29 July 2009


There are few things that put me at ease like building wheels does. If you look at it from an outside perspective, you'll just see a pile of spokes sticking out from a hub like a monstrous squid. Its easy for a newbie to be a little scared of this creature, but once you know how to tame it, he is your friend. I started off pretty rough, but I was taught to build by a fantastic wheelbuilder.

I knew today was going to be a long day; lots of projects, lots of customers, and lots of wheels to build. Its 'cross season so the flavour of the month is 32 hole hubs on either a Velocity Escape or Mavic Reflex. They are actually some of my favourite wheels to build, mainly because of the sensitivity of the rims and light spokes. They react with each twist of your fingers, and you can feel the wheel gain its energy.

A wheel starts out its life as a pile of parts, but the result isn't equal to the sum of its parts. It becomes an object with characteristics and personality. It also needs to be built by a competent and sensitive hand, so that it can reach its potential. The best hubs, the lightest spokes, and the fanciest rims can be spoiled by the details. Proper prep is often overlooked locally; lots of dry spokes tossed in a hub, dry rim, labels not facing the proper direction, all of these contribute to a non-PRO wheel. Spoke length is also an unknown science to folks as well, I recently rebuilt a set of wheels that had 7 different length spokes. Spoke tension also seems to be baffling.....

So, to my pleasure, I had a stack of rims arrive today, a few boxes of spokes, and some hubs to lace up. My reputation has been spreading in town as the "Wheel-Guy", so it seems like I'm having more conversations about wheels everyday. I'd really just like to build wheels all day if I could get by on that.

So, stressful day mostly avoided, just hand me a wheel to build, and I'll be fine.

1 comment:

nickleonard said...

i ventured into my first wheel build about a week ago. great fun. i was pretty nervous as i don't have the experience you guys have. A liter of fat tire down the gullet while the spoke prep was drying made things go smoother!!!haha. www.rivercitycannondale.blogspot.com has my story. i don't think i'll buy another machine built wheel again. to much fun!!!