 288/286 mm spokes with 10mm internal nipples for the rear wheel respectively.


Ironically, exotics tend to come with a price. Although knowing the build with internal nipples and washers will be tricky, I resorted to a comfort from a fellow wheel builder’s insights, having done the build before. He said, »If the job is done well, those wheels will pay back with excellent handling, lightweight, nice acceleration, and premium look.«

In short, besides demanding an experienced and skilled wheel builder, compared to others, this build really was labour intensive and challenging. No wonder these rims come with detailed wheel building instructions. Really important note inside this manufacturer’s documentation is the notion that the absolute spoke tension should not exceed 1100 N, which is just shy of 110kgF. Therefore, having a precise, well calibrated tension meter is a must to avoid potential rim cracks at nipple holes.

schmolke rims lacing assembly wheel
Combination of internal spoke nipples with washers makes the lacing phase of this dream wheel build quite time consuming.

As for lacing part, there are few key points to emphasise. Using a lacing jig / wheel building stand for wheel lacing is probably one of the most relevant. Since Schmolke rims are made for internal nipples and require Sapim HM washers, you will need both rim and the hub to stay firmly in place while lacing. Another good tip here is to carefully align the hub in relation to the height of the rim on the wheel stand to allow spoking a wheel at a specific, almost final bracing spoke angle of each side.

Another key phase before lacing included the preparation of pre-drilled rim spoke holes. A bit sad that spoke holes were both a bit narrow and containing a lot of carbon debris, however once cleaned and reamed a bit with a spare spoke end (thread side), I was back on track.

schmolke rims internal nipples lacing
Tip: Failing to prepare rim spoke holes by cleaning it and reaming it, to allow an easier lacing of the wheel, will later on cost you a lot of extra time.

For more details regarding fine-tunning lacing technique for lacing rims with internal nipples, read in my latest blog article - Should you avoid internal spoke nipples?

Before ending the wheel lacing phase and moving to the truing stand, I remember putting around eight full spoke nipples revolutions to make a wheel a bit more stable and ensure relatively even, yet almost insignificant spoke tension.

From there it was a well-known do-and-repeat process of tensioning, truing, dishing and destressing the wheel.

internal nipple type rim
Note that these rims won’t accept high tension, so a fresh calibration of the tension meter is a must here.

At this moment you should also read one of my previous articles - Speed up your spoke tensioning- where it is shown how you can notably speed up the spoke tensioning workflow using a traditional, analogue spoke tension meter in combination with the SpokeCalc Wheel Tension app. To achieve that, we shall add another, actually quite budget tech gadget to the table - an external keypad. Combining this little accessory with one of the three readings formatting type settings of the app will help a wheel builder to an even smoother spoke tensioning workflow.

The benefit of such wireless keypads is more notable when having to work with touch screen devices as they almost completely eliminate your contact with the device’s display, it goes hand in hand also for working with laptops, where an external wireless numpad will extend your existing keyboard and let you put the laptop safely away from dirt or mount it on a stand for a better visibility.

Mobile setup with external keypad for a spoke tension app
Make the most with the tech you have at hand! Working with a tension app isn’t a rocket science.

Since there is so much talking about importance of spoke tension, if you are relatively new to the spoke tension, take some time and read through my extensive blog article about it: Spoke tension - The definitive guide to spoke tensioning.

In the end, I got close to the maximal target tension of 1100 N, but as you may see, according to the tool, I didn’t exceed it. Because of a relatively low overall tension I gave a much more emphasis on evening out tension of each side of the wheel, expecially the non-drive side, rather than on truing it spot on. And when in compromise, I will always opt for spot on tension. Afterall, we are talking about disc brake wheels.

internal nipple type rim
Tension app summary print from the wheel building app. For these rims, absolutely vital tool!

Tension app summary of the rear wheel

Remark: working with a relatively low overall tension requires extra attention on non-drive side spoke tension. Sadly, for most budget tools tension variation at low values will be almost insignificant on the scale.

Once finished working on the wheel, a wheel builder is able to generate a pre-designed A4 document called “Wheel birth certificate” containing general wheel information, useful for both the mechanic and at the same time serving as quality control document for a client. And if building a wheelset, the "Enjoy wheels" document will be a recap of both wheels. And what's best, as of recent, those documents can be opened in different languages.

A Wheel birth certificate sample "Enjoy wheels" wheelset recap document


I must admit, despite not being completely used to some steps in the wheel assembly process, when the outcome started to appear, the feeling was really rewarding and, in the end, the final result a real eyecatcher. That said, probably needless to add I haven't had any hard time taking such nice photos of the final dream-build wheelset. Enjoy!

schmolke tlo 45 wheels
Seeing the final result, you simply know it wheels were worth the extra mile.
schmolke rims closeup
Red valve sticker is the only screaming element on these black edition Schmolke rims.
dtswiss 180 black hubs
Black on black. Industry leading DT 180 hubs complement these rims very well.
internal nipple type rim
Internal nipple type rim. Slick and smooth aerodynamic surface on the outside with all the hardware hidden inside.
schmolke rims black edition
Black stickers pop a bit more than on other rims because of a bit faded black-grey carbon fibre pattern.
internal nipple type rim
Being lightweight these rims are actually pretty stiff and promise instant responsiveness.


Speaking from personal experience, even to a seasoned wheel builder, building a top-tier wheelset still gives a bit of goosebumps. Not only because of anticipating the outcome, but also as any mistakes during wheel building preparation or assembly phase tend to come costly. Especially with an even more challenging dream wheel build like this Schmolke project definitely was.

But at the same time, moments that push you out of your every day’s comfort zone many times prove like excellent learning experiences. In this particular case, hands on an actual wheel building process instead of just buying the same exact wheel setup, fosters a deeper understanding of wheel dynamics, component interaction, and the overall mechanics behind a well-built wheel.

Knowing that, such experiences will empower you with knowledge, precision and control over the wheel-building process. And organizing the build with the help of the app, like described, can take your offering to an even higher professional level.

Remember, take time, take notes and be patient. And don’t forget to enjoy in the process as much as in the result.

Happy wheelbuilding in the coming new year!

About author


NEW!!! We've just released a total wheelbuilding tool. Calculate spoke length, save components, calibrate tension meter and use tension app.