Gone Fishin'


I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!


Tied and Soldered Wheels

My latest wheel project, in addition to being a non-standard pattern, are also tied and soldered.  The idea is that you wrap copper wire around the spokes where they cross one another, and fix that wire by melting solder into the joint.  There's all kinds of mythology out there about "effectively increasing you hub flange diameter" or increasing the stability of the wheel.  Most of this has been disproved, or at least brought into serious question.  It's also not why I tied and soldered my wheels. I tied and soldered my wheels because it looks cool, and because it is another opportunity to delve into the lore and history of cycling.  Did I mention it looks cool?

Anyway, I built the front wheel for my commuter bike back in October, mostly in my living room.  Kate can attest to that, because she dislikes the smell of Phil Wood Green Grease, and she could smell it through the whole apartment as I prepped the spoke threads. The rear wheel, I was able to lace, true, tie and solder in our basement, and it took a short afternoon instead of several days.  I owe this largely to the open nature of the new shop space and the fact that there is lots of room to spread out the various parts of the wheel build.

There is something deeply satisfying about building wheels.  That satisfaction is enhanced by building wheels that somehow go beyond what can be purchased in a store. In the case of these wheels, the Livestrong bracelets/hub cleaners, the spoke pattern, the solder and the rim and spoke number choices are all non-standard. These are 36 spoke wheels built on strong Velocity rims, for extra strength on back roads and bad pavement. The three-leading-three trailing pattern is not something you'll find in a store, and from what I've heard it only presents a minor strength disadvantage over a three-cross pattern.  I'm hoping my strong rims and high spoke count will offset that. (and maybe tying and soldering them will add strength too, but I'm not counting on that, as I mentioned above.)

I finished the wheels off with velox tape, because, hey, it's french and it's what I have always used.  Velox is so much nicer than the rubber or plastic strips that come inside of machine built wheels.