Update: We have since stopped stocking Ghisallo wood rims. To purchase, please visit their online store.
Wood was the exclusive material for racing rims for over 70 years. All Classics, Tours, Olympics, and Championships were contested on wood. If retro style posters, such as “Drinkers and Smokers,” were colorized from black and white, one of the biggest shocks would be the wood rims.
I stock 3 models:
- Corsa (330g), 36H, 700C tubular (for sewup tires)
- Elegant (420g), 32H or 36H, 700C tubular (for sewup tires)
- Sport (560g) 32H, 700C clincher (for wired on tires)
The prices include 3/4″ nipples and washers. See our store for current pricing. The material is aged Slovenian beech from a special grove that has been harvested sparingly for rims over many generations. The workmanship is extraordinary. Construction consists of as many as five laminations, bonded with modern 2-part epoxy. The joinery is practically undetectable. The rims are finished in polyurethane lacquer.
Any brake pad works but, as wood won’t absorb heat, the pads can melt. Once the rim is smeared with melted pad, brake effect is diminished. This is a crisis on a long, uninterrupted descent. In spite of the danger, this issue didn’t stop riders from crossing the Alps for many decades. The rims suffer from braking with a lot of dirt and grit. The abrasive effect will tear up the wood quickly. Water, however, is no problem as long as the wheels can dry out slowly. Cork or leather pads are also good but I don’t know a source at present. Pads designed for carbon rims, that are more temperature resistant, seem to work well on wood.
A sustained descent in wet, sandy, gritty conditions could deeply erode a wood rim. Conceivably, it could be destroyed in one long day. So, obviously, a different approach is required. Avoid such conditions and stop to remove grit from brake pads if you’re caught. Riders of the past managed these conditions, so you can too.
If your wheels become very wet, do not worry. Wood and water are a good combination. Just make sure the rims have a chance to dry slowly, for example, in a dry temperate room.