Re: [CR]Conversations on wheel building...are there great wheelbuilders and why are they better than others?

(Example: Framebuilders:Pino Morroni)

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 18:45:16 -0700
Subject: Re: [CR]Conversations on wheel building...are there great wheelbuilders and why are they better than others?
From: "Bill Bryant" <>
To: <>
In-Reply-To: <>

Some years after developing a pretty good regional customer base from my wheelbuilding skills, my bike shop employer sent me to the Schwinn mechanics school to show our customers we were all 'Schwinn Certified'. Didn't learn a whole lot there that was previously unknown to me, but it was certainly good training for the new mechanics.

The school's whole aim with wheelbuilding was for speed because TIME = MONEY. And we never saw anything but heavy steel rims; nothing lightweight was discussed as I recall. Thus, building "good" wheels was not the goal, minimizing labor costs was. Period. I dunno about that exact 7 minute wheel claim but certainly heard similar stories at the Schwinn school which were supposed to inspire us to become "good wheelbuilders who can crank them out". We subsequently learned speed-specific lacing and truing techniques that got them out in about 15 minutes... but they were not wheels I would sell to a customer back home doing his first century. Ick! :-( Replacing *crappy factory wheels* is exactly why I sold a good many wheels to cycling enthusiasts during the 1970s and '80s. But you get what you pay for, too-- and those heavy steel wheels didn't sell for all that much either. Indeed, that was the whole point. OTOH, I would be very surprised if the wheels on Schwinn Paramounts of the same era were built in 7 minutes, but they weren't all that well-built either.

As to the short, wide woman at the Schwinn factory cranking them out in 7 minutes (probably for piece-rate wages because time = money), I'd really like to know what would make anyone think her wheels were "great"? Did they go ride them for thousands of miles? Hell no, they were very likely heavy steel-rimmed dogs bound for lowly Varsities, Suburbans, Continentals, etc. And for around town usage they probably held up fine-- braking in the rain aside. So, by that definition, maybe they were great in their own way. Funny, though, one sure doesn't see many of those "great" wheels out on club centuries, doubles, races, or being ridden cross-country. Apples vs. Oranges, IMHO.

Bill Bryant Santa Cruz, CA

on 7/1/03 5:31 PM, at wrote:
> In a message dated 7/1/03 5:00:25 PM, writes:
> << He again said that good wheels are good wheels and that if we wanted to
> talk great wheel builders that he had seen a very short woman years ago at
> the
> Schwinn factory who was as wide as tall, but 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. >>
> Evening Gang,
> Seven minutes, eh? Sure would like to have seen it in action, because my
> experience gives me much cause for doubt. Especially, the "great wheel"
> claim???
> I don't think wheel building should be rushed (IMO)!!!


> Cheers,


> Chuck Brooks

> Malta, NY