The Chainlink

What are your favorite local shops for buying spokes for wheel building? I'm planning on building some wheels using some vintage hubs I have laying around and will lace them to modern rims (I'm switching some 27" tires to 700c for better fender clearance and potentially to add wider tires). I am looking for places that have experience with this sort of project and have a reputation for making accurate spoke cuts. My understanding is that poorly measured spokes can lead to wheel failure and/or lots of flats. I have relatively little experience in the matter, so most of this is second hand knowledge. I'll be building the wheels with a buddy who is experienced at wheel building but buys his spokes from Harris in BOS. I'm looking for a local option on this project. Any advice and experience is much appreciated! 

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I'm not sure where you're located, but I think this is a task that most shops should be able to handle reliably and accurately. My last couple sets of spokes have been purchased and (cut by) WestTown Bikes.

I suggest Yojimbo's for custom spoke lengths, but any lbs will be able to order common lengths for you. It doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary.
I'd second Kevin in saying that any shop that does their own wheel builds - maybe there's already one that's built a wheel for you - will be fine.
Agree with Kevin on both points and I'd add that factory threaded spokes are much preferred over custom cut and rolled. Although several local shops have the Phil Wood spoke tool and can say with first hand knowledge that the dies in several cases are old. This results in inferior threads which results in spoke failure.

Pretty much any shop should be able to get you spokes of the proper length.  Most shops will order you the proper length if they do not have them on hand; as Milkbar said the rolled factory spokes are preferred.

Kevin, your last spokes were ordered to length not cut.

I stand corrected.

notoriousDUG said:


Kevin, your last spokes were ordered to length not cut.

Thanks folks! That is very helpful, especially the distinction between factory spokes and cut spokes.  

I love the chainlink.  :-)

Another quick question (hopefully): is it preferred to bring the actual hubs and rims into the shop, especially if the hub is vintage? 

That's usually a good idea. You want to ensure that you get the exact spoke length you need and that the hub flanges are inspected. Build a wheel to a damaged hub and you'll have a lot of work without much longevity.

You'll need to know what size spokes you need.  There are many combinations of rims and hubs.  A repair shop can do the calculations based on the hub flange and the rim you are using.

There are also spoke length calculators online that you can use to get your own length.  I always have a problem with measuring it right and often I will come up with a spoke that is 2mm too long.  Literally, last time I build a wheel, I did the measurements and subtracted the spoke length by 2mm and got it right.  Don't know what I'm doing wrong, but at least I'm consistent.

Yes.  Unless you can find the specs somewhere on the hubs and rim you will need to have the measured by the shop.  

prof.gfr said:

Another quick question (hopefully): is it preferred to bring the actual hubs and rims into the shop, especially if the hub is vintage? 

There are several spoke length calculators available online. St Sheldon's site lists a couple of links. i downloaded Spocalc which has an extensive database of hubs and rims (plus you can add other hubs and rims to the database.) It's proved pretty accurate in my experience. Plus it was a freebie.


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