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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Will I possibly save money by buying my own hubs/spokes/rims or should I just buy a whole wheel set? Nothing too, too fancy. Just a 6 bolt wheel set with a good weight for some recreational use and MAYBE light XC racing...
 

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Wrench-O-Phile
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262 Posts
Depends.... what's the value you place on the pride you'll have spinning around on the trail with wheels you brought to life yourself?

Alternatively... what's the value of knowing your wheels won't fold at the first corner if your abilities aren't up to the task? :D

If you have to pay for labor, pre-built wheels will most likely be cheaper in the long run. If you price shop for the individual components and build them yourself that's probably the cheaper way to go.
 

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A wheelist
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5,991 Posts
As a long time home wheelbuilder who delights in nothing better than building my own or helping others build their first wheels (see my sig) I'm sorry to say that it can be MUCH cheaper to buy pre-builts.

Sure some of the custom built wheels can be more expensive than doing it yourself but a lot of the more recent companies can do it much cheaper. Take Bicycle Wheel Warehouse, the sponsor of this forum (see the top of this page) for instance. Those people pay to keep this site open and I'm surprised no-one has mentioned them yet.

I've gotten two sets off Chris this year (and two more are in transit) and it's saved me a lot of money. The first set saved me $85 over what I could have bought the mailorder parts for. The second set saved me a whopping $200 over mailorder parts. That's cheaper than building them for free.

As I've said before around here, if Chris had chucked the parts in a box and charged me $100 more I would have still bought from him. That would have still saved me $100.

The added bonus is that his business makes a good wheel too. I know what to look for and what to expect and I wasn't disappointed.

Sure it's good to know how to build wheels as then you have the skills to maintain your own wheels but you decide what's more important.

Try this page. Chris' wheelsets range from $99 to about $600. Take yer pick.
 

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I'm looking to have a wheelset built, but I'm trying to decide if I should have a online retailer that I'm getting the hardware from build the wheels or if I should spread it around a little bit and have my LBS lace 'em up (me supplying the hardware).

Is it poor form to bring my own parts in and have them build the wheels?

Before I call up the new shop that just opened up around the corner a for a quote on the labor cost, could somebody give me a ballpark estimate cost per wheel for just the labor?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
u2metoo said:
I'm looking to have a wheelset built, but I'm trying to decide if I should have a online retailer that I'm getting the hardware from build the wheels or if I should spread it around a little bit and have my LBS lace 'em up (me supplying the hardware).

Is it poor form to bring my own parts in and have them build the wheels?

Before I call up the new shop that just opened up around the corner a for a quote on the labor cost, could somebody give me a ballpark estimate cost per wheel for just the labor?
Poor form? No. I did that with my brake set. They'll do what you ask them. If they don't they're not worth working with.
 

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+1 for buying pre-built, especially through BWW.

I bought 2 sets through Bicycle Wheel Warehouse too even though I *really* wanted to ry my hand at building a set. Totally stand-up operation. I spoke with Chris on the phone and we went over each build.

He shipped my wheels in some pretty stout boxes and they arrived via the Fleet Post Office in GREAT shape. I was worried about shipping them, but he assured me that they had great success in the past, and he was right on the money.

On top of everything else, after he quoted me a shipping price, he actually refunded some of my money when the shipping came out to be a bit cheaper. I have to order stuff online all the time being overseas, I've *never* had that happen...

I will for sure buy another set of wheels from him in the future.
 

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meow, meow.
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2,498 Posts
+1 for building your own wheels. Nothing (short of a tech car like those they use in road racing) substitutes for confidence that comes from being able to true and repair a wheel.

As to the cost... if you can build a good wheel, you can compensate for not having the latest and greatest wheel components merely with taking your time and building wheels from inexpensive, run of the mill parts.

What does it take to build good wheels? Being mechanically inclined surely helps. But above all, it's patience and attention to detail. There's no black magic involved at all. And don't stray from the path most traveled (32 hole, 3 cross etc.) on your first build.
 

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turtles make me hot
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11,753 Posts
It's absolutely cheaper to build wheels for yourself. Is it cheaper to build ONE SET? Not sure.
I started building wheels after spending a LOT of money on an FS bike back in 2008. The wheels that came on it were crap and spent a lot of time in the shop getting spokes replaced or getting trued. I am a professional mechanic (diesels) and realized I could do this. I bought a Park truing stand, a tensiometer, spoke wrenches, Phil Wood Tenacious oil, Nipple Cream, a shaker box... I like tools.
I built a set of wheels for myself. Nailed it. Still have em. I built a set for my friend. He still has em. All my friends started asking me to build them wheels. I started building wheels for a shop. Now I have two Park stands and a tool box dedicated to only wheel building.
So now that I have everything you could ever need to build wheels, I build a set for me or my son whenever I feel like it. Want a second set so we can swap for conditions on the fat bike? Sure. We have a shelf full of wheels downstairs. My wife doesn't understand why we need 12 wheels for three bikes. I'm pretty much at the point where wheel building supports my bike habit.
 

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Premium Member
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If you are starting from scratch with all new parts, buying handbuilt is the same or cheaper. Most builders get better pricing on the component parts than an end user can get, so their built price ends up right at the same cost as you could pay for all the parts, but you get the labor, plus more importantly, the experience and knowledge a good builder brings that helps in getting the best value and wheels for your needs.

I should note there is a difference between prebuilt and handbuilt. Prebuilts are production line wheels (i.e. Ibis, Mavic, DT Swiss) versus handbuilts are built individually for a customer with specific parts. I unless your local shop has a known good wheel builder, I would strongly encourage using a wheel specialist (i.e. BWW, Lacemine29, Southern Wheelworks). Most shops only build wheels occasionally and don't have the same knowledge and feedback of what works well for given applications that builders who build 100+ sets a year have.

Also, don't get me wrong, I am in the camp of liking to build my own wheels. I find it enjoyable, relaxing, and get the pleasure of knowing I did a good job myself. I have invested in the tools (including a Jobst tension meter). The monetary value in building your own wheels comes when you swap to new rims (like I am about to do going to 29") or have to rebuild a wheel because of a destroyed rim, spokes, or hub (or in my case, have a few friends that are incredibly hard on them).
 

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Old thread.... but instead of asking in a forum, why not use a spreadsheet and price out what you need to build, vs. an equal wheelset? Tools are a one-time investment and you may need them for other reasons (truing etc.) anyway.

if you care about specific brands for hubs and rims, self-building may be cheaper. If you just use generic components, an off-the shelf may be cheaper. YMMV.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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40,368 Posts
Old thread.... but instead of asking in a forum, why not use a spreadsheet and price out what you need to build, vs. an equal wheelset? Tools are a one-time investment and you may need them for other reasons (truing etc.) anyway.

if you care about specific brands for hubs and rims, self-building may be cheaper. If you just use generic components, an off-the shelf may be cheaper. YMMV.
I did. I couldn't build a set for cheaper than I could get from Light Bicycle with shipping. So I saved myself the time and effort this time.
 
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