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Old 03-15-06, 12:37 PM   #1
bobbotron
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Cost of hand building wheels

I've been learning to true wheels, and I was thinking of buying a rim, a front hub and some spokes and putting together a front wheel. I asked a LBS, and they said it was generally cheaper to buy a prebuilt wheel. I was wondering - is buy all of the components of a wheel and doing it yourself generally a lot more expensive than buying a prebuilt wheel?
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Old 03-15-06, 12:49 PM   #2
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Depends on whether you are willing to utilize used parts or if you prefer all new.
No wheel builder stocks a 36h 3L-3F wheel so if you want one you have to do it yourself.

I once found an aero-rim wheel with a stripped hub. I cut a blue anodized (matched my bike) hub from a BMX bike, bought some bladed spokes and built the wheel.

Enjoy
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Old 03-15-06, 01:04 PM   #3
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Agreed, you generally only save money when you have one of the three components already
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Old 03-15-06, 01:22 PM   #4
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If you have high quality hubs already, you may save some money buying rims and spokes. Otherwise, prebuilt wheels are almost always cheaper for the same quality.

The only justifications for starting from scratch are that you want the experience and enjoyment of doing it yourself or there is no commercial wheel that meets your requirements.
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Old 03-15-06, 01:25 PM   #5
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<i>want the experience and enjoyment of doing it yourself</i>

That's it exactly. I get a real kick from doing things myself, I thought it would be fun to learn. However, I don't have a ton of money to kick around, I think I may end up just getting a new rim and using it with the hub and spokes I already have as the rim is getting pretty worn from winter riding, but the hub and spokes are pretty decent.
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Old 03-15-06, 01:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbotron
<i>want the experience and enjoyment of doing it yourself</i>

That's it exactly. I get a real kick from doing things myself, I thought it would be fun to learn. However, I don't have a ton of money to kick around, I think I may end up just getting a new rim and using it with the hub and spokes I already have as the rim is getting pretty worn from winter riding, but the hub and spokes are pretty decent.
Reusing the spokes isn't a good idea, but I have been building wheels with hubs that are decades old.
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Old 03-15-06, 01:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbotron
I've been learning to true wheels, and I was thinking of buying a rim, a front hub and some spokes and putting together a front wheel. I asked a LBS, and they said it was generally cheaper to buy a prebuilt wheel. I was wondering - is buy all of the components of a wheel and doing it yourself generally a lot more expensive than buying a prebuilt wheel?
I was thinking the same thing. Colorado Cyclist is selling Campy Record wheels with Mavic OP rims for about $399 plus shipping. I can't buy the parts for that little. Add labor and it is way cheaper to buy prebuilt wheels. Good luck

Tim
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Old 03-15-06, 02:01 PM   #8
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Ah man, and here I was hoping to be thrifty and save money by building it myself. Ah well.
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Old 03-15-06, 02:05 PM   #9
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Also, even if you want to BYO for the experience of it, and you're not talking about $$$ wheels, buying completes and then just backing off the tension and starting over doing things right can be a good idea. You get the combo price, you skip the PITA of lacing (which is only a learning experience the first time you do a pattern), and you end up with a really well-done hand-built wheel, assuming your kung-fu is strong.
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Old 03-15-06, 02:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Landgolier
Also, even if you want to BYO for the experience of it, and you're not talking about $$$ wheels, buying completes and then just backing off the tension and starting over doing things right can be a good idea. You get the combo price, you skip the PITA of lacing (which is only a learning experience the first time you do a pattern), and you end up with a really well-done hand-built wheel, assuming your kung-fu is strong.

A friend of mine suggested I do this, it's a good idea. Ha, my kung fu is still getting there. I don't find wheel building to be too tough, I've had good luck with it so far.
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Old 03-16-06, 06:34 AM   #11
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The main reason that you can buy built wheels cheaper than building them yourself is economies of scale.

Also, Jobst Brandt says it's okay to build a wheel with used spokes, as long as the spokes are high-quailty. He doesn't give any qualifications here, either. (I was reading The Bicycle Wheel last night before bed. Really.) It's on pgs 80-81 in the 3rd edition:
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Stainless steel spokes are more durable and reliable than plated spokes, but their main advantage is that they remain clean and bright and permit retruing after long exposure to weather. Plated spokes often rust solid into the spoke nipples. They eventually break at the nipple, either in use or when attempting to turn the nipple. On the other hand, good stainless steel spokes can and should be reused when a rim wears out or is damaged.
This makes me feel better, a fair bit, because I trust Jobst's engineering-mind on something like this, and I just rebuilt a wheel with a new rim, but the same hub and spokes. Built it well, mind you, to where I didn't expect problems even before reading Jobst's bit.
My take is that the build-with-new-spokes-every-time came up becacuse
(1) spokes are usually the cheapest part of the job
(2) if the wheel was poorly built before, especially too loose (in all or some spokes), then spokes may be well along in fatiguing. But if the wheel was well-built before, or if the spokes were too highly tensioned so the rim failed by cracking, then things are probably okay.
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Old 03-16-06, 09:33 AM   #12
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I took up wheel building because I hated seeing my beautiful old Miche hubs sitting on a pair of busted up rims.

I think rebuilding the hubs cost me what a decent wheel would cost.

But I finally lost my (ignorance-based) fear of wheel truing. I also take a special pleasure in the bikes I've built from the rims on up.
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Old 03-16-06, 10:34 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by timcupery
My take is that the build-with-new-spokes-every-time came up becacuse
(1) spokes are usually the cheapest part of the job
(2) if the wheel was poorly built before, especially too loose (in all or some spokes), then spokes may be well along in fatiguing. But if the wheel was well-built before, or if the spokes were too highly tensioned so the rim failed by cracking, then things are probably okay.
My vote is for (3): Unless you use the exact same model of rim the effective rim diameter will likely be changed and spoke length requirement will differ.
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Old 03-16-06, 10:36 AM   #14
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You wont save any money building your first 3 or 4 wheel sets because their is the learning curve to consider and time is money (whether you charge your self or not), but also because their is an initial investment in tools. You will need quality spoke wrenches, spoke prep, a dishing tool and a truing stand plus any tools you donít already have to assemble your rear hub.

Those of us (Iím really only speaking for myself) who build all their own wheels donít do it to save money. Itís done because we can, and because we like too.

Building wheels is like tying flies, if you can relate to that. Sure you can buy them pre-made but if you want them to be just so for the specific type of service you plan to press them into who better to create them? It brings you one step closer to groking the bike.
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Old 03-16-06, 10:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
My vote is for (3): Unless you use the exact same model of rim the effective rim diameter will likely be changed and spoke length requirement will differ.
Yeah, I built with a Sun M13II replacing a Mavic MA40, and their ERD's are close enough (2mm difference, so, 1mm on each side) that it worked fine.
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