Handbuilt Soul

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Inspiration for the title comes from Nightmares on Wax, whose "Carboot Soul" certainly does have a lot of soul.  Give it a listen.  It's one of my favorite records to build wheels by.

A couple of weeks ago, I was beffuddled to read on some forum that our wheels aren't "true handbuilts." The only thing I can guess is that a wheel only qualifies as a "true handbuilt" if it's built to order for a specific person, out of parts specified either by or for that specific person.  We were also once accused of having no soul.  I can fluidly rhyme the entirety of Paul's Boutique, which I'd think would qualify me as having at least some small modicum of soul, but again I mostly plead ignorance as to what goalpost exactly we're kicing at there. 

This handbuilt thing popped into my head yesterday as I was building two sets of Rails, one putatively destined to become Mike's, the other mine.  I say putatively because it's a fancy word that I know and I do like to use fancy words, but also because the wheels in question are the first we're doing with the new White Industries colored T-11 hubs.  "Mine" are blue, "Mike's" are red.  The simple fact is that we are going to get decals on these, put them on Facebook, get orders for them within a half hour, and send them off without them over having had a tire mounted.  **EDIT - It already happened, without them getting on FB - Mike got screwed, his wheels are sold.  Sorry Mike**  And as I was building them, that knowledge was firmly in my head - that here I was building two sets of wheels, and whether they were going to actually wind up as ours or yours was totally immaterial to the process.  The simple reality is that they got built the way I build wheels, which through iteration, testing, and refinement has become what I'll modestly call a quite good way to build wheels. 

As the builds pile up and pile up, I know that my general skill at building is way beyond what it once was.  At this point there are two guys who help me with wheel production, and they are also very very good wheelbuilders.  I would gladly ride wheels that they built (part of the process of their builds is my post-build QC), and if Fabian Cancellara urgently needed a set of wheels and we had a pile of wheels sitting there I'd happily (eagerly, even) grab any set out of the pile, give it to him, and have it represent our wheel builds.  The corollary to that is that we could be building a set of wheels intended for either Mike or me, or Fabian Cancellara, and ship them to you instead.  There would be no difference.  I don't necessarily know why I use Cancellara as my example other than that when I've talked about this concept I've always used him for some reason.  That and that he's won big things and worn special jerseys while riding wheels from companies where that's not the case - wheels for pros are built off line, not for public consumption. 

So despite their being built by hand, they aren't handbuilts, and despite my obvious possession of mountains of soul, we are a soulless company, and that's fine.  I don't care about that, I just care that whatever you get from us is as good as it can be. 


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  • Doug on

    What's the bow saw used for?

  • Mike Passino on

    Sorry Mike!Can't wait to get them…..they are gonna be sweet on my Lynskey Helix!

  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    So it happened, "Mike's wheels" sold before he ever even saw them. They didn't make it to Facebook, they didn't make it anywhere before the "sold" tag went on them.

  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    Doug – Cutting steerer tubes, duh. (actually there's a cx practice trail that needs maintenance)Rob – We're looking into it. Full custom colors we've already tried and that one's not coming back, but we're looking into decals to color match the WI hubs.

  • Rob on

    Any chance of color matching the decals to the hubs? I'd love a set with Cannondale green decals to match my frame. Green hubs would be icing on the cake.



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