Friday, June 22, 2007

Retarded Wheelset Hall of Fame

(Mavic re-invent the wagon wheel)

So everybody probably knows by now Mavic is introducing a new wheel. I'm not going to get into the technical details, but it literally uses carbon-fiber drinking straws for spokes, and it's based on the same engineering principle as the wagon wheel. (I wish I were joking.)

Now I know that as soon as these stupid things come out I am going to be surrounded by them at local races, and I dread it in the same way and for the same reasons I dread going to Williamsburg. I hate most pre-built wheelsets, because (without getting into techinical details) they suck. So, in honor of the Jobst Brandtian tradition, and to coincide with the release of Mavic's new wagon wheel, I bring you The Retarded Wheelset Hall of Fame*
(*I know I'm missing a lot, but these are some of the worst offenders)

The Stupid FSA Wheels with the Triple Hub Flange

These sport a giant third flange in the middle of the hub. Because I think we all agree we needed another flange.

Specialized Roval Amoeba Freakout

Specialzied bought the old Roval name so they could produce this sci-fi nightmare. Like FSA, Specialized went to town on the flanges. Marketing tagline: "It's flange-tastic!"

Spinergy "You Can't Suck My Wheel Because My Wheel Sucks Too Hard Already" Spox
In keeping with the sci-fi theme we have the Spox. Actually, was this pronounced "Spocks" or "Spokes?" Don't know. All I know it was ugly, it was about as aero as a catamaran sail, and you don't see too many in service anymore.

Topolino Rolling Abortion

The concept here was one continuous spoke made out of some kind of flexible fiber that went all the way through the hub or something. Whatever--it looks like they have those plastic spoke decorations they put on kid's bikes. The name also evokes pure speed. Actually, it evokes Topol, the smoker's tooth polish.


Rob in Queens said...

You know the minute some pro wins a race on these, the whole world will have them. Every chubby dentist and lawyer will have a set of these. And there will be a flood of as new Ksyriums on ebay.

be said...

"it looks like they have those plastic spoke decorations they put on kid's bikes."

The product you are looking for is:

Spokey Dokeys

Josh said...

F-ing Genius. I just crapped my bibs. You should see the guy out here in Marin, CA who rides his Topolino's on his "everything on my bike is carbon" monstrosity. Makes me want to vomit.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Spokey Dokeys! Thanks!

Art said...

I always thought Topolinos were pretty ballsy. Kind of like the metallic gold Deda bar tape. Sure, you've got to be fast to pull it off, but some things are so far beyond the realm of good taste they acquire a certain sort of beauty.

GOB said...

I'm reasonably sure the same guy designed the Spox as designed the Topolino's. And the original Rev-X Spinergy wheels, too, for that matter. Rafe Schlanger. Nice guy, rode a beat to shit old C-Dale touring frame with Rev-x's on it back in the day. Total Engineer.

MJ said...

One thing we learned about in college was to not just think could it be done but also should it be done. In this case,a resounding NO...have you no decency Mr. Engineer?

sumadis said...

I've ridden both Spox and the newer Spinergy's for a few years, mostly on road but also cross. They're spongy. Kinda nice on a bumpy off-road mission, but that's about all. Truing them is a bear thanks to easily snapped and hard to replace spoke nipples. In general, they held up well - the Spox took a head-on collision with a fast turning Buick and probably saved me by bending and warping like a ball instead of folding. Whatever. They're all retired now and I'll take straight-gauge with some normal rims. Funny that Mavic seems to be ripping off the Spinergy concept with more current materials.

Stompa said...

Just went home to east coast and was perfectly content to have my step-bros bike to ride>> full aluminum klein with blue fade paint job and those spoxerz oh jeez rode a couple hundred miles and adjusted the rear hub a couple of times to know real avail.. a cartridge bearing on one side and loose balls on the other is kinda a good idea anyway the aluminum klein including fork probably would have sucked a lot harder if it had some wheels with a little rigidity.
Anyway in repayment for the usage i adjusted the hubs again, (although i should have used more jb weld i think) and wrapped his bars with american flag bar tape. Seemed only right..

John said...

So most prebuilt wheel sets suck. Which do you race on? And what do you build for a aero wheel or light weight wheel?

Anonymous said...

It's Chris King or it's nothing!

Rich B.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Thanks all for the comments. Gob, that's interesting about Rafe Schlanger. I'm sure he's a good guy, though I'll confess the image of a Cannodale tourer with Rev-Xs did bring up a bit of lunch.

John, I've been around the boutique wheel block but now use the kinds of boring stuff most people regard as "training" wheels for most of my riding and racing. I do confess though to owning a pre-built wheelset from a major manufacturer, but it is comprised entirely of standard, user-serviceable components and is quite robust (after an initial going-over). I have no beef with pre-builts that don't have proprietary parts. Not every shop or rider has the time to build wheels in these crazy, troubled times.

If my ability warranted it and I wanted a race wheel more light and aero than what I have I'd probably opt for some moderate-section (possibly tubular) rim attached by conventional spokes to a high-end but reliable and proven hub by one of the usual suspects.

John said...

The proprietary stuff is the worst. Some of the shimano wheels are tightened at the hub, instead of the rim, so truing the rear wheel is infrequently done.

alliwannadoisbicycle said...

shimano's made some pretty butt-ugly wheelsets too...

sumadis said...

wheels that you can't true yerself on the side of the road are useless.

wheels with deep aero profiles are useless on most road surfaces - note that most of the guys who crash in the spring classics are riding deep carbons or whatever the sponsor makes them ride, while the hard-asses who finish strong year in and year out are on basic, hand-built tubulars.

bikepennst8 said...

Rev-X's take the cake. I heard rumors that they were mass-start illegal because of their abilty to turn into a frag grenade in a crash. Thats practicality... at least for this hall of fame.

Art said...

All wheels with fewer than 16 spokes are banned by the UCI for mass starts. Think of falling into a giant food processor in a crash.

I want to ride my bicycle said...

Great post topic!

Did Mavic really bring a real wagon wheel to their new wheel's press introduction? I could have sworn that I saw a picture on some site or blog from the big intro that had an engineer holding a wagon wheel. Is that supposed to impress us?

I think that Chris King's are way overpriced and hyped. My Dura Ace hubs are half the price and just as , if not more, reliable.

BTW, Rafe Schlanger designed the Rev-X and Topolino (literally "Mickey Mouse" in Italian) but not the Spox. He's also an ex-Cannondale engineer.

The rev-x was banned because it failed the uci's infamous "Let's see what it looks like after an impact much much larger than anything one would sustain on the road" test. The test does NOT test how strong a wheel is to survive a reasonable impact.

Scott said...

If you have a beer gut and you are a red neck, then these wheels will suck for you. I actually have Spokey Dokeys Topolinos and guess what, they do not suck and they look cool smoking up a hill past the other non retarded everybody has keeping up with the Jones wheels .

Anonymous said...

factory slagnola G3 spoked Khamsins are great wheels and cheap too boot

and unlike most handbuilt wheels I have owned don't go out of true with-in 100 miles of use..infact after 2000+ miles or so they have needed no service at all... at all

none... nada niche... true as a die

handbuilt wheels.. "bring them back back in after a couple of hundred miles for a free true up"

bing... goes the spokes as you pedal down the road on for the first time ..

worth every penny to be able to replicate that elevator cable stretch movie sound effect.

the current crop of cheap to mid priced factory wheels from Shitmano and slagnola are....

dare i say it

very good!

btw your using the term wheelset

that said there is a fantastic range of over priced and poorly engineered crap out there

spinergys were fffing lethal... they got banned from racing.

califorlornia said...

If someone created a steam roller looking wheel out of carbon fiber and gave it a real catchy name and a lofty price tag people would buy it. Or should I say "buy it now". They would almost certainly first surface in the San francisco bay area where by the way happens to be one of the only if not the only place in the world where someone who has no clue whatsoever about biking, who is totally out of shape and has never done any real road riding will go out and buy a $3000+ bike to do the AIDS ride and then make a film documentary of the whole process. I totally support the AIDS ride just for the record. I do not however support the self grandiosity class. So in closing, You've got to love the spinergy hoax wheels(shakespear would have rode them) and of course the campy topolover set. (Team Romulon) . O&O

Matt, not Seattle, now PDX said...

Been a while, but I was just sent this link. I have a set of RD-600's and a bag of Spokey Dokes. The only question left is, How...Do...You...Like...Me...Now? Good times!

Anonymous said...

and then, there's these.

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