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Building Custom Wheels

by Anthony Little |

It wasn’t all that long ago when the sign of high performance was a set of custom built wheels. Team mechanics used to turn out specialty wheelsets to pro riders for each and every event. Ultra light weight and exotic wheels for climbing days. Spoke heavy and overly durable wheels for the rough spring classics. With manufacturers constantly putting out new complete wheel systems, and of course forcing them upon their team riders, the romance of custom wheels is a dying one and the ability to build a quality wheel is a dying art. As with most things in our shop, we still believe that custom and hand built is the superior choice and our custom wheel offerings are something we pride ourselves on.

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To be fair, the selection for stock wheels is pretty good right now. Be it a stock set of Zipps, Campagnolo Boras, or Shimano C24s, there are incredible wheels right of of the box. Sometimes, though, right out of the box just isn’t good enough. We are always looking to build something a little cooler, a little more unique, and of course a little higher performance.

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Hubs are the first thing that will set apart a custom set of wheels. With the endless array of options, hubs can really tie your wheels into the rest of your bike build. Whether you want to match your 9000 drivetrain with a set of Dura Ace hubs or a set of Mango Chris Kings to match your Mango headset, the choice is yours.  We geek out over craftsmanship and precision, so there is no doubt that White Industries, hand made just up the road in Petaluma, are atop our list of favorites. The DT swiss 180s, with their carbon hub shells and ceramic bearings are a great exotic choice. Every single hub has it’s own style, color options, and even signature sound buzzing from the free hub so there are a lot of things to choose from to really make a wheelset your own.

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Aside from your frame, rims are what most heavily dictate the ride characteristics of your bike. While there are plenty of options out there and we are always experimenting with new things, the HED Belgium and Zipp Firecrest lines have become shop standards. The HEDs have proven to be the best riding, best looking, and most durable alloy rim out there and are absolutely our go to choice. When it comes to carbon rims, very few options can compete with Zipp. The aerodynamic technology is at the top of the field and the braking performance is second to none. We fought long and hard to get Zipps as a rim only and we are now one of the few shops in the world that can build them custom. We’ve got 202s, 303s, and 404s in stock, tubular and clincher, to cover whatever your needs might be.

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Often overlooked, but absolutely important is selection of spokes. Or favorites are the DT Swiss Aerolites for bladed and Revolutions for round. Not only does the profile and butting of the spokes have an impact on the ride quality, but so does the quantity of spokes and lacing pattern. We can build for light weight, extra strength, road smoothness, sprinting stiffness, or a happy medium anywhere in between.

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Hopefully that gives you some insight as to why we’re passionate about custom wheels. With that well leave you with some photos of custom wheels we’ve laced up over the last few weeks. Definitely make sure to swing by the shop or to drop us a line if you’ve got any questions about us building a wheelset for you!

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