Karl Stoerzinger built them up shortly before the end of last season. I picked out hubs and rims and he suggested spokes. It’s an odd feeling holding the pieces separate – knowing what they’ll create when put together. Wheelbuilding is a strange and sometimes dangerous alchemy. Machines can be programmed to do the work and to produce a strong and durable wheel, but a human being is required to make them sing. The rider of the wheel enters into a contract with the wheelbuilder. A relationship is formed. The rider trusts that the builder understands his art and will make a wheel that is both strong and lively. The builder trusts that the rider will use the wheel for it’s intended purpose and bring it back for regular maintenance. Part science, but mostly art. Tension can be monitored and mechanical stands are required, but the soul of the wheel comes from the builder. I knew Karl was one of the best and when he finally delivered a quick spin revealed all I needed to know.
Something greater than the sum of it’s parts was produced.
Since then I’ve put on innumerable miles on the set and they’ve held up outstandingly. I have yet to need them trued despite pothole, gravel and curb. Every once and awhile I’ll put them up in the stand and shine them up nice – read the ‘Made in Japan’ on the hub and the ‘Made in France’ on the rim. Before I touch rag to them I give a spin and listen to the whir of the spokes as it slices straight through the air. Soap and water and they’re back to looking like new.
Every ride I look down and smile.
Totally worth the extra 200 grams.