I am converting an old school 78 or 79 schwinn traveler III into a fixie...is it worth my time to build the fixed hub wheels from scratch or to buy pre-built ones that seem to be rather expensive for a beater of a bike?
i've never built a wheel, but i plan on trying soon... i figure it should be a fun learning experience... and even if i totally screw it up it shouldn;t cost me too much money to get someone else to fo it...
you could have a shop build wheels for you using the parts you want. it'll end up costing around $300-$600 depending on what parts you choose. it could concievably be less, say if you used surly hubs and cxp21 rims...but i'd say the base price for a wheelset that would last should be around $300. you'd be hard pressed to build new wheels for less, unless you have a magical bike part machine that makes parts out of thin air.
you don't, do you? cause i could use a few things...
wheel building is fun. read a few articles on it first and find someone who knows how to check your work as you go along. lacing it is the easy part, tensioning is where it gets tricky. but it's not as hard as everyone thinks it is, and like gally99 said, if you screw it up, you can get someone to fix0r it.
local shop charges $250 for miche primato hubs laced to velocity aero rims, handbuilt.
i have miche primatos laced to black open pros and i paid $280.
basically, it's the price of the hubs, rims and spokes, and $25-$30 labor per wheel.
But don d. has posted a much better quality set-up.
One of the LBS's here, Urban Bikes has fixed and singlespeed wheelsets for cheap as well. If you can find a LBS that specializes in restoring or fixed/singlespeed bikes, they may be able to give you a good deal.
Bianchi Pista, Miyata track, Schwinn Le Tour fixie
There is a seller on eBay who sells Quando hub/Alex rim wheels for $65 rear, $35 front. Search for "track bicycle" and you should see them. Very economy priced stuff but it seems about right for an old bike. If I was going to spend more on wheels I would be inclined to get other new stuff to match them, and you know where that leads.. ($$)