Kawasaki KZ650 cafe-racer. Front wheel is spoked.

18″ high shouldered (H-type, H-shape, flanged or valanced) rims are essential point of both, CBX550 spoked wheels project and whole KZ650 project. I bought first pair of such rims on Italian ebay. They were descendants of Borrani Record rims and they were definitely made in Italy, not somewhere in nowhere. They looked great and I was happy with them up to the point when I started spokes tightening and began my work on achieving satisfactory lateral (radial, out-of-round) and axial (side-to-side) runouts. My standards are 0.7mm for lateral and 0.5mm for axial run-out.  I use two indicators (dial gauges) simultaneously, as usually:

When it was looking like I was close to good result I levelled up indicators and spun the wheel. And Holy Molly! The opposite to “lateral” indicator side of rim was wobbling like a drunken sailor… After first shock faded I used third dial gauge to clarify the picture.

It turned out that rim was narrower for more than 2.5 (two and half) millimetres on quite long area around the welding seam. It’s unimaginable, but it’s a fact. I checked once more and found out that only outer walls of rim were narrower in that area, while distance between inner walls was more or less constant. However, it was clear for me that I had to find better rims…

The search took some time, but luckily for me I found that Takasago Excel makes 18″ x 2.5 shouldered rims. And luckily for me I decided to order them from www.central-wheel.co.uk

It is said on Central Wheel website:

 “Here at Central Wheel Components, we pride ourselves on being Europe’s largest stockist of classic rims. We have been collecting data for over 120 years, and drill the rims in house. So if you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch!”

And it’s true. I wrote email to Central Wheel with a question if they have Excel flanged rims in stock and if yes, is it possible to drill them to fit my conversion of CBX550 hubs. Sure, I attached some photos and hub drawings. I was instantly answered by Richard Hoyland and he confirmed that they could do the job. I ordered first rim and, thanks to Central Wheel Components, order was processed very fast and soon parcel with rim was on its way to us.

However, right when I was ordering rim, Ukrainian government lowered limit for non-taxable parcel down to EUR 100. Thus when parcel with rim arrived to Ukraine it was handed to customs. It wasn’t a big deal to pay another 10 EUR of custom duty; the problem was that custom held parcel up to the last term described in law, which is 7 working days, that automatically means 9 calendar days. Only after the deadline passed I’ve got SMS with a sum of tax and requisites to pay. I made payment in ten minutes and waited for another few days while parcel was released by customs and delivered to me. It’s ridiculous: it took only 5 days to deliver parcel from England to Ukraine and mostly two weeks delivering it from incoming centre (Lviv, Western Ukraine) to me.

As soon as I could lay my hands on parcel I unpacked it. Content was looking like a ring wrapped in gift ribbon.

And where is a gift ribbons and ring, you for sure may find some girl name…

Central Wheel Components made a great work. I think, they might have supply of undrilled polished Excel shouldered rims, thus they could drill them according to specific hub. But hubs of CBX550 have quite a large diameter, larger than most, eve dram brake hubs. So I guess in this case Central Wheel firstly deepened spoke dimples and then drilled them at angles corresponding to spokes holes in hub flanges.

I put some extra polishing on rim and proceeded to front wheel spoking. With such a rim sit was an easy game. I managed to get 0.4mm for both lateral and radial runouts (including the zone of welding seam).

Spoked polished wheel looked great:

My next task was putting tyre on rim.

As all components are highly polished I didn’t dared to entrust this work to tyre service. I have quite an experience with tyre fitting and simple tools to do the job, so I managed to do the work without any scratches. With tyre and some components installed, front wheel looks magnificent.

Now we are waiting for second Excel rim from Central Wheel Components.


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  1. tomo

    What is the tire model? Anyway wheel looks amazing

    1. gazzz (Post author)

      It’s Dunlop TT100GP

  2. Tomek

    What spokes diameter did you used?
    BTW great job!
    I try to build 19” wheels for my ’01 Bonneville.

    I hope you are all right.


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