Re: [CR]Urban Legends, by Jobst Brandt

Example: Production Builders:Peugeot
From: "Stephen Barner" <>
To: "Todd Kuzma" <>, <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Urban Legends, by Jobst Brandt
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2003 15:26:28 -0400

Jobst's book on wheel building was good, in the sense that it got people thinking about wheels, and bad, in the sense that it got people thinking about wheels too much. The engineering fiction of the '70s press--of which Jobst was an active participant--resulted in a more thoughtful, knowledgable public, who challenged the status quo. However, it also gave rise to a sense of the customer being more knowledgeable that the folks who had years of experience honing their craft; yes, I know that was the reality in many places. But bicycles are not science, after all, they are a product of technology and technology is the practical application of science. The dynamics of a bicycle in use are extremely complex. Like almost all technology, bicycle and wheel design is best when informed by science, but guided by experience. Certainly, there is a rich history of tradition stifling advances indicated by science, but I saw customers who had little more than their own personal experience with wheels treat as bumpkins mechanics with years of proven experience in building excellent wheels that stayed in true and did not break spokes. Somehow it was impossible to think that the work of these folks could rival the "science" of Wheelsmith (to be uttered in hushed, reverent tones). Some of these guys had never even read Jobst's book, let alone be able to quote from it.

I've read a lot about framebuilding, and have even done some myself, but I would not claim to be able to argue the fine points of the subject with Baylis, Sachs or Starck, or to be able to produce work that could rival theirs, no matter how careful and informed I might be. We know that many of the premiere classic frames were built by craftsmen who had nothing but experience and tradition to guide them. There is a value in that tradition and experience that should be respected, and that value exists in many--though certainly not all--of those who have built thousands of wheels. Even if they run the trailing spokes on the drive side from the outside of t he flange.

A better book to pass your time with, though outside the other end of our timeline, is Bicycles & Tricycles: An Elementary Tretise on Their Design and Construction, by Archibald Sharp, originally published in 1896, but used to be available as a reprint through MIT Press.

Steve Barner, Bolton, Vermont

----- Original Message -----
From: Todd Kuzma
To: Stephen Barner
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2003 1:44 PM
Subject: Re: [CR]Urban Legends, by Jobst Brandt

> on 8/17/03 12:13 PM, Stephen Barner at wrote:
> > ...and started a whole set of new ones, I'm afraid.
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> >> The book put to rest a lot of urban
> >> legends on building wheels.
> Such as?
> Todd Kuzma
> Heron Bicycles
> LaSalle, IL 815-223-1776