Svelte Cycles without comproise

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fatto a Mano.

With the overwhelming attention handmade frames have received over the last 5 years, I find it amusing that in contrast the value of handbuilt wheels has been virtually flying under the radar with "factory wheels" becoming the norm. Of course a vast majority of these machine-made wheels are built to spec, reliable, safe, cost efficient and not to mention readily available. But is there really anything special about a factory wheel? Do they offer you anything more than a set of handbuilt wheels? Do they offer you anything less?

When I see a made by hand frameset such as a Richard Sachs, Pegoretti, Vanilla, Spooky,IF, Time... I believe fitting said machine with a set of handbuilt wheels is par for the course. When you break these bikes down to their core it is that very made by hand or "fatto a mano" aspect that gives them such prestige, presence and mystique. It is not necessarily the structure of metal that yields the value but rather the story behind it. Take this into consideration when selecting your next wheelset.

What follows is a pictorial illustrating the care and detail I put into each and every pair of Svelte Cycles Handbuilt Wheels.

I will keep the secrets here with me such as what I use on the spoke threads, what I use on the nipples, what I tension the wheels to, why and when I use a certain lacing pattern and hole count. Aside from the aforementioned salient points, building a wheel requires unwavering focus, the proper tools, skilled hands and patience. Thank You for looking and as always, "Enjoy".

Dropping in the spokes...

Slight bending to better seat the spoke heads at the flange.

I line the hub to the rim and start at the valve hole lacing and threading my way around.

If I look serious to you it's because I am!

Almost done...

Double eyleted rim for improved strength.

These wheels will be ridden around the unforgiving boulevards of New York City on this stunning Pegoretti Marcelo.

Looks good...

Feels good...

Sounds good too...

Now for the fun part... Tension.

I work my way deliberately and evenly around the wheel adding tension to each spoke at an equal rate. Even and properly tensioned spokes are what sets good wheels apart from well... everything else.

I true to 1mm tolerance round and side to side. I then stress and repeat truing for as many cycles as necessary.
Dish is checked for the final time.

Upon completion every spoke is inspected for even and consistent tension on the drive and non-drive sides respectively.
I let the wheels sit overnight and come back to them in the morning before final approval and tire mounting. John will go with a set of Vredestein Fortezza TriComps in white and black with his tube of choice being Michelin Laytex for a tubular-like ride.

I offer handbuilt wheels with rims by Edge, DT Swiss and Kinlin. DT Swiss and White Industries hubs are used predominantly while I trust Wheelsmith and Sapim spoke and nipples. If you would like a set of handbuilt wheels for yourself pick up the phone and call me at 603 943-4202 or drop me a line at "".

Justin Spinelli

PS: special thanks to Allison for taking these fantastic pics.

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