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To build a set of wheels or buy them?

Old 06-05-14, 09:49 PM
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MikeDVB
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To build a set of wheels or buy them?

Hello,

I'm thinking about building a couple of wheels instead of buying fully assembled wheels. No particular reason beyond wanting to build a couple wheels.

Problem is I don't know what's what when it comes to wheels and wheel parts. I mean good hubs from bad, etc.

I am thinking I'll get a set of 28 or 32s for the 700c. Have 35s but would like to go a tad slimmer. Wanting to reduce rolling resistance a bit without losing all comfort ;-).
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Old 06-05-14, 10:13 PM
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Thinking about building an 11speed internally geared rear wheel. It has verticle drops so I would need a tensioner. Not sure though.
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Old 06-06-14, 05:29 AM
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As a general rule I can buy the unassembled components for about the same amount of money as I can buy the same components pre-built into a wheel. Tools for building the wheel would be extra.
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Old 06-06-14, 05:45 AM
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I like building wheels but I also buy them completely built from time to time.

If you shop around, you can often buy assembled wheels (esp. if you are talking about machine built wheels) for less than the cost of the parts. You will want to tension and true machine built wheels but they can be quite good. I just picked up a great pair of 26 inch wheels (deore hubs, DT spokes, and mavic 717 rims) for $100 new which is quite a bit less than the components.

Wheels that are handbuilt tend to run more than the component parts. Quality wheels are, in my experience, very well made. The prices of a complete wheel tend to be competitive with the prices of the component parts (sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less). That doesn't include the value of your labor.

If you are patient, craigslist can be a very good source of wheels as well.

I really like building wheels but I lately I've been buying them as I've been a bit pressed for time and the prices are very good.
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Old 06-06-14, 06:31 AM
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If you want a wheel that is made from vanilla Shimano hubs, vanilla spokes and vanilla rims or if low cost is the driving factor, buy them because they are cheaper. But if you want something outside the mainstream, build them. I build almost all of my wheels but that's only because I want something different from what you can buy. I also enjoy doing it.

You sound like you fall into the same category as I do. An 11 speed IGH isn't something that is going to be off the shelf so you'll either have to build it or have someone do it for you.
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Old 06-06-14, 06:56 AM
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+1 for building. I've found that every wheelset that fits the "inexpensive" category skimps on the spokes, unless you want straight gauge that is. Not only that, but generally the hubs are lower quality than the standard shimano hub / db spokes / rim choice combo. Not only that, I like doing it myself, and I prefer the loose ball bearings which I can pick out for myself. It's also fun to DIY.
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Old 06-06-14, 11:44 AM
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Yeah I'm leaning towards building more for quality and the fact that I built then. I enjoy the process although it takes me a while ;-).

I was thinking about picking up a Rohloff 11 speed IGH and building a set of wheels around that.
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Old 06-06-14, 01:00 PM
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Sometimes I'll see a wheelset with exactly the components I want for way less than the component cost- like a couple of years ago when Performance was selling Ultegra hubs with DT Competition spokes and Mavic Open Pro rims for $199 a set. I bought 3 sets. I took 'em apart and rebuilt 'em. Handbuilt wheels for cheap. Woot!

These days, they usually cheap out on the spokes- no-name straight gauge. So for good- buy your own, for cheap, buy the factory wheels and rebuild em.
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Old 06-06-14, 01:17 PM
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That's the biggest problem for me now though is knowing good components/spokes/rims from bad . Trying to get a feel for it.
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Old 06-06-14, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeDVB View Post
That's the biggest problem for me now though is knowing good components/spokes/rims from bad . Trying to get a feel for it.
The Rohloff hub is a pretty pricy hub. I'd probably pick a Velocity Dyad rim and DT Competition spokes. For a first time build the Dyad rim is nice and rigid. I built built up a tandem wheel on a Dyad rim that didn't need any truing at all once I brought it up to tension.
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Old 06-06-14, 02:16 PM
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It is pricy but if I get it - it's something I plan on having for a long time [i.e. proper maintenance + building new wheels around it as I decide to make changes].

I'm looking for something simple and relatively problem-free for commuting in all weather [rain, snow, mud/ etc]. Thought about seeing about converting to disc brakes if possible but my frame doesn't support it I don't think.

Beyond that I'd like to have an IGH bike in my stable .
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Old 06-06-14, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeDVB View Post
That's the biggest problem for me now though is knowing good components/spokes/rims from bad . Trying to get a feel for it.
Honestly, you'd have to search far and wide to find a new modern wheel component that is "bad". There are only minor differences between any of the three components of the wheel...although that doesn't stop us from arguing endlessly about how many angels will fit on the head of a pin A rim from Velocity or Sun or Mavic or Alex really isn't going to be all that different.

Same with hubs, although you start getting into various refinements as the cost increases. Since you have already decided on the Rohloff, that point is mostly moot for the rear. For other kinds of wheels, Formula hubs are okay but nothing special. Shimano are okay but mostly nothing special except at the very highest levels. Boutique hubs from Chris King, Phil Wood, White Industries, etc. are almost works of art and offer some nice refinements like cartridge bearings. In the case of Phil Wood, the ease of disassembly is worth the price especially if you are going to go loaded touring. You can take the hub apart and replace the bearings with nothing more than a 5 mm allen wrench.

Spokes are, again, much the same. I like building with DT Alpine III or Pillar PSR TB 2018 which are triple butted spokes with heavier (2.3mm rather than 2.0mm) elbows. Sapim and Wheelsmith offer similar products. The elbow fits tighter into the hub and is about 50% stronger than a regular spoke. If strength matters, that's the way to go but most spokes will work just as well.

I will say that when I build wheels, I start with the spokes. Most people start with the rim, then decide on the hub and the spokes are usually an afterthought. The spokes do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to wheel strength. Rims are mostly a convenient place to hold the spokes. You can break a rim, replace it and still have a functioning wheel that will last a long time. If the spokes fatigue and start to break, the wheel is toast.
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Old 06-06-14, 03:21 PM
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Chain tensioners screw in , in place of Rear D. Shimano Alfine has their own, As Does Rohloff .


Big distributors like QBP have a back room with people building the wheels , the distributor cost is lower than a retail shop can sell them for .

because they have to stay in business with the retali margin on each part . got from that same distributor.

Markup instead, its on the finished wheel .

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Old 06-06-14, 06:26 PM
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Yeah since I have vertical drops on this bike I figured I'd use the Rohloff tensioner. I'd much prefer not to use a tensioner to keep a cleaner look/shorter chain/less parts to clean/maintain but without horizontal dropouts that looks like a requirement.

The frame I'd be putting this on to start with isn't anything special but I may build up a frame for the wheels if I fall in love with the IGH .
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Old 06-07-14, 02:38 PM
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I'm not sure I agree with Cyclocommute about the rims being substantially the same- I've found that Alex rims were pretty much inferior to Velocity and Mavic- I've never had a Mavic or Velocity rim crack at the nipple, but I've trashed a couple of Alex and Richey rims for doing just that. Yeah, I know, they're more expensive, but I like the quality.
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