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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone -
I've been wrenching on bikes for a number of years now, but have always shied away from building a wheel. I'm about to start building a new bike, and am in the process of collecting components for it. So, I come to the wheels.
I am looking to build a 29" bike that'll be used for aggressive XC riding. I was a racer on a delicate bike for a long time, so I tend not to be overly hard on my wheels, but I'd like something that can stand up to the abuse of some regular drops and bigger hits. Also, I'd like to go tubeless, and from what I can gather, going the ghetto tubeless option (stans-style) seems like my best bet.
Before I forget, I am ~180lbs.

Money is an object - I will be purchasing a set of hubs, a set of rims, and a truing stand. So, I'll run down what I've got selected so far, and put it up for your critique.

For the stand, I am intending to purchase the Minoura True Pro Truing Stand. Its cheap, far cheaper than a good Park, and I think it'll serve its purpose. Any terrible experiences with this stand?

I'd like a really solid set of wheels, so a good set of hubs seem important. I cant drop the cash on CK's, but I've read that Hope produces a solid hub that wont let me down. I was looking at the Hope Pro II Front and Rear hubs. Not cheap, but they should be solid, and they look good.

I am a little lost on rims. I'd like to cheap out, but know I shouldnt... Given my riding situation (as outlined above) do you have any suggestions? I have ridden mavic for a looong time and love them, but am more than willing to try anything (so long as the price, quality, and ease of ghetto-tubless is right).

As for nipples, I am lost as well - Ive read that copper are best, but I dont know how true that is. A nice plus would be matching the nipple color to my hub, but that is of relatively minor importance.

For spokes, I have a local shop that can cut spokes to length for me, so I'll be purchasing spokes from them.

So, now I need input. Is a 29" wheel more difficult to build than a 26"? Should I start by building a 26" and 'graduate' to a 29"? Also, I am a bit lost when it comes to spoke patterns as well. Sheldon Brown recommends a Cross-3 pattern. Any arguments there?

Thanks for any guidance you can offer, I'm pumped to dive into wheel building, as I look at it as a serious obstacle to being a truly "good" bike mechanic.

A wheelist
5,991 Posts
Yep I've got lots of help for you. It's all in my sig below. Get the Roger Musson e-book. Trust me on that.

The spokes - make sure the spokes they're cutting are "double butted" rather than plain gauge spokes. The only good reason to use plain gauge is if you need to save about $0.25 per spoke for some reason.

29" wheels are no harder to build than 26.

Rims - can't help ya there.

Spoking - x3 is the standard. There should be good reasons for you to use something else and I can't think of any that make much sense - or that will make any difference that will mean anything.

Nipples - There's no such thing as copper ones. Brass are the standard and aluminum are lighter, more $, maybe more fragile (I have 'em on all my wheels and have never broken one in 15 years). They're easy to round off if you're careless with a spoke wrench.

Truing stand - you can true wheels in your bike frame (see my site!) so any stand will work fine.

That's all I got for ya!

Old man on a bike
12,395 Posts
You might think about the latest XT hubs, lighter and more engagement than before at a very reasonable price. I think you'll be fine with that stand. A friend of mine is really happy with his Salsa Delgado rims but I have no experience with 29ers at this point other than riding one once, I've built with Mavic rims in both 26" and 700c (so I guess I do have some experience in that size, but they're for my road bike). For your first build and for strength in general 3x is the way to go. I don't think building a 29" wheel is any more difficult than a 26" wheel. I prefer brass nipples as that was what was originally recommended to me, but nothing wrong with aluminum alloy nipples and definitely more color choice with them. Ask your shop to put spoke prep on the spokes after they cut them for you.

Just be patient, be sure to perform each step in order. Don't get distracted during lacing, been there done that, and while tensioning the wheel starting and stopping each round at the valve hole is the only way to go. It's a lot easier than most people think. I think you'll be really pleased with your results, you might not even mount a tire for a bit while you admire your new wheels and show your friends....
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