Custom Wheel Building

As of June 2023, most prices are correct.

If you are purchasing all of the wheel's components; rim, hub and spokes, new from Peter White Cycles, there is no labor charge. If any of the wheel's components are not being purchased new from us, there is a labor charge.

I built my first bicycle wheel in 1969. It was high comedy, in hindsight! I've learned quite a lot since I was 16 years old. I've built thousands of wheels since then. Since 1988, when I began Peter White Cycles, I have given a lifetime guarantee on most wheels I build. If I recommend the rim, spokes and hub for you, it comes with my lifetime guarantee.

I build wheels for road racing bikes, touring bikes, mountain bikes, recumbents and folding bikes. I stock hubs with and without disc mounts. I stock rims for rim brakes and disc brakes. I stock 20 axle front hubs for certain suspension forks. I stock tandem hubs threaded for the Arai drum brake, and I stock the Arai dum brake. I also stock tandem hubs for disc brakes. And I stock hubs that generate electricity to power lights.

I stock rims from Mavic, Sun Metal, Salsa and Velocity. I stock Campagnolo, Phil Wood, Shimano, Velocity, White Industries and Wilfried Schmidt hubs. And I build with Wheelsmith, Sapim and Rohloff spokes. All Rohloff wheels must only be built using Rohloff's own spokes.

The Wheel Rant

Let's be very clear about something. Rims for racing bikes, such as the Mavic Open Pro and Velocity Aerohead, are made for people who use bicycles in races. That's why they're called racing bikes; because people actually race with them! To be a competitive road racer, you will not want to weigh much more than about 160 lbs. Even at that weight, you'll find yourself at a significant disadvantage in many road races, at least those with any hills. Since the manufacturers of racing rims are aware of this fact, they don't bother making these rims strong enough for 230 lb cyclists, regardless of whether those 230 lb cyclists have the curious notion that it would be a good idea to ride a bike with "racing rims" and 23mm tires.

Remember, reality is what it is, regardless of what you read in the cycling magazines.

So, when you call and tell me you weigh as much as the typical NFL running back and you're just tickled pink with your Campy Record 10 speed equipped bike but you want a set of wheels that are light weight and "bomb proof" (I love that one!) don't be surprised when I suggest you go on a diet and call me back in a few years. I'm not writing this because I don't want your business, it's because I hate feeding on misconceptions spread by the marketing departments of various cycling companies and the moronic magazine scribes.

My Lifetime Guarantee

If wheels are properly built, they will need little if any truing ever. The rim or hub should fail before the spokes. My guarantee covers spoke breakage and truing. If you buy a wheel from me that I recommend for you, and a spoke ever breaks that hasn't been obviously impacted and damaged by jamming the chain between the cassette cogs and the spokes or getting a foreign object caught in the spokes, I will replace that spoke free of charge, while you wait. If that wheel ever needs truing, I will true it while you wait, free of charge. Of course, as a practical matter, unless you are a local customer, my guarantee may not be of importance to you, since you would need to get the wheel to me, and pay the cost of shipping. When I first began my web site in 1997, it never occurred to me that people in Indiana or New Mexico would be interested in buying a wheel from me here in New England!

If a customer asks for a wheel to be built with spokes I don't believe are strong enough for that customer, or with fewer spokes than I think is appropriate, I don't guarantee the wheel. But after explaining my concerns, I will of course happily build the wheel. Racers in particular often want the lightest possible wheels and aren't concerned with long term durability.

Rims wear out with use. It's normal for rims to wear out. If your rims don't wear out, you're not riding your bike enough. The sidewalls of rims used on bikes with rim brakes wear down from abrasion while braking. As the sidewalls wear, the rim becomes more flexible, which leads to cracks in the rim. If you don't have enough air pressure in the tires, or if the tires are too small, you can easily dent the rims. And even with enough pressure, riding through a big enough pothole can cause a rim dent. My guarantee does not cover rim wear!

How true will your wheel be?

That depends on how true the rim is. "WHAT?!?!?!?", you say!

Well, some rims are better than others. And the sad truth is, that in order to keep prices under control, some rim makers are not as particular about the straightness of their rims as they roll out of the factory as I would like them to be. When I build a wheel, I want to end up with a wheel that is round and true. It shouldn't have any perceptible hop or wobble, and the spoke tension should be the same for all of the spokes on each side of the wheel. Most rear wheels will have higher tension on the right side spokes than on the left side, that's normal. But a perfect wheel would have all of the right side spokes at exactly the same tension, and the same for the left side spokes.

But sometimes I can't get a wheel to be both round and true, and have perfectly even tension all around. That's because of irregularities in the rim itself. If the rim isn't perfectly round and/or true, the spoke tension cannot be even, and end up with a round and true wheel. In order to have a round and true wheel in that case, the spoke tension must be uneven. In that case, I have a decision to make. If the rim is so out of true that the wheel cannot be built with adequate tension in all of the spokes, I cut out the spokes, get another rim and start over again. But if the rim is just a little bit out, and I can correct it with moderately uneven spoke tension, I'll finish the wheel. As long as I can build it so it stays true, I'll do it. And it may end up with a slight vertical hop or dip, but not enough to notice while riding.

This is a compromise. But it is a necessary one, since not everybody can afford the best rims. And not everyone can afford to have a builder spend hours testing each rim from the factory and building and rebuilding the same wheel looking for the perfect inexpensive rim.

So how does all this shake out in practical terms? Top quality rims from Velocity and Mavic are generally perfectly round and true. The most I ever see is a slight vertical dip (1mm) at the joint on some of the Mavic rims, and an occasional hop at the joint of the Velocity Deep V. It rarely happens and it's almost never enough to affect the wheel in any way. Since they are expensive rims, my standards when building with them are very high. If there's a small defect, more than 1MM vertical deflection, I'll start the wheel over again with a new rim. But don't be surprised if when you look closely at the wheel while spinning it, there's up to 1m of vertical runout near the joint. You'll never feel that while riding.

Rebuilding Wheels

Also, the rebuilding charge you see below is for rebuilding wheels with new spokes and rims you purchase from me. It's the same whether the hub is new or old. If you aren't purchasing the hub with the spokes and rim, you're charged the "rebuild" price. I don't normally build wheels with rims or spokes provided by the customer. The exception is disc rims. Here's why.

If you use rim brakes, the roundness and smoothness of the rim's sidewall determines how well your brakes work. A minor defect in the sidewall can cause the brakes to grab with every rotation of the wheel. Some irregularity is unavoidable, particularly with rims that don't have machined sidewalls. But most rims nowadays have machined sidewalls and riders are accustomed to having their brakes work smoothly. If I build a wheel using my own rim inventory, and half way through the build I realize that the rim has a defect, I just stop work and start over with a new rim. Even though I inspect every rim before starting, I still miss a few defects. So if you send me a rim with a defect that I don't find until the wheel is almost finished, I have to charge you for the time already spent, and the time spent undoing the wheel, and then again for building up on a new rim. With a disc rim, the odds of there being a defect that I can't see beforehand, which can have an adverse effect on the wheel's performance is negligeable. So I will build wheels using disc specific rims supplied by the customer, but not with rims made for rim brakes.

However, you are certainly welcome to send me your hubs, either new or used for building. If you're sending used hubs, please clean them up so there's not lots of dirt and grease on them. And if the hubs need internal service, please do that before sending the hubs to me for wheelbuilding. I don't service cup and cone hubs any longer. I can replace sealed cartridge bearings on many older hubs. Please call to be sure I have the correct tools and bearings to service your hub. Some hubs require proprietary tools to service. I have the tools for replacing bearings in White Industries, Chris King, Suntour, Specialized, Suzue, Sanshin and Phil Wood hubs. Those tools often will work in other hubs as well.

But some hubs I will not build with under any circumstances. Some people need power assist to ride a bike, and there are hubs with electric motors available for this purpose. But they are very heavy, and I can't work with them due to my arthritic back. Also, I will not built wheels using "straight pull" spokes. If you don't know what that means, don't worry.

Please also remove any brake discs, or freewheel / cassette cogs from the rear hub if possible. If you don't have the tools, it's OK, but I may have to charge you for removing some components to rebuild the wheel. And if your rear hub takes a freewheel, never cut out the old spokes before removing the freewheel. Without an intact wheel, it's impossible to remove old freewheels. When in doubt, call!

Ask for a Quote

When you email us for a quote, we need some basic information. We need to know how much you weigh. And if you're carrying other weight not within the confines or your epidermis, we need to know that too. We need to know what size tires you'll be using; not just the diameter, like 26" or 700c, but the complete tire size. It's usually given as something like 28-622 or 50-559. The three digit part is the diameter in millimeters, and the two digit part is the width in millimeters. It should be printed on the sidewall of the tire. We also need to know if your bike uses rim brakes or disc brakes and if it's discs, we need to know if they're Shimano's Centerlock, or the industry standard ISO with six bolts. We need to know the rear axle length. Modern "racing" style bikes have 130mm rear axles and mountain bikes have 135mm. Tandems are usually wider and older bikes are usually narrower. We need to know how many cogs are on the rear wheel. And we need to know what type of drive train you have. In other words, if you have Shimano or Campagnolo shifters, since their respective rear cogsets are incompatible, we need to know what you have. If we ship you a rear wheel that takes a Shimano cassette, and you have a Campagnolo equiped bike, you won't be happy. And here's something very important. If you have something goofy, or something obsolete like the old Maillard Helicomatic, and you don't tell us, I'll tell your mother on you.

Wheelbuilding Labor Charges

As of June 20, 2023, if you are purchasing all of the wheel's components; rim, hub and spokes, new, there is no labor charge. If any of the wheel's components are not being purchased new from us, there is a labor charge.

What I call a "rebuild" is me building a wheel for you with your hub. It makes no difference if the hub is new or used.

Re-build a wheel; 24-28-32-36 spokes $ 40.00
Re-build a wheel; 40-48 spokes $ 45.00

Labor charges are all up to date.

Spoke Prices

See my Spokes page. I keep it up to date, generally. ;-)


I don't build wheels with straight pull spokes. I don't build wheels using bizarre spoke patterns. I build normal, durable wheels for people who want light weight and reliable wheels for commuting, randoneuring, racing, touring, tandeming, and mountain biking.

24 and 28 spoke wheels are laced cross two. 32, 36 and sometimes 40 spokes are laced cross three. 40 spoke wheels are normally laced cross four. And 48 spoke wheels are always laced cross four. With 40 spokes, there's very little difference in the structure of the wheel between cross three and cross four. So the decision as to which to use often comes down to whether or not I have the correct spoke length in stock. The wheel will be stable either way. With more crosses and or fewer spokes, the spoke length increases. If the spoke is long enough, a right angle at the spoke head will cross the line of the hub axle behind the axle, and the result is less lateral bracing of the wheel. That's why I don't build 36 spoke wheels at cross four. With enough side load, the spoke tension can suddenly drop, and the wheel warps. Not a pretty sight.

If you're hoping to set a new world record in some event, I'm probably not the guy you want to have building your wheels. Not that I couldn't build you suitable wheels, but you're likely to be convinced already that you need some bizarre spoke pattern or only three spokes or some other silly thing you've seen advertised by Company Q to break the record in question. And, frankly, I don't have the time or the inclination to argue about it. Well, I do have the inclination, that's the problem. Time spent arguing is time not spent building wheels. :-)

People call me up every day because they've heard I'm such a great wheel builder and they want me to build them some fantastic new wheel design, just like what Company Q builds. When I tell them I don't want to do it they occasionally end up getting mad at me. But I just want to build good solid reliable and light weight wheels for my customers. And I'm just not all that interested in breaking records, or building wheels based on some new theory from some new company (that probably won't be in business in three years) about how wheels should be built.

So please, rather than get all angry with me because I won't build some wacky wheel for you, save us all the trouble and buy that wheel from someone who does it all the time. If Company Q does it that way, give them the business. And if it doesn't work out for you, you can still come to me later for a set of good old fashioned reliable wheels. I'm not suggesting that there aren't some new ideas about wheel building that have merit. Not at all. I am saying that I'm too busy building wheels the old fashioned way to learn some new way, and take the risk that after a few years of riding, this great new way turns out to be not so great. I prefer to stay with the old tried and true methods. That way I stay out of trouble.

I found some 32 hole Shimano 105 SC rear hubs. They are brand new, have 126mm rear axles, and take seven speed Hyperglide cassettes. They are paired up with front 105 hubs from the last six speed group; the group that preceeded 105SC. They look similar to the 105SC hubs, and make a pretty good looking pair. I can no longer get complete 105SC hubsets, but this is a good "next best option". So if you have an older frame and want a new set of wheels, this is a good starting point. Complete with skewers. I can build these up with any number of different rims from Mavic, Sun or Velocity. These are being sold only as hubsets. If you only need a rear wheel, fine, we'll send the front hub along in the box.

This hub set costs just $50. You can buy the hubs and build your own wheels, or you can call us or email us for a quote on a wheelset with any Mavic or Velocity rims with Wheelsmith spokes.


Protect your wheel investment with Pitlock locking skewers. These stainless steel skewers from Germany will foil all but the most well equipped thieves. And by well equipped I mean someone with a die grinder. About the only way to steal your wheels with these in place would be to cut through your frame with a hack saw. See my Pitlock page.

Much more to come. I also build mountain bike wheels. I build wheels for recumbents using 20" rims in front and 26" rims in back. I have matching rims from Velocity and Sun Metal and high quality matching tires from Schwalbe for recumbents. This list will get longer every week as I have time to add more wheelsets. I'll also have pricing for individual wheels. Call for quotes.

Under no circumstances will I build a wheel with straight pull spokes. Don't even ask. If you already have the hubs all I can offer you is my condolences.

And now, for the worst news of all, I don't have any (drum roll) SEXY RED SPOKES!

Oh well...


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Please don't place an order without first reading this.

This page updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Peter White Cycles LLC
24 Hall Rd.
Hillsborough, NH 03244
603 478 0900 Phone