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Old 02-14-08, 11:49 AM   #1
quester
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How to identify a master wheel-builder?

I want to have a bomb-proof 48-spoke wheel built, but most LBS's seem to be populated mainly by callow youths, and I'm not going to throw hundreds of dollars at a single wheel unless I know that the builder is very good.

So, any suggestions to ask at the LBS in order to identify whether their main wheel builder is really good?

Thanks,
pete
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Old 02-14-08, 12:05 PM   #2
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Have you thought building it yourself? My very first wheelset that I built was a 40 spoke set for my tandem. I had no problem with my wheels.
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Old 02-14-08, 12:10 PM   #3
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I want to have a bomb-proof 48-spoke wheel built, but most LBS's seem to be populated mainly by callow youths, and I'm not going to throw hundreds of dollars at a single wheel unless I know that the builder is very good.

So, any suggestions to ask at the LBS in order to identify whether their main wheel builder is really good?

Thanks,
pete
Try this gentleman:-

http://www.youngwheels.com/

He has a great reputation.
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Old 02-14-08, 12:11 PM   #4
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I think there are a few people -- names can be found on this forum -- who have a GREAT reputation, in the community, as excellent wheelbuilders.

I, for instance, would not hesitate to use Peter Chisholm (Vecchios, in Boulder), or Peter White Cycles, for example.

As to local .... IMHO .... the diff is probably nothing more than the cost of UPS/FedEx Ground shipping -- pretty cheap. The guys with the great rep's really don't seem to be expensive.

Good luck, either way!
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Old 02-14-08, 12:13 PM   #5
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What do you want to use it for?

To build a 48 spoke wheel you're probably talking tandem stuff. Most tandem hubs are designed to work with 145mm dropouts.

There's nothing particularly difficult about building a 48 spoke wheel other than the fact that it takes longer because - well - there's more spokes to tighten.

The good news is a 48 spoke wheel is MUCH more tolerant of broken spokes and the like because there are more spokes to share the load. Several years ago I was checking out the rear wheel on my tandem after completing a ride. I found 3 broken spokes and I had no idea how or when they broke. You can't do that with a low spoke count wheel.
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Old 02-14-08, 12:53 PM   #6
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Old 02-14-08, 01:04 PM   #7
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mrbubl? Why DO you "give kids trouble?"

I've always wondered about that.....
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Old 02-14-08, 03:30 PM   #8
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What do you want to use it for?

To build a 48 spoke wheel you're probably talking tandem stuff. Most tandem hubs are designed to work with 145mm dropouts.

There's nothing particularly difficult about building a 48 spoke wheel other than the fact that it takes longer because - well - there's more s
I want to use the wheel on a ~2000 mile fully loaded tour, and I'm ~250lbs. I did build my own wheel once, and even road probably 1500 miles on it. However, one less thing to worry about while on tour.

But sure, let's assume I want to build this myself, hopefully for under US $200. Any suggestions for:
- hubs (not phil wood, too expensive)
- rims
- spokes?

135mm dropouts.
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Old 02-14-08, 03:41 PM   #9
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I want to have a bomb-proof 48-spoke wheel built, but most LBS's seem to be populated mainly by callow youths, and I'm not going to throw hundreds of dollars at a single wheel unless I know that the builder is very good.

So, any suggestions to ask at the LBS in order to identify whether their main wheel builder is really good?

Thanks,
pete
1) You are ageist
2) It's not about what questions to ask. It's about word of mouth and how a certain wheelbuilders wheels have held up over time. Someone that has built wheels for messengers, racers, touring riders are a good candidate.

Oh wait nevermind, i'm just a callow youth. Disregard. Feel free to waste your LBS's time on pointless questions in a pointless quest to determine whether or not a specific wheelbuilder is good.
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Old 02-14-08, 03:45 PM   #10
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I don't think you're going to find any cheap 48h hubs less than 145mm OLD.

I'd just build with 36h Velocity Deep-Vs. That wheelset will last you 30,000+ miles, even if you re-shape potholes on every ride. Use loose-ball shimano MTB hubs (LX or something) and they'll last long enough for your great-grandkids if you clean and/or replace the bearings every 6 months.
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Old 02-14-08, 04:05 PM   #11
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I don't think you're going to find any cheap 48h hubs less than 145mm OLD.

I'd just build with 36h Velocity Deep-Vs. That wheelset will last you 30,000+ miles, even if you re-shape potholes on every ride. Use loose-ball shimano MTB hubs (LX or something) and they'll last long enough for your great-grandkids if you clean and/or replace the bearings every 6 months.
Great advice. Thick, heavy rims like that make wheelbuilding a bit easier since the rim itself will do more work to keep the wheel true and round. Plus, all the cool dudes will admire your wheelset.

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Old 02-14-08, 05:23 PM   #12
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I always thought of myself as a callow old guy.

As for determining whether a wheelbuilder has a good reputation, ask your riding buddies or call a local club. They should have the scoop on who the local talent is.
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Old 02-14-08, 05:28 PM   #13
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I don't think you're going to find any cheap 48h hubs less than 145mm OLD.

I'd just build with 36h Velocity Deep-Vs. That wheelset will last you 30,000+ miles, even if you re-shape potholes on every ride. Use loose-ball shimano MTB hubs (LX or something) and they'll last long enough for your great-grandkids if you clean and/or replace the bearings every 6 months.
Close - but for a super durable wheelset I'd recommend Velocity Dyads. I built a set last spring to use on my tandem. They were the 2 best wheelbuilds that I've ever done. One wheel, after tensioning, required only minor side-to-side trueing, the other required none at all. By all of the accounts that I've read the Dyads are very durable rims.
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Old 02-14-08, 05:56 PM   #14
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Dyads set to xt hubs in 36' will be fine for any tour and any civilized country. are you 700c or 26"
I am also 240+ and use an lx set w alex adventurer rims for about five years now ,my last set of tour wheels held up under me and a hundred pounds worth of camp gear was an lx hub w/ mavic 231's in 36' lasted two tours of US several thousand miles in 3 season conditions. 48 is overkill for any but a tandem and most tandems are going to lower spoke wheels with a lot of materials science in the last ten years rims and hubs have advanced alot .
my 2 centavos.
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Old 02-14-08, 06:06 PM   #15
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1) You are ageist
2) It's not about what questions to ask. It's about word of mouth and how a certain wheelbuilders wheels have held up over time. Someone that has built wheels for messengers, racers, touring riders are a good candidate.

Oh wait nevermind, i'm just a callow youth. Disregard. Feel free to waste your LBS's time on pointless questions in a pointless quest to determine whether or not a specific wheelbuilder is good.
Though you seem to have embraced the term, I have not claimed that all youth are callow, only that those in the local bike shop seem to be.

Last edited by quester; 02-14-08 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 02-14-08, 06:08 PM   #16
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Close - but for a super durable wheelset I'd recommend Velocity Dyads. I built a set last spring to use on my tandem. They were the 2 best wheelbuilds that I've ever done. One wheel, after tensioning, required only minor side-to-side trueing, the other required none at all. By all of the accounts that I've read the Dyads are very durable rims.
My current rims are the stock 36h Alex Adventurers that come on LHT completes these days. The Dyad rim would be enough stronger to warrant rebuilding just for the rim, even though nothing else changes? What about spokes, are there any that are significantly stronger than others?
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Old 02-14-08, 06:20 PM   #17
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1) You are ageist
2) It's not about what questions to ask. It's about word of mouth and how a certain wheelbuilders wheels have held up over time. Someone that has built wheels for messengers, racers, touring riders are a good candidate.

Oh wait nevermind, i'm just a callow youth. Disregard. Feel free to waste your LBS's time on pointless questions in a pointless quest to determine whether or not a specific wheelbuilder is good.


When I last worked at a bike shop, I was the only person other than the owner who knew how to build a wheel from scratch. I just think the fact that pre-built wheels are so affordable and reliable that there's no incentive for many people to learn how to build wheels. I think that's just fact.

I learned how to take apart a wheel and rebuild it at 15, I'm now almost 35. I've had lots of joy in building my wheels, and will hopefully continue to do so. I read Jobst's book, it was very helpful.

I suppose it's one of those things that never intimidated me, so I jumped in head first!

Cheers

Dave
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Old 02-14-08, 06:45 PM   #18
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When I last worked at a bike shop, I was the only person other than the owner who knew how to build a wheel from scratch. I just think the fact that pre-built wheels are so affordable and reliable that there's no incentive for many people to learn how to build wheels. I think that's just fact.

I learned how to take apart a wheel and rebuild it at 15, I'm now almost 35. I've had lots of joy in building my wheels, and will hopefully continue to do so. I read Jobst's book, it was very helpful.

I suppose it's one of those things that never intimidated me, so I jumped in head first!

Cheers

Dave
I did actually build a wheel once, and took it on a week-long tour w/ no issues. It probably lasted another thousand miles before cracks appeared int the rim (oops). Since the upcoming tour will be much longer....
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Old 02-14-08, 07:41 PM   #19
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So, any suggestions to ask at the LBS in order to identify whether their main wheel builder is really good?

Thanks,
pete
A good builder will tension balance the wheel and give you written documentation of all of the individual spokes tension and then show you some of the readings.
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Old 02-14-08, 07:49 PM   #20
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Old 02-14-08, 09:31 PM   #21
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I think there are a few people -- names can be found on this forum -- who have a GREAT reputation, in the community, as excellent wheelbuilders.

I, for instance, would not hesitate to use Peter Chisholm (Vecchios, in Boulder), or Peter White Cycles, for example.

As to local .... IMHO .... the diff is probably nothing more than the cost of UPS/FedEx Ground shipping -- pretty cheap. The guys with the great rep's really don't seem to be expensive.

Good luck, either way!
The big difference in going local is service. When I build a wheel for a customer I guarantee the wheel, just like the online guys, and true/ re-tension the wheel free of charge for the first year if needed. The customer has a face to talk to instead of emails or a phone. Most of all, you can support your local shop and build community if you go local.
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Old 02-14-08, 09:45 PM   #22
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The big difference in going local is service. When I build a wheel for a customer I guarantee the wheel, just like the online guys, and true/ re-tension the wheel free of charge for the first year if needed. The customer has a face to talk to instead of emails or a phone. Most of all, you can support your local shop and build community if you go local.
I agree with the last part, though others may or may not, but ... as to the first part ... everybody that I've heard from/of that's bought their wheels from the two builders that I mentioned .... hasn't needed true/re-tension unless they badly biffed their bike.

For years. Seriously.

With no disrespect to YOU, YOUR shop, or YOUR skills, per se, it's the old "I'd rather have a good car than a good warranty."

There may BE an LBS nearby .... for whomever ... that can do a quality job ... but it wouldn't be my first preference to shop ... unless my local peeps could assure me that an artist was nearby.

As I said, for the general LBS vs. online/non-local, I'm with you.
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Old 02-14-08, 10:06 PM   #23
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When I last worked at a bike shop, I was the only person other than the owner who knew how to build a wheel from scratch. I just think the fact that pre-built wheels are so affordable and reliable that there's no incentive for many people to learn how to build wheels. I think that's just fact.

I learned how to take apart a wheel and rebuild it at 15, I'm now almost 35. I've had lots of joy in building my wheels, and will hopefully continue to do so. I read Jobst's book, it was very helpful.

I suppose it's one of those things that never intimidated me, so I jumped in head first!

Cheers

Dave
I'm taking a 2 day wheel building class at the local co-op next week, and I'm 47! Never too late to learn...
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Old 02-15-08, 01:40 AM   #24
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Vecchios here in Boulder, CO is a good one. If you look for something in your area then ask where they were trained. A builder who has the DT Swiss Masterbuilder logo or if the machanic has taken the UBI builder course is probably pretty good.
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Old 02-15-08, 06:25 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
1) You are ageist
2) It's not about what questions to ask. It's about word of mouth and how a certain wheelbuilders wheels have held up over time. Someone that has built wheels for messengers, racers, touring riders are a good candidate.

Oh wait nevermind, i'm just a callow youth. Disregard. Feel free to waste your LBS's time on pointless questions in a pointless quest to determine whether or not a specific wheelbuilder is good.
I agree with the recommendations for Vecchio's and Peter White not on having ridden their wheels, but just based on what I've read here and elsewhere, and on talking to them. Both had similar prices for me (well, White was higher), and both were extremely straightforward about what they would do and would not. Both asked me very relevant questions about me, how I ride, what I ride, and my intended usage. Both were very willing to discuss my questions about design and component choices, but not willing to do just anything I thought would be the optimum. Both have very stand-up warrantees.

However, a lifetime warrantee is not real useful if I have to ship a wheel or set 800 miles for truing or checking, and have my favorite bike down for a month.

I started looking for local people, and found two good candidates who behaved essentially as well as PC and PW and had the same guarantee. One local shop insisted on selling everyone straight guage spokes, which for me makes no sense at all, and hugely overcharging to support my request for butted spokes. They were out. Most other local shops wanted to sell me factory wheelsets at a lot more $$ than Peter White's handbuilt wheels.

I selected a local shop in town v. one 40 miles away due to convenience, and discovered a great new high-end LBS in the process. Got the wheels, but I haven't ridden them yet since I'm still building the bike.

By the way, this builder is about 24, has just finished his engineering degree, has an excellent understanding of wheel engineering, is now the service manager for this up and coming new shop, had his first child, is committed to remaining in cycling, loves wheels, and has constructed a test rig for measuring wheel stiffness. I found a good one, and if anyone in the Midwest wants to check it out, phone Great Lakes Cycles in Ann Arbor, MI, to speak to Steve. Or pm me.

The builder 40 miles away had different but sound ideas, huge depth of experience and is my age, but the distance factor was a key issue.

My recommendation: talk to the "experts" to see how the good guys do it, then see how that compares to local people available to you. You might be surprised and discover some fresh, original thinking.

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