Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Burnin’

Building a Wheel

There are a few things left on a bike that I’m kind of afraid of. Off the top of my head, these are headsets, unsealed bottom brackets, and wheel building and truing.

No, wait, cross off the wheel building and truing parts.

A very generous friend gave me a gift of project budget, so I decided this was my big chance to conquer that last fear there. I got myself a Spin Doctor Truing Stand II, a set of spoke wrenches, and a dishing tool. Then the challenge was to get parts.

Building wheels is not a cost-effective way to get wheels normally. Decent spokes cost about a buck apiece and modern wheels have between 24 and 36 of them. Hubs generally go for $20 and  up (and I mean up) and rims start at $30 and go up equally amazingly. Tires start at around $15 and tubes around $7. So that’s about $100 for a minimally acceptable wheel. You can get them prebuilt for $50.

But if you apply your scavenging skills, things might come out differently. I went down to Laughing Dog and asked if they have any straight but used rims. The guy said, “Nnnn…yeah!” and handed me a DT Swiss RR 1.1 rim. It has a little piece of metal in it that rattles around, so they can’t sell it. The dude gave it to me. They’re $70 new. Then, it turns out Nashbar has a sale going on with old Specialized hubs for $6. $6! So I got one and paid $9 for shipping. I’d have gotten two if I foresaw making two front wheels in the near future. Spokes are always in demand, so no deals on that, but Northampton Bike stocks lots of spokes, so I got 36 (that’s 4 extra, in case I fucked something up). And the Pedal People were dumping a bunch of stuff, so I picked up some appropriate and speedy tires and a tube fer nuthin’.


So I got down to it yesterday afternoon. This is what I made.

Whole built wheel

The complete wheel. I love the way aero rims look. I totally lucked out with that find.



See? Pretty cool! I’d really like to get some Deep Vs, but that will take more scrounging.


 The hub, all laced up.

 The whole hub. If you know about these things and see a mistake, let me know!


The bike is, so far, a Trek 7300 frame from Ebay that I got for $40 shipped, a bottom bracket from a bike that had been sitting on a rack for 6 years, this wheel, any of several cranksets I’ve got, a seat post, an assemblage of derailleur parts that I think equal a derailleur, some brake levers, some brakes, and these bars:

 The Badassest bars in the Universe

If you’re wondering if these are the badassest bars in the Universe, the answer is yes.


So, I still need everything for the back wheel (ideally, a 5-speed casette), shifters, a saddle, another tube, a chain an appropriate chain wheel, a fork, and a headset. Scroungemonkey go!

0 thoughts on “Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Burnin’”

  1. Thanks so much for lodging Journey in my head for the rest of the day.

    Nice job on the wheel! Did you test it BC-style? If so, pics, please.

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