Custom Wheel Building at Aaron's Bicycle Repair, Inc.

What is a custom wheel? Simply put it is any wheel built by an experienced professional mechanic in a shop setting. Contrary to bicycle magazine reviews, the best wheels are still built one at a time at your local bike shop. Nothing can come close! Sure the fancy wheels from Shimano, Rolf, Cane Creek and others are light and responsive. However, the thing they neglect to tell you is those wheels are made for RACE ONLY conditions. They do not hold up to daily use! Our roads in Seattle are far from perfect and you will only have problems with a complete wheel from a major brand. When one spoke on a 16 spoke rear wheel breaks, for example, you will be walking home because wheel will go so far out of true that the tire will rub the frame.

Aaron has over 30 years' experience and Mikey over 20. Together we have built tens of thousands of wheels! Let us design and build a wheel for you and your particular needs and you will NEVER have any problems with it! Guaranteed! We back this up with FREE TRUING FOREVER. Come by and we will help you decide on the very best wheel for your needs. Our only stipulation for the warranty is that you buy the rim and spokes from us.

A wheel we built for Dirt World

If you are looking for 650B wheels come see us!

When we build you a wheel it is Guaranteed for Life! No hassles: just straight, true & strong wheels every time and FREE TRUING FOREVER, even if you crash or break a spoke!      Wheel Building Labor
Our Master Mechanics have many years' experience building wheels. (Aaron has 25+ years, Mikey 20+)
We do not sell wheels via mail order with the exception of weird jobs your LBS can not or will not do.

48 Spoke Rohloff Wheel
Different Rim and Hub Drilling Combinations

Just a few of the high quality components we like to build with:

We will also build with almost any component you choose, but may not stand behind the durability of the wheel.
We will NOT build a wheel with a carbon rim.
We will also build on your hub. (Warranty included)
We will also build with your rim and hub. (No warranty)
In certainn cases a rim can be reused, but spokes almost never.
WE STRONGLY DISCOURAGE THE USE OF ALLOY NIPPLES. We will only use them for racing wheels. The weight savings is not worth the disadvantage in durability!

Many people ask us about MAVIC rims. We do not sell them because we have seen too many MAVIC rims crack prematurely. The extrusion is too thin and the aluminum too brittle.

Dipping the Spokes in Linseed Oil to lubricate and prevent loosening. Linseed Oil dries to a gel-like consistency and acts as a thread locker, while still allowing the nipple to turn.

Mike crossing the spokes 3-Cross, the strongest way to build most wheels. Also the Drive-Side Pulling Spokes are installed on the outside. This makes the wheel stronger and it will stay true longer.


Unfortunately, many companies are now touting the virtues of speed, aerodynamics and light weight in their fancy wheel sets. Some brands are Rolf, Cane Creek, Spinergy, Mavic, Shimano and others. If you read the fine print in the manuals that come with these wheels they will say they are a lightweight, high performance wheel set not designed for constant use. Basically they are saying these wheels are Race Only! Contrary to popular opinion, racing is not that hard on equipment. Commuting or hard off-road riding is much harder on parts. Unlike racing, the conditions are less controlled and the bike sees many more miles. Consequently, these wheels hold up better under racing conditions and should not be used for training or everyday use. Get a pair of hand built 32 or 36 spoke count standard wire wheels and you will have far fewer problems. Maintenance is also cheaper on standard spoked wheels.

Problems/Disadvantages we have seen with these wheels:

Some light weight people (under 165 pounds) or those with lots of finesse have success with these wheels but the rest of us should shy away from them. If you already have a set, keep it for special days or racing and have us build you a durable set you will never have problems with. Guaranteed!

Our Phil Wood spoke cutting/threading machine can cut any color, size, type or material of spoke.
We can even re-cut old zinc plated spokes for period correct restorations!
We stock blank quality stainless straight gauge and double butted spokes from Phil Wood, Sapim and DT. All spokes come with DT nipples.

We can accurately measure and calculate spoke length for your rim and hub. Bring them to us for in-person measurements. Published dimensions are often wrong due to manufacturing tolerances and die wear. If we measure your hub and rim, then we guarantee the spoke length will be correct!

We can build you any fun/cool lacing pattern you like.
Crow's foot, for example, is a strong way to save a little weight, it is also a great conversation piece at the pre-ride coffee / post-ride beer!

Lacing Patterns

Please note: The following fancy lacing patterns should be reserved for front wheels or show bikes only.
Consult your local bike shop's Master Wheel Builder if you are not sure.

More Lacing Patterns
Click images of wheels we have built for detail of lacing pattern.

2-Leading 2-Trailing

A 24 hole rim laced to a 36 hole hub.

Below is another 16 x 1/38" (349mm) wheel we built for a Brompton. The customer had purchased the hub, only available in 36 holes, online but the rims are only available in 28 and 32 holes. His wheel has 32 spokes.

Many other factors contribute to wheel durability such as: road conditions, grades ridden, tire size, tire pressure, rider finesse, cargo weight, rim profile, wheel diameter, etc.
When deciding on a new wheel, it is best for your mechanic to see your bike as well. There are many variables to consider, especially with rear wheels. That way we can best help you choose the best wheel for you.

This table lists the minimum spoke count based on rider weight to qualify for the ABR wheel warranty.
Rider Weight
Less than 165 Lbs.
166 to 220 Lbs
221 to 280 Lbs
281 Lbs +

A simpler method, favored by our head mechanic Mikey, is to match your waist size to the number of spokes in your rear wheel!