A few month ago I rebuilt an old Trek 4300 mountain bike and after that project was finished one of the guys at the local bike shop suggested that for my next project I should build a wheel. I thought about his suggestion for a few moments and then told him to order the parts so I could build a new front wheel for my Gary Fisher Big Sur. Back in January I had purchased a Park Tool Professional Wheel Truing Stand (TS-2.2) so I could true my own wheels and a wheel building project would be a real learning experience for me.
Park Tool Professional Wheel Truing Stands have been used in professional bike shops for over 35 years and the TS-2.2 model keeps up with current trends by accepting up to 29″ wheels (with or without the tire removed) and rim widths of up to 4″ (great if you own a Surly Pugsley or other Fat Bike). This truing stand is made of nickel chrome plated heavy gauge steel and is definitely a precision instrument. When not in use it fold us into a fairly compact unit and does not take up much room on your workbench or shelf.
While this unit is called the professional model, it is easy enough to use that even a rank amateur (like me) can use it. For practice I trued the wheels on all five of my bikes and on a few extra wheel sets I had in the garage. Bike shops in my area charge about $20 to true a wheel and $45 to build one (plus parts). I really didn’t buy this truing stand to save money—I got it because I enjoy working on my own bikes. However, it really won’t take long for this truing stand to pay for itself.
Some people mount their truing stand to a workbench for stability, but since I knew I wouldn’t be using the stand all that often I bought a Park Tool Truing Stand Base (the black tray in the photo above). This base unit has three small bins to store small items such as spoke nipples or rim tape, and there is also a spot for you to keep three spoke wrenches. Park Tool Professional Wheel Truing Stands are supposed to be calibrated before they leave the factory, but mine wasn’t so I bought a Park Tool Centering Gauge (1554-1) to center the stand (if I had a perfectly true wheel to begin with I could have used it instead). One other item you need for a properly adjusted wheel is the Park Tool TM-1 Tension Meter which allows you to make sure your wheels are properly and uniformly tensioned.
The Park Tool Professional Wheel Truing Stand (TS-2.2) retails for $240, and the optional base unit is $36. The Park Tool TM-1 Tension Meter has a retail price of $75, and the Centering Gauge is $70. You can save a few dollars on these items if you buy them from Amazon.com. However, I would strongly suggest you buy them from your local bike shop—you might have to pay full retail prices, but they can give you some helpful guidance that will save you a lot of time and frustration.
In case you were wondering, when I built the wheel for my Gary Fisher Big Sur I used a Mavic 317 rim, stainless steel spokes, brass nipples, a Shimano Deore XT hub, and a Shimano center mount disc rotor. After I got the wheel finished I took it back to the local bike shop so they could inspect it to make sure it was road worthy (it passed the test).