Such a small world, seems every day brings another reminder. I recently sold an FSA spoke tension gauge to Charles Carrie, an accomplished wheel builder and triathlete (11 Ironmans!), whose shop is 20 km southeast of Paris. He began asking question about Ghisallo wood rims. Before you know it, he built a pair:
His curiosity just grew from there and last week he became the Ghisallo distributor for France and Monaco. If you read French, check his site.
Wood rims have a hypnotic effect on bystanders but they exert a greater effect on wheel builders. Building is a challenge, a dance, a puzzle, like a kata (karate routine). The mind must be clear and focused. While strategy and movement are practiced and repetitive, there is a large element of unknown. Every set of materials (as every karate opponent) is different, yet familiar. The builder must adjust spontaneously to the unfolding physics.
A rim is a rim, attachment point for spokes, beam that bears compressive loads, a hoop to be made as symmetrical as possible. While all that is true regardless of material, wood still comes as a surprise to those familiar only with aluminum and carbon rims. I admit when I built my first, I felt a bit of disbelief. Rims work so hard and matter so much, how could wood possibly succeed? Then, when the wheel was finished and felt great, I had one of those “aha” moments. I was hooked.
Here’s a quote from a post a year ago, a very experienced builder is having such an “aha” moment. He lists all the numbers because I think he can’t yet quite believe what just took place:
I just completed one of the wood wheels with uniformity as good as any carbon wheel. I took time to carefully true the wheel initially then perfectly balance tension at 40kg. Next I checked tension and trued the wheel before winding up to 70kg in two stages. At 70kg I kept the wheel straight within 0.007 inch laterally and 0.014 radially. Spoke tension is uniform within 3-5% between spokes. The wheel is beautiful ! I think the 70kg number is a sweet spot for those rims.
Now I hate waiting until the next chance to build with wood. Here is Charles’ upcoming combo (brown King hubs, Elegant rims, DT spokes):
Since I’ve showed you one of my workshops (in the Morizumi demo video), here’s a glimpse of Charles’ shop in France. No need for translation, the bicycle shares a universal language:
I’m sure we’ll have interesting news from Charles in the months to come.