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jim-ratliff:

Intended for the informational aspects, not the advertising aspects.  Of course, he sends them daily for the marketing aspect.


Wheel System Evolution
The short story.  Mavic introduced 'wheel systems' in the late 80's.  This allowed them to use creative spokes and spoke patterns that had a very unique and technical look.  It caught on.  Not to be outdone Rolf (carried by Trek) introduced paired spokes (whose eye appeal sold more than any possible technical advantage).  Shimano copied them and even Campy decided two spokes in a pair wasn't good enough and went with three (with disastrous early results they have to patch up with a new rim material).
You can either believe or not believe my claims but the vast majority of technical 'improvements' created by any of these wheels systems is due to the understanding that 32 and 36 spoke wheels don't perform as well as low spoke count wheels (although they are a lot stronger).
Even today it's difficult to find high end hubs with 16, 18, and 20H drillings (although they are much more prevalent in recent years).  If you can even find the hubs it's virtually impossible to find the rims.
The fact that custom wheel builders didn't have access to low spoke count wheels and rims by default made them build with higher spoke count wheels and therefore by default had to claim you need more spokes (which Is mostly not true).  As a result, custom wheel builders even today are handicapped because they don't have access to the same parts as the wheel system people do.
But luckily, the guys at Schwinn (one of whom had been at Trek and knew how many Rolf wheels they sold) convinced me to go into the wheel business.  Somewhat because of the Rolf influence, my first wheels were paired spokes but they soon evolved into my benchmark wheel, the M28 Aero.

jim-ratliff:



How Spokes Are Made.
Quality spokes are made from stainless steel wire which is rolled on a bias to straighten it out.   The end is forged to put the ?button? on the hub end and it?s rolled to either double butt it or make it aerodynamic.  Finally the threads are rolled on (not cut).
Most quality spoke makers use Sandvik stainless wire from Sweden.  DT Swiss (Swiss), Sapim (Belgium) and Pillar (Taiwan) all use Sandvik wire.  That being said, the wire is only one of the critical parts of making spokes. Two other critical issues are how the wire is rolled and also the finishing process used for making colored (black) spokes.
CN Spokes (Taiwan) was the premier spoke maker in Taiwan until about 10 years ago when their black spokes started breaking after about a year?s use (due to a problem with the finishing).  Their failure to make good on it cost them the quality spoke market in Taiwan which was taken over by Pillar.
Pillar now makes spokes for both Mavic and Campy.  I met the son of the owner (Eric Chen) after he had tried to set up production of low end spokes in China (he gave up because there was no profit in making spokes so inexpensively).  His mission, as he saw it 10 years ago, was to make quality spokes in Taiwan and he has largely succeeded.
The fact that Taiwan and China have now become the main quality wheel sources (now including DT Swiss, Campy, Fulcrum, and Mavic for some of their models) was a main reason Pillar had the opportunity to develop that part of the business.
Thanks for reading ? John Neugent.

jim-ratliff:



More Wheel Facts.
Double butted spokes are stronger than straight gauge. On the surface, it doesn't make sense.  Double butted spokes are thinner in the middle (butted) than a straight gauge spoke but they are stronger because they will stretch instead of break.  This is also critical because fatigue is what breaks a spoke.
Contrary to popular belief, when you ride, the spokes on the top part of the wheel don't gain much tension but rather the spokes at the bottom of the wheel release tension (as the wheel flattens slightly).  Although the top spokes do increase in tension a little the spokes on the bottom lose a significant amount of tension.  In that sense you are not adding a lot of tension to the wheel while riding but rather releasing tension and, although I am not an engineer (I am sure I will hear from some who are), I would imagine that fact helps to contribute to the fact that fatigue is what breaks spokes (and not ultimate strength).
I would suggest you place bets on this at your next bike club meeting and Google for results.  These are pretty well documented.
Thanks for reading!  John Neugent

http://www.bikexprt.com/bicycle/tension.htm

jim-ratliff:



Steve Pucci and Tyler Hamilton
Steve owned North East Bikes in Sagus Mass.  The sign on his front door said "No Bozos allowed."  While I questioned his business acumen, I liked him.  His team was close to Marblehead where Tyler grew up and he sponsored Tyler during his early years.   I later became president of Sachs which sponsored his team and though I didn't know Tyler, I knew of him from Steve early on and followed him intently through his entire career.
This quote is from Tyler?s book The Secret Race
"For the first part of the Ventoux climb, I felt great. I should point out that when a bike racer says he feels great, he does not actually feel great.  In fact, you feel like hell - you're suffering, your heart is jumping out of your chest, your leg muscles are screaming, flashes of pain are moving around your body like so many strings of Christmas lights.  What it means is that you feel like crap, and you know the guys around you are feeling even crappier, and you can tell through their subtle expressions , like telltale signs, that they're going to crack before you do.  Your pain, in that situation, feels meaningful.  It can even feel great."

jim-ratliff:
I remember a couple of years ago when John posted saying that there was a gorilla entering the bicycle market.  He didn't mention, at the time, that it was Amazon.  I am also surprised at  his number that Amazon takes 20% of the profit.  I didn't realize that their fees were that high.



AMAZON

Amazon targeted the bike industry almost a year ago.  Their intention is to become a "player."  I don't know how many of you shop on Amazon but I do.  You can get great deals and it's simple.  You often get free freight.
At Interbike last September I had a conversation with a bike industry company who told me "We sold 47,000 pieces of one item last year on Amazon."  It was a $40 item (that's right ? about $1.9M in one item).
I had another very large industry supplier tell me "Their business is much larger than our business with Performance." It's no secret that Performance is the industry's largest retailer so that got my attention.
I believe if you are in the bike industry you need to have an Amazon plan.  The problem is that Amazon takes about 20% of your profit but you need to figure out how to live with that.  Starting today or tomorrow - or as soon as I can get it done, I am going to be running my M28 Aero wheels and S1 saddles on Amazon.  You will be able to buy them for the same price as my web site.
When they are up and live I will give you a heads up.  The key to selling on Amazon is getting lots of reviews.  The items that come to the top of the search pages are the ones with the most sales and reviews.  I would like to ask readers, if they have bought these products, and if and when they have time, to go to Amazon to do a review.  I would be very appreciative.
The problems most businesses have with change is they fight it.  To a certain extent that's a good idea but at some point you need to find your own life within that change.  That's the plan at this point.
Thanks for reading - John Neugent

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