“What’s that” I hear you ask? “Is that a new-old-stock Wheelsmith tension meter” Yep, sure is.
I’ve wanted one of these for ages, not to use because they’re pretty archaic now, but just to have. I’ve got a fascination for spoke tension meters – I just love how they work, what they do, and how a better wheel can be built when you have one and know how to correctly use it.
These Wheelsmith ones were one of the first (maybe the first?) commercially available tension meters. There is no adjustability built into the unit so instead each and every tool had to be tested and the conversion chart written for that specific tool. My one was calibrated on the 6th of November 1995 – I would have been 14 years old at the time and although I’d built a few wheels I’d never imagined running my own wheelbuilding company. It doesn’t say who did the calibration but I’d imagine it was a large American fella who drove a Chevy pickup to work that morning. Because there is no adjustability there is no way to account for wear and tear so just for fun I tested this one on our calibration jig and after nearly two decades in the box it’s off by about 30%.
Each tool was built in the USA and is individually numbered. The tension meter’s design was granted a US patent for it’s novelty.
Now all I need is the matching Wheelsmith spoke length measuring system which used a re-programmed HP calculator to do the math – keep in mind this was well before the internet. Back then we used to have a little black book which kept notes of what hub and rim was used, what spoke length was chosen, and whether this was correct. Correct spoke length was as about experience and luck. I won’t go into how we measure and calculate spoke length now but let’s just say it’s far more accurate!!
We’ll stop working for an hour tomorrow to watch Oprah. I never thought I’d say that!
I’m over the whole Lance thing but there is no denying his story could be one of the biggest drug cover ups in history and I’m curious to see what he says and who he implicates. He’s a fighter and there is no way he’s going down quietly and without making a few more bucks. If you’d like to join Gavin and I at 3pm bring a cold beverage, some popcorn, and your cynicism.
(Gotta love Canadian news reporting eh?)
Here is a visual look at a Campangolo (left) and Shimano (right) 11 speed cassette. The short story: These two cassettes should be interchangeable giving Campagnolo riders more cassette size options. It could also mean people with wheelsets where there will be no 11 speed Shimano option could use the Campagnolo conversion and run a Campangolo cassette with their Shimano 11 speed drivetrain.
Measuring cassettes is hard work – the tapered and shaped cogs mean it’s hard to find a consistent reference point. Instead I thought a visual comparison would be easier – this is taken with the longest lens I have (150mm) to reduce lens curve as much as possible, and is inline with the top two cogs. The two parallels which the cassettes are resting on are not square to the camera because they need to support the 25t Campagnolo cassette cog and the 11t Shimano. Both cassettes are fitted to freehub bodies and torqued to spec to ensure they’re suitably compressed.
I’ve got a fascination with interchangeability between different brands and models and went so far as to put together a drivetrain calculator website which currently works with 551124 possible combinations, however is a little out of date and needs some time to bring it into the 11 speed era.
The road bike has remained mostly unchanged in the past 30 or so years. The wheels, seat, and handlebar are all in the same place, and while advances in materials have meant lighter bikes with more gears the only significant changes to come along have been clipless pedals and integrated brake levers / shifters. And now you can add the disc brake to that short list.
Specialized are an amazing company although don’t let their motto Innovate or Die fool you – their real talent isn’t coming up with new ideas but rather spotting market trends and being the first of the big players to jump in. Keep in mind the development lifecycle of a production bike is 12-18 months, so what hits the showroom floor tomorrow was committed to by a product manager with a good crystal ball and big gonads a year ago.
Specialized are not the first to launch a disc road bike – there have been plenty of custom bikes (like the Independent Fabrication I ride), the Colnago C59 Disc, and the Volagi Liscio. The owners of Volagi were sued by Specialized when their bike launched last year – Specialized was awarded damages of $1 and Volagi were allowed to continue producing their bikes (and painting them red)
Specialized are unique as they’re an early adopter yet have the market scale and penetration to be seen and copied by many other bike brands. The Roubaix Disc won’t go unnoticed by the other bike brands – they’ll be watching the press, media, and sales like a hawk while they scramble to get their own disc road bikes into the market in time to ride the wave of sales.