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Making New Wheels for Sale

Old 12-15-21, 09:59 PM
  #1  
danallen
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Making New Wheels for Sale

I am curious about costs and prices for making and selling wheels. To just get an idea of this, here is the hypothetical:

One model front wheel
One model rear wheel
Need to buy the parts.
Aluminum rims
Clincher only
Assemble by hand at my house.
Sell online, ebay and Amazon

Somebody already making the best wheels, mine cannot be as good as those.

Figure high end everything.
Good quality build.
Will address liability insurance in another discussion

Costs:
Rims: ~$300
Hub back: ~$150 back
Hub front: ~$40
Spokes: ~$30
Rim tape: ~$20
TOTAL $540

Build time: 5 hours

Wheelset sells for $1200

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is absolutely nuts insane, probably will produce square wheels, 0 is solid engineer at work.

How do you see this scenario?
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Old 12-15-21, 10:46 PM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
I am curious about costs and prices for making and selling wheels. To just get an idea of this, here is the hypothetical:

One model front wheel
One model rear wheel
Need to buy the parts.
Aluminum rims
Clincher only
Assemble by hand at my house.
Sell online, ebay and Amazon

Somebody already making the best wheels, mine cannot be as good as those.

Figure high end everything.
Good quality build.
Will address liability insurance in another discussion

Costs:
Rims: ~$300
Hub back: ~$150 back
Hub front: ~$40
Spokes: ~$30
Rim tape: ~$20
TOTAL $540

Build time: 5 hours

Wheelset sells for $1200

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is absolutely nuts insane, probably will produce square wheels, 0 is solid engineer at work.

How do you see this scenario?
I see you with a wheel set hanging in your garage. You can easily find carbon rim/Dura Ace wheels for around that price. Velo Orange sells a wheel set very much like what you are proposing for less than your cost.

You are off on your spoke price as well. Unless you are only planning on using 15 spokes, you are low by $30 to $40. And a ďhigh end hubĒ isnít one that cost $40 for the front and $150 for the rear. Thatís in the range of a 105/Ultegra level which doesnít make for a $1200 wheel.
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Old 12-15-21, 10:57 PM
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A lot of what a customer will be paying for with hand-built wheels is skill/reputation.

Unless you can compete with folks like these guys

https://novemberbicycles.com

this isn't going to be a money-making proposition.
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Old 12-15-21, 11:25 PM
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5 hours to build? You'll never make any money if you're that slow.
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Old 12-16-21, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
5 hours to build? You'll never make any money if you're that slow.
Yup. I remember Perry O. making wheels many years back, in the Racine Cyclery. Took him maybe 15 minutes. A VAR spoke screwdriver (kind of like a Yankee screwdriver - the kind with helical grooves) got the each nipple almost all the way on in one push. Quick tighten by hand/feel, then true. Impressive to watch - the man knew his business and there was no moss growing under his feet.

Truthfully, most wheels are machine built. Perhaps hand finished. But the retail markup on hubs, spokes, and rims will kill you unless you buy enough to get a wholesale discount. Otherwise, you have to charge a price that pays the markup twice (what you pay for the parts, and what your customer pays for the wheels).

I think if you start doing this by building a few wheels and putting them on ebay (start really low) you'll see 1) how efficient you can be and 2) what the market will bear. If the starts don't align you're only out $500-1000 for the equipment, tools, and stock.

Seriously though, this reminds me of the joke: Sure, you can make a million dollars building wheels. Just start with two million.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
Yup.,,But the retail markup on hubs, spokes, and rims will kill you unless you buy enough to get a wholesale discount. ,,,
Even if your labor is free this, as said, will do you in.
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Old 12-16-21, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
I am curious about costs and prices for making and selling wheels. To just get an idea of this, here is the hypothetical:

One model front wheel
One model rear wheel
Need to buy the parts.
Aluminum rims
Clincher only
Assemble by hand at my house.
Sell online, ebay and Amazon

Somebody already making the best wheels, mine cannot be as good as those.

Figure high end everything.
Good quality build.
Will address liability insurance in another discussion

Costs:
Rims: ~$300
Hub back: ~$150 back
Hub front: ~$40
Spokes: ~$30
Rim tape: ~$20
TOTAL $540

Build time: 5 hours

Wheelset sells for $1200

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is absolutely nuts insane, probably will produce square wheels, 0 is solid engineer at work.

How do you see this scenario?
$190 for the hubset and $150 each for rims does not add up to a $1200 wheelset. And there are no spokes on the market that cost as little as $30 for the entire wheelset.

Complete fantasyland.
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Old 12-16-21, 08:30 AM
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Hears my 2 sense, assuming making some spending money on parts markup and counting your labor near 0.

I'd start with maybe 3 sets at the lower end and sell on ebay. Look for sales on 6 rims, spoke sets and hubs..

Move up in quality with time. I think selling the $1K+ sets will require building some reputation along with the wheels.
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Old 12-16-21, 09:01 AM
  #9  
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Some factory wheel sets and prices for comparison:
Shimano sells their excellent GRX gravel wheels (alloy rims, tubeless, disc brake, thru axles) in both 700c and 650b at about $450 retail and their Dura Ace alloy wheel sets at about $1000. Easton EA90 wheels sets are under $1000. You are in for some serious and well established competition.

As noted, unless you can buy the components in sufficient quantity to get OEM prices, you can't compete.
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Old 12-16-21, 09:09 AM
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Agree with above; probably an 8+. IMO, the major problem is the high cost of raw materials. Otherwise you might be able to start by producing for a local club or friends and gradually build a reputation.
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Old 12-16-21, 10:25 AM
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Sounds wickedly expensive for mediocre parts quality and unknown build quality. I can get a set of Ultegra hubs and Mavic rims built at my LBS for half that.
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Old 12-16-21, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinNYC View Post
Hears my 2 sense,
"Hears my 2 sense"? You're kidding, right?
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Old 12-16-21, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
"Hears my 2 sense"? You're kidding, right?
non cents response

;P
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Old 12-16-21, 11:12 AM
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If this was possible, the competition would kill you.

Regardless of your numbers being wrong, it is the premise behind them.

Material cost = $540 + 10% markup = $600

Labor cost = $600 including overhead (50% of price).

I’m not in the industry, but I would think many very competent wheel builders would be jumping in with both feet to do this.

A hour to build and another hour for misc and overhead equals $300 per hour.

Build 10 wheelsets in 20 hours per week equals $3k per week or $150k per year part time.

John
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Old 12-16-21, 11:21 AM
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Don't forget business license, maybe llc, and insurance.

You sell a wheel, it fails, you get sued and lose everything.

Even if you don't have anything to lose, if you built the wheel as someone else's house garage, etc they could be liable
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Old 12-16-21, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
Don't forget business license, maybe llc, and insurance.

You sell a wheel, it fails, you get sued and lose everything.

Even if you don't have anything to lose, if you built the wheel as someone else's house garage, etc they could be liable
Yes, but using the OPís model those costs are covered in the $600 per wheelset direct labor and overhead. If the builder gets $300 per wheelset, the other $300 per wheelset, or $150k per year covers all of that.

John
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Old 12-16-21, 11:55 AM
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I finally got a look today at a decent lineup of hubs and saw many priced over $700 I didn't know hubs could be that expensive


So I'm forgetting about building wheels for sale I'm nowhere near ready for that obviously. I really am just trying to get oriented to wheels. It's been hard for me is getting a systematic understanding of what goes in two wheels at various prices. MJust now I found a decent supplier of various wheel components least compared to what I've seen so far and I found hubs gone for over $700 I didn't know they were that it's could be that expensive.

Reason I'm looking at wheels today is a need is to replace the wheels I'm running, because the caliper brakes have worn the wheel surfaces to a concave shape. I don't want to wait for the rims to break before I replace them. As I started shopping for wheels it was easy to create a theory that thousand dollar profit per wheel set seem possible. I figured it was probably not as easy as I was thinking but I couldn't see the details that's the birth of this thread

The wheels I'm running are Bontrager race X light kind of generic wheels with a cheap it now seems free hub that came with the bike when it was new in 2009. This bike (2009 Madone 5.2, Ultegra) retailed for $4000 when it was new, which seems kind a high to me. I got it in 2018 on eBay for $700. It was an excellent condition , pre-owned by a 70-year-old woman who sold it through her bike shop. It was in perfect condition when he sent it to me.


I like doing all the work on my bike that I possibly can. When I replace it I probably will build up from a frame starting with one of those no label Chinese carbon jobs off of eBay. I think I'll spring for a new Ultegra DI2. I'll probably go with carbon wheels but I have no idea which ones

Started thinking about building wheels for sale was I saw wheels sets going for way over $1000 and I had no idea what went in to making them from component standpoint. Even though I don't have experience building wheels from what I understand it's not that hard to do so I was picturing profits of over $1000 on a wheel set. I suspected that was unrealistic but I didn't know the details. Does the birth of this thread now I've been shaking a little bit at reality though I still think I'd like to build my own wheel set in the future just because I think it's cool even if I can't save any money doing it.

I'd very much like to thank you for responding with such valuable information so probably it really makes adapting 1 million times easier so I can't think you enough, but thank you.

Last edited by cb400bill; 12-16-21 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 12-16-21, 12:39 PM
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I suspect custom wheelbuilding is one of those things where if it were significantly profitable, enough competition would arise to make it not so.
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Old 12-16-21, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
I finally got a look today at a decent lineup of hubs and saw many priced over $700 I didn't know hubs could be that expensive


So I'm forgetting about building wheels for sale I'm nowhere near ready for that obviously. I really am just trying to get oriented to wheels. It's been hard for me is getting a systematic understanding of what goes in two wheels at various prices. MJust now I found a decent supplier of various wheel components least compared to what I've seen so far and I found hubs gone for over $700 I didn't know they were that it's could be that expensive.

Reason I'm looking at wheels today is a need is to replace the wheels I'm running, because the caliper brakes have worn the wheel surfaces to a concave shape. I don't want to wait for the rims to break before I replace them. As I started shopping for wheels it was easy to create a theory that thousand dollar profit per wheel set seem possible. I figured it was probably not as easy as I was thinking but I couldn't see the details that's the birth of this thread

The wheels I'm running are Bontrager race X light kind of generic wheels with a cheap it now seems free hub that came with the bike when it was new in 2009. This bike (2009 Madone 5.2, Ultegra) retailed for $4000 when it was new, which seems kind a high to me. I got it in 2018 on eBay for $700. It was an excellent condition , pre-owned by a 70-year-old woman who sold it through her bike shop. It was in perfect condition when he sent it to me.


I like doing all the work on my bike that I possibly can. When I replace it I probably will build up from a frame starting with one of those no label Chinese carbon jobs off of eBay. I think I'll spring for a new Ultegra DI2. I'll probably go with carbon wheels but I have no idea which ones

Started thinking about building wheels for sale was I saw wheels sets going for way over $1000 and I had no idea what went in to making them from component standpoint. Even though I don't have experience building wheels from what I understand it's not that hard to do so I was picturing profits of over $1000 on a wheel set. I suspected that was unrealistic but I didn't know the details. Does the birth of this thread now I've been shaking a little bit at reality though I still think I'd like to build my own wheel set in the future just because I think it's cool even if I can't save any money doing it.

I'd very much like to thank you for responding with such valuable information so probably it really makes adapting 1 million times easier so I can't think you enough, but thank you.
if you are looking for wheels for your self, you often can't build them as cheaply as shops the specialize

check these out for reference

white T11 hubs and H+Son rimes $739 https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...roducts_id=625

105 hubs and mavic open pro $299 https://www.velomine.com/index.php?m...oducts_id=2743
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Old 12-16-21, 02:22 PM
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I know a lot of people buy wheels online but this is one thing I always get done locally so I have someone to turn to if there’s a problem
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Old 12-16-21, 03:36 PM
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Local wheelbuilders https://sugarwheelworks.com/shop/ started as a 1 woman shop. The main benefit was expertise and consultation. I went to her thinking I knew what I wanted and ended up with something that was significantly cheaper that was better suited to my needs. If you want to compete with big operations you have to compete on something other than price.
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Old 12-16-21, 04:05 PM
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Putting the business aspect aside, start by building a couple of wheels from scratch. It is not as easy as you think. You must ride the wheels you have built, otherwise there is no point. I would start by building city bike wheels first, as the building aspects of these are less extreme than for high tech MTB.

For a basic, city bike front wheel consider the following consumer prices from Bike24 (im based in europe):

-1x 622-19 Rim Mavic A119: 20 Euro
-36x 2mm straight gauge spokes, sapim/DT swiss: 12 Euro
-36x 2mm brass nipples sapim/DT swiss, 4 Euro
-1x Shimano Deore 9mm QR hub, 15 Euro
-1x Schwalbe HP Rim tape, 2 Euro

Sum: 53 Euro

Besides the parts you will need various tools that help you build the wheel. Truing stand, dishing tool, spoke wrench, and possibly a tensionmeter. I have professional grade tools for about 600 euro, but you can get away with alot less. Wheel building is a fairly involved and expensive undertaking. But if you want to learn more, start with the guide made by Mike T (attached).
Attached Files
File Type: pdf
Wheels MIke T.pdf (2.28 MB, 21 views)
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Old 12-16-21, 04:54 PM
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Dan,
I have been building wheels since the mid 1970's my build time including coffee breaks is about one hour. And that is doing everything by hand. I have the Var tool and it works and saves a bit of time. Spokes are one thing that will be a huge variable in the final cost. If you are willing to spend close to $3,000 for a spoke cutting and threading tool you will have to buy a lot of bulk spokes and in different sizes. Very difficult to keep and costly to maintain. I keep a liability insurance policy that costs about $1K annually, and that is always a cost factor. There is nothing profitable in wheel building especially in today's carbon fibre world. Unless you do it for the satisfaction for yourself it is not going to be an endeavor that works out for you. Smiles, MH
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Old 12-16-21, 06:19 PM
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I started my building "career" (ha ha, fewer than 20 wheels in the last 20 years for myself and family) by truing my MTB wheels. Turned out building was easy although I didn't do enough to get fast. Still, wasn't that hard, probably saved a few shekels here and there especially buying hubs and rims when they were on sale and had fun doing it.
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Old 12-16-21, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
I finally got a look today at a decent lineup of hubs and saw many priced over $700 I didn't know hubs could be that expensive


So I'm forgetting about building wheels for sale I'm nowhere near ready for that obviously. I really am just trying to get oriented to wheels. It's been hard for me is getting a systematic understanding of what goes in two wheels at various prices. MJust now I found a decent supplier of various wheel components least compared to what I've seen so far and I found hubs gone for over $700 I didn't know they were that it's could be that expensive.

Reason I'm looking at wheels today is a need is to replace the wheels I'm running, because the caliper brakes have worn the wheel surfaces to a concave shape. I don't want to wait for the rims to break before I replace them. As I started shopping for wheels it was easy to create a theory that thousand dollar profit per wheel set seem possible. I figured it was probably not as easy as I was thinking but I couldn't see the details that's the birth of this thread

The wheels I'm running are Bontrager race X light kind of generic wheels with a cheap it now seems free hub that came with the bike when it was new in 2009. This bike (2009 Madone 5.2, Ultegra) retailed for $4000 when it was new, which seems kind a high to me. I got it in 2018 on eBay for $700. It was an excellent condition , pre-owned by a 70-year-old woman who sold it through her bike shop. It was in perfect condition when he sent it to me.


I like doing all the work on my bike that I possibly can. When I replace it I probably will build up from a frame starting with one of those no label Chinese carbon jobs off of eBay. I think I'll spring for a new Ultegra DI2. I'll probably go with carbon wheels but I have no idea which ones

Started thinking about building wheels for sale was I saw wheels sets going for way over $1000 and I had no idea what went in to making them from component standpoint. Even though I don't have experience building wheels from what I understand it's not that hard to do so I was picturing profits of over $1000 on a wheel set. I suspected that was unrealistic but I didn't know the details. Does the birth of this thread now I've been shaking a little bit at reality though I still think I'd like to build my own wheel set in the future just because I think it's cool even if I can't save any money doing it.

I'd very much like to thank you for responding with such valuable information so probably it really makes adapting 1 million times easier so I can't think you enough, but thank you.
Hereís what I tell my students in my wheel building class

So you want to build a wheel. Why? Let me start by saying that if you are planning on building a wheel to beat the price the ďManĒ charges for a new wheel, stop right there. Just as with building up a bicycle, donít do it to save money. You wonít. Machine built wheels are available at less cost than any hand built wheel. If you just need a wheel at a reasonable price, talk to [bike shop] staff. They can find you really good wheels for very reasonable prices.



Now that Iíve turned you off to the whole idea of building wheels, Iíll address some of the reasons that you should build a wheel.

There are certain wheel combinations that you just wonít find in a prebuilt wheel. Seldom are you going to find butted spokes or boutique hubs. Perhaps you want wider rims or even narrower rims. Perhaps you want some combination of wheel components that will be lighter and stronger than what you can get in a prebuilt wheel. You might tour and want stronger wheels so that you donít have to replace broken spokes. Maybe you like the idea of riding on something that you built. The list is endless.

Just donít go building wheels to ďstick it to the ManĒ. The House always wins.
Iíve built a lot of wheel with really good parts but only because I canít find the wheels I want with the parts I want.
__________________
Stuart Black
Gold Fever Three days of dirt in Colorado
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Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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