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Our favorite winter equipment

2010 February 2
by velomonkey

It’s that time of year where the days are short and the nights are long.   Here in New England we have a lot of days with around freezing temperatures and grey skies.   The roads are covered in sand and the pavement is rough from the frost heaves.   For us ideal weather for cycling doesn’t start until April – as in the last week in April.   Nevertheless, outfitted in the right clothing we brave the conditions and put in the base miles that will pay dividends when the mercury finally touches 70.   Balaclavas, fenders and chemical pocket warmers are the norm here.   Aside from looking like the Michelin Man there is something different and special some of us do during the off season.   Some of us have winter specific bikes, some of us ride our same old setup and some of us go to our hand-built wheels.

Good Hand-builts

Here is one of our bikes set for the long new england winter.

Hand-built wheels are quickly going the way of the DoDo bird. Attend virtually any group ride anywhere in America and hand-built wheels are in the minority, heck sometimes you wont see any.   Not without good reason; a set of Mavic Ksyrium wheels, for example, are bullet proof, make a great training or race wheel, are lighter than most any hand-builts and are backed by Mavic’s no nonsense MP3 program.   Never mind the over abundance of inexpensive carbon aero wheels currently coming to market.   It didn’t seem that long ago that we saw Lance ride the tour on a set of lightweights – the prohibitively expensive, even pros have to pay-out-of-their-own-pocket carbon wheels from the country that gave us Fahrvergnügen.   Riders can now pick up 50mm carbon aero wheels for under $1,500 something that seemed unfathomable just a few years ago.

So why ride hand-builts?   Simple.   It’s one of the few areas of bike racing, PRO bike racing, where there is more art than science.   A well-built, well-constructed set of hand-built wheels ride like nothing else and they are stiff, bullet proof and one of the more fail safe components.   How many times in the past five years have we seen riders get in a good position at Paris Roubaix only to have a failure on their carbon rim?   Might they have won with a different wheel?   We’ll never know.   However, there is a reason why Boonen, Johan Museeuw, VdB, Cancellara and Van Petegem win the cobbled classics on a pair of straight gaged spoked, box section rim hand-built wheels.   Hand-builts, well done hand-builts, perform.   It’s as simple as that.

Given the conditions around new england and a lot of other places we encourage riders to at least consider a pair of hand-builts.   Amos has years of experience building wheels and with choices like sapim bladed spokes and cartridge bearing hubs you have unlimited selection without any significant sacrifice.  Amos also builds like of wheels with powertap hubs or whatever you desire, but once you try a set you’ll know what we’re talking about.   Come on in or drop us a line to discuss.

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