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Pacenti Forza wheelset on Specialized Tarmac

This is a nice pairing! A decent carbon road bike with some race-light wheels. Originally supplied with Fulcrum wheels, we’ve achieved a similar or better weight, a wider rim and a more durable hub. I’m happy with that outcome and I think our customer is as well!

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Now stocking Pacenti rims!

Exciting news, I’m now building with Pacenti rims!

Pacenti have a great reputation for producing some beautifully designed and well made rims.

The Forza rim offers the same internal width (20mm) and tubeless compatibility as the Ambrosio P20 that has been so popular here, but with the added advantage of an offset rear rim for more even spoke tension, 650b versions as well as 700c, disc-specific rim designs and aluminium and carbon options, with build options suitable for a variety of purposes from super lightweight to durable, dependable wheels for mixed terrain riding.

More info to follow soon — the first set are going out to a customer in the coming week and everyone is quite excited.

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MTB 29er Wide Rim Upgrade: Ryde Edge 30

An MTB guide in Newport, Pembs, was looking for a bit more grip from his 29er. Originally fitted with Mavic X319 19mm rims, he was at the limit, width wise, of the original rim’s design spec.

Step in the Ryde Edge 30, a 30mm internal width, tubeless compatible rim, available in 29 and 27.5. This is the second tier from the Holland manufacturer’s alloy rim range, and they are beautifully made. Conveniently, a straight swap for the Mavic, so we didn’t need to replace the spokes on this occasion. Once set up, the obvious benefits: Immediately adds 5mm to the width of the tyre, giving the tyre carcass a bigger radius and putting more in contact with the road.

Even better, there’s no weight penalty as these weigh the same as the old Mavic rims. They’re rated as strong enough for bike park, freeride and all-mountain use and even some downhill riding. Not bad! Once I have the rider’s feedback, I’ll add it in.

9/5: After a few weeks riding, the report is that straight away they felt more surefooted and controllable than the original rims. The extra traction has been welcome too. All in all, this has been rated a worthwhile upgrade for the cost. Great!

Rims are priced at £48/each. Labour to build the pair is £50.

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Tour Of Pembrokeshire 2019 Prologue

Friday the 18th of January was set for this year’s Tour Prologue ride, with 40 and 25 mile routes hosted from Crug Glas. It’s always a fun event and spirits were high despite the gloomy outlook: heavy rain and moderate winds forecast all morning.

Jim Elliot leads a group on the 40 route

Even with the wet roads, rain and wind, everyone was back in time for lunch and noone had need of my assistance this year. Lunch was fantastic, as expected, and Eddie Butler gave an entertaining and good humoured speech in his rôle as ambassador for the charity Prostate Cancer Wales.

So we look forward to the main event on the 18th of May this year — it will be here before we know it.

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Phillips Kingfisher rebuild

Kingfisher rejuvenated

This bike has a heartwarming history. Dating from the 1960s, it was bought new by a 12 year-old boy who’d worked his paper round and paid into a pot in the bike shop until the original £10 price was reached and he could ride it home. After a few decades of being used and cherished, it was looking rather the worse for wear, though still a lovely machine.

In the autumn 2018, I was asked by his daughter what we could do with it to bring it back from the edge. The paint was in poor condition, with some pitting to the frame but no serious corrosion. The wheels were knackered, the hubs worn out and the steel rims having lost quite alot of chrome. Further, the tyre size was completely obsolete and no replacements for the perished rubber could be found, being one of the rarer 26″ sizes.

If it was to be worth rebuilding the bike, it would need new paint, so it was stripped of all parts and sent to a professional painters for a first class finish.

Meanwhile, the spec was put together. The closest wheel size to original with a good selection of tyre sizes is the 584mm rim, better known as 26 x 1 1/2″ in this bike’s bay or 650B to us! The next question was gearing. The choice of hub gears and brakes was made on the basis that the costs were very similar to a derailleur system with rim brakes, the bike would look so much smoother with hub brakes and those giant silver hubs, the low maintenance requirements of this set up and the difficulty in finding 650B rims suitable for rim brakes.

Front HubSturmey Archer X-FD
Rear HubSturmey Archer X-RD5(w)
SpokesSapim Leader Stainless
Rims650B Black/Disc
TyresRivendell Nifty Swifty
HeadsetStronglight A9
HandlebarsNorthroad Alloy
ChainsetShimano 4-arm 44t
SaddleBrooks Champion
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Sturmey Archer 650B Wheelset

These are for a bike from the ’60s, but are bang up to date technologically and look pretty smart.

The story of the bike will follow when it’s assembled but why not have a look at the wheels first, consisting of a Sturmey front drum brake hub and rear 5-speed drum brake hub laced via Sapim stainless spokes to a plain black 650B rim and finished off with a set of Rivendell “Nifty Swifty” 33mm tyres with a checkerboard tread and tan sidewalls. I think they look great! Ideal for a smart utility or town bike, durable enough to be a commuter set and strong enough to go touring (if you consider 5 gears enough!).

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Cannondale Lefty Custom Wheelbuild

The Cannondale Lefty is a fantastic suspension fork, no doubt about that. There are lots of people who don’t like them but they generally seem to be in the camp of never having ridden one and unable to overcome the psychological hurdle of a single sided fork.

Custom spec wheels for the Lefty are a bit rarer. Cannondale isn’t famous for supplying particularly inspiring wheels on anything other than range-topping bikes, and even then you may not be happy (the wheels on the Slate are a bit disappointing, for instance). 

The Lefty hub itself is fantastic. Incredibly light, good bearings and well designed. The bearings are pretty easy to change too, which is a bonus. Other companies (Tune, Project321, Chris King, Circus Monkey etc) make exceptionally expensive Lefty-compatible hubs, and it’s great to have the option but unless you are desperate to have a fancy colour or an unusual spoke count, Cannondale’s own is generally the most cost-effective option.

This Lefty wheel is to replace the factory original on a Slate Apex1. Weighed side by side with the original wheel and dressed in the same tyre and tube, the new wheel is 250g lighter despite using mid-range parts. When the rear wheel is built to match, it’ll be a weight saving of half a kilo, which is really quite significant! The higher spoke count and stronger butted spokes should also make it more reliable and comfortable.

Original WheelNew Wheel
HubLefty “50” 28-hole, blackLefty 32-hole, white
RimMavic Xm419 27.5″, 28HWTB Frequency Team 27.5″, 32H
SpokesDT Swiss plain, blackSapim D-Lite double-butted, silver
Rim tapeMavicWTB
TubeMichelin AirstopMichelin Airstop
TyreClement XPlor MSO 650x42bClement XPlor MSO 650x42b
Total weight2000g approx1750g approx

A point to note: The original wheel was supplied with Alu nipples. They didn’t survive their first winter and were replaced by Cannondale with brass. Most sources say that this makes the wheel 17g in total heavier than originally specified. Not so significant in the greater scheme of things.

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A Sonder for the Coed Y Brenin Enduro

Sonder by Alpkit

This monster Sonder with 3″ wide tyres and a bad attitude came in for a brake service ready for the Coed Y Brenin Enduro.

Looks like it was a great event this year and certainly this is the bike for it with carbon rims on King hubs and super-plush Fox forks.

Our man beasted the 42k route with a time just a minute over three and a half hours. Well done Andy!

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Refresh for an unloved single-speed

This customer has had this as a singlespeed bike for quite a few years, but in the last 3 years it has only moved to get from one shed to another.

Time for a refresh! It’s hard to beat the simplicity and reliability of the Sturmey Archer hubs. The new design with the rotary hub shifting mechanism hides the cable behind the chainstay and keeps the bike looking smooth. Rear hub brake is smooth and silent, needs minimal maintenance over its lifespan and prevents those beautiful tyres from getting unsightly brake dust all  over them.

After a long debating the lighting situation for a while, it’s hard not to justify a dynamo & LED system. We recycled this used Shimano hub into a new wheel with a Supernova LED front light with a view that a USB charging system can be added at a later date for self-sufficiency on the road when mains electricity won’t be available.

The rims are Ryde Dutch 19. Wide, with a 30mm section, they look great, are very strong and very reasonably priced. Not particularly light though! But ideal for a bike like this.

The full waterproof Alpkit luggage looks fantastic and when combined with the rear under-seat pack will give enough storage for a few days away lightly loaded.

Ben was so keen to get out on this that I didn’t have time to photo it before he got it all grubby, so the very honest muck is visible!

The ride is very smooth. The more I use these Sturmey hubs, the more I like them.

  • Sturmey Archer RX-RD5 hub with Ryde Dutch 19 rim, Sapim Race butted spokes: £195 (includes shifters, cables, sprocket and hardware)
  • Shimano DH-3N30 dynamo hub powering a Supernova LED always-on light.
  • Stronglight (made in France) chainset
  • Brooks B17 saddle on Nitto post
  • No-name singlespeed alloy frame
  • Worryingly flexible Bontrager carbon fork — replaced with new no-name carbon fork subsequently
  • Alpkit waterproof framebag, top tube bag

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Ambrosio P20s on some red bling hubs

Boy Racer Marinus wore out his ancient Rolf wheels and needed something in a hurry. The red hubs are unbranded, probably Novatec, and have lovely smooth bearings although are cosmetically imperfect with occasional scratches. However, they are very cost-effective.

He specified a modern, wide rim with tubeless compatibility. Really there’s only one answer: The Ambrosio P20; a surprisingly light, strong, tubeless compatible rim with 20mm internal width. I’ve built up several sets of wheels for different purposes now (cyclocross/offroad terrain touring,  Alpine Climbing, these for winter training, etc) and everyone loves them.

28 Sapim Race double-butted spokes per wheel.

These came in at £199

These should be strong enough to take his high-mileage all-weather winter abuse. I’ll update in 6 months with how they survived 😉