Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 26
  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    22
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    How to sell custom bicycle wheels?

    Hi all,
    I bought a used road bike on craigslist 2 years ago for $150, equipped with 24 speed sora. I recently upgraded the drivetrain to microshift/105 20 speed. Doing that, i decided i wanted to turn my bike into a bit of a project. I'm about to buy parts to make a wheelset. Before hand i took apart the wheelset that was on the bike and rebuilt it a few times as practice, and in the end I always got it nice and true.

    However, after I build my wheelset I'll probably be a bit low on bicycle funds, but I wanted to try my hand at building a CF frame. Since my wheels came out well, I figured it just might be possible to build wheels for people to make money, so i could have fun while at it. I'm not quite 16 yet, so I do not have a job.

    Disregarding my age, how does one go about making bicycle wheels for people? I often see people on the forums claiming they've built up wheels for customers. I they just professional builders? If not, how do people advertise themselves?

    Lastly, how much would the fact that I'm just 15 affect my credibility?

    I know this might seem pretty out there, but there always a chance, right?
    Last edited by CaptainMalick98; 07-15-14 at 03:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Mid Willamette Valley, Orygun
    My Bikes
    86 RockHopper,2008 Specialized Globe. Both upgraded to 9 speeds.
    Posts
    7,022
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Can you afford to "eat" your mistakes?
    What happens if you order the wrong spokes? Can you afford to sit on them until you have a chance to use them?

    IF people pay you to build a wheel for them, they are going to expect perfection, even if they have you build a wheel for them that will likely fail. Do you have the back ground to know what DOESN'T work?

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    22
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I could afford to "eat" mistakes, and since I'd be starting out, I'd stick to alloy rims with less expensive hubs in case i completely mess something up. I don't have my own background to know what works or what doesn't, so I'd just feeding off of the experience of more experienced builders, reading guides, and I will most likely take a wheel building class.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    St Peters, Missouri
    My Bikes
    Rans Enduro Sport, Hase Kettweisel Tandem, Merin Bear Valley beater bike
    Posts
    23,822
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Look up a commercially built wheelset of your choice. Now price out what you'd have to pay for rims, spokes and hubs to duplicate that wheelset. Consider what your time is worth.

    I assume that if you could buy components in large enough quantities you could get discounts to match the commercial builders' costs. To sell wheels in quantities, however, you'll have to establish a marketing program. There are lots of folks who will be willing to take your advertising money and they'll promise you the world but they won't offer any guarantees.

    I don't like sounding so gloomy, but I don't think stand alone wheel building is a very promising business plan.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Oakmont, PA
    Posts
    124
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    How many bike shops are there in your area? Maybe go around and tell each owner/manager that you really like building wheels and would like to pick up any extra work they need to have done. You'd have to prove that you can be trusted, but if you do great work and are reliable and reasonable, you may be able to establish a local reputation and build from there.

  6. #6
    自転車整備士 oldskoolwrench's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Denver, Colorado USA
    My Bikes
    '86 Moots Mountaineer, '94 Salsa Ala Carte, '94 S-Works FSR, 1983 Trek 600 & 620
    Posts
    900
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Captain,

    Bill Kapaun has made some very valid points; another thing to consider is this: What if a wheel that you built fails catastrophically, and injures the rider? That could have potentially devastating consequences.

    You're on the right track with your desire to learn, and a wheelbuilding class is a step in the right direction. You might also pick up a copy of The Bicycle Wheel, by Jobst Brandt. It's considered by many to be the standard text on the science behind how a bicycle wheel works. I bet your library might have it.

    Keep on practicing; there isn't a better test subject than yourself. Build up a wheel from scratch, and ride on it. Hammer it hard; try to make it fail. If it does, examine the wheel closely. Are any spokes loose? What side? Is the rim twisted from excess force, or did it lose tension? Those are some of the questions one asks when examining a wheel that's tweaked.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    22
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'll check out the book. In terms of costs of components I've already done calculations and don't think it will be too much if an issue. I am making my own set well before I sell to others. To test it, should i just ride aggressively, add weight, ride on rough terrain and sprint or things along those lines?

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY
    My Bikes
    too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
    Posts
    20,987
    Mentioned
    47 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by howellhandmade View Post
    How many bike shops are there in your area? Maybe go around and tell each owner/manager that you really like building wheels and would like to pick up any extra work they need to have done. You'd have to prove that you can be trusted, but if you do great work and are reliable and reasonable, you may be able to establish a local reputation and build from there.
    +1

    This is probably the best route starting out. The shop supplies the parts, and you build wheels on piecework providing only the labor. Many shops have mechanics working at capacity, so they're willing to farm out this to a reliable subcontractor.

    Another advantage of this method is you're operating under the shop's name and umbrella, and so insulated from things like product liability claims. As you build skill and something of a local reputation, you can then look for some more upscale build work, either for pro shops or directly on your own.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  9. #9
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    My Bikes
    Borealis Yampa, Ground Up Designs Ti Cross bike, Xtracycle, GT mod trials bike, pixie race machine
    Posts
    853
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Some good points above and a few other things to consider are how are you getting your parts? This is where working with a local shop could be a great help, especially if they will allow you to use their wholesale accounts for a percentage of the profits. Internet prices are next to impossible to compete with and there are a lot of genuinely really good products that can be had for pretty cheap online, people go hand built to know their wheels will be perfect and fit some very specific needs. Access to wholesale accounts is critical because many hubs people want to have their wheels built around are only available direct through the manufacturer, same goes for many rims.

    Most people looking to get a handbuilt wheelset are looking for something very specific or want the absolute best out there and there is really no margin for error so each and every wheel has to be perfect if you want to build a name for yourself and get people trusting your work. To get into the handbuilt wheel business chances are every wheel will be relatively high end so do not count on being able to start with cheaper wheels first.

    I think it is great to see younger riders excited about something that is a bit of a dying art like wheel building and I completely encourage you to pursue it. I do suggest trying to get a job in a bike shop to start, preferably at a shop with a good builder that way you get some hands on experience building wheels and also can see what products work and which do not. If anything you really can hone your skills working with wheels making less than ideal components work well, it is more often far more difficult to make something on its last leg rideable again than it is to build a perfect wheel with good and new parts.

    The other option to start out is if you have friends or family that may let you build some wheels for them to get some more experience.

    Either way best of luck!

    For what it is worth, I build wheels professionally and full time, on average I build 8-10 wheels a day at my "day job" as head builder for a bicycle manufacturer and then I have a side wheel building business building custom wheels, I have built wheels for everything from professional racers to round the world touring cyclists.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,055
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    given your age and experience
    the most realistic way to profit is going to be recycling cheap parts
    florescent spraypaint
    and putting up craigslist ads with the taglines 'fixie' and 'custom' in all caps

    a while back there was a trend for cheap dept store hybrids to have deep aero rims with an open spoke pattern
    capitalize on those, gold paint should go over well

  11. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    22
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Unfortunately I don't really have any bike shop that builds wheels near me, or that I could try and build wheels for. After lessons independent wheel building would be the only possibility due to school activities and transportation, so I guess this won't be possible. Unfortunate, better hope Baskin Robbins hires me .

  12. #12
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    My Bikes
    Borealis Yampa, Ground Up Designs Ti Cross bike, Xtracycle, GT mod trials bike, pixie race machine
    Posts
    853
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainMalick98 View Post
    Unfortunately I don't really have any bike shop that builds wheels near me, or that I could try and build wheels for. After lessons independent wheel building would be the only possibility due to school activities and transportation, so I guess this won't be possible. Unfortunate, better hope Baskin Robbins hires me .
    Where do you live?

    If a career in the bike industry is something you are interested in you can look at colleges in bike friendly cities, Minneapolis has a surprising number of big bike companies and a number of them looking for full time wheel builder positions. They pay in the bike world is not great but the perks more than make up for it!

  13. #13
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    The NC Mountains
    My Bikes
    Too many to list, all vintage
    Posts
    19,473
    Mentioned
    57 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainMalick98 View Post
    Unfortunately I don't really have any bike shop that builds wheels near me, or that I could try and build wheels for. After lessons independent wheel building would be the only possibility due to school activities and transportation, so I guess this won't be possible. Unfortunate, better hope Baskin Robbins hires me .
    Then use your skills to do something else. Maybe wheel building is out right now, try something else. Tip: Look at your market FIRST, to determine what you can sell/what services are in demand, and then pursue one of those markets.

    If you want to stay bicycle related, there are a lot of other things besides wheel building to consider.

    Good luck!!
    Last edited by wrk101; 07-15-14 at 11:04 PM.

  14. #14
    Mechanic/Tourist
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    My Bikes
    2008 Novara Randonee - love it. Would have more bikes if I had time to ride them all. Previous bikes: 1968 Motobecane Mirage, 1972 Moto Grand Jubilee (my fav), Jackson Rake 16, 1983 C'dale ST500.
    Posts
    4,942
    Mentioned
    5 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I don't think you yet have the experience or knowledge to start wheel building and being paid for it. In addition to needing more builds under your belt you need to know how to use a spoke tension gauge effectively, how to determine correct spoke length, how to choose straight vs. various double butted options, dealing with dishing issues, understanding how to tell if a rim you are building is defective, whether your build or an accident led to a wheel being out of true. Most shops would expect you to determine at least the spoke length and be familiar with a tension gauge.

    Finally, understand that building from scratch also takes a good bit of knowledge, about twice the cost of buying a bike already built and then changing out some components, and a huge amount of time, Doing so does not really do an efficient job of teaching you about bikes in general. If you want to do it as a "feel good" experience go for it.
    There's no such thing as a routine repair.

    Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

    If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

    Please take the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    NW,Oregon Coast
    My Bikes
    7
    Posts
    514
    Mentioned
    31 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I built for myself , then sold them on after using them a while, 2 long tours , so took the depreciation ..

    these were Loaded touring bike wheels , so There was not the price comparison with a wheel machine factory wheel .

    & I could honestly say they would be reliable since they were , already.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    491
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolwrench;16941527. . . another thing to consider is this: [I
    What if a wheel that you built fails catastrophically, and injures the rider?[/I] That could have potentially devastating consequences.
    Do not underestimate this. We (I assume you live in the US) live in a VERY litigious society. If you sell wheels to someone, and they fail, and someone gets injured, expect to hear from an attorney. You said you're not 16 yet. How do your parents feel about accepting this liability? Do they have any assets they would like to protect in the event of a lawsuit? Will their homeowner's insurance policy protect you/them or do they need to take out a separate umbrella policy. Make sure to factor all these costs into your business model.

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    NW,Oregon Coast
    My Bikes
    7
    Posts
    514
    Mentioned
    31 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    +1, you need to pay for a Liability insurance policy ,

    and formally file as a Business & get a Tax Number from IRS & State & maybe City too.

    and probably create a corporate identity for your business (LLC may reduce the insurance cost,

    and keep a damage claim from taking the whole thing down)

  18. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Seattle
    My Bikes
    91 Trek franken '81 Schwinn Voyager
    Posts
    133
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I like your idea. The market will decide whether or not it's a "good" idea for you-now. Build for friends and relatives and be honest about your experience. When I do that I ask them to bring me the wheel after a few hundred miles so I can see what else I can learn beyond the original build. There's risk-life's like that. Keep in mind that experience begins to build up the day you start. Good luck.
    Nobody slower, and nobody lovin' it more...

  19. #19
    30 YR Wrench BikeWise1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Oxford, OH
    My Bikes
    Waterford R-33, Madone 6.5, Trek 520
    Posts
    1,999
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainMalick98 View Post
    Lastly, how much would the fact that I'm just 15 affect my credibility?

    I know this might seem pretty out there, but there always a chance, right?
    The fact you can't legally provide responsibility would stop most folks from buying something from you that if not built right could kill them.

  20. #20
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,156
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    How to make $1000 building wheels: start with $2000...
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  21. #21
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    other Vancouver
    Posts
    6,774
    Mentioned
    16 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by chriskmurray View Post
    Where do you live?

    If a career in the bike industry is something you are interested in you can look at colleges in bike friendly cities, Minneapolis has a surprising number of big bike companies and a number of them looking for full time wheel builder positions. They pay in the bike world is not great but the perks more than make up for it!
    Yeah, but "perks" don't pay the bills. I spent 12 years in the bicycle business before getting out. I'm now on my third career, have decent health insurance and money going into retirement savings. And I still have money left over for buying cool bike parts.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  22. #22
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    YEG
    My Bikes
    See my sig...
    Posts
    26,095
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    Building wheels isn't fun... it is serious work that comes with serious responsibility and even the pros get it wrong sometimes.

    Just had a customer bring me what was left of a very expensive wheelset he bought that failed 3000 km into a South American tour, the King hub set is still in fine shape while the rims look like taco shells, the hubs can be re-used although he has already replaced that defective wheelset with one from Peter White.

    I guarantee my wheels against any defects in the build for the natural life of the wheel... rims do wear out and spokes are subject to fatigue.

    I built my own wheels for a long time and worked on thousands of wheels in a shop before I ever considered selling them and they are a low profit aspect of my business as the time spent building wheels could be better served with me holding a torch in my hand or doing general work.

    But people want me to build them wheels and I have never had a wheelset fail me or anyone else and I like to know that people can trust the wheels they ride on when they are 3000 km out... I tend to build touring, tandem, and commuter worthy wheels the most for people who have gotten burned with off the peg wheelsets or stock wheelsets that did not deliver.

  23. #23
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Oakville Ontario
    Posts
    4,908
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Great comments above. Wheel building is a craft that must be developed over time, not something you can jump right into and call yourself a pro.
    Realistically, with all the ready to ride wheels hanging from hooks in bike shops, or being sold on line, the custom build market is quite limited,
    However, there is a market, and probably always will be, so if it's an ambition you have, I would encourage you to pursue it. Build as many wheels as you can for as many people as you can, even if it's just to cover the price of the parts.
    When you have a list of successes behind you, and people who will vouch for you, approach some bike shop managers and ask for work.
    Read everything you can by Jobst Brandt, Gerd schraner,and follow related threads on this forum. Pay particular attention to responses by Mrrabbit and FBinNY and you will learn much.
    After you gain some experience in the field, you might consider signing up for a DT Swiss certification course.
    Advanced Certification Seminars
    I have not taken this course, but even after having built hundreds (not yet thousands) of wheels, I am considering doing it.
    That brings me to my situation. I came to wheel building, and bicycle mechanics in general relatively late in life. I built my first wheels when I was in my forties, and at age fifty, was taught wheel building hands on by John Barnett. That was ten years ago, and the learning and developing of the craft continues.
    I now build wheels as part of a multiple income semi retirement lifestyle. I don't think I could rely on it as a sole source of income.
    I am the in house builder for a high end local road bike shop, building their store branded wheel sets that retail between $1,200 and $1,600.
    My hat is off to the guy that build 8 to 10 wheels a day. I think my record is 6. However, there is no way I can dedicate full days to it, so maybe I could hit those numbers if I had nothing else to do.
    Just checked my records, and my year to date count is 58 wheels, 54 of those for the bike shop.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  24. #24
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Oakville Ontario
    Posts
    4,908
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Further to above, if you plan to offer wheel building services on your own, there are tools and equipment that are needed, and some you can live without, but make life much better when you have them.
    You will need nipple wrenches to fit various types and sizes of nipples, a truing stand, dishing tool and a tension meter.
    I worked for years without a professional grade spoke threader, but now that I have one, I wonder how I did it.
    Also, when you get into working with bladed spokes, or light gauge racing spokes, some kind of anti spoke twisting tool is essential, and it better be one that doesn't mar anodized or painted finishes on expensive colored spokes.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  25. #25
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    My Bikes
    Borealis Yampa, Ground Up Designs Ti Cross bike, Xtracycle, GT mod trials bike, pixie race machine
    Posts
    853
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    Yeah, but "perks" don't pay the bills. I spent 12 years in the bicycle business before getting out. I'm now on my third career, have decent health insurance and money going into retirement savings. And I still have money left over for buying cool bike parts.
    Not sure what side of the bike industry you were in but getting out of the retail side of things and in with a manufacturer was a night and day difference. Now it feels like a "real" job, pay is still not fantastic but it is enough to raise my family on and there are also some benefits as well. I actually have most weekends off as well which is unheard of in the retail side. I am convinced, if you want to be a career bike guy, the only way to do it is get out of the retail side of things.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •