Bespoke later, for now, it spoke no more


On Thursday, Mark Z. and I took a moment to see the “bespoke” exhibit of hand made bicycles at MAD. It’s a nice display of some of the finest bikes made by hand today. The irony of the bike rental business on the corner, while just inside were wheelsets that cost more than several rentals was not lost on us. Another irony was the mud covered Richard Sachs ‘cross bike which the guard would shoo people away from if they even tried to touch it… something tells me Richard would just shake his head, atmo.

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As I’ve said before I’ve yet to commit to a “bespoke” cycle… but one day.

However in the world of cycling ignominy is never far away—at least for me. Lloyd and John posted this nice ride they do up to Cold Spring and beyond. In need of nice long ride I planned to go despite having to wake up early on the one day when I don’t have to… 5am came early as it were.

Six of us started out from Rockland Lake heading north up the rollers of 9W, dropped into Haverstraw, and met up with three others. We climbed up toward Bear Mountain bridge and crossed over continuing up 9D. As I get nearly as far away from home as I’m going to get, I hear the loudest “bang” I’ve ever heard come from my bike. I thought I had flatted, so I slowed and stopped carefully, but it didn’t look like it, and once stopped, it was clearly not the problem, and yet the wheel was not really turning. And then I saw it.

There was a spoke unattached at the hub end. “That’s gonna be a hassle.” I thought. I knew that I didn’t have a spoke wrench on my multi tool. And while I opened the brake and tried to re-orient the wheel in the frame enough to limp home, it was a no go. The wheel was significantly out of true.

Just then Lloyd and (the other) John came riding by (I’m not sure why they were that far behind me) and the stopped to help. Lloyd broke off the dangling spoke, but without a spoke wrench we were kinda stuck. They didn’t have anything on their tools either. There’d be no limping home. All that was left was calling Lisa and asking to be picked up. Luckily she had a morning of chores planned, and was home and could quickly throw The Kid in the car and made her way to me… but still… I’m almost as far away from home as I planned to be that day. (Darn you Murphy!) Nor was I close to any of the bike shops in the area that would have come and picked me up (because they’re awesome around here.)

Phone call made, I sent Lloyd and (the other) John on their way and tried not to go stir crazy waiting… now of course, all of this could have been worse. It could have started raining for example. But even then, I happened to stop by Hudson Highlands State Park, so there was a little covered message board that I could have hidden under. And while it was cool, I did have rain jacket with me… and food and water. All in all… not the worst conditions in which to wait. I only called Lisa three times…

I’ve taken away some thoughts for the future.

  1. I put a spoke wrench in my seat bag. Already. As in I already got one of the right size and put it in the bag.
  2. I could have salvaged the ride home if I had a spare set of wheels pumped up and ready to go in every way sitting where Lisa would know she had the right wheels. This is a bit more complicated, but I took the steps I could today. I need to get a set of wheels with matching rims to really make this pain free… but in the meantime I’ve prepped a set and made a spot for them to live. When I check the pressure on the bike set, I check those too. I’d move them into Lisa’s car, but that’ll get in her way most of the time, so I’ll leave them in the newly created spot.
  3. Lastly, I need to put *all* the phone numbers I need into my cell phone. As long as I have a cell connection I can look up the phone numbers I need. But what if I don’t? I might be able to borrow a cup of phone, but internet access? Lots harder ’round the state parks. I can’t run up 411 access fees on someone’s phone either… it would make it harder for the next person who needs their help to get it (regardless of whether I pay for it or not. Just my feeling, but still.)

I’d take a few hours of riding on a wobbly wheel over dragging my wife (or anyone else) out on the road to help me while I wait. And a little preparation could’ve rescued the ride. She even could’ve grabbed another bike, but the rack isn’t on her car and putting a bike in the car is not easy (to say the least)… so wheels it would be.

I thought about bringing extra wheels to the Battenkill ride, but because I didn’t think of it until the last minute I was, again, unprepared. I’ll do better next time. Seems a shame to lose a day to something that a minute wheel change could save. Especially in that case where we really did have a “team” car.

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Wheel hotness: Mad Fiber carbon fiber wheelset

Tech Update: Ric Hjertberg launches Mad Fiber carbon fiber wheelset:

The set

Ric Hjertberg and his new company Mad Fiber is bringing out a wild-looking carbon wheelset with a claimed weight of just 1085 grams and aerodynamics claimed to be on par with the best in the industry.

If Hjertberg’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s been associated with wheelbuilding, since founding Wheelsmith Fabrications in 1980. Now, a few years after ending his stint as New Technology Manager with Full Speed Ahead, he’s back on the scene with the new venture.

Hjertberg said he set out to make a wheel light enough for the steepest climbs, aero enough for the worst crosswinds, and durable enough for riders of every build.

Hjertberg points to several distinct aspects of the new wheel:

Flanges and spokes

  • Instead of building the carbon rim to mimic the shape and properties of an extruded aluminum rim, Mad Fiber builds the rim by joining three separately constructed pieces (two sidewalls and the tire seat). Hjertberg says it’s lighter and stronger this way.
  • Instead of drilling the rim to accommodate metal spokes, Mad Fiber bonds wide carbon spokes to both the rim walls and hub flanges. Again, this preserves the integrity of the rim and makes it stronger at a lower weight.
  • To tension the wheel, the carbon spokes are assembled to length and fixed to the flanges at the hub center. Then a fixture precisely moves the flanges to their correct position on the hub shell before they’re affixed in place. Spreading the flanges with the spokes already attached to both the flanges and rim creates spoke tension.
  • The wheels are handmade in Seattle and carry no rider weight restrictions.
  • The company says they meet and exceed multiple fatigue and durability tests, including DIN and CEN standardized tests plus a battery of tests of their own invention. They carry a four-year warranty and crash replacement program. The titanium freehub body is made by White Industries and sports three-pawl/24-tooth engagement and a 15mm chromoly axle.

The wheels will be available this summer. They will retail for $2600, and ship with lightweight quick release skewers, cork brake pads, wheel bags, and valve extenders.

Source: VeloNews