Making a Cyr Wheel

A Cyr Wheel is a fun an impressive skill to master. To get an idea of what can be done on a Cyr Wheel, have a look at the following YouTube video:

Manual

FEDEC () provide a comprehensive PDF manual on the Cyr Wheel which provides very valuable information on about the construction and use of the wheel.

Construction

The main construction of the Cyr Wheel is multiple sections of a circle made from metal tube, covered in a PVC hose as a protective surface which also provides grip.

Some of the FEDEC wheels are made from stainless steel, but I chose to make Donna one out of Aluminium as it’s easier to work with. The outside diameter of the Cyr Wheel needs to be around 40-50mm depending on the preferred grip of the performer who’s going to be using it.

The diameter of the whole Cyr Wheel should be such that the performer can stand on the bottom of the wheel and have about a fist (10-15cm) gap above their head. So the internal diameter of the wheel needs to be the performers height + 10-15cm. The original wheel I made for Donna is a bit small, so we’ll be making a new one with a larger diameter.

The main wheel material I used was 1 1/4″ (31.75mm) O.D. aluminium with a wall thickness of 10SWG (~3.25mm), and I got some tube to fit inside that to make the connections between the three sections of the wheel, this tube was 1″ (25.4mm) O.D. with a wall thickness of 3/16″ (4.76mm) which will be directly drilled and tapped. Later on I’ll insert steel threaded sections so that the wheel can be held together tighter.

The metal was rolled using a square former, because, well, that’s all we had! It helped us not get much twist, but it did mean there was some deforming of the tube. The deformation however was very much limited to the smaller radius side of the tube, and thus won’t affect the rolling or performance of the wheel.

We rolled the tube to size by chalking out a half circle of the required size with a piece of string (well, a tape measure actually) holding the end at the centre point and rotating it a little and then marking it. This is the tube after it’s been rolled:

DSCF6001

As you can see, we start off with too much material, but I cut each section to a reasonable size which was still too big, but are all rolled section, with square ends so the tube can be laid out, and measured:

DSCF6004

DSCF6002

DSCF6005

DSCF6006

The overlap is measured, divided by 3 and then that much is chopped off of each section. so that each section is the same size, and altogether they make a complete circle. You can see the deformed tube shape below which shows how well the external diameter radius has survived the rolling with square formers. If you’re using round formers for the rolling then you won’t have much distortion so you’ll be okay!

DSCF6003

DSCF6007

Now that we have the wheel basics together, we need to create the connecting pieces. These will connect the three pieces of the wheel together and allow it to be broken down for easier transport. You can use as many pieces as you want. Traditionally Cyr Wheels have come in three piece form, but there are newer designs which break down into five piece. The more pieces the better actually, because getting the PVC hose on the outside as the protective layer is really hard to do over one of a three piece wheel.

Normally, we’d turn the smaller diameter round tube down a little to give it some play and fit curved sections of it, around 200mm long into the larger diameter tube that makes up the wheel. However, as the tube is distorted I had to match the shape of the inner tube to the outer tube on the milling machine. The pieces are about 200mm long, and were curved on a fly press until they fitted easily inside the tube. Note: You’ll have to make them a slightly sloppy fit in order to be able to fit all the pieces of the wheel together. If you make the fit too tight you’ll struggle to the get the wheel to assemble completely.

DSCF6008

Eventually when we’ve done three of them, we end up with what is the basis of our wheel, with three curved sections with fixings in one end of each:

DSCF6011

The hoop is put together as a whole and then the fixing sections are drilled and tapped with the wheel completely assembled:

DSCF6010

Now the wheel can be assembled and bolted together. It’s worth checking now that the fit is tight enough. Try to hang from the top of the wheel with it all fixed together, the wheel should not flex or deform. It should take your weight easily as much more energy is put into the wheel when it is used.

DSCF6009

Putting the outer PVC hose on is a bit of a trial! I also had to sand the marks from the square formers used for rolling, hence the DA sander is out! I used heat and soapy water as well as attaching the hose to the air line and blocking off the other end of the wheel section. This was meant to create a cushion of air to ease fitting the hose, but the hose is a pretty tough nut to crack. Besides, it becomes hard on a large section to apply force the hose whilst steadying the wheel tube. In the end I did two pieces of hose (one from each end) on the sections of the first wheel! Trying to do it in one piece just wasn’t happening!

DSCF6012

After all this you’ll probably find you’ve got one happy Fiance, but you’ve also made the wheel a bit small and so need to make another one. Luckily you’ve learnt from the first one and will make the second one even better! 😀

And finally we’ve got the rest of the hose on and Donna has booked a Cyr wheel workshop for October 2013 so she’s been getting in some initial practice. Although here she’s making it tougher by using flip-flops! This is when the wheel first made it home in a complete form. The trouble with finishing the wheel was getting married and buying a house took precedence!

DonnaCyr

Update 12/10/2013

Thank-you so much to the guy’s at Torwood Wheeler’s! We had a brilliant time at your wheeling workshop. It was awesome to see so many talented people essentially giving up their time and so enthusiastically teaching others! We could have had a better time, it was awesome. Roll on your next event!

Anyway, whilst we were there we got a few video’s and photo’s of Donna learning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

44 thoughts on “Making a Cyr Wheel

    1. Brian_S Post author

      Hi Rupert,

      I think raw material cost was about £50 or so. But if your Uncle’s a welder he’ll presumably be able to source it cheaper. Rolling the material will probably cost around £50 too if he needs to outsource that.

      Best Regards, Brian.

    1. Brian_S Post author

      Hi Sara,

      I think around £70 or so. But it depends on whether you need to get the tube rolled by someone else or not. That’ll probably be another £50 or so. If you can do everything yourself, it’s just the cost of materials.

    1. Brian_S Post author

      Hi Richie,

      We used a 5mm hose thickness. I think 3mm is a bit thin, but it may be okay for you. You can always fit it and try it and then cut it off and fit some thicker to try it instead.

      Best Regards, Brian.

  1. Luke

    Hello Brian

    Thanks for the last reply on where to find the pole. Unfortunately because I am 6 foot I need a pole that is almost 6m meters long and struggling to source this anywhere at the moment.

    I was just wondering what your thoughts would be if I was to make my wheel by bending the individual parts separately, rather than bending the whole circle as I won’t have enough length?

    Have you tried this and do you think it would affect the structure of the wheel?

    Your feedback is much appreciated

    Cheers

    Luke

    1. Brian_S Post author

      Hi Luke,

      Perhaps I didn’t make that clear above, but the one I made for Donna was rolled from three pieces, it was not once rolled piece that we then divided.

      Virtually all wheels come apart into 3 or more pieces. Some are 5-piece in an attempt to make them even more portable. The next one I’ll make for Donna will be aluminium again and will use machined pins to join the sections together. The tube-inside-tube method I did here worked okay, but could definitely be improved upon!

      Most wheels are made from stainless steel by the way. The advantages and disadvantages to each. The steel ones are really heavy, but continue momentum really well. The aluminium ones are a lot lighter but require greater effort to keep momentum.

      Good luck anyway! 😀

      1. Luke

        Thanks Brian, Its really nice and refreshing to have some genuine help 🙂
        I have been performing for 10 years with lots of different equipment and found that my style suits heavier pieces of equipment so I think I will go for steel. I am hoping to pick this up pretty quick and move it into my festival shows at the end of this season so I will be sure to post you a video link. If you want to see any of my other stuff you can look up “Luke Harries” on you tube.

        One more question if you don’t mind. What do you mean by machined pins rather than inserts, how will this function?

        Once I have made the wheel, I will be looking at putting some LED lights on it. I am pretty savvy with electronics and RGB lights that I have used on my other equipment. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have if you want to add some to your Wheel.

        Thanks again

        Luke

        1. Luke

          Hey Brian.

          What machine did you use to bend the metal?

          I have spent ages trying to source someone who can do it for me but now I think I am going to buy something to do it myself.

          Thank you

          Luke

          1. Brian_S Post author

            Hi Luke,

            No problem, it can be a bit awkward finding local people sometimes. One of my friends is a fabricator and welder so he had the equipment to roll. We used a powered roller, like this: http://www.waspsupplies.com/ekmps/shops/waspsupplies/images/baileigh-r-m10-roll-bender-ring-roller-2094-p.jpg

            Rolling yourself is not impossible, but it’s quite a task. There’s a guy in America who has rolled his own and posted some videos on YouTube as well as having a few web pages about – it might be worth a Google.

            When I say I would use pins, I mean that I’d fit these types of fittings to join the three pieces of the wheel together: http://www.torwell.plus.com/torwood/joints.htm

            If you give those guys a ring they can supply you with the pins, or else you can get someone local to make them from their drawings.

            LEDs would be a great idea if you do a dark show. I think some sort of intensity and/or colour change connected to an accelerometer could be great! I’m an electronic engineer by day, so I’m always trying to get things packed with electronics! 😉

            Good Luck and let us know how you get on! I’ll hopefully do a new page soon when I build Donna’s replacement wheel.

  2. Hernan Sananes

    Hello my friend im from argentina and thanks to you ill do my own cyr wheel. But there is something i dont understand. Why if you say that Fedec says is recommended to use a grip between 40-50mm diameter of the tube you finally used 1 1/4″ (31.75mm)

    thanks a lot
    good vibs

    1. Brian_S Post author

      Hi Hernan,

      The PVC tube has a wall thickness of 5mm so the total outside dimension is 31.75 + 10 = ~42mm outside.

      The grip diameter will depend on the performers grip range. My wife’s petite so we’re closer to the smallest size in the their range, but it also feels fine for me too and I’m not so petite! 😉

      Best Regards, Brian.

    1. Brian_S Post author

      Hi Peter, you’re 1700mm – you’ll need to clear that by around 100-150mm inside the wheel, so the inside of the wheel needs to be around 1850, plus the width of the wheel material means you should be looking at a wheel that is around 1900mm. The important figure is the internal diameter which must be at least 100-150mm more than your height (with shoes on!).

      If you can, try a few wheel sizes out because it’s a reasonably personal decision, but you do need to at least be able to fit in it!

  3. Luke

    Hey Brian.

    Thanks for all the info.

    I managed to create my own wheel and I have also been attending sessions up with the Torwood wheelers.

    Here is my latest vid.

  4. Jacqueline Wilson

    Hey Brian,

    First of all, thanks for putting up this article! I’m looking for a friend who can help me out with this project.

    Any chance that you are willing to sell the first wheel that you made? I know that you mentioned you would be making a new one, so I’d be pretty interested in buying it.

    Let me know!

    Jackie

  5. Alexandre Junio

    Hello, I would love the help you guys if possible, I saw some videos related to cyr wheel and I was very interested in practicing this art, but unfortunately not found much here in Brazil, I wonder if you guys could give me some contact someone who I could buy the equipment nescessario or at least some tips on how to fabricate my own equipment if possible provide me such help would be very grateful, thank you!

    1. Brian_S Post author

      It depends, most wheels do not flex. Certainly the stainless steel versions definitely do not, they’re very solid. Some people don’t mind flex and can feel confident on a wheel that flexes whereas others find it disconcerting and so cannot use a wheel that flexes. It’s really how you feel on it that counts.

      I, for example, prefer a very flexible snowboard whereas some of my friends prefer very stiff boards. I’m quite happy with the board flexing under my feet so I can feel the ground and I’m not trying to go for all out speed, so that suits me.

  6. Cymon

    Hello I am in the process of making my first wheel and had a question about the tubing around the wheel. how do you travel with the wheel if the tubing is one long piece? Do you have to use tubing on your wheel?

    1. Ice Bringer

      one long piece of tubing isnt gonna be a good idea at all. a better option is cutting it into the number of pieces your gonna make the wheel from. example being 3 pieces of tubing for 3 pieces of the wheel that will join togather.

      1. Ice Bringer

        also the tubing is needed for grip on concrete and such and to keep the scuffs of from you actual wheel. its always a good tip i give to others to coat the wheel with paint, powdercoat, ect, to keep the tube from slipping

  7. darren purcell

    I live in Orange County Ca. Does anyone have a wheel that they are not using or is not strong enough? I need one for my golf swing. It does not have to be strong enough to hold a person. I need at least 6.5 feet diameter. Thanks Darren

  8. Chi Huo Cheng

    Hello,

    If your tube is OD is 31.75mm and your ID of the hosing is 38mm is there a 6.25mm gap between the hosing and tubing or did you used diffent tubing/hosing.

    Kind regards, Chi Cheng

  9. Lisa Scullard

    Brilliant post, thanks for sharing and all the pics and video – will have to try and sneak one through my local college’s workshop where my daughter is studying Engineering, as one of her projects 😀

  10. Tao

    i just wanted to stop by and say thank you for the valuable information . we are a street artist collective from Morocco , and this will be helpful for us to construct our own wheels. thank you again.

  11. Michal_l

    Hi Brian,
    Firs of all, thanks for the essential Information!
    Secondly, i started to build my wheel and i have 2 problems, 1. its too light (because i use’d Aluminum), how can i make it heavier?
    2. The outside diameter is 41 mm, so i can’t find PVC that fit this size (i didn’t think of this before i made the wheel), i found PVC with 37 mm or 50 mm (inside diameter)… annoying… so my question is can i use PVC that stick to the pipe? its very thin PVC… or if you have any other idea what to do…
    Thanks!!

    1. Sagemcshane

      Is there a chance I could buy one from you!_ would love to make my own, but have no idea how or where to work any of the magic you did here!!

  12. Colette

    Hi I’m a mom desperately looking for a Cyr wheel for her daughter she goes to the school of acrobatics and new Circus arts performance with the cirrus team and would love to make cyr her skill. But she is only 410 and still growing and it’s hard to find a wheel to fit her at a good price because I know I will have to buy two wondering if you’re up for a job since you’ve made one for your wife In the past, I am having a hard time finding someone in Seattle to make it for me let me know thanks a bunch, Colette

Leave a Reply