Monday, October 29, 2012

The Wheels Go Round

It's been awhile since I've thrown out some wheel pr0n and I've had a couple interesting builds lately, so I thought it might be time! First off, in the tool-pr0n category, I finally collapsed and got myself the Wheel's Manufacturing Large Bearing Press. This thing is a work of art as far as tools go, with finally machined handles and threading for smooth operation. But the real beauty is the assorted, perfectly machined drifts for all the popular bearing sizes. The drifts are perfectly machined to fit both the internal and external races of the bearing, keeping everything square and in good condition as the bearings are pressed home.
The fact that the drifts are the same (just ever-slightly smaller) than the outside of the bearings have been awesome with some of the super-lightweight hubs and their bearings that fit further inside the hub, with almost no extra room. This is one tool I wish I got to use more! There aren't even many shops that would even use this very often, since who actually works on bikes anymore... but when you do need it, it makes pressing bearings actually fun. Though... pressing out carbon fiber axles still remains a bit nerve-wracking! Since I was doing more mountain bike races this year, I decided it was time to build myself up some new wheels! I laced some Rotaz hubs up to Stans ZTR 355 rims; I wanted white, but had to stick with black just for the lighter weight. 28, 2-cross Sapim Laser spokes and nipples. Then finished them off with super light KCNC 160mm rotors and matching titanium skewers. And of course, some custom made spacers since I was of course running my Gates Centertrack rear cog. I couldn't have been happier with the way these came out! I forget exactly what, but they were right at about 1,400g for the pair. Makes me laugh when manufacturers brag about 1,800g "lightweight" mountain bike wheels.
Even with their light weight they held up beautifully! The KCNC stuff was almost a bit too light... and my standard TRP Dash rotors worked a bit more consistently on the long descents in the high-country... and the front skewer was sometimes not as happy with the extra force from the disc brakes. But with the right tires, these wheels were incredible. And inexpensive to boot! Speaking of my Gates rear cog... this was one of my favorite sites at the show; something I've long wished for! A one of a kind, authentic Gates design cog profile, mated to a White Industries freewheel. I really hope these make it to production! Especially with disc brakes coming to cross, there could be a lot more hubs that would work for cyclocross bikes - thread-on disc brake hubs with SS-specific flange spacing and bolted axles.
On the road side, I built up my first set of Dash hubs, now that they have some that are a bit more "user-friendly". It was an interesting set of wheels using the new Mira G2 and Veronica hubs, Pillar titanium spokes mated to a pair of Enve 1.45 clincher rims. It seemed weird at first to have these clincher rims on such incredibly light hubs, but some guys definitely prefer racing on clinchers these days.

I wish I remember what they weighed in at, but alas I don't. The rear hub is a mere 129g though. Pretty insane. It has a wild design, and while I question the longevity of it (though who cares when it's a race wheel, right!?) I was in love with the absolute minimalism in the design. The most impressive bit of this is the Tune style cassette mechanism ring, which in this case, was machined to include the hub "flanges" as one single piece. That piece was then wrapped in the carbon fiber of the hub body. They were pretty though... but a very pricey bit of kit!
I saved the best for last though... how about a PAIR of aero wheels that come in at a mere 870g!? If I ever tricked myself into spending that much on a set of carbon rims, it would be hard to pass up the AX-Lightness 42mm rims. The finish is just completely beyond any other rims I've built, and the weight is so impressive. These were mated to a pair of Extralite hubs with titanium spokes.
In the ridiculously light hub category, I really like the Extralite range. The UltraRear SX is all of 135g, (this one, and it's matching front, was upgraded to full-ceramic bearings), they build up super nice, dissasembly is simple, and even more impressive is that they offer bearing adjustment on the hubs. It's fascinating taking apart bits this light, and checking the fine-details of where the weight was saved! It's also crazy that the impressive Tune Mig 170 hub isn't light enough to fall into this "ridiculously light" category! And as cool as these wheels are... just wait until you see the bike they're going to go in!

1 comment:

Notorious B.I.L. said...

You're runnig the wheels you posted on a Surly right?

Nice work!