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Old 02-01-07, 08:36 PM   #1
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Machine built wheel - why not???

I understand the desirability of a custom built wheel with selected products but if a machine built wheel is round and true, what is wrong with a machine built wheel? If I had a custom wheel built with exactly the same components as a machine built wheel (round and true), what would be the argument that the custom wheel is better????? Also, if I bought a machine built wheel that might not be perfectly round & true but I tuned it up to make it round/true, how is that any different from a custom built wheel?

I am asking because I expect to soon buy new wheels (nothing exotic) and I am trying to understand why I should pay a premium for custom built wheels when the wheel I am most likey to buy also comes as a stock wheel set which is most likely machine built....which I can tweek after I get it if necessary.
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Old 02-01-07, 08:39 PM   #2
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Because the machines aren't good enough yet. Technically a machine can build a better wheel faster if it were designed properly.
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Old 02-01-07, 08:46 PM   #3
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Handbuilt vs. machine built from the Rodriguez Bicycles site.

http://www.rodcycle.com/articles/wheels.html
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Old 02-01-07, 08:46 PM   #4
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Generally speaking, you can buy pre-built wheels, most of which are probably built by machines, for quite a bit less money than you'll spend if you buy the parts of the wheel separately. That's the main advantage, in my opinion. From there, my experience has been that pre-built wheels have about a 50-50 chance of being true and tensioned properly right out of the box. I've bought several of these pre-built wheelsets, and when I do I factor in the fact that there's a good chance I'll need to re-tension the wheel (and of course true it) before it's ready to ride. If nothing else, it's the cheapest way to buy the parts-
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Old 02-01-07, 08:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by well biked
Generally speaking, you can buy pre-built wheels, most of which are probably built by machines, for quite a bit less money than you'll spend if you buy the parts of the wheel separately. That's the main advantage, in my opinion. From there, my experience has been that pre-built wheels have about a 50-50 chance of being true and tensioned properly right out of the box. I've bought several of these pre-built wheelsets, and when I do I factor in the fact that there's a good chance I'll need to re-tension the wheel (and of course true it) before it's ready to ride. If nothing else, it's the cheapest way to buy the parts-
+1

It's cheaper to buy the pre-built wheels rather than the hubs, rims, spokes, nipples, etc., individually. It's then not that big a deal to true, tension, and stress-relieve them since they're probably pretty close out of the box.
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Old 02-01-07, 09:00 PM   #6
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I opt to get machine built wheels then have them stress relived and tensioned my by LBS
I still save a boatload of money when I purchase wheels and the LBS only charges me $30.00 or so
so for $150 I can have a wheelset that is perfect for me as compared to 2.5X that much for them to be handbuilt and probably offer me nothing more in terms of stability or durability
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Old 02-01-07, 09:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoKrpan
Handbuilt vs. machine built from the Rodriguez Bicycles site.

The Rodriguez site provided an interesting view point about machine built wheels I had not realized. He highlights that spoke tension in machine built wheels is not uniformly appled around the wheel during buildup. It is applied in a way that caused the wheel to assume an oval shape before all spokes are fully tensioned and the rim is back to round. This out-of-round condition during build up can harm the wheel and reduce its life. If this is typical for all machine built wheels and his assertions about stress cracks is true, that is a strong reason to lean toward a custom built wheel.
Anyone know if this is a common process in all machine built wheels?
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Old 02-01-07, 10:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Scooper
+1

It's cheaper to buy the pre-built wheels rather than the hubs, rims, spokes, nipples, etc., individually. It's then not that big a deal to true, tension, and stress-relieve them since they're probably pretty close out of the box.
+1 to that. If you have access to a tensionmeter and truing stand there's no reason to pay extravagant prices for a "hand built" wheel.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:29 PM   #9
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once you learn to build your own the answers to these questions become self evident.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:35 PM   #10
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I just wonder why the machines aren't made to build the wheels better. Is it, like so many other things, because pennies can be saved doing the job half-assed? The higher-quality product isn't noticed by the majority of people, and the company doesn't have the pride to do it right anyway?
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Old 02-02-07, 12:06 AM   #11
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i'd much rather have average machine built wheel that's hand finished by a competent wheelbuilder than a poorly assembled hand built wheel.

further, i think unless you know the wheelbuilder and he's good you're better off getting a hand tensioned machine built wheel.

i've ridden plenty of both

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Old 02-02-07, 12:55 AM   #12
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If the wheels you want are available machine built, get the machine built ones. You can always retrue and tension them if needed. Some of us just have different specs in mind (rims, hubs, spokes, etc.), which aren't available in machine built. Also, some of us just like knowing we accomplished something.
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Old 02-02-07, 03:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooper
+1

It's cheaper to buy the pre-built wheels rather than the hubs, rims, spokes, nipples, etc., individually. It's then not that big a deal to true, tension, and stress-relieve them since they're probably pretty close out of the box.
+2 to that.
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Old 02-02-07, 04:17 AM   #14
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Not saying hand made wheels aren't preferable. But, should one test the spoke tension of both kinds of wheels; are they not the same. ? Is that not the ultimate indicator of a perfectly made wheel. ?
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Old 02-02-07, 05:55 AM   #15
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I'd say a vast majority of the 'out of a box' bikes out there have machine built wheels. Most likely they're machine built bikes too.

I saw this video a while back that took you on a tour of a bicycle assembly line. Everything from cutting the tubes, jiging up and welding it up are all done by machine.

The wheel building part was amazing! From what I recall the hoop is held in three or four places and these armatures come up the center and place all the spokes while an arry of nipple holder/drivers sets the nipples and gave the spoke initial tension.

From there it went to an automated truing stand which spun the wheel briefly and registered sopkes that needed adjustment a few back & forth shuffles and the wheel was spun again for verification then moved along the line.

I agree theres nothing like building you own wheels, paying someone to do it for you can be prohibitive. As with anything we put on our bkies, a machine built wheel should be checked for function befor being placed into service.
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Old 02-02-07, 07:26 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stacey
I'd say a vast majority of the 'out of a box' bikes out there have machine built wheels. Most likely they're machine built bikes too.

I saw this video a while back that took you on a tour of a bicycle assembly line. Everything from cutting the tubes, jiging up and welding it up are all done by machine.

The wheel building part was amazing! From what I recall the hoop is held in three or four places and these armatures come up the center and place all the spokes while an arry of nipple holder/drivers sets the nipples and gave the spoke initial tension.

From there it went to an automated truing stand which spun the wheel briefly and registered sopkes that needed adjustment a few back & forth shuffles and the wheel was spun again for verification then moved along the line.

I agree theres nothing like building you own wheels, paying someone to do it for you can be prohibitive. As with anything we put on our bkies, a machine built wheel should be checked for function befor being placed into service.

I would love to see that video. Do you remember where you saw it?
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Old 02-02-07, 08:10 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by blamp28
I would love to see that video. Do you remember where you saw it?
I saw it on the Discovery Channel's "How It's Made" show. A fascinating program about assembly lines and factories for a wide range of everyday products.
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Old 02-02-07, 08:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slvoid
Because the machines aren't good enough yet.
Some are. Wheelsmith wheels are machine built and they are both accurately true and properly tensioned and stress relieved. It can be done.

As to "prebuilt" wheels, I've had excellent results with Colorado Cyclist wheels. They are apparently machine built but final truing and tensioning are done by hand. CC offers a wide range of hubs, rims and spokes at prices an individual can't come close to.

I've also heard good things about the wheels built by Excel Sports but I have no personal experience with them.
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Old 02-02-07, 08:27 AM   #19
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Yes, exactly, that's where it was!
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Old 02-02-07, 08:34 AM   #20
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QBP offers handbuilt wheels thru their catalog. talk to your local bike shop.
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Old 02-02-07, 09:00 AM   #21
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I saw it on the Discovery Channel's "How It's Made" show. A fascinating program about assembly lines and factories for a wide range of everyday products.
THANKS!! I love shows like that and I've been trying to catch something on wheel building for a while now. I found it online at http://dsc.discovery.com/tvlistings/...=0&channel=DSC It is airing three times this month on discovery. FEB 09 2007 @ 09:00 AM, FEB 09 2007
@ 05:00 PM and FEB 16 2007 @ 12:00 PM All times are eastern.
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Old 02-02-07, 09:03 AM   #22
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For the record, I'm with the majority here. I will not ride on a machine built wheel - - with a caveat. I do buy them and re-tension them myself. There is just no cheaper way to get a good quality wheel. That said, I will be building a set from scratch this spring because I can't find the combo of components I'm looking for in a pre built wheel.
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Old 02-02-07, 09:05 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blamp28
I would love to see that video. Do you remember where you saw it?
There are some videos on the Holland Mechanics site (they make wheel building machines)

http://www.hollandmechanics.com/

Look through the machines (lots of them) and pick out some videos for lacing, truing and stressing. These things can do up to 55 wheels per hour!
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Old 02-02-07, 09:59 AM   #24
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Same difference as an original painting and a print.
Same difference as a custom built automobile and an assembly version.
Same difference as Lance's hand built racing bike and the store bought version.

Will the machine built version be adequate. Probably, given the retension/retrue clause.
How good do you want it to be?
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Old 02-02-07, 10:20 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGreen3
There are some videos on the Holland Mechanics site (they make wheel building machines)

http://www.hollandmechanics.com/

Look through the machines (lots of them) and pick out some videos for lacing, truing and stressing. These things can do up to 55 wheels per hour!

Thanks!! That was cool! Now I'm sure I like the hand built stuff.
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