The newest element of Shimano’s Dura Ace component range is the 7850 C24 carbon wheelset. Continuing the industry-wide trend to produce component groups that include more than the traditional drivetrain and brakes, Shimano’s top level wheels feature the same technological advances and attention to detail that characterize the rest of the DuraAce lineup.
Fittingly for their exhibit at the NAHBS, the C24 wheels are also handbuilt at Shimano’s facility in Japan. “Every wheel has a serial number that can be traced back to their individual builder at the factory,” explains Shimano USA’s Media Liaison, Devin Walton. “Like all of the frame builders here at the show, Shimano’s wheelbuilders take pride in their work and are committed to producing products of the highest quality,” he explains.
The C24 wheels feature 390g alloy-carbon composite rims that will accomodate tubeless clincher tires or a standard tube and tire setup. The rear wheel has a titanium freehub body compatible with an 8,9 or 10-speed cassette, a wider hub flange, and the wheel is constructed with an offset rim. These design features increase wheel rigidity and enable a direct transfer of power from rider to forward motion.
Front wheels have 16 spokes and rear wheels have 20.Both wheels feature Shimano’s quality proven angular contact bearings with oversized 7075 alloy axles and rim wear indicators. Combined wheel weight for the pair is 1458g.
Expect to see the C24 wheels used by Shimano-sponsored teams at this summer’s Tour de France, continuing a winning heritage that began back in 1974 with Freddy Maertens and the Flandria team.
You need not ride Le Grande Boucle to experience Shimano quality yourself. Look for the Dura Ace 7850 C24 wheelset at your local Shimano dealer.
- Matt Butterman
The top bar curves down like a wave and branches out with subtle swellings. The curves resemble a tree, the fuselage of a bird in flight, a dolphin arching through the water. You can tell that Edward Jones or “Cycle Ed”, CED for short, makes bicycles inspired by nature. He won’t even plan out a frame before he builds it. “I don’t work from any drawings,” he says, yet the product is strong and graceful.
Jones starts building a bike with the base and the angles, and goes from there. He sets up the basic structure, then goes for a walk in the woods. He looks at the trees, at the sky, at whatever is around him for inspiration. “Nature is the ultimate architect,” he says. Some osmosis of form must occur during these walks in the woods, for when Jones comes back to connect all the components you can tell just by looking at his finished frame that it is inspired.
At the show, the bike is set up on a stand of steel and wood. A wooden branch in the base seems connected to the bicycle like a magic wand organically sprouting into a bike frame.
But it’s not just about the bikes. “People are what’s most important,” he said. “This is my outreach to others. This is the media by which I reach other people.”
For more information, contact Edward Jones at CYCLEED@EARTHLINK.NET
- Erik Lokensgard
“We are dedicated to providing an elevated level of performance”. This is the I9 mantra espoused by owner Jeff Baucon, translating to the push of the company to only bring to market products that meet their criteria of “better”. I9’s Wheel system in overview is a proprietary hub/spoke design that accommodates any standard rim.
From a distance, the wheels are visually stunning with a broad spectrum of color options for spokes and hubs. Upon closer inspection I notice the medical quality finish and a most interesting spoke/hub interface. A traditional wheel is a spoke laced into the hub and held into the rim by a spoke nipple with the threaded relationship at the rim. I9 has flipped the equation where an aluminum nail type spoke comes in from the rim side, and threads directly into the hub flange. End result is the lack of nipple and a reduction of weight at the rim where the rotational mass is. The ride is described as laterally stiffer which usually means more weight, yet with the MTB Ultralite Race wheelset on Stans Podium rim, the scale said 1310g. I am suddenly overwhelmed by wanting to call mom and tell her about having the cake AND eating it.
Jeff goes on to tell me some history of the company. The I9 product line is all made in-house at the Turnamics machine shop in Asheville NC. Turnamics is run by Clint Spiegal, a lifelong cyclist with a big brain geared for mechanical engineering. Clint has literally reinvented the wheel.
The hub is pawl style engagement with 60 points of contact. In human speak, that’s an engagement point every six degrees. My math can be poor at times so I ask Jeff to help me wrap my brain around the proclaimed 3 degree engagement when 360 divided by 60 is six degrees. He sits me down, pats my head and draws a picture of the six pawls in the hub which form a 6 sided star or 2 overlapping triangles. These 2 triangles are slightly out of phase with each other by three degrees. I start to fidget a bit, he smiles then continues that while one set of pawls (triangle) is engaged, the other is three degrees behind it. They play leap frog of sorts around the drive ring, effectively doubling the engagement points.
Whew! I got it!
But then I asked him with a furrowed brow, “why not just make a 120 point drive ring?”. He smiles and says that a 60 point ring allows for more surface contact between pawl and engagement point, and therefore a stronger drive connection. Again, fancy speak that means the Samsonite gorilla can stomp on it with confidence.
The best was saved for last: the hub’s serviceability. Two different sized hex wrenches are all that is needed to pull down the hub and service it. Jeff says a big part of the design was looking forward to make both the consumer abd shop mechanic happy by not having to buy an exotic tool kit to service the I9. Also, the hubs are compatible across many boundaries. You can run anything fro a QR, 15mm, up to a 20mm thru axle on the same front hub by switching end caps. The rear hub can go between QR,10mm and so on by an axle swap.
I have been a mechanic for over 20 years and without question, this is the most well thought-out hub I’ve seen. I9 has wheelsets for all flavors of cyclists from road to mountain, cyclocross, and now even BMX that will have a patented “happy bolt” system. I walk away knowing that the phrase “to re-invent the wheel” really can have a positive connotation.
Tubesets are to the handmade bicycle frame what wood is to a violin. Pick the right material and they both sing; choose the wrong stuff and they go flat.
One of the major themes of this year’s NAHBS is the renaissance of traditional frame materials like steel. Tubing manufacturers have all branched off into carbon production at various points of their history, but most are returning to focus on their core business – metals.
We’ll look at four premier tubing manufacturers to see how their products lend support to, and develop along with, the handmade bike industry.
Italian manufacturer Dedacciai have been producing tubesets for just 16 years, but during that time, frames built with Dedacciai tubing have been ridden to victory in Grand Tours by Miguel Indurain and Marco Pantani, among others.
“Sponsorships are how we promote the brand and gain market share,” says Lorenzo Altissimo of Dedacciai. That practice has shown strong returns in the company’s short history, as 70-80% of the OEM steel tubing used by the Italian bicycle industry is sourced by Dedacciai, and it is used by many iconic Italian brands such as Bianchi, De Rosa and Pinarello.
Dedacciai have branched into carbon frame production, and it’s a dominant part of their product line now. But 2010 marks their third year at NAHBS, and steel tubes for North America’s handmade builders is a market in resurgence.
“Steel is increasing again,” says Altissimo. “We’re happy about steel coming back.”
Japanese company Tange (“ton-gay”) have been in business for 90 years. After sourcing tubes for the Japanese bike invasion of the 1980s, Tange withdrew from the North American market for many years before re-entering 5-6 years ago.
Production has shifted from Japan to Taiwan, but Tange has kept its focus on Cro-Mo steel. “The North American market is still small for us, ” says Alvin Hsu, Sales Director for Tange, “but it’s definitely on the rise again. We’re here at NAHBS to see what the trends are, and to remind builders of our long heritage of quality tubesets.”
The Columbus dove logo is a symbol long associated with quality framesets. Founder A.L. Columbo of Italy opened shop in 1919, and produced metal tubing for all sorts of industrial applications. By the 1930s, bicycles built with Columbus tubing were winning races at the international level.
Columbus’ latest innovation is XCr, a seamless, stainless steel tubeset unique to the industry and highly prized for its mechanical characteristics and weldability. Add “environmentally friendly” to XCr’s list of virtues: stainless steel avoids the toxic process of cadmium plating that other alloys require.
XCr carries the load of Columbus’ immense reputation for quality and innovation, and is their key player in the big markets of the U.S., U.K. and Japan. “We produce all of our tubing in Italy and really believe in the superior qualities of stainless steel. It’s stiffer and stronger than Ti and has wonderful anti-corrosive qualities,” says Fabrizio Aghito of Gruppo SPA, Columbus’parent company that also owns the Cinelli brand. “We’re here at NAHBS to continue our strong relationship with handmade builders. Steel is back and it will only continue to grow.”
Like Columbus, Reynolds has a long history in metal production. In Reynolds’ case, it extends back to the roots of the Industrial Revolution in Britain; through the 19th century Reynolds produced steel nails. By 1887, Reynolds produced its first butted steel bicycle tubing.
The Birmingham (U.K.)-based company was bought by an American owner, Coyote Sports, in 1997, and in 2000 was bought back from receivership after Coyote went bust. It’s been a privately-owned, U.K.-based company since then. All tubing is produced at the company’s Birmingham plant.
Reynolds’ flagship tubing is 953 stainless steel. This wonder alloy has much higher tensile strength than traditional blends and can accomodate thinner walls to produce very light frame weights of 1.1 to 1.2kg. It is offered in a mirrored finish and, new for 2010, 953 stainless fork blades.
Titanium is another strong card in Reynolds’ hand. They have produced a new hydroformed Ti tubeset and titanium demand has increased strongly over the past year. Biggest sales of Ti tubesets are to builders in Italy and the U.S..
The North American handmade market is very important for Reynolds. “It’s a dynamic, changing market, always adding and growing,” says Terry Bill, Reynolds’ Sales and Production Manager. “Independent builders are always receptive to new ideas, and our job is to listen to their needs and develop our products to meet them. This close relationship between builders and tubing manufacturers is what drives our industry to produce new and innovative products.”
- Matt Butterman
Photography: Ward Morrison
So you’ve seen the late night infomercial that promises fame and fortune from opening up a framebuilding shop in your garage?
No, you haven’t. And you never will.
Handmade bikes are not about the money. They’re about the love of bikes, the coming together of technology and art, and creating something of enduring value – even if it can’t be measured in dollars and cents.
Craig Forest Ryan of Foresta Bikes teaches Studio Art in the Noblesville, IN school system. At nights and on weekends, wife Susan relents and lets him pursue his other passion. What he produced for his first NAHBS was a work of rideable art that may or may not ever sell.
Like many craftsman builders, Ryan takes complete control of the production process from rider measurement to clear coat. In his two and a half years of building frames, he’s built a small fleet that hangs in his garage for now. He’s hoping to open for business in the near future.
“I didn’t want to sell until my investment in liability insurance could be paid back,” Ryan says. ”I also want to be absolutely sure that my best possible work is ridden by customers. You can’t rush true craftsmanship.”
Twenty-three year old Herbie Helm is not yet out of college. The Industrial Technology student at Western Michigan University builds at his mentor Doug Fattic’s shop when his studies allow.
Helm displayed the magnum opus of his young life for the first time at NAHBS. The beautiful lug work, gracefully curved seatstays and “flying buttress” cable stops of his frameset displayed artistry not seen from many veteran builders.
When Helm graduates this spring, he hopes to become a teacher. ”I’m not holding my breath about becoming a full-time builder, but I’ll keep doing it anyway,” he says.
Palermo Bicycles come not from the sun-dappled isle of Sicily, but from owner Tom Palermo’s home studio in Baltimore, MD. By days, he’s a web developer for the Federal Government.
The one-man operation came to life in 2003, when Palermo began plying his trade repairing frames in the back shop of Proteus Bikes in College Park, MD, once home to Japanese/American builder Koichi Yamaguchi.
Photography: Dave LaMay and Matt Shields
Dario Pegoretti is known the world over as one of the top frame builders, having built for many of the pro teams, Greg LeMond, and a galaxy of the sport’s great names. Pegoretti comes to NAHBS for the people. “The people here have a real passion, the show is not like Vegas, not like a business show. The customers here are all consumers, so they have a deep passion for the bicycles. This is why I keep coming back.”
Like many other builders, Pegoretti often meets existing customers, Robin Williams, for example in 2008. And conversation with these individuals is not limited to bicycles. “We talk about life – our lives – music, sometimes bicycle frames… it depends,” says the mellow Italian who looks like he would be a very good uncle.