You probably have seen it a couple of times or at least heard of it… ‘How it’s made’. The documentary show of Discovery Channel that has been around for 32 seasons already. So young or old you’ve couldn’t have missed this.
For most people the wheels in a bicycle are a given and are used without further attention. When you’ve spent some time on a bike and got infected with the cycling virus individual parts of the bike get more attention. You start reading and learning more about the benefits of the difference between saddles, position on the bike, tires and wheels. The difference between wheel models have been described in our story; how to make the right choice in four steps!
All wheels share the same philosophy how they are made, or as we prefer to call it; how they are built. Wheels are built from the different parts; rims, hubs, spokes and nipples. All wheels are made out of these ingredients (see special paragraph below article) and obviously the level of quality of these parts make a huge difference. What many don’t realize that it’s actually the more invisible part that makes the biggest difference! Time!
Time in combination with the skills and experience of our Master Wheel Builders is the unique ingredient that sets our wheels apart from all the rest. Putting together a wheel by connecting the necessary parts can make a wheel. If you do it right, you can even make a decent wheel. As it goes with many processes that involve craftsmanship, putting more time and efforts into this process makes the difference between good or great!
So… what is it that you do extra, we hear you think!
Well… when building wheels we make sure that once all parts are in place they are really in place. Starting by lacing the spokes into the hubs before attaching the spokes to the nipples in the rim. Here we have a manual preparation followed by a machine process were the nipples are shot into the rim and first tension is put on the wheel by the machine.
Putting the first tension on the spokes will ensure the nipples to place themselves in the right position in the carbon rim. Rims that we produce with an extra carbon enforcement strip at the spoke holes so they can take a higher spoke tension. We also have the spoke holes drilled in the right angle for each hub and spoke pattern. That will prevent the nipple from pulling on the carbon in the wrong way and possibly cause broken spokes or cracks in the carbon.
From the first assembly of spokes into the rim the spoke tension is checked manually to check if all spokes have an equal load, a very important aspect of building great wheels.
Then the wheel goes into the next machine that will true it up to perfection.
All models have their own program in this machine and margins are super narrow to meet the high-quality standards we have set. The machine has a built-in stress function which means it can stretch the spokes. You might understand that new material such as spokes can stretch by use due to the power of the rider. If this happens the tension on the spokes disappears and the wheel is out of true. Include this in the production process and you’ll get wheels that do not have to get back for service after a few times of use.
When the wheel is finished another of our Master Wheel Builders will do a manual check. Just to make sure you can be Confident that this wheel can take whatever you throw at it.
Time in machine production also makes a big difference. There are wheels that come from the same kind of machine production which are produced much quicker. Think about the wheels for your city bike. The quality standards and type of use is completely different to that of high end carbon wheels. It makes sense that the time of production therefore is also completely different. We have the choice to make more wheels per day when our margins are set differently. But we don’t! We make a clear and conscious decision that the extra time in our production process is worth it.
Worth it for the sprinter that needs all his watts translated into forward power and speed.
Worth it for the classics specialist that bounces from cobble to cobble.
Worth it for you whether it’s for a Sunday ride with friends, cycling trip in the mountains or gravel paths that are not always smooth.
Special paragraph; The recipe of right ingredients.
The ingredients of a wheel are always the same (more or less); rims, hubs, spokes and nipples. We always chose to work with high end parts that match our standard of quality. Our rims are designed and developed in house and made to our standards, no of-the-shelve stuff with some branding around it. As one of the first and only brands we always chose for decals under the clear coat so they would last. Nowadays they are baked into the carbon but for the same lasting purpose.
On the hub part we chose to partner with DT Swiss and have our own budget friendly version. DT Swiss has a long history in cycling and is very well known for its hubs. Same goes for the spokes which are either from DT Swiss or Sapim. Both companies have an equal high quality of spokes and nipples. We choose from the top spoke models the versions that fit our models best and sometimes this means a mix of spokes to achieve more stiffness for example. Same goes for the material and position of nipples. These small parts of a wheel can cause a lot of frustration when your wheel is in need of some service and the material is too soft to handle it more than once.
We make choices not only based on providing the lightest possible wheels. We want our wheels to be built to last. Meaning sometimes a slightly heavier material is chosen if the characteristics bring more function to the end result. Even if you don’t see it directly but will notice when the wheels are with you longer then you could have imagined!