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Need to learn enough to order a custom wheelset

Old 04-27-09, 09:46 PM
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born2pdl
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Need to learn enough to order a custom wheelset

I've spent time reading up about 3x/2x/straight lacing, eyelets, Al nipples, butted spokes, offset rear rims, many opinions on aero attributes, weight-weenie stuff, still don't know much about hubs. I'd like to contact a couple of custom wheel builders about having a set made, but about the best I could do would be to say "I like some of the ideas behind (brand-model) wheels. Can you make me something like that?" That would probably irritate them. And I'd probably ask them something stupid like "Can you build them at 1100 grams total weight?" which would really piss them off. I'm a mechanical engineer and have ridden a variety of factory wheels over the last few years, but how do I gain acceptable competance to even talk to a wheel builder?

I guess I'm after a light Al clincher for climbing/racing for a 160 lb'r, 'something like a Rolf Elan'. Meaning I like that weight, rim cross section, faired nipples, ovalized/bladed spokes, but I'm open to consideriong all options.
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Old 04-27-09, 10:14 PM
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so you're looking for a wheel that's around
23mm tall rims
20F/24R
1350g set [589g/761g]

maybe something like kinlin XR-200
sapim CX ray bladed DB spokes

I've no idea on light weight hubs, but you can always go for dura ace or record, depending on what you need.
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Old 04-27-09, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by born2pdl View Post
I'd like to contact a couple of custom wheel builders about having a set made, but about the best I could do would be to say "I like some of the ideas behind (brand-model) wheels. Can you make me something like that?" That would probably irritate them. And I'd probably ask them something stupid like "Can you build them at 1100 grams total weight?" which would really piss them off. I'm a mechanical engineer and have ridden a variety of factory wheels over the last few years, but how do I gain acceptable competance to even talk to a wheel builder?
I noticed that there are basically person shop wheel builders where you basically talk with one wheel builder. I'm sure they would guide you in the right direction if you know basically what you want. There are other shops like Cambria cycles that has a tremendous selection and pretty good deals. I think you should know what you want first as they will build you anything you ask for! That said, it is pretty gratifying to have exactly the wheel you thought of on your bike.
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Old 04-27-09, 11:17 PM
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Peter White is one wheel builder I can absolutely recommend from personal experience:

https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/

He can snarl, and he can snap - but he builds ($35) the finest wheels I've ever seen. The reviews are all favorable - they are strong, true, and right in all ways. And they stay that way.

No - I don't own stock in Peter White.
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Old 04-28-09, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
Peter White is one wheel builder I can absolutely recommend from personal experience:

https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/

He can snarl, and he can snap - but he builds ($35) the finest wheels I've ever seen. The reviews are all favorable - they are strong, true, and right in all ways. And they stay that way.

No - I don't own stock in Peter White.
From checking out his site...I think i like him already; he sounds like he has it figured out....FROM HIS SITE-"If you're not racing, what the heck are you doing with a racing bike? And if you weigh over 200 pounds and have a racing bike and you keep trashing wheels, my best advice is to get rid of the damned thing and get a bike that's better suited to you, like this. Then talk to me about wheels."
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Old 04-28-09, 10:07 AM
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What's the budget?
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Old 04-28-09, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
From checking out his site...I think i like him already; he sounds like he has it figured out....FROM HIS SITE-"If you're not racing, what the heck are you doing with a racing bike? And if you weigh over 200 pounds and have a racing bike and you keep trashing wheels, my best advice is to get rid of the damned thing and get a bike that's better suited to you, like this. Then talk to me about wheels."
He is - or was - a member of this site. But he might have been kicked-out for verbally abusing idiots.

Deal with his wife if you do order/ask about so & so. She only nips peoples' ankles.
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Old 04-28-09, 12:03 PM
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I think you're worrying about it too much. A wheelbuilder with halfway decent customer service/social skills should be able to listen to your requirements (desired weight, type of riding etc) and suggest components and a spoke pattern that makes sense. If you are a mechanical engineer, you likely already understand the concepts behind the spoked wheel than the vast majority of customers. Don't feel you have to posess encyclopedic knowledge of the history, theory and practice of wheelbuilding "to even talk to a wheel builder" (unless of course, like me, you find it interesting).

One thing I'd caution against is approaching a builder by saying "I read on the internet that in wind tunnel tests, radial bladed spoke wheels blah blah blah...". The internet know-it-all phenomenon is a sore spot among some mechanics/wheelbuilders. If present the builder with your needs, ask plenty questions of questions and defer to his/her opinions as the professional he/she is, you're bound to end up with a product that suits you well.

On the other hand, if you're as interested in the process as you seem to be, why not try building your own? If you're at all mechanically inclined, building a wheel is an enjoyable challange. There are several books available that walk you through the process, but I found Sheldon Brown's method the easiest to follow. It's a nice feeling to have your own work carrying you up and down those hills.

Others may disagree, but if you're a recreational rider, I'd stay away from luxuries like bladed spokes and especially aluminum nipples (unless you're interested in disposable wheels).
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Old 04-28-09, 12:26 PM
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I wanted to upgrade the wheels on my LWB recumbent, but didn't know anything about them. I looked over Spin Lites website and got some general ideas. Then I called them and the owner asked a lot of questions about me, the bike and type of riding I do. He talked me through the whole process until we agreed on what to build. Yeah, he sold me some upgrades I hadn't thought about, but I expected that. Anyway, I'm really happy with the wheels he built, and the price was reasonable.

A word of caution, though; Hand built wheels are habit forming. Once you try them, you WILL always find an excuse to 'need' them on any bike you get in the future. Hardly the worst thing that could happen to someone. So quit worrying and go for it. bk
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Old 04-28-09, 12:28 PM
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+1 for Spinlite Cycling:

https://spinlitecycling.com/road_wheels.htm

You can also tell them what you're looking for (i weigh this much and do this kind of riding) and he can customize it.

I'm usually not to picky about weight and just tell them what parts I want with which lacing.
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Old 04-28-09, 12:31 PM
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Yes - Go For it! You'll love Pete's wheels. He may be an abrasive character - but his wheels are second to none! Wow!
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Old 04-28-09, 12:32 PM
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Actually, the wheels were the first major upgrade to the bike that I did. I liked them so much I upgraded the whole drivetrain. Ders, shifters, BB, chain, cassette, chainrings, cranks, return idler, the works. I don't regret any of it, and it's a real nice ride now. bk
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Old 04-28-09, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
Peter White is one wheel builder I can absolutely recommend from personal experience:

https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/

He can snarl, and he can snap - but he builds ($35) the finest wheels I've ever seen. The reviews are all favorable - they are strong, true, and right in all ways. And they stay that way.

No - I don't own stock in Peter White.
I wouldn't.

That guy is a jackass where one doesn't need to be. I'm sure he won't know a performance wheelset from a unicycle. There are plenty of places that will pro-spec you *extremely* good wheelsets. For example: https://www.wheelbuilder.com/

Caters specifically to the high peformance crowd, and one of a few builders who are rated to build the reyonds dv carbon rims. I've seen first hand wheelbuilds from that site. They are amazing. **** Peter White, there's no need to take **** from someone you are paying for when there are equal or better alternatives out there. You can be someone like him over the phone or online, but only if you're the best. Fortunately that ain't true.

Last edited by operator; 04-28-09 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:55 PM
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Thanks for all the input. I would be interested in trying a wheelset build, but just have too many projects that I'm already putting off "until after my ride". Maybe in a couple of years. I've gotten lots of info from archive posts, as well as a list of wheel builders.

Looking for sub $500. 165lb, for racing/climbing, as most of my training miles are on a heavier duty wheelset. I do have the Kinlin XR-200 rims and light spokes in mind, may have to find some middle ground on the hubs to meet cost limits.
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Old 04-28-09, 04:13 PM
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I hope you can somehow find the time to build your wheels. As a mechanical engineer, you're very likely to do a good job, and you will feel really good about it. You'll learn and save money at the same time.

But if you're set on buying your wheels, any vendor who is good at sales can turn your questions into a suitable choice. This is true for anything you might purchase, whether a car or an ice cream cone.
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