Monday, April 22, 2013

When did $1,100 become reasonable...

For $1,100 one could purchase a lot of things.  Heck, some families in the world make due with less than that to support themselves for the whole year.  According to VeloNews dot com, the new series of wheels from DT Swiss "hits a reasonable price point between $1,060 - $1,140."  Reasonable.  Maybe compared to the ├╝ber expensive wheels that seem to be everywhere.  Eleven hundred dollars is still a lot of money.  I'm sure the wheels are very nice.  DT Swiss makes some great hubs and spokes and rims.  I use a lot of their parts.  Heck, a friend I've known for years works at DT Swiss in Switzerland.  

One thing I do like about these wheels is that it is essentially one wheelset that is offered in different sizes and widths.  They didn't try to reinvent the wheel for each option.  Three diameters, three widths.  About $1,100.  Reasonable.

Now, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  For $852, I can build you a set of wheels with the excellent White Industries MI6 hubs, No Tubes ZTR rims (Crest, Arch EX, or Flow EX in 26", 27.5", or 29"), DT Swiss black Competition butted spokes with DT Swiss black brass nipples.  That's also complete with NoTubes yellow rim tape and valves.  Tubeless ready for $250 to $300 less than that DT wheelset and with a spoke system that can be serviced anywhere, unlike this one.  Heck, with that savings, you can get yourself set up with new tires, cassette and still have money left over for beer and burgers for all your friends post-ride.  

Okay, one thing you will need.  Depending on the way your wheel fits into your bike, you may need quick releases.  

Makings of a wheelset

(What's playing:   Pixies Hey)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I alluded to receiving some new rims that aren't available anywhere else.  That's not an entirely true statement.  They are available.  It's just that you have to order them direct from the manufacturer in China and pay $35 shipping per rim.  That puts that rim at $105 each.  Not bad as there are rims that cost more and rims that cost less.  

What rim is this?  It's the H Plus Son TB14 rim in 36 hole.  Currently, this rim is only available from US distributors in 32 hole.  After receiving a couple requests from folks for this rim in 36 hole, I ordered a couple boxes of 36 hole rims in polished silver, black, and hard anodized finishes direct from China.  Seems there's quite a few folks looking to rebuild their old 36 hole wheels with a silver box section rim to keep the classic look of their bike intact.  Box section rims in the old Mavic MA2/MA40 style are about as rare as hen's teeth. The TB14 rim is a rim that is a natural extension of the old Mavic classic rims.  The profile matches the Mavic rims to a "T," while bringing it into the 21st century with a 23mm wide cross-section that is great when running 25 and 28 tires.  It even gives a 23mm wide tire a more voluminous shape.  The rim joint is welded and the brake track is machined.  I've built a few of the 32h TB14 rims and they do build into nice wheels.  Weight?  Don't know for sure as my scale is broken, but they weigh what they weigh - not too heavy, not too light.  According to the website, they're supposed to weigh 490 grams. 

The guys at H Plus Son were great to work with and only a few days after they received payment, I had a FedEx delivery of rims.  The good news is that the 36h TB14 rims I have are only a couple dollar upcharge over the 32h rims at $82 for polished silver or all black and $94 for hard anodized.  So, there ya go.  They say the aluminum box section rim is dead.  I say long live the aluminum box section rim!

H+Son TB14
H+Son TB14

(What's playing:  Johnny Cash I Won't Back Down)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wheels and bikes oh my...

It's a good thing I don't set myself a regular schedule for posting to the blog.  I would have failed miserably seeing that the last post was about 2 weeks ago.  That's not because I've been sitting my hands, not doing anything.  On the contrary, it seems that the addition of the custom wheel page has sparked quite a bit of interest in handbuilt wheels.  Several sets have gone out the door and more are in the queue.  This is in addition to the bike builds that are going on.  I've also got some rims coming into the shop that seem to not be available anywhere else.  

On the bike front, a 62cm road bike with a SRAM Apex/Rival build went out as well as a 65cm cross bike that was built with parts transferred from a 63cm Bianchi Vigorelli. 


59cm Cross
 And this 59cm cross bike was wrapped up today for a weekend of fun on Bay Area roads and trails.  The bar tape is a nod to Guitar Ted.

And I'll end it with a couple of wheels.  The new rims showed up today, but I'll leave that for another blog post.  Spread things out a touch.  

White Dyad
This White Industries T11 hubset built into Velocity Dyad rims was one of those wheelsets that turns out so right that I just wanted to keep them for myself.  But alas, they should be tearing up the terrain in Austin, TX this weekend.  

One does not automatically associate the HED Belgium rim with a 29"er.  However, the HED rim is a perfect candidate for a rim brake 29"er.  The width of the rim will support a 2.1, it has a nice tall brake track, and the overall quality and build feel is perfect for a 29"er with rim brakes.  This single-speed wheelset built with King hubs and Sapim CX-Ray spokes will see many miles around Marin's trails.

(What's playing:  KWMR Friday Funkfest with the Fairfax Funkateer - check this out for a great funk radio show