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Wheel rebuild - any experience and opinion?

Sascha's picture

By Sascha - Posted on 04 April 2009


I was told at the LBS that if I wanted to do something good for my bike, I should get the wheels rebuild.
My first thought was that I had spent a small fortune on the bike - why should I rebuild the wheels, are they no good?

1- I would like to know what are the reasons? Are the factory wheels so much worse than hand build wheels?

2- If you had your wheels rebuild, did you do that yourself or with which bike shop did you have a good experience? And how much should it cost?

I have DT Swiss 420SL (Specialized Customs).


Flynny's picture

With machine built wheels you generally find that they can work their way a little loose. A machine just can't feel the spoke twisting like a person can and so in the first few rides as the spoke untwists itself it winds itself out of the nipple slightly.

Also keeping your wheels destressed keeps the truer for longer.

learning to true and destress your own wheels is very rewarding. Wheel building is one of my favourite jobs (so long as I've haven't stuffed up the spoke calcs....)

anyway there are a few vids on youtube (including some of mine) to give you tips on how to do it

philberesford's picture


Hey Sacha
A friend of mine recently bought a Chris 'Bling' freewheel and got his LBS to rebuild his wheel around it. From memory it cost him about $95 for the build plus the additional cost of upgrading to DT spokes (He kept the same Mavic 119? rim). After the first ride nearly all of his spokes came loose and the wheel totally lost it's shape. He took it back to the LBS and they refused to retrue the wheel because he should've also replaced the rim too. They neglected to tell him this at the time when they accepted to build the wheel around the new hub.

He has since decided to learn how to lace and true wheels himself. A quick search on YouTube reveals some good resource videos. Ideally you need a trueing stand but you can make truing adjustments whilst the wheel is still in the bike. See below.

PIVOT MACH 5's picture

Apparently there is a guy there who is a wheel builder. that's his thing.
so you might ask there about options prices etc.I wouldnt mess around with something so important if i didnt have a pro to teach me.
I do all my stuff through KOM cyclery and Wazza is an awesome bike mechanic and im sure he can build great wheels too.

Rob's picture

For wheel building skills I can vouch for Greg at TWE. Think a few of us have got wheels from him and are very pleased. He has no issue being given your parts and asked just to do the build.

TWE is located at Taren Point IIRC.

leximack's picture

i run a set of TWE wheels on my anthem, they come in at just over 1500g, i have found them excellent, strong, stiff and roll very well.
I dont treat them overly hard though and onyl for XC use. They can make beafier sets to your spec though.
Highly recomended, dont rely on his website as its crap, call Greg and tell him what you want and what use they are for and will build a custom set for you.
I paid about $600-$650 for my set.


alchemist's picture

I've built a couple of sets of wheels and it is quite satisfying. The sort of thing to do on a rainy winter day, as it is quite time consuming the first time you do it.

That said, my next set will probably be a Wheelcraft build.

AndrewH's picture

I had a problem with both front & rear wheels on my Stumpjumper (Specialized/DTSwiss DT430)
Basically from new & after 6 months of fairly light XC riding, every ride one or two spokes would fail- not the actual spokes, but the alloy nipples.

Perhaps I should have claimed it under warranty- but didn't feel like arguing or the hassle of the bike being out of action- so I bought some new spokes and whole set of brass nipples, and rebuilt both wheels.
It isn't difficult- just time consuming threading in new spokes and gradually tensioning/truing.

Since then, had no problems at all and this includes Thredbo downhill and regular Redhill/Ourimbah/Manly rides.

Anyone else had problems with these wheels- I think the DT alloy nipples are way too flimsy.


Sascha's picture

Thanks for all the feedback!

I think I should give it a go and try it myself. A few more questions:

1- Should I re-use my old spokes?

2- Did anybody use a tool to measure the tension?

3- Any recommendation where I can get reasonably priced Specialized rims and spokes? Or are the other ones out there that are widely considered to be superior?

4- What are good rims and hubs? (in case I want to build a new wheel while I keep riding my current wheel...) Any brand that is commonly regarded as the benchmark?

5- Stupid to ask but: are there spoke set that I can buy? or do I just go to the shop and ask for 32/36 spokes?
Not quite sure what needs to be on the shopping list.


philberesford's picture

To the guys who have built their own wheels. I'm presuming you have your own truing stand?
Can you reccomend one and how much are they? or did you build your own stand too?


AndrewH's picture

You can spend quite few $$ on a wheel truing stand- maybe it is worth it if you rebuild wheels all the time.
For me- a couple of lengths of steel angle I found in the shed, some wood blocks, a drill and 5 mins work and it worked just fine.

To answer an earlier question- I found you the best method to tension the spokes is to twang them & get the same note- the tuning force on the nipple seems to vary a bit- depending on lube/friction for each one I guess.


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