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Not simply content with offering industry-leading hubs from DT Swiss, Hope, Chris King and White Industries the wheel boffins here at Wheelworks have developed our own top of the line hubs. More details will come as we go live with the product

Before any new prototype product goes ahead here at Wheelworks it needs to be tested heavily in adverse conditions by absolute hitters to ensure its ready to stand up to the conditions we tend to ride and race in here in NZ. We already know they are lighter than a DT Swiss 240, the 36 point freehub engagement offers lightning pick up while feeling friction free. The bearings run smoother than anything we have ever built with and now its over to our man Joshua Aldridge to test the long term durability

He has shaken the pro stigma of “dont train on carbon” with his very own pair of Maker 35mm Superlights that will be his full time training and race wheels bolted onto his very distinctive SwiftCarbonbikesSwiftcarbon NZ

Hes put 3000Ks on them already including Elite Nationals and has the UCI NZ cycle classic with Blindz Direct Cycling Team commencing this weekend to further put them through their paces

Give em hell mate – WW lads

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Chris Cannondale Disc Makers

Off to meet his Cannondale Synapse disc in the trade mark Cannondale green

We see a lot of the mullet 35/50mm combos with the road rim brake wheels and with our wheelbuilder Gav and now Chris on the disc version Mullets we should see the most practical race ready option grow from strength to strength

Chris’s pair are laced up to the top tier DT 240 Centre lock hubs using the top of the line bladed DT Swiss Aerolite spokes.

Enjoy mate – Gav, T and JP

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Flite Wide Carbon two-year followup by NZ Mountain Bike Magazine

From New Zealand Mountain Bike Magazine, issue 77, page 22

We all want the latest and greatest piece of kit to strap to our bikes, which often means we have to take a leap of faith on durability. Rather than “what colour is it?” what should really be asking is “will it break?” A long term review is the gold standard – especially one where the product has been pushed hard in a range of situations by several riders. Luckily, we’ve had the chance to test these Flite carbon wheels over the last two years and have a good grip (!) on how they have performed.

I received these wheels brand new back in July 2014 from Wellington-based boutique wheel builders Wheelworks. I rode them hard and nearly every day for a couple of months. After that they were ridden pretty much non-stop as a test wheelset for potential buyers, as well as Wheelworks sponsored athlete and EWS competitor Carl Jones (hence the rim-stickers). I gave the back one what I thought was a terminal collision with an embedded rock on my first ride and Carl tells me he hit both the front and the back rims hard one after the other on the same object (BANG!BANG!) at the recent Toa Enduro. Now I have them back to see how they’ve held up after being pounded pretty solidly for two years.

But before I look at how they’ve fared after two years of hard use (or on the off chance you missed the original review back in issue 66 and didn’t commit to memory every word of my polished prose back then), I’ll summarise the wheel details now: English made Hope Pro 2 hubs, laced with bladed DT butted spokes to Flite 34mm (internal) wide carbon rims. The rims feature a hookless bead and a good tubeless lip. I can tell you they weigh 1685 grams; if you think you need wheels lighter than this then I wish you all the best at the XC race at the Olympics this year.

So, how are they now? They’re still as tight as a tiger for one thing (which is of course an imperial measurement of spoke tension, with loose as a goose at the other end of the scale. Anyway, spoke tension is still tight is the point I’m getting at). And Wheelworks tell me they haven’t touched them with a spoke-key since new. That’s frankly impressive given the harsh upbringing they’ve had. They still give incredible support to tyres to allow low pressures without squirming. Tyres are still mounted easily, blow up easily and have never burped.

After changing tyres a few times I did find though that some tyres come up pretty square (flat-topped) and lose their cornering edge – a common characteristic of such wide rims. This is not a good thing when it comes to leaning the bike over, as the cornering knobs can suddenly disappear, and so can your front wheel. So, make sure you mount a big tyre, with a nice crowned (round) shape to it, especially on the front. I’ve been running a Maxxis Minion DHF lately and before that a Schwalbe Magic Mary. Both of these mate very well with the wide carbon rim and can be run at low pressures (20 psi up front) and so provide unbeatable grip but with zero squirm – which is what the whole wide-rim thing is all about. And stiffness too – especially for big guys on 29ers – you’re more likely than anyone to feel how much less ‘twanging’ and weird handling moments are produced with stiff carbon rims like these.

The bearings in the rear hub are a bit rough and due for replacement, but you can’t really complain about that after two years of solid use. They’re easy enough to replace too. Still, I should point out that the freehub bearings were rough some time ago and early wear on these has been an issue with Hope Pro 2 bearings and the standard 10 thru axle a few years back. It’s not such an issue with the XD driver for some reason. In any case, I’m told it’s an issue that has been addressed with a bigger bearing in the new Hope Pro 4 hubs, which essentially replace the Pro 2s and are available on all new Wheelworks wheels.

To be honest, while I’m not a carbon-hater, I would have been nervous about using carbon rims in some situations (like far away from help) before seeing how well these wheels have stood up over time. But seeing how they’ve handled the last 2 years, I’d run this carbon wheelset happily in any situation. Each of the big hits they took with me and then Carl Jones at the helm may well have been curtains for a lesser wheelset, but these came through entirely unscathed. Nope, not a scratch on them (actually, there are plenty of little superficial scratches on the outside of the rim, from all the miles they’ve done, but nothing more). In contrast, I’ve still got a lot of time for alloy frames over carbon frames in some situations (mainly because of frames I’ve seen with crushed in carbon tubes after pretty minor tumbles).

So, they’ll stand up to abuse. In fact, since my first review, Wheelworks have added a lifetime guarantee to the wheels – which covers rim damage from impacts and spoke breakage. You what? Yes, a lifetime guarantee on wheels. No other wheel offers this guarantee as far as I’m aware.

As you can probably tell, I’m very impressed with these wheels. While they’re not cheap, they’re also not the most expensive wheelset out there either, but with the performance they offer and the apparent longevity, they have to be one of the best, if not the best, option out there at the moment.

Carl Patton

nzm77 FLITE 130516

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What is Boost?

What is Boost?

Our friends at Spoke Magazine recently asked what this new standard is and what effects it has on wheels. Boost refers to front hubs which are 10mm wider and rear hubs which are 6mm wider than ‘standard.’  Boost front hubs use the same diameter 15mm front and 12mm rear axles.
By making the hubs wider wheels can be built which are stiffer, and more clearance is vailable for 11 speed drivetrains.

 

The wider Boost rear hub means that cassette is moved outboard by 3mm and so Boost-specific cranks and chainrings are needed to retain good chainline.
We have Boost hubs in stock at flitewheels.com from Hope and DT Swiss and we’re waiting on Chris King and a couple of other options to arrive.

Does Boost make a stronger wheel?

No, not really.  All things being equal there will be only a marginal increase in wheel strength and possibly an equally marginal increase in the resistance to taco-ing in a really big crash. We’re talking tiny amounts though.

FRONT HUBS

Does Boost make a stiffer wheel?

Yes.  The wider Boost hub flanges allow the spokes to make a wider triangle and better support the rim.  This increase in wheel stiffness was the primary driver for the development of Boost.  Many new wheelsets use straight-pull hubs and these have a decrease in flange width of approximately 3mm so moving to Boost reclaims what was lost by using straight-pull.

 

This may go against what the Industry tells you but straight-pull hubs will decrease the wheel’s stiffness because of the extra room needed to lay the pulling and pushing spokes side by side.  If the Industry had stuck with J-bend spokes there wouldn’t be much need for Boost, but the cost-savings of wheelbuilding with straight-pull hubs have driven their adoption.

 

The drive-side spoke bracing angle on a typical rear wheel is around 4.3* and Boost will increase this by 0.6*.  That’s not a whole lot.

REAR HUBS

Is Boost the same as 27.5+

No.  Boost refers to the hub with, the + refers to tyre width.  It’s worth mentioning that many + bikes use Boost hubs though.

Do I need to move to Boost?

No.  You could buy Boost forks but you can’t retrofit a Boost rear-end to your bike, and even if you could the advantages aren’t enough to justify the cost.
What compatibility is there with my current wheels and crankset?

None.  A Boost frame requires a Boost hub, and unlike the move from 135mm quick release to 142×12 the actual hub has widened meaning that it’s not possible to run a Boost frame without Boost wheels, or to run Boost wheels in a non-Boost frame.

 

There might be some front wheels which are adaptable but this will be a hack and they won’t be true Boost so you won’t have any of the advantages.

 

To run the correct Boost chainline you’ll need either a new chainring or a new crankset, depending on what make and model you’ve currently got.

My head hurts

Mine too.  Just like cell phones or laptops the cycling industry is constantly looking for negligible improvements on products.  Anyone who has compared a 5 year old bike to a modern one will notice the sum of many small improvements.

Should I factor Boost into a new fork / bike decision

Yes and no.  I don’t think the advantages of Boost are enough to justify picking one bike or fork over the other – I’d argue that a ‘good’ bike without Boost is better than a ‘bad’ bike with it.

However Boost looks to be the new ‘standard’ so if you’re upgrading then it would make sense to get the most current ‘standards’ possible.

Boost wide hubs + Derby wide rims

Spoke Magazine took this pair of 40mm wide Derby rims expertly laced by Gavin onto Hope Pro2 Boost hubs and they’ll be putting them through their paces over the next few weeks. Spoiler alert: If the last pair of our wheels is anything to go by they’ll love them.
Questions about Boost?

Do you still have questions about Boost? Drop Tristan a line on 04 387 3592 or tristan@wheelworks.co.nz

Spoke Boost

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Build process

There are two elements to our lifetime guarantee:  Helping you select the correct components for your needs, and then assembling those components with an unsurpassed level of attention and skill.  We built this pair of White Ind T11 hubs and Pacenti SL23 rims for our dealer in Sydney, Wheelhaus, and we documented the day’s work on their Instagram feed.

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First up the rims and hubs are inspected for any scratches or damage. Our computer system allocates each wheelbuild with a tub where the hubs and any small parts are kept, and a hook where the rims are kept. This is important to keep everything organized.

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From computer screen to cut decals, we’ve got around 25 colours to choose from.

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We then measure the hub – in this case a White Industries T11. This acts as a quality-control step as well as providing us with super accurate measurements which are fed into our custom software to calculate spoke length. This is a tool which I made 7 years ago as a prototype and proof-of-concept from scrap material but it works so well that it’s never been replaced.

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The rim is measured at three points. This checks it’s round and not egg-shaped, and again provides a very accurate measurement for calculating spoke length. This special tool is another one of my designs and is something I’m secretive about so don’t ask for any close-ups :-) These Pacenti SL23s are great quality but with some other brands we’ve had to return rims because they’re not round.

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With spoke length calculated we cut and roll the spokes to the exact size. There would be considerable time savings for us to simply use the boxed lengths we buy from DT Swiss but by doing it ourselves we have spoke lengths accurate to 0.1mm – about 1/3rd of a human hair. This is a big part of how we can stand behind our wheels with a lifetime guarantee. The Japanese-made Morizumi spoke cutter is one of my favourite tools in the Wheelworks workshop.

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Once the spokes are cut and their threads rolled we can lace the wheel. We have custom built lacing jigs to hold everything in place and make it more comfortable for us. A depth-setting tool is attached to a low speed electric screwdriver to ensure all the nipples engage the same amount of thread. We don’t tighten them very much – after this step there is zero tension on the wheel.

 

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We use German-built Centimaster truing stands with a few modifications mounted to custom carts. We’ve got two of these wheelbuilding carts each neatly storing every tool needed and while I’m building the aluminium SL23s Gavin is working on a carbon #Makerwheelset also heading to @wheelhausbb

You give your wheels a hard time when riding so to ensure the spokes won’t ping and the wheels won’t go out of true we use this #custom tool which gives the wheel a much harder time than you ever could. The force from the tool marries the spokes into the hub and the nipples into the rim. After using this tool the spoke tension will drop to about half and the wheel has to be re-tensioned. This is an important part of the process which allows us to have a lifetime guarantee on all our wheels. Can you build a good wheel without a fancy tool like this? Sure, but you can build a better one with it.

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Spoke tension is probably the most important aspect of a good wheelbuild – not only the amount of tension but how even the tension is between spokes. A lot of time is spent ensuring the wheel is both true and correctly tensioned. We calibrate our tension meters in-house so that we know they read correctly using a custom tool I made – Tristan.

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Once the wheel is finished the hub bearing adjustment is checked (it will tend to loosen slightly because the spoke tension pulls the flanges open ever so slightly) the dish is checked and confirmed, and a few other #qualitycontrolsteps are performed and recorded in our database. We engrave a unique wheel number so if you want to service the wheel or should you ever have a problem we can pull up every minute detail about it.

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With the matching rear built some photos are taken, rim tape is fitted, QC checks done and recorded the wheels are installed into our custom wheelboxes for shipping to Wheelhaus

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What makes a good road tyre?

What makes a good road tyre?

 

Your bike only touches the ground in places – those two tiny contact patches that your tyres make with the road surface, each about the size of a 10c coin.  I’ll argue that good quality tyres are always worth spending money on because tyres have such a massive effect on how a bike rides.

Let us have a look at the attributes of a good tyre:

 

Rolling resistance

A good quality tyre eats up around 13 to 14 watts while you’re pushing hard on a smooth road.  That may sound like a lot but when you think that you’re using around 20 times that amount to overcome aerodynamic drag you realize it’s not very much.

The difference between a really good and really bad tyre is only a handful of watts…certainly not worth overlooking or throwing away but at the same time not that consequential in the grand scheme of things.

Rolling resistance is one of the few easily measurable attributes of a tyre and is arguably the least important – the other attributes are a bit more vague and user-subjective but make a bigger difference.

Grip (especially in the wet)

German uber-geek Magazine Tour has done tyre grip tests on a wet corner using a very brave (and heavily padded) rider and the results are staggering:  The range of grip-level between the best and worst tyres is amazingly different.

Grip, especially wet-weather grip, is massively better on a good tyre.

It’s tempting to throw on some cheap and nasty tyres for knocking out the winter training but I’d urge you not to.  Good tyres make more of a difference in winter than in summer.

‘Feel’

How a tyre feels can be subjective but generally speaking we all like the same things in a tyre.  We want a tyre which provides feedback about its current level of grip, and gently warns us when we’re starting to ask too much of the tyre.  We don’t want a tyre which provides zero feedback until it suddenly snaps and loses traction

We also want a tyre which is comfortable over coarse chip roads, removes road-buzz, and has a lively, springy feel to it.

A good tyre has more ‘feel’ and a bad tyre has less.  A good tyre will feel alive, sprightly, and raring to go whereas a bad tyre will feel dead, dull and lethargic.

 

Puncture protection

Most tyre manufacturers have sophisticated test equipment to measure their tyres resistance to punctures and again uber geek Tour Magazine has independent data comparing tyres using a vibrating sharp point loaded to 35kg. As with grip there are big variations between the puncture resistance of various tyres, however in the most recent test the Continental GP4000S, Schwalbe One, Mavic Yksion and Michelin Comp 4 all lasted the full 180 second test without puncturing.  Other tyres lasted less than 10 seconds before allowing air to escape.

Another observation is that more experienced riders get fewer flat tyres despite often using lighter, more theoretically puncture-prone tyres.  My explanation is that more experienced riders have developed a subconscious scan for glass and hazards, have better bike-handling skills to navigate around hazards, and don’t ride so far into the gutter.

 

Lifespan

Tyre lifespan is something you can measure yourself, however I’d suggest you don’t.  A good tyre will last many thousands of kilometers – so-what if the expensive, nice to ride ones wear out a thousand kms before the cheap ones which feel like they’re filled with concrete?  You want to enjoy riding your bike and in my view good tyres make this happen.

 

What makes a good tyre?

There are two major components to a tyre:  The tread and the carcass.  

Good quality tread is made from a high quality, sticky rubber.  Some tyres use natural rubber, others use a synthetic compound called carbon-black.  A more supple, bendable tread will conform to the road better.  A stickier tread will give more grip but will wear out sooner.

The tyre’s carcass is made from a woven fabric.  Much like bedsheets, the higher the thread-count the more expensive the fabric, and the nicer the finished product.  A high thread-count fabric conforms better and is more supple which makes for a better night’s sleep and a better tyre.

Generally there is a puncture protection layer bonded between the carcass and the tread.  This layer is usually made from Kevlar and acts like a Police officer’s protective vest to stop stabs of glass from a broken beer bottle from causing any damage.

 

Gravel

Riding on gravel used to be something to be avoided but now it’s trendy and as a result many lightweight ‘race’ tyres are being used for gravel roads – something clearly outside their normal design parameters.  While you may find the lightweight options work a thicker, heavier, more robust tyre will be better suited to gravel roads.

 

What size?

Most modern, high quality tyres come in 23mm or 25mm widths.  If your bike has the clearance then I’d suggest 25mm.  At Wheelworks we’ve been promoting wide-section rims and wide tyres for years and it’s great to see wide tyres becoming more accepted in the mainstream.

Wider rims and/or wider tyres will allow a lower tyre pressure which gives a smoother ride and lower (yes, lower) rolling resistance.  There are no real downsides to going wider.

 

Tyre pressure.

I’ve written entire articles devoted to tyre pressure but the short version is this:  Run as low as you can.

If you’re running 25mm tyres you must run them at a lower pressure than you were running 23mm tyres, otherwise you’re wasting the wide tyre.

Keep dropping your tyre pressure in 5psi increments until you find the tyres squirm a little while riding, especially when climbing out of the saddle when all of your weight is on the front tyre.  Add 5psi and that’s your optimum tyre pressure.  Please try this:  you’ll be amazed how low you can go.

 

What are my favorites?

I pay full price for my tyres so I don’t have any bias here.  I try to keep up to date with new tyres but I keep coming back to these two:

  • Continental GP4000sII.  This is a fantastic, affordable all-around tyre with great grip, good puncture protection, fantastic ‘feel’ and good lifespan.  If I could only take one pair of tyres to a deserted island training camp this would be it.
  • Veloflex Corsa.  These are expensive, very thin, wear out quickly, and puncture when you even look at a piece of glass…..but oooohhhh they’re smooth, supple and have fantastic grip.  Plus they smell fantastic when you open the box.  I save these for that special pair of wheels and that special event, not daily training.

 

This newsletter was originally from my Ask Tristan column in New Zealand Road Cyclist magazine where I was asked about what separates a good tyre from a bad tyre.

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NZ Road Cyclist review of the Maker 35mm

“I tested the 35mm rims and they felt stiff, secure and invoked confidence. On the same bike they felt more solid and had less flex than a deeper 46mm carbon wheelset from a well-known high-end brand. That level of security, in my view, can only come from the build quality and the attention to detail” -NZ Road Cyclist took a look our Maker carbon wheelset in the latest issue.

Maker Review – NZ Road Cyclist Issue 29 page 22

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Velominati meet the Maker

Brett from Velominati meets his Maker

“Tristan and his right hand man Gavin McCarthy ran me through the build process, and if you think it’s just a matter of chucking some spokes in and giving them a few turns, well you’d be very far from the mark: the process Tristan has developed over the years is one of precision, order and involves more than a few tools and tricks that most other builders wouldn’t even know of.”

 

 

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