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  1. #1
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    Sturdy Wheel Build on a Budget

    I am considering building up a set of sturdy wheels as my current wheels are beginning to creak. IIRC, they are 20 & 24 spoke Vuelta wheel sets and they have held up for 8 years, but I am beginning to trust them less.

    I want to build up a wheel set and I am considering different hubs, spokes and rims. I really want something in the 36 spoke variety. I have a Chris King Headset and I was thinking about their hubs to match the color. I was just wondering where the lion's share of the money should be spent. Should I get great hubs & spokes at the expense of the rims? should I get great rims and save a little on the hubs? I am just curious about the percentage of the budget that should go into each component.

    I am looking for an aluminum clincher for a road bike. I have no real brand preference, just something durable.

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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    lol budget and chris king cant be in the same sentence. I think chris's cheapest set of hubs is still (both front and back) in the 500 dollar range. By contrast rims are 50-100 range and spokes are 1-3 dollars a piece...

    This is a little general but if you need to save money, you have to consider cheaper hubs such as 105's or the low end Dt swiss....cant remember the numbers but think it was say the 530 or something like that.

    More experienced folks will chime in I am sure

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    I didn't necessarily mean 'on a budget', I just meant as a percentage of the total project budget. I guess I didn't word it that well. I have just heard that Chris Kings are among the best and I wanted to put together a quality build. I will check out the others that you mentioned for sure. I had no idea that good rims could be had in that price range either. I assumed they would be much higher than that. Thanks.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Low end hubs can last a very long time if properly maintained. The few extra grams of weight have a negligible effect being located near the center of the wheel vs the rim.
    I'd put my money in rims and then spokes.

  5. #5
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    If you want the best, get DuraAce hubs. People say they ride like butter.

    105 hubs are probably perfectly acceptable as substitutes though and you can lace them to some HED 585 rims or Deep V rims. Those both have a reputation for sturdiness

    Really, every body has a different opinion of what "budget" means, so you should probably establish that first.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ChrisM2097's Avatar
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    I'm kind of in the same boat as the OP - looking to build a sturdy set of wheels, and don't want to spend a ton of money. I'm certainly not looking at Chris King hubs - I'll stick with Shimano's that are fairly easy to maintain and will last plenty long enough. I've been shopping around, and because spokes are so darn expensive, I've found it cheaper to simply buy pre-built wheelsets. Maybe I'm just shopping in the wrong places...

    One thing I've noticed - You'll find more hubs and rims available in 32-spoke, as opposed to 36-spoke. Again, maybe I'm shopping in the wrong places. In my limited experience, 32 should hold up just fine. I'm 270lb, and my bike has 24 spoke wheels. I just removed them from the bike after 500 miles of commuting and recreational riding (including some dirt and gravel), and the rear was only out of lateral true by maybe 1mm. Even considering this, I still don't fully trust them at my current weight, thus the reason I'm looking to build a higher-spoke-count wheel.
    Last edited by ChrisM2097; 06-27-12 at 01:32 PM.
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    Okay, by 'Budget, I am probably looking at less than $1000. That is not written in stone though. If it makes the difference, than I will save a little longer and make sure it is done right. I like Chris King hubs more for the aesthetics than the weight savings.

    So if you were to look at building a set of wheels, would you put ___% into hub, ___% into rim, & ___% into spokes? I really was just curious what ratio I should look at. From what I am gathering, I could save money on the hubs by going with a Shimano hub, and then add some nice spokes and rims and would have a durable wheel, is this right?

    I am thinking about DT Swiss spokes, but I am still open to hub suggestions.

    Chris, I too have found mostly 32 hole rims so far.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member ChrisM2097's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwcaesar View Post
    Okay, by 'Budget, I am probably looking at less than $1000. That is not written in stone though. If it makes the difference, than I will save a little longer and make sure it is done right. I like Chris King hubs more for the aesthetics than the weight savings.

    So if you were to look at building a set of wheels, would you put ___% into hub, ___% into rim, & ___% into spokes? I really was just curious what ratio I should look at. From what I am gathering, I could save money on the hubs by going with a Shimano hub, and then add some nice spokes and rims and would have a durable wheel, is this right?

    I am thinking about DT Swiss spokes, but I am still open to hub suggestions.

    Chris, I too have found mostly 32 hole rims so far.
    That's about right.

    A decent hub should run you under $100 for a rear hub, and about 1/2 that for a front.

    Prices on DT Swiss Spokes are all over the place - straight gauge, double-butted, triple-butted, aero, etc. This is where you're going to spend a few bucks - you can 'save' by buying in bulk (72 spokes per box)...but you may need 3 different length spokes. 1 length for the front wheel (both sides), 2 lengths for the rear wheel (different length for each side.

    That being said, you may end up buying 216 spokes (at nearly a dollar each), where you're only going to use 64 (or 72) of them. You could try to recoup your money by reselling the unused ones, or you could use them to build other wheelsets for your significant other, or friends.

    Your other option is to simply purchase exactly how many spokes you need - but you'll be paying nearly double the price per spoke...unless you can find somewhere that sells them cheap...I know I haven't found such a place. If you get aero spokes, you're buying in packages of 20, so you won't have nearly as many unused spokes laying around - but they are certainly not cheap @ around $2.50-$3.00 each.

    Good rims can be had for under $100 each.

    Considering all of the above, you should be able to build a nice strong wheelset for around $400 - $550. The only problem is, you can probably buy the same wheelset, already built for around $300-350. At least that's what I've found while shopping around online.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member ChrisM2097's Avatar
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    Here's a good example of how much more it costs to build a wheel yourself:

    Ultegra Rear Hub: $106
    Mavic Open Sport Rim: $50
    32 spokes @ $2.00 each: $64
    Total: $220

    Complete Rear Wheel: $170
    Savings: $50 (23%)
    Last edited by ChrisM2097; 06-27-12 at 03:27 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwcaesar View Post
    So if you were to look at building a set of wheels, would you put ___% into hub, ___% into rim, & ___% into spokes? I really was just curious what ratio I should look at. From what I am gathering, I could save money on the hubs by going with a Shimano hub, and then add some nice spokes and rims and would have a durable wheel, is this right?

    I am thinking about DT Swiss spokes, but I am still open to hub suggestions.

    Chris, I too have found mostly 32 hole rims so far.
    I'd buy either Powertap (it's a power meter, and nice to have a matching front), Shimano, or Campagnolo cup-and-cone hubs. Velocity/maybe DT/maybe HED C2 rims, and DT double butted spokes.

    You can't really buy longer lasting higher quality hubs than those made by Shimano and Campagnolo. They cost what they cost.

    Velocity rims are good, come in any color you'd want (plus the Halo retro-reflective coating), and will probably be available for a long time so you won't need to buy new spokes because you can't buy a replacement rim with matching ERD. They run about $50 plus some for deeper profiles. Halo is an extra $50 or so.

    People are also happy with DTs and HEDs although the color and profile choices are limited. I was not psyched about the Kinlins (big ERD variations, didn't build up as uniform as Mavics) I tried apart from their shiny silver finish and price tag. Mavic would like to be out of the rim supply business.

    DT spokes are good. Butted spokes make a wheel that's less likely to collapse the price difference isn't interesting. If you look around you can pay $.69/spoke for Competition 2.0/1.8 or Revolution 2.0/1.5 spokes. Brass nipples are free, alloy about $0.13/each in a box of 100. DT Aerolites can be found for ~$55/box of 20.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 06-27-12 at 04:20 PM.

  11. #11
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    Having just gone through this same process, I chose my rims first.

    Presuming that we're limiting this conversation to aluminum rims. While rim prices can vary considerably realative to each other, their percentage of the budget is a far second to hubs and their role in determining whether the wheel satisfies your expectations is far greater than the hubs. Rims $60 (most velocity models), 80-100 (DT 585, 465, TK 540 and Mavic offerings), $100+ (HED C2, Stans). Some of those are only available in 32 hole. Having just retired a rear, 36h, Open Pro, I decided that I desired a change. So, I laced up a 36h Deep V to the existing Ultegra rear hub and purchased a set of DT Swiss 585's for a fresh build (which are only available in 32h). High on my list of desires, that went unsatisfied, was to build the fresh set up with a 23mm wide rim. The unavailability of such rims locally and from internet vendors that are willing to ship internationally at reasonable enough cost are all that prevented that. Otherwise, I would have built up some HED C2 Belgium's or Stan's.

    Second, Spokes. $0.50-$2.50 each. Not a budget consideration in the face of rim and hub costs. Purchase what makes sense for your intended use. On the 36h Deep V, I used straight 14ga on the drive side and double butted 14/15ga on the non drive side. On the DT Swiss 585's I used 14/15ga double butted all the way around, front and back.

    Third, Hubs. Add up what you've spent above. Subtract it from what you're willing to spend and you have your hub budget. I'm between jobs and working only part time, so my budget was reasonably tight. Chris Kings weren't on the table, although, I would have loved to consider them. It was going to be a Shimano hub. When I added up the above, plus the cost of tires, tubes, rim strips and shipping, the differenct between 105 and Ultegra didn't look like that much, realative to the build as a whole. So, I went with Ultegra. Given the weather here, I would have liked to have gone with a sealed hub, but, didn't see any I liked in the budget. Lower end DT would have been another consideration.

    Fourth, If after performing the above, you end up with a combo that is commonly available as a prebuilt wheel. Chances are pretty good that you could save money by buying the pre-built and then hand finishing it to your standards. Any of the really common rims laced to a common hub of similiar quality is probably available from QBP or some where similiar at a cost savings compared to the individual components. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a machine built and hand finished wheel. However, if you're interested in building them yourself, I encourage you to do so and understand more about how your wheel are built. It will assist you in ensuring that they stay true down the road.

    Notes: Shimano hubs are conviently designed with flange diameters that provide the opportunity to use the same length spoke on the front and nondrive rear side for many rim combos, depending upon how pedantic you are about your rounding of spoke lenghts. Most of the places I was dealing with only stock spokes in 2mm increments. Which certainly allowed for the above. If you want them to the exact mm, maybe not.

    Also, I measured virtually no weigth difference between a Shimano Tiagra and 6700 Ultegra rear hub. 10 grams! That was it. Quality of bearings? Perhaps. But, no weight savings that's worth mentioning.
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  12. #12
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    Wow, that really open the eyes. Why have I always heard though that you get a better wheel when you have them custom built?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    I'd buy either Powertap (it's a power meter, and nice to have a matching front).
    This^^^^ Since, I already have a garmin head unit. I would certainly put my money into a powertap rear, before I worried about the Chris Kings, if it were even remotely in the budget.

    As fate would have it. My mail order shipment was double shipped, and now I have a duplicate set of rims sitting in the garage. OHHHHHHHH, if only I had the resources to purchase a Powertap rear hub. Do I "need" power? Absolutely not! Would it be a fun gadget? Adsolutely yes!
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cwcaesar View Post
    Wow, that really open the eyes. Why have I always heard though that you get a better wheel when you have them custom built?
    BIG "IF", your wheel is "custom" built by a "really good wheelsmith" it "may" have some consideration paid to it that "may not" be if mass machine built. The only things I can think of that fall into that category are lubrication of the nipple bed and consistancy of application of any spoke prep thread sealant. Additionally, there might be a very slight justification to the idea that the wheel would be better if built, trued and tensioned in a short time frame after application of the thread compound. Versus, building, truing, waiting some long time on the shelf and then being tension balanced, retrued, etc.

    Most of the attention that "cutom" or "hand built" is about, occurs "after" the wheel has been laced up. These items would include, forming of the spoke elbows to the flanges, frequent and repetative stress releiving through the tensioning process (until it no longer results in chages to true or tension) and fanatical balancing of tension between spokes. The industry standard is within 20%, hand built wheels should certainly be within 10% and preferably 5%. The DT 585's I just built are +/- 3kgf at 120kgf on the drive side rear.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I've used this guy to get 14-15-14 double butted stainless steel spokes (mine were sapim race, but since he doesn't say the name in the auction yours might not be) for less than 50 cents and he gave me however many of whatever size I wanted to get to the 75 total. So with 32 hole rims front and back I got 3 different size spokes and several spares of each size for ~$40 shipped. I was pretty happy and you can put that money elsewhere like a slightly fancier hub vs buying spokes at $2 per, but then if you want aero or something special, maybe not.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    This^^^^ Since, I already have a garmin head unit. I would certainly put my money into a powertap rear, before I worried about the Chris Kings, if it were even remotely in the budget.

    As fate would have it. My mail order shipment was double shipped, and now I have a duplicate set of rims sitting in the garage. OHHHHHHHH, if only I had the resources to purchase a Powertap rear hub. Do I "need" power? Absolutely not! Would it be a fun gadget? Adsolutely yes!
    You can get a new Powertap Pro for $670 and front for $85. Velocity Fusions can be had for $50 each. Butted DT spokes can be found for $.69 each without nipples for $44. A box of 100 is $11. $910 + shipping fits in the OP's budget.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisM2097 View Post
    Here's a good example of how much more it costs to build a wheel yourself:

    Ultegra Rear Hub: $106
    Mavic Open Sport Rim: $50
    32 spokes @ $2.00 each: $64
    Total: $220

    Complete Rear Wheel: $170
    Savings: $50 (23%)
    Chances are pretty good that such a wheel would be spec'ed with straight gauge spokes at closer to $0.50 each. or even double butted at $1.00 each and that the savings would subsequently be a little less. But, still, the point is valid that common rim/hub combos can be purchased for less as a machine pre-built than as individual components.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    You can get a new Powertap Pro for $670 and front for $85. Velocity Fusions can be had for $50 each. Butted DT spokes can be found for $.69 each without nipples for $44. A box of 100 is $11. $910 + shipping fits in the OP's budget.
    The value of which, sort of depends upon whether he already has a power capable head unit. Or, any interest in such things. If he's out for a nice ride on his lovely, inspiring, bicycle, knowing how few watts he's producing via a reasonably heavy rear hub, may not have as much value as looking down at a spinning work of art and his own hands. The lightweight, anodized CK hub spinning away as the birds chirp, ..................oh barffffffffffffffffffff.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  19. #19
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwcaesar View Post
    Okay, by 'Budget, I am probably looking at less than $1000. That is not written in stone though. If it makes the difference, than I will save a little longer and make sure it is done right. I like Chris King hubs more for the aesthetics than the weight savings.

    So if you were to look at building a set of wheels, would you put ___% into hub, ___% into rim, & ___% into spokes? I really was just curious what ratio I should look at. From what I am gathering, I could save money on the hubs by going with a Shimano hub, and then add some nice spokes and rims and would have a durable wheel, is this right?




    Everything I have ever read about chris's hubs say they are great quality, and they have a great drive mechanism, but WILL require more maintenance than other hubs...in other words buy the grease with the hubs and learn how to use it.
    I am thinking about DT Swiss spokes, but I am still open to hub suggestions.

    Chris, I too have found mostly 32 hole rims so far.
    here is my dream wheel build and it fits your budget...chris king r45 hubs front and back , A23 rims, sapin cx-ray spokes all in black. You can get that wheelset built for under a 1000 in 32 spoke.

    I am not sure of your weight but even if you wanted to get a stronger rim you could get the dyad rims with the same other components for the 1000 as well.

    Some small changes to say lesser spokes could save you a couple hundred

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    chris king r45 hubs front and back , A23 rims, sapin cx-ray spokes all in black. You can get that wheelset built for under a 1000 in 32 spoke.
    Those would be very nice, indeed. I think my version might substitute some HED Belgiums for the A23's, but still on the r45's. Other top contenders for myself were the offcenter Synergy's.

    On the subject of dream wheels. Leading my list would be if a call to Zipp resulted in them agreeing to a custom drilling of some 101 rims for training and 404 Firecrests for events.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Yeah, I am high on the 101's too, but never seen them less than 1200

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Yeah, I am high on the 101's too, but never seen them less than 1200
    I think "wheelbuilder" might do a 24/20 set for that or less on 240s or r45 hubs.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I've used this guy to get 14-15-14 double butted stainless steel spokes (mine were sapim race, but since he doesn't say the name in the auction yours might not be) for less than 50 cents and he gave me however many of whatever size I wanted to get to the 75 total. So with 32 hole rims front and back I got 3 different size spokes and several spares of each size for ~$40 shipped. I was pretty happy and you can put that money elsewhere like a slightly fancier hub vs buying spokes at $2 per, but then if you want aero or something special, maybe not.

    You can get Sapim Race 14-15-14's with brass nipples in custom lengths for $0.40/ea from Dan's Comp. Sapim's are every bit as good as DT, the only knock on Sapim is that most LBS stock DT's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cwcaesar View Post
    Okay, by 'Budget, I am probably looking at less than $1000. That is not written in stone though. If it makes the difference, than I will save a little longer and make sure it is done right. I like Chris King hubs more for the aesthetics than the weight savings.

    So if you were to look at building a set of wheels, would you put ___% into hub, ___% into rim, & ___% into spokes? I really was just curious what ratio I should look at. From what I am gathering, I could save money on the hubs by going with a Shimano hub, and then add some nice spokes and rims and would have a durable wheel, is this right?

    I am thinking about DT Swiss spokes, but I am still open to hub suggestions.

    Chris, I too have found mostly 32 hole rims so far.

    Chris King Hubs ~$560/set
    DT Swiss RR 585 rims ~$190/pair
    OR Velocity Deep V ~ $120/pair
    Sapim CX-Ray spokes $216/72

    Under $1k, plenty strong and aero to boot. One caveat about Chris King rear hubs- make sure you actually listen to one before you buy them. Their audible low-effort indicator is pretty annoying to some people.

  25. #25
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    This is my wheel build broken down by components...



    Dt Supercomp 292mm 2.0/1.7/1.8 Spoke * Black *
    $1.99
    $1.69
    64
    $108.16

    Build Wheel
    $50.00
    $50.00
    2
    $100.00

    Dt Swiss 350 130mm 32H Shimano
    $209.99
    $188.99
    1
    $188.99

    Dt Swiss 350 Front 32H Qr Black
    $69.99
    $62.99
    1
    $62.99

    Mavic CXP 33 2012 Black Rim 32h
    $94.99
    $85.49
    2
    $170.98




    Subtotal:
    $631.12


    Tax:
    $49.40


    Total:
    $680.52





    Amount Due:
    $680.52

    Is that all you've got?
    mrclydesdale.com :: my blog!

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