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Thanks to a thread in this forum that steered me away from buying a $150 Nashbar cyclocross wheelset, I decided to combine my desire to put nice wheels on my new 29er and my desire to learn the art of wheelbuilding. I placed an order for XT hubs, 14g spokes, and WTB SpeedDisc 32h rims on a Monday, read Jobst Brandt's The Bicycle Wheel on Tuesday, got the parts on Wednesday, had both wheels built by Friday, and took them on their maiden voyage at Kettle Moraine on Saturday. I expected building wheels to be a frustrating, hair-pulling, cat-kicking experience, but it turned out to be easier and far more soothing than I expected - truing and dishing is zen-like. I'm already looking at new hubs and rims for my geared 26" hardtail!

Saturday was also my first singlespeed ride, my first rigid-fork ride, and my first 29er ride - a whole day of new experiences! Since I'm running these wheels on a fully rigid bike and (at 6'2 and 180) I'm not a flyweight rider, not to mention that I have exactly three days of wheel-building experience, I was nervous about them holding up.

I shouldn't have been, as it turns out. After three and a half hours of bashing them against rocks and roots at John Muir, the connector trail and Emma Carlin, they weren't even out of true! The whole rigid singlespeed 29er experience was just as satisfying - I held my own with the geared guys I was riding with, cleared sections I have trouble with on my 26" hardtail, and felt like I was cornering on rails.


 

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brozek said:
I expected building wheels to be a frustrating, hair-pulling, cat-kicking experience, but it turned out to be easier and far more soothing than I expected - truing and dishing is zen-like.
Your wheels sound great -- do you also find there's zen in rolling on your own construction? Add that to the rigid SS experience -- it sounds like you had at least a short visit to nirvana...

I was building all my wheels, but I was frustrated with my most recent rear wheel builds. I've built excellent, long-lasting rear wheels, but my last two attempts haven't held up well to the hits my big bum was dishing out. So I sent my hubs off to mikesee and for very little more than the materials would have cost I have two great rear wheels. By the time mikesee's handiwork needs to be replaced I hope to have my "wheel-building zen-state" back...
 

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Now you'll never buy machine made wheels again. Congratulations! I went through the same process with my first wheel build (Velocity Deep V's, Suzue Promax SB track hubs, Wheelsmith DB spokes). I went real slow with everything, referred to The Schraner book, which I like better because of his lacing method, made sure everything was well lubed, pre stressed the hell out of the spokes, and couldn't believe how easy it was, actually. It reminded me of the first time I loaded my own ammo.
 

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I've been building my own wheels for 15 years out of neccessity, very rough on my stuff. I also bring wheels back to life that others say are dead. I do it cause I'm cheap, but I'm sick of wheel building. I wish for lotto winnings so I can just give my bent wheels to someone else to fix.
 
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