Invader Mags: How It’s Made

Originally Published In The April 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

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This month we got a chance to catch up with Pat Patterson who has been building some of the most amazing bikes on the planet lately. Most of all I’ve been diggin the wheels and I wondered what it would take to actually build your own wheel…. Well it turns out that Pat has been working hand in hand with Scotty from Invader Wheels. They are currently working towards Led Sled taking over production of the iconic Invader line. In addition to the more classic Invader style that you might be used to, that will still be offered with the typical round or square spokes, there are some new designs like the “Speed Holes” seen here. These specific wheels have been featured on a few of the latest Led Sled bikes like “The Naked Truth” bike and the bike that they built for Progressive Insurance that you will see featured in these pages shortly. We thought with the popularity and resurgence of the Invader that this would be a good time to take a look at how it’s made, or how they are in this case. So get your good glasses on pap, and let’s take a look at the making of an Invader.

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Every spoke for construction of the Speed Holes are cut to length and made in house at Led Sled. They are made from American Made Steel.

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This particular rim will be a five spoke design. All the spokes are made ahead of time and wait for assembly

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Same goes for the hub assembly, it’s machined to tolerance and made completely in house. Here you can see the bearing pockets have been machined into the hub and it’s ready for the sprocket flange to be welded on. This particular rim will be an 18”x3” rear wheel with a single sided flange. The other side of the wheel will have a perimeter brake.

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The operation of building the wheel begins with welding the flange & hub together. After that they are both loaded back onto the lathe to insure that there are no variances in the flange and hub and that they remained true through welding.

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Once the hub is proven true it goes into a special jig that Led Sled made. This will offset the hub so the sprocket will be in the correct position on final assembly. When building these rims the brake rotor and sprocket have to be perfect so that not only the chain misses the tire but the brake components have room for clearance from the spokes. Even with the rim on the fixture the wheel has to be tack welded so that each weld has a chance to dissipate heat and not compromise the position of each spoke. It’s a lot like tightening a series of bolts in a pattern to ensure uniformity.

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The spoke and hub are then taken out of the fixture to be fully welded. It can’t be locked in place in the fixture to achieve this, it must be flipped and rotated, welding a small piece at a time to keep it true.

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At this point the assembly has been finished welded and has to be left to completely cool. This ensures that any movement that occurs through contraction during cooling is complete before attaching it to the rim.

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With the hub and spoke assembly completely cooled the rim is placed onto it. Even after the parts are machined and built to spec the hoop may still have some variance. Often you find that it may require some finessing to get the hub and spoke assembly to sit inside the rim just right.

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This is where the magic happens. Unlike conventional spoke wheels with nipples that can be adjusted, the Invaders have to be perfectly positioned as they are welded. To do this a series of shims are used to keep the lateral movement in spec at the same time the runout is kept in tolerance. Again this is a very strategic process. You can actually see the dial indicator move just from the heat of a single tack weld, let alone a full weld. For that reason you must move around and chase the trueness of the wheel as you go. The whole process it might take as much as a good eight to sixteen hours to complete a wheel like this.

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Here the wheel is shown with the perimeter brake set up with a floating rotor. The rotor is kept tight and tracked with a dial indicator so it will be as true as possible.

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After the rim is ready the bearings are pressed in with an axle spacer that provides the correct end play and each wheel is drilled for a valve stem before being sent off to chrome or powder coating. Tons of styles are available from Led Sled Customs on their website. You can choose from a variety of configurations with spokes that are round, square, “Speed Hole” and some other top secret designs they are releasing soon. If there is an idea that you have they can probably do that too so feel free to give them a ring and see their complete line of products at ledsledcustoms.com

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