Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another Season In the Books

Well, cross season is just about over. I still have one more race next month but I've already begun the process of losing the form that I had from the fall. The feedback we've gotten from the racers on our wheels has been great so far and we saw very few problems throughout the season, despite hard use on a variety of terrain and difficult weather conditions.

Personally, I raced on the 22L's all season. This is the lightest wheelset we make and we market it as a climbing / road racing wheelset for lighter riders. When we set weight guidelines for our wheels and suggest appropriate usage, we tend to be very conservative. When it comes to testing the wheels, we try to be pretty brutal. The idea is to under-promise and over-deliver and hopefully, make everyone happy. This is why I chose to race a low spoke, sub 1300g set of clinchers this season.

Happily, they did great. I would show them no mercy and check them for signs of stress after each race. I had to give a quarter turn of a spoke wrench once or twice, but after most races, I'd put them in the stand, give them a spin and throw them right back on the bike.

One spoke was replaced in the course of the season, after Granouge. On the first lap, after going down hard on the turn before the run up, a few of the many many b-racers behind me ran over me and my rear wheel. I got up to finish the race and nothing was broken but I did notice that one spoke was bent enough to warrant replacement.

The Beacon race in Bridgeton gave me an excellent opportunity to test the bearings and hub seals. A light steady rain developed into a full on downpour by the time my race started. Throw in the sandy soil and many trips through "the beach" and the conditions were pretty epic. I assumed I'd have to take apart the hubs to clean out the grit after the race but was pleasantly surprised to see them rolling like new after hosing off the bike.


Although the wheels performed admirably (and made for a super light cross rig), they'll be staying on my road bike from now on. The ride quality of the clinchers, even running them in the low 30s, was noticeably lacking. In just about every race I did this season, the thought went through my head at some point: "I wish I had tubulars right now."

My next project will involve testing out some tubeless setups. Our clincher rims are fairly shallow from bed to hook so they should work well with a Stan's set up without having to put too many layers of sealing tape on the bed. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Website

Hey, the website is up. Actually, it has been for a while but know we've added some professional pictures and a secure online store. See for yourself at www.revolutionwheelworks.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Racing at Charm City

Our wheels got a great workout last weekend at Charm City cross thanks to the HumanZoom / PBR cross team. Here are a few pictures. More can be seen at demoncats.com.

Ken took it to the B-masters with our carbon tubulars:


I'm opting to ride our 1300g climbing wheels to see how they hold up to grossly inappropriate usage:


Dave was flying in the Elite Masters on the alloy cross tubulars:


Chad rode the alloy tubulars to a top 10 finish in the Elite race:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

They're Here!

Everything is in and we're working hard on getting wheels built for stock and getting the website up. They look great so far. I'll have some pictures posted shortly.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Note on Weight Limits

The rider weight limits on our wheels are as follows:

170 lbs
REV 22L

200 lbs
REV 50
REV 22
REV 30L

230 lbs
REV 25x
REV 30
REV 50x

Rider weight limits for any wheels (and most other componentry) are more or less arbitrary and fairly meaningless. They should be used as general guidelines to determine which set can take more or less punishment and which sets certain riders should think twice about.

In truth, there are many, many factors that go into the likelihood of a rider trashing a pair of wheels. Weight is certainly a big one, but so is riding style and general maintenance. A 200 lb rider who is careful with his equipment and rides with a degree of finesse is more likely to get a longer life from his wheelset than a 150 lb rider who over inflates his tires and rides through potholes with reckless abandon and with a good amount of torque.

In any case, these limits are not enforced by myself or anyone else. The one year warranty on obvious defects will still apply if you ignore our weight limits. If you break a rim, we will still honor our 5 year rim replacement deal regardless of your weight. That said, our wheels are designed for bicycle racing and we won't pretend that we offer "something for everyone." If you are a larger rider who has a history of breaking lightweight componentry, you may want to look elsewhere.

Rim Replacement Plan

Most wheels -and just about everything else - seem to come with some kind of extended warranty plan available. I generally try to avoid purchasing unnecessary insurance and the last thing I want to do is sell unnecessary insurance. Revolution Wheelworks will not be selling extended warranties. That said, we do want our customers to have the confidence to race their wheels hard without the worry of breaking them. To that end, we offer our Rim Replacement Plan. If you break a rim for any reason, including abuse, neglect or forgetting that you left it behind your car before backing up, we will rebuild your hub with a new rim and spokes at a very reasonable cost: $300 for carbon rims, $150 for alloy. This also includes return shipping and is available for 5 years from the date of purchase.

The Mark of Trade



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Prototypes!

Prototypes of the of the Road 2.2 and Road 5.0 wheelsets have been built. The weights are slightly less than expected which is always a plus.




An Introduction




Last June, I was fortunate enough to find myself on vacation in the French Alps. We had timed our arrival in Annecy with the conclusion of the Dauphine Libere. After riding a portion of the day's stage and watching the finish, we came back to hotel to find that Mavic and the Suanier Duval team had taken over the courtyard and lakeside bar. They were having a press event for their new wheelset, the R-Sys.

These events are fairly typical of the industry: Tech editors from various cycling publications are put up in a nice hotel, plied with free booze and gourmet food, mingled with a few sponsored pros, and taken for a ride on the new product the following day. From there, the journalists borrow heavily from the manufacturer's press release to write an "objective" review which generally runs next to ad placed for the product.

I wandered around a bit, hoping to score a free beer and maybe a conversation with a pre-Chipotle David Millar. Neither he, nor anyone else speaking English, were in attendance so I just made my way over to check out the new wheels. The big news was obviously the carbon spokes: large hollow rods that borrow from wagon wheel technology to work in both compression as well as tension. I can't say I was terribly impressed. Although they make claims on stiffness, they aren't terrifically light - Mavic claims 1355g - and they looked about as aerodynamic as, well... a wagon wheel. The mechanic in me always looks at new products with an eye towards serviceability and one of the first questions that came to mind was, "How do you replace a spoke once one of them breaks?" It turns out that that's probably the last question you'll be asking if you're unlucky enough to break a spoke.

Later in the year, as cross season became imminent, I found myself lusting after a pair of mid-section carbon tubulars. Light weight, low tire pressure and the ability to quickly shed mud and sand: Exactly what I needed to finish last in the B-races in style. To my disappointment, the availability of cross specific carbon wheels was pretty slim and I'd have to fork over at least $1700 - $2000 for them. Even if I did have the money, would I really be able ride full bore over rocks, roots, curbs, mud and sand on a pair wheels that would cost more to replace than my wife's engagement ring, without a nagging paranoid feeling running though my head?

I decided that the bicycle industry, especially in regard to wheels, has gone crazy. Retail prices bear little resemblance to how much the components actually cost. Each year we see innovation for the sake of innovation. Engineers answer the question of "Why?" with "Because we can" instead of "Because we should." Marketers take over from there and make wheels like the Ksyrium look cool enough to make you forget that you're spending $950 on two heavy parachutes for your bike. I don't intend to keep picking on Mavic - there are countless other examples of rolling idiocy.

I decided to find out if it was possible to produce wheels that are durable, lightweight, aerodynamic, serviceable and affordable. To make a long story short, myself, my business partner and many friends along the way found out that yes, it is. The result is Revolution Wheelworks.