Today while working in the back room with Bill Barrow at his bike shop the conversation turned to wheel building. I remarked that I had a bike coming with wheels built by Joe Young and that he was the hot wheel builder of the moment.
Bill is usually a man of very few words unless he feels strongly about something. He said that while there are certainly bad wheel builders that wheel building is a matter of deciding what you want the wheel to be like and building it that way. He feels that this is either done or not done. I mentioned that there were some very famous wheel builders like Spence Wolf or the early Wheelsmith wheels that were sort of legendary. 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. Forty years in the bike business makes Bill a pretty knowledgeable guy. I certainly did not know enough to argue with him.
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. Are their wheels actually better than other good wheel builders and , if so, how?
Please, don't just tell me they have "Mojo"! Tom Sanders Lansing, Mi