How long have you been building wheels?
45 years. I was inspired to master the art of wheel building in 1973 as a young mechanic at my local bike shop.
Will you repair other people's wheels?
I can repair other people's wheels, depending on the availability of the necessary parts, but I do not build wheels with used rims unless they are for a very collectible vintage bike. I no longer do any repair work on proprietary wheel systems by companies like Mavic, Shimano or Campagnolo because of the difficulty in obtaining parts and because of some of the questionable designs employed with these wheels.
Are you a wheel snob who only enjoys building expensive wheels?
No, not at all! I build wheels because I love bikes and bike culture. I also do it because I am a staunch environmentalist. I like keeping people on their bikes. It doesn't matter to me if you are riding the Tour de France or if you're a 97 yr old granny who rides her 1962 Moulton to the library once a month. Its all good!
Do you offer a warranty for your work ?
Yes. I guarantee the labour on all my wheels for 3 years under “normal use” and a lifetime limited guarantee against spoke breakage for the original owner. Should you experience a broken spoke that happens under normal use and not because of an accident or from negligence or improperly installed or adjusted derailleurs, I will replace it and true your wheel for free. The wheel must be brought to me at your expense. Since I do not manufacture any parts, should you have a defective rim or hub, all warranty claims would have to be pursued directly with the manufacturer in question. I should make it clear that this warranty applies solely to wheels that I have chosen the components for and not for wheels where a client may have made the decisions on component selection.
Will my wheels stay true for all eternity?
No. Though my wheels are built to exacting tolerances, how you treat them will determine their life span. If you are a curb jumping maniac, you will kill your wheels. However, under normal riding conditions your wheels may only require an annual touch up, and in some cases, you may not need any maintenance for a few seasons. Usually it's an unfortunate incident that damages a wheel. A run in with a large pot hole or getting a wheel stuck in railway ties can sometimes kill a rim. I generally over-build my wheels, so rest assured that unless something catastrophic happens, you will have worry free riding for many thousands of miles. I have never had a customer break a single spoke in all my years of building.
Will you build my wheels if I supply new hubs and new rims?
Yes, that's possible. I would obviously prefer to sell you a complete wheel set designed by myself, but I realise that you may already own some new components that you'd like to have built up by me. I'd still like to determine first however that what you are supplying me is appropriate for your intended use and that they will work together without issue. I do insist on supplying the correct spokes and nipples.
You build your wheels with a symmetrical lacing pattern, why?
I started building my wheels with a symmetrical lacing pattern very early on after carefully analyzing what was common among most wheels that I came across. I felt that an asymmetrical build was not the best option for strength & longevity. Symmetrical lacing is superior in my opinion. After building wheels this way for over 40 years I have not experienced a single broken spoke. I think that speaks for itself.
What are your thoughts on radially built wheels?
Front radial wheels are extremely popular and are seen on most racing wheels these days. Not all manufacturers of hubs will warrant their products when built radially due to the additional stress it puts on the hub. I am very careful not to overdo the tension when building radial wheels. They can be excessively stiff and therefore, not the most comfortable option. I will build radial wheels except in the case where the manufacturer specifically states that they will not warranty their product if laced radially. For instance, Royce hubs do not recommend radial spoking and this will void their warranty if chosen as an option.
Will I need to perform any maintenance on my wheels?
Yes, like anything mechanical, they will require some maintenance. Bearings need to be re-greased or replaced periodically and your wheels may need to be trued occasionally depending on how many miles you've ridden them and/or the terrain you are riding them on. Check out my blog for periodic suggestions on wheel maintenance.
Are light weight wheels the most important consideration?
No, not really. Weight is certainly something to consider, but to put that ahead of reliability is a mistake in my opinion. Yes, if you are planning to break the world hour record, we can (and should) discuss every weight saving possibility there is. But in most cases, it's best to strike the right balance between a reasonable weight for your intended use and time tested reliability. If you have ever hurtled down an alpine pass at 100km/hr you will really start to appreciate the critical importance of strength vs weight!
What are your thoughts on building with aluminium nipples?
The best quality aluminium nipples are built from 7075 T6 alloy. Overall this is only a small reduction in weight compared to brass nipples, but a loss of strength. Also keep in mind that aluminium nipples may oxidize if exposed to too much moisture or salt water. This can reduce future serviceability of the wheel. This will never happen with brass nipples if grease was used in the initial build. If you insist on alloy nipples we carry the Alpina ABS Hex head alloy nipple which is certainly the best quality alloy nipple made. They are available in black and are made in Italy.
Why do you favour the traditional J bend spoke?
The J bend spoke has been in existence almost since the invention of the bike wheel. It goes without saying that it has proven itself to be reliable. It's also readily available most anywhere should you ever find yourself seeking an emergency replacement for a broken one. Traditional hub flange design uses the J bend spoke and this hub design enables several different time tested lacing patterns. The same can't be said for all hubs employing straight pull spokes. DT Swiss has also stated that straight pull spokes are no stronger than J bend spokes.
You are one of the few wheel builders that puts great emphasis on using very specific tires for specific wheel choices, why is that?
Your choice of tires is absolutely critical in completing your custom wheel order as far as I'm concerned. The tires you choose will have a great effect on how your bike will handle and how your new wheels will perform. To pay no attention to this may result in a compromise in performance. I encourage my clients to be as careful with their tire selection as they are with their rim selections. I list all my favorite tire manufacturers on my Tire page.
Shipping. How long will it take and will my wheels arrive in perfect condition?
I take great care in packing up your wheels. I overbuild and then I overpack! I also then insure them for their full retail value so that, no matter what happens, you are fully covered. I like to use Fedex or other shipping companies that offer insurance and good online tracking. A few extra dollars for high quality reliable shipping offers great peace of mind. Shipping times will vary depending on where you live but I will provide you with a tracking number as soon as they are sent off so that you can follow their progress to your door.
What is your labour charge for building a wheel?
I charge $75.oo per wheel for rims with external nipples and $90.00 per wheel for rims with internal nipples due to the extra time needed to lace and true those unique rims. This work includes lacing the wheel, tensioning and truing it to within a very fine tolerance, then adequately stress relieving the wheel as well as assuring that it is correctly dished. If you decide to get custom wheels and need advice on making the choices for your rims, hubs, spokes, tires, etc, I'd be happy to assist you make those decisions.
Do you still build to the same standards even after all these years?
Since day one I have always insisted on the highest standards. As the years have gone by I have added new sophisticated tools to help refine and improve the quality of my work. I build each and every wheel like I was building it for myself. What more could you ask for?
What is your return policy?
Once a wheel set has been ordered and then shipped out, there is no option to return the wheels unless I have sent you the wrong thing, which is highly unlikely, or in the case of a defective part. We will go over the details of the order before I begin building your wheels so both of us will be clear on what you have ordered.