Re: [CR]Conversations on wheel building...but OT

Example: Framebuilders:Alex Singer

From: "Jon Schaer" <>
To: <>
References: <020501c34013$ac8ddb40$ead2f50c@C1921978A>
Subject: Re: [CR]Conversations on wheel building...but OT
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 18:51:06 -0400

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Sanders" <>
>>> he had seen a very short woman years ago at the Schwinn factory who could build a great wheel in seven minutes. He felt that was the greatest wheel builder he had ever seen and that was unlikely to be topped.

Why would any wheel user possibly equate fast wheelbuilding with great wheelbuilding? I can't possibly imagine even a single person that, when experiencing some sort of wheel problem, would say "well, gee, it's failed me, but it sure was built fast!". As a business, fast (proficient is a better term) building means profitible wheelbuilding. The end user cares nada about about how fast it was built. Functionality is their interest. Depending on the customer, that can be many things; low weight, durability, good looks, percieved image, or a combination thereof. Maybe Bill was just wishing he could have a 7-minute builder in his shop.
>>> What I'd like to know is just what is it that gives famous wheel builders such as Joe Young or Spence Wolf such a cache among the classic biking community.

Time and exposure. There could be a great builder living in Crosswalk, Alaska and they'd likely have no discernable reputation because of the market conditions. It certainly helps to be servicing a demanding clientell. Their demands test and hone your skills, and after years of servicing in a high-demand area your reputation develops. Good builders in low-demand areas don't develop a widespread reputation. Likewise, poor or average builders in a low-demand area can likely survive and not be weeded out since they are rarely tested by high-demand riders or circumstances. The shops in my area have builders that think they are good because they don't have any regular problems. But 99% of their customers don't stress 32' Open Pro wheels enough except for the worst of builders.
>>> Are their wheels actually better than other good wheel builders and , if so, how?

Choices. That Schwinn lady didn't know the first thing about her customers. Their weight, riding style, terrain, pavement conditions, annual mileage, bike type, tire choices, price demands, durability needs, and personal preferences all influence what will make the best wheel choice for THEM. Wheels for a specific need, or one set for all needs. The builder's mechanical skills are only half of it. They need to make the best choices in components first, just like a custom framebuilder.

Jon Schaer
Columbus, OH