Father and son show how it’s done.
Father and son show how it’s done.
From Revolution Cycles, a new shop in Columbus, Ohio. They’re apparently too busy building gorgeous bikes to activate their new web site. Expect more from Jared Cavileer and friends.
Please don’t read further if you are not a spoke engineering nerd.
One of the best examinations of wheel physics and spoke performance is a 1996 paper by Henri Gavin, Bicycle Wheel Spoke Patterns and Spoke Fatigue.
Its findings and predictions stimulate numerous revisits every year in forums and exchanges that explore the principles of bicycle wheels. On page 11 he refers to spoke testing conducted at Stanford in 1984 and 1985 by Wheelsmith. My brother Jon and I were developing a superior spoke at that time and the convenient and friendly presence of Stanford in our neighborhood led to some ground breaking research. Spokes were tested and some conclusions reached. Recently, Charles Ramsey speculated what would be the ideal spoke design, one in which breakage at the elbow was as likely as at the thread.Read more →
In June of this year (2010) we shipped a pair of Elegant tubular rims to Donald Dickson in Virginia. He built them up on NOS Campagnolo large flange hubs from the 1970’s that he found on eBay.
“I must be the only person in the country riding the Ghisallo rims,” he said. No, it just seems like that since so much of the cycling world follows in each other’s footsteps. Check the previous post, you’re not alone.
On Oct 9, Donald rode a local Ultra Gran Fondo from Mexico City to Acapulco on the toll highway.
On account of problems with the route, the riders were portaged 140km, so the total became 240km. Not bad. “Plenty of compliments on the aesthetic factor. The ride is smooth.”
Sometimes, to be ahead of the crowd you have to go in another direction.
Some days life can seem pretty ordinary, even boring. But now and again, each of us manages to break up the monotony with something heroic. Some more than others.
Last year, Tom Inskeep, from Maryland, bought a set of wood wheels. I sensed he was taking them for more than a decorative, restoration look. In fact, he had a wild scheme in mind: equip his bamboo Calfee with wood rims and race New Hampshire’s legendary Mt. Washington Hill Climb. 526 starters. One on wood rims.
Well, he trained on this new rig and finished in the top third. Bravo! It’s enough to climb the mountain. Doing it on a largely wood bicycle puts the achievement into another category of heroism. This is the stuff Tom’s grandchildren will someday remember him for.
Take two bits of wisdom from Tom’s exploit:
(1) Wood rims are genuinely functional. They’re fast, smooth, and fun. Tom didn’t deserve a handicap in the hillclimb. His bike and wheels were fully competitive.
(2) Make sure you’re planning something heroic for yourself. What defines heroism? That’s for you to decide. But grab something bold, unconventional, and memorable. Your life and family deserve the stimulation. If it involves wood rims, send me the story and a picture!
While many of you admire and some ride wood rims, nearly no one has seen how they are made. So, you can imagine my pleasure when Antonio sent me a 20 minute movie in which he and his father, Giovanni, demonstrate their craft.
Watch some familiar wood working machines and some built 100 years ago, expressly for wood rims. There’s nothing like true artisans with the tools of their trade.
We’re grateful to Daniele Di Lodovico, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, for his partial translation of the Cermenati’s description. Kristina Hjertberg applied the subtitles.
In this three clip session, you’ll see the basic method for building a Ghisallo rim. Naturally, the details vary from rim to rim. Lately, the highest performance tubular rims are made from equal thickness, 4mm laminations with cotton cloth between each. These are thin enough to bend dry.
Of course, you can’t see the decades of experience that guide these masters in selecting wood, orienting and matching grain, wetting and drying laminates, and shaping the final rim. It’s as non-automated, a hands-on process as you will see: the handiwork of a family of dedicated artisans, in the name of cycling. Each rim contains a generous portion of their life and wisdom.
[Note: this is #9 of a series of 20]
Back in the 1970’s, aluminum nipples were rare. We had superlight tires (<200g), superlight rims (<260g), and superlight spokes (butted 15 ga), but no one thought about aluminum instead of traditional brass for nipples because the weight savings is small (~20g/wheel) and a nipple failure is just as bad as spoke breakage. The only aluminum nipples available were made from inferior alloys and didn’t impress serious riders and builders.
In the 1980’s, companies like DT and Wheelsmith set their sights on making high quality aluminum nipples. In Wheelsmith’s case, the solution was four-fold. One, use 7075 aluminum, which has superior hardness. Two, make the nipple with 30% more threading so the chance of stripped threads is reduced. Three, forge the nipple rather than machine it to shape, to increase metal integrity. Lastly, rely upon recently developed thread compounds (Spoke Prep) to reduce friction and prevent corrosion, both a much greater concern with aluminum than brass. Read more →
One of the hardest working pairs of Ghisallo wood rim wheels sit quietly on my friend Phil’s bike in Sandpoint, Idaho.
400 hundred people gathered to say goodbye to Phil Role on a recent sunny Sunday in prime riding weather. Phil would have been pleased by the turnout and especially by those who proudly wore the local bike club jersey. The same one draped over his bike on the stage.
Phil and I met in college and spent 4 years forging a strong friendship. After college we went our separate ways but reconnected over the years, in large part, because of Phil’s magnetic pull. He was the center of a constellation of friends from all his various interests and I was glad to be included.
Phil was an Easterner born and bred, but he married a westerner Mary Catherine Streiff and, after medical school, made his home in the Northwest. At the memorial many people commented how he lived life to the fullest, taking advantage of all the Northwest and especially Sandpoint offered. He loved great food and wine because it fueled family, cycling, skiing, flying, river rafting, and his community building style.
After college we reconnected especially over bikes. On the stage at his memorial was the bike, built by Gene Agbayani, that I designed while working at Triple E Cyclery in Mountain View, CA in 1974. The shop name stood for “ecology, economy and exercise.” Phil proved the name true by pulling me around an icy loop by beautiful Lake Pend Oreille one recent Thanksgiving on that bike.
My, my, Phil and that bike. Thirty-four years, give or take, of riding and racing. As people said at the service, this was his good bike, the “one he stored inside.” I was happy to see the long defunct store’s logo t-shirt also draped over his bike frame last Sunday.
Philip Role fought a long and courageous battle against Multiple Myeloma and died at home with his family around him on Friday morning June 11, 2010. It was an honor to have him as a friend and too-occasional riding companion.
Phil’s unofficial obituary.
First off, sorry for my sluggish posting of late. I’ve got a number of pressing projects right now and you’ll be hearing news about them soon.
In the meantime, I’ve got some Morizumi’s back in stock and they ALL feature a cool new pair of lever knobs. Hard to believe we’ve been adoring these machines for years with only featureless levers. No more!
This shape is magical. Mr. Morizumi found the right ergonomics from Italy. Read more →
Where’s the Wheels?
I only attended Handmade Shows in San Jose and Portland; and then the first Manifest in Portland. So, like most of you, I’m experiencing subsequent Handmades through blogs and journalists. After reading reviews of the latest event in Richmond, some thoughts come to mind.
Designers and artists know about white space. The absence of color is just as important to the outcome as the marks you make. Some traditions, like Chinese landscape painting, are built around the careful management of emptiness. It takes enormous confidence to make best use of white space. Understatement, another form of white space, is a more demanding expression than over embellishment. The Handmade Show’s bicycles seem, for the most part, to be over decorated.
Intricacy is mesmerizing: ivory carving, Russian egg decoration, miniature jewelry… captivating. But for my taste, details can be over applied to a bicycle frame. Worst case, it’s an excuse for lack of confidence. Pile on the features and a frame’s value grows. Is there a limit, a reasonable balance of function, decoration, and simplicity? Builders like Masi and Colnago built their early careers on super simplified frame design. They certainly wouldn’t rate attention in today’s Handmade scene. Read more →