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Wheel Building Dilemma(8 posts)

Wheel Building Dilemmadaniell
Nov 26, 2003 8:00 AM
I would like to build a set of mountain bike wheels. The dilemma is, I can buy ready made wheels cheaper. The only thing is that they do not mention the brand of spokes. I have always had good luck with DT.
call or email and ask them nmDougSloan
Nov 26, 2003 9:07 AM
It really doesn't matterDaveLobster
Nov 26, 2003 12:14 PM
because the brand of spokes isn't anywhere near as important as the overall quality of the build.

The leading brands and DT, Wheelsmith and Sapim, and if you aren't getting those you are getting something made in Taiwan. But who says the Taiwanese spokes aren't acceptable spokes? These days most bicycle stuff comes from Taiwan.

I wouldn't use Taiwanese spokes to build a wheelset with Record hubs and Ambrosio Excelight rims, but mainly just because once you are putting in that kind of effort the price difference is negligible. But if you are picking up a set of wheels for $150 or less? Don't worry about it. -Dave
It really doesn't matterdaniell
Nov 26, 2003 12:24 PM
When I bought my mountain bike it came with Chinese spokes. I had frequent spoke breakage until I changed to DT.
For this board to really help you...DaveLobster
Nov 26, 2003 1:12 PM
The best thing would be if you could tell us what kind of pre-built wheels these are you are considering. Are they boutique wheels, or are they built from rims and hubs you could buy separately? Where are you looking to buy them? What kind of wheels would you have built yourself if these weren't cheaper?

There is a lot of knowledge on this board, but without knowing what wheels we are talking about it's kinda difficult to say what kind of spokes they use. Short of that, the best we can tell you is that DT spokes generally have a tiny "DT" on the spoke head.

And as far as your previous experience, I wouldn't be surprised if your experience has more to do with going from a quickly factory-built wheel to a hand-built wheel (if you change out all the spokes, that's a new wheel build). You also might have changed from straight gauge to butted spokes, which are more fatigue-resistant. I'm not saying that DT is not a good spoke, but I wouldn't base life-long brand loyalty on one set of wheels. -Dave
For this board to really help you...daniell
Nov 26, 2003 3:14 PM
I use my mountain bike as a road bike in the Winter.
This is what I want.
XT hubs
Sun rims
14 guauge spokes.
The DT spokes that I rebuilt the wheel with are 14 straight gauge. At 195 pounds(of course I should lose a few) I have never broken a DT spoke on road or mountain bike.
I looked at
The built up wheels were cheaper than if I built them myself.
I build very few wheels, and do not have much experience with other brands of spokes. Just wondering whether I buy a built up wheel with non DT spokes, I will have a problem with spoke breakage
Interesting questionhudsonite
Nov 26, 2003 7:09 PM
I was talking to my wife last night about wheels and what they cost for good ones. We were also talking about spokes and how the Sapim CX-Ray are the best, but cost a bundle.

During the conversation it occured to me that I was about to spend over $200 on a bunch of spokes, when, 5 years ago, I purchased a set of 'spare' mountain bike wheels, front and rear for $80 for the pair. They were winter wheels for bad weather and the trainer.

Those $80 wheels have gone over 8000 miles, across road and trail, have been used in a trainer and supported my 200# without a single problem or truing. Nothing, nada, they work great. I think the rims are Araya. I have no idea where they are made, but they just work and work well.

So I am still trying to justify a bunch of spokes that are going to cost way too much, when I have first hand experience that some of the cheaper wheel sets work just fine.

This is all to say that if you want the best, get the best. DT, Sapim, Wheelsmith and Alpina are all great spokes. They build strong wheels. But if you just want a pair of winter wheels, don't beat yourself up over the wheels. Some of the cheaper ones work great.

Now back to justifying why I need to spend $200+ on spokes....
Just to prove that I do mean to be helpful....DaveLobster
Nov 28, 2003 6:10 PM
My three suggestions:

1. Double check that the built-up set really is cheaper. There is a new XT group out, and you can get really good deals on XT hubs now. Colorado Cyclist has them in their catalog for $68 a pair, and I would bet you could even find better deals if you look around. To check prices on Sun rims, check Also, consider other rims, such as Bontrager and Velocity, both of which offer nice rims priced similar to Sun. Consider what you are going to have to pay in shipping on the built-up set - some places rake you over the coals on shipping wheels.

2. If you can't buy the parts cheaper, buy the wheels, remove all the spokes and replace them with DT. This gives you the bonus of having hand-built the wheels.

3. If you can't buy the parts cheaper, and are lazy as I am, buy the wheels, leave them as they are, and ride them. If nothing breaks, your're golden, if not swap out the spokes and rebuild them.

For everything you could ever want to know about MTB wheels, check the "wheels and wheelbuilding" discussion. Good luck. -Dave