A brief history of November, part 1

A brief history of November, part 1

There's been too much afoot to get deep into the Novemberfest™ activities and promised retrospective postings, but today we'll make some amends for that in both dimensions. 

First, Novemberfest™. All orders over $100 and less than $500 will include a sporty ultra snazzy November water bottle. There are a few designs, and water bottles are like a box of chocolates - it's always a fun surprise to find out which one you get.

Orders greater than $500 will come with an incredibly stylish and functional sailcloth jersey bag. Big enough to fit most phones with spare room for credit card/cash, baseball cards, etc, it comes with a November "N" logo embroidered in navy blue. They're awesome. If your order ships before the bags arrive to us, we'll ship the bag later. The fine print - order value is exclusive of shipping charges, and that's about it for the fine print.

Now, back to the past... As astute readers will know, we've just passed our 10 year mark. In that time, we've built a whole lot of wheels. Disc wheels, rim brake wheels, carbon wheels, alloy wheels, big wheels, little wheels, skinny wheels, fat wheels, and any other kind of wheels you might think of. Each and every one of them by hand, from the ground up, from a pile of parts. At this point, we actually admit that we're getting pretty good at it. But how did we get here?

It all started with GamJams, which was a site that Mike made for a hobby starting sometime in the mid 2010s. Blogging was all the rage then, and a bunch of bike racers in MABRA (Mid Atlantic Bike Racing Association) had blogs, and GamJams had a comprehensive blog roll, as well as a lot of great original content. At some point, having had a blog, I started doing some writing for GamJams. All just sort of a fun hobby.

Mike then decided that for 2010, he wanted to start a GamJams Cat 3 team. I helped him set it up, but let's face it he did 95% of the work. And his primary insanity was to provide frames for each of us to use for the year. This was like the very beginning of when a boatload of popup companies started branding open mold frames and wheels, and Mike hooked up with a guy who was doing just that with frames. The problem was the guy didn't have his ducks in a row and Mike wound up having to do a WHOLE lotta leg work to get us the frames. And they got to us, and they were pretty cool. The key thing was that through all of this pain in the butt stuff, Mike learned a lot about sourcing stuff. 

Coincidentally with that, I was trying to find a frame to build for my wife, and it sucked. Couldn't find a frame that fit the bill. Mike's new knowledge and my surety about this market need led us to say "we could do this better." And that's when we decided to do November. Wheels were actually a complete afterthought, just something that could be done and made sense to be done because the factory built wheels were getting insane both in wackiness of design and price. 

I'll close this chapter with an exceedingly inside baseball anecdote. Mike, Gus and I were carpooling to the 2010 Tour of Washington County. It was a really hot day, and a hard race. Despite sticking with the break that fought for the top spots, which I'd gotten dropped from right at the very end and which Mike had gotten us both into, Gus had freakish energy. Mike and I were pretty shot. But since we'd started talking about it a little bit, Gus wanted to know all about November, and peppered us with questions. I just wanted to put my feet up and zone out, and was sick of talking about things that I'd been talking and thinking about nearly constantly for the past two months or so, so when Gus went down the "so now let's talk about wheels, what kind of wheels are y'all gonna do?" I simply said "f--king sweet wheels" and passed out. And that's where the FSW name cam from. 

Back to blog


Joe – Still is, functionally – a set of Rails plus a set of HEDs is just about as much as one set of a ton of options from DT/ENVE/Zipp/etc. And, to further the example, HED rims are not the equal of the Kinlin rims we used then, nor are the hubs we use now the equal of the Novatecs we primarily used then – they’re way better in both cases.


Still got a set of RFSWCs around here.

Joe Ajello

Geez, I’m old enough to remember those first days when the pitch was, “Our model is so cost effective that you should buy a pair of aluminum clinchers for training and a pair of carbon tubulars for racing. A veritable Swiss Army knife of affordable wheel options.”

Joe Ajello

I still have a pair of gamjams socks… funny because they get lost in the sock drawer for months but always turn up around cross season… I dug that blog and made the photo recap one weekend! Made my work week bearable in an otherwise shotty fall!


You got that right!


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