Wheelbuilder.com :: The Wheelbuilder Difference

The Wheelbuilder Difference

Build Process/Durability - Wheelbuilder differentiates itself from other custom builders through our precision build process. This process has been developed through extensive engineering analysis to identify the critical stages of manufacturing and includes multiple quality assurance checkpoints within the process. Our critical production stages guarantee spoke tension consistency, which allows us to maximize wheel strength and deliver wheels that stay true for thousands of trouble-free miles.

Our build process includes rigorous tension measurements and Wheelbuilder's demanding standards that require highly uniform spoke tension: our tension uniformity standard for carbon fiber race wheels is 5% or less. Spoke tension uniformity measures how evenly spoke tension is distributed among spokes, and is directly related to a dramatic increase in wheel durability and how straight the wheel will remain after thousands of miles. Spoke tension is measured, analyzed, and balanced through a process that frequently yields uniformity 30% better than most wheel manufacturers.

Custom Wheels Fit the Individual - We know that listening to our customers is the critical first step in the wheel building process. Each athlete has different needs based on physiology, application, environmental conditions, and budget constraints. All custom wheel builds begin with a customer interview to help us understand the athlete, how his or her wheels will be used (racing and/or training), what tire type will be used, riding conditions and budget range. We use this information to help select the most appropriate component specifications for each athlete. We take the time to explain the trade-offs of weight, durability and component limitations for each configuration we recommend.

For instance, an athlete who weighs 110 lbs can ride a very light rim (weight benefit) built with very few spokes (aerodynamic benefit). Conversely, a 200 lb athlete will require a sturdier rim, typically built with more spokes.

Single Focus - Wheelbuilder does not operate a bike shop that also builds some wheels. Our state of the art wheel manufacturing facility allows us to focus on engineering the world's best wheels without distractions. Wheelbuilder has long history in cycling and an intimate knowledge of the wheel requirements for cycling disciplines including: Road, Track, MTB, Triathlon, Handcycle, and Wheelchair.

Uniformity - Wheelbuilder regularly benchmarks high-end race wheels and we have found 25-45% standard variance in spoke tension uniformity. The reason for such large variance in products manufactured by industry-leading companies is poor process and the economies of scale associated with high volume production.

In order to cosmetically straighten, or "true" a wheel, a technician turns adjustment screws until the wheel appears straight, which usually requires 10-15 minutes. Many wheel producers will ship a wheel at this point. The additional spoke tension measurements and tension adjustment performed at Wheelbuilder can add over one hour to the wheel build. Many companies do not understand the importance, or are not willing to invest the time, in balancing spoke tension; however the process is critical to the performance and long-term durability of wheels.

Inventory - Wheelbuilder stocks the world's largest specialty inventory of high-end bicycle wheel components, allowing us to custom build more wheel variations than other builders. With over 70,000 spokes varying in length, butting, blade type, color, and wire diameter, we are well equipped to deliver the best-optimized configuration for your application. Our extensive inventory allows us to build virtually any wheel configuration from in-house parts without having to either compromise on component selection or wait for parts to arrive from overseas suppliers.

Experience - Combining over 25 years of wheel building experience with an engineering background provides a rare combination of hands-on proficiency with technical expertise. Wheelbuilder's founder has an employment and educational history which includes building motorcycle wheels, working as a machinist and fabricator in the racecar and aerospace industries, and working as an acoustic and vibration engineer in Toyota's Research and Development Division.

Design Engineering - Wheelbuilder is dedicated to advancing the science of wheel building and innovative component breakthroughs. Engineering design projects force us to ask challenging questions on how components function. Whether we are designing stems for Olympic track sprinters, carbon fiber axles for Tour de France champions or PowerTap hubs for disc brake use, our focus remains on advancing the state of engineering in cycling.

For instance, when Saris needed a MTB version of their PowerTap hub, they came to Wheelbuilder to provide the engineering design. Saris trusted Wheelbuilder to solve the engineering challenges that mountain bike wheel builds and disc brakes present and we're proud of the final design, which is now in production.

Testing - Component testing is the heart of our building process. Developing a knowledge base of critical material limitations has given Wheelbuilder a huge advantage in creating build standards for carbon fiber, wood, and alloy wheels. Wheelbuilder knows the limitations of every wheel we build because we've taken the time and (literally) paid the price to test them to the point of failure. Very few builders have that experience or are willing to put the time and money into conducting these tests. Wheelbuilder's testing is so well regarded that rim manufacturers use our OEM testing to help set their internal build guidelines, including ultimate tension and maximum acceptable tolerance for mass production.
Proven by Champions - Wheelbuilder wheels have proven themselves worthy of the coveted podium position by world-class athletes such as Floyd Landis, Sarah Hammer, Jamie Staff and Kristin Armstrong. Wheelbuilder equipment has been the choice of Team Slipstream, Team Lipton, and Seven International Track Teams.

Assembly Preparation - Superior assembly methods begin with meticulous preparation. We verify roundness and surface finish on each rim, and then remove all manufacturing burrs prior to lacing. Each spoke is coated with a Teflon-based locking compound, and nipples are individually inspected for uniformity.

Assembly Tooling - Our assembly tooling is custom designed for the highly specialized task of precision wheel building. We manufacture our own tooling, which allows us to build extremely deep carbon fiber race wheels without dropping nipples inside the rim, while maintaining an accurate thread revolution count. Our custom-built press dies allow us to remove and install high precision ceramic bearings without impact and without removing the hub from the wheel, delivering perfect alignment for every installation.
Precision Machine Shop - Wheelbuilder has a machine shop on premises, allowing us to develop prototypes and manufacture components. We initiate concepts and use advanced computer aided engineering tools to design and analyze them. Everything from customized wheel building tools to carbon fiber axles used for the Tour de France can be manufactured to our exacting specifications.
Wheel system uniformity is critical to the performance and long-term durability of wheels. Tensiometers - Tensiometers are highly specialized measurement devices which are used to quantify spoke tension values. Wheelbuilder uses a combination of commercially available meters and our own custom meters tuned to collect data with maximum resolution.

Calibration - Precision builds MUST be repeatable. We have designed and developed our own digital calibration cells , which allow us to examine each tensiometer and maintain accuracy across all of our measurement equipment.

Quality Control - Consistent build quality is where we shine. From our inception we adopted methods developed and proven by Toyota in global automotive manufacturing to consistently produce excellence. No part of our process is left to chance or subjective interpretation. Every parameter from inventory control to final tension verification is scrutinized and documented prior to a product being released for sale.

Data-Driven Build Specifications - 25-years of wheel building experience has been compiled into a huge database of maximum allowable tension, tension tolerance, maximum tension to failure, uniformity specifications, tolerance and failure modes. Every type of wheel (e.g., manufacturer, type, model, and material) has data which guides our digital tension measurement and computer-aided analysis. This results in wheels with higher tension and closer uniformity standards than any other commercially available wheel.

Wheelbuilder Culture - Wheelbuilder's work culture values honesty and integrity with extreme pride in workmanship. The workplace is a fun environment with a friendly, dedicated, and proactive staff who are proud to work at Wheelbuilder. The emphasis at every level of Wheelbuilder is passion and heart for the work performed. Wheelbuilder is well regarded in the market and has a significant proportion of repeat customers primarily because of our customer-focus. Customer relationships are critical to our success and we ensure that all interactions with customers and the public reflect positively on the Wheelbuilder organization.

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