Thursday, May 13, 2010

Interbike - Hub-end Spoke Nipples

Interbike 2008.

Whoo-wee. Yep.


In case you've been sleeping for the last two years, it's now 2010.

I have a bunch of posts I never finished up from Interbike 2008, all saved somewhere for future use. Every time I thought about doing this one or that one someone else more significant (read: legitimate real-life publications) put something up on my selected topics. I'll still put some up since I kinda like some of the things I found, and they tie in with stuff I experienced.

I also avoided (and normally still avoid) putting up any overtly critical posts. Unless something is totally ridiculous, negatively reviewing a company's product doesn't seem right to me. Rather than write a negative review about something I'll just skip it altogether.

So, like anything else, the bike industry from Interbike 2008 till now things has changed a bit. And, wouldn't you know it, my life has changed a bit too.

I gave track racing a shot for the full summer in 2009, plus a few weeks in 2008. When I started I figured out that I need more (lower) gears (I didn't), a shorter reach to the bars (there is such a thing as too much weight on the front wheel, and I fixed that), and track axles for my aero wheels.

Okay, I didn't need to "get" the last bit since I already had them, but rather "find". And if you've seen my bike part storage, you'll realize that "find" usually means "get" because it's virtually impossible to find anything in the mess of the bike room.

By the way, don't tell the Missus I said that.

I managed to find, um, get the axles, and I used a front aero wheel.Of course, since the aero wheels I have somehow acquired flat spots, and since they're kind of heavy (they're only about 18 years old now), I figured I should get some new track wheels.

What all that means is that, in the fall of 2008, I'd kept an eye out for some new aero wheels, lightweight track specific ones anyway.

At Interbike 2008 I kept an eye out for inexpensive tall profile wheels in general (part of my 2008 Interbike Predictions thing) but, disappointingly, the $700 sixty millimeter carbon rimmed wheelsets didn't pop up. Other wheels did though, including this interesting exercise in wheel design - the Cane Creek super tall carbon rimmed wheels.

After I spotted them I started examining them closely, looking for reinforced braking surfaces, maybe some innovative brake pads, or other various "stopping" accoutrements. The soup du jour for that year was improving brake performance, so various companies boasted some braking surface treatment.

I didn't find any on the Cane Creeks, so, lacking other things to examine, I looked at the hubs. And guess what?

I could only find fixed gear hubs on display.

These were track wheels!

These would look nice on the track bike, eh?

Since track bikes don't have brakes, Cane Creek didn't need to worry about braking surface treatments.

Truing these would be... time consuming.

The wheels looked really strong, overbuilt like typical track wheels. Big hubs, short spokes, and lots of heavy duty metal. They didn't look wimpy, that's for sure.

Less extreme height. More what I needed, but I didn't know it at the time.

I didn't know it back then but I hadn't broken 35 mph on the track. I figured I would hit 40 in no time at all so I'd need some rippin' aero wheels to match my track smashing legs.

But I didn't break 35 so aero simply didn't matter as much as lightweight, at least for me. My jump is my forte, aka my only strength, so a light wheel would emphasize my jump. Nothing else works well for me on the track (breaking away, for example, and lapping the group) so aero is less important.

Okay, maybe I went off the front once and almost won a race, but that's a different story. And it doesn't fit here so I'll conveniently ignore it.

Actually , track racing is so specific that you need different wheels with different gears for different events. You may even adjust your approach based on your competition.

Mass start with a bunch of good time trial type guys? Aero wheels, slightly bigger gear.

Mass start with a bunch of sprinter type guys? Light wheels, slightly bigger gear.

Match sprint, against a guy with a good jump? Light wheels, choose a gear based on leading out the sprint, going long, or trying to out jump the other guy/s.

Pursuit? Aero 100%, and maybe a smaller gear to force a good cadence (and therefore avoid going into the red too quickly).

So on and so forth.

Remember, you only have one gear, so you need to think about the whole race. If you use a gear so you can spin a bit, you may end up undergeared when the pace hots up. But if you get a gear appropriate for a hotted up pace, and then the field dwaddles at some ridiculously slow pace and then jumps really hard, that hotted up gear will seem like you're trying to climb Palomar Mountain in a 54x11.

Which I've done, of course, but it was no fun.

For me aero became much less important. I needed to use my jump, and if I didn't hit 40 mph in a sprint, then aero wasn't too critical (because I can hit 40 with non-aero wheels).

The thing about the Cane Creek wheels that burned them into my memory is that I saw something like the wheels shortly afterward.

Now let me think, put my hand on my forehead. Close my eyes. Scrunch them closed. Oh. I'm feeling something.

Oh, wait, that's Tiger licking my nose.

Okay, let's try it again. Focus. Focus. Concentrate. I think I have it. Yes.

I have it.

It was at the lamb and wool festival. In the tractor and farm equipment section. When I spotted this thing I asked SOC to snap a few pictures. A bit confused, he obliged.

Um... Hey, that looks familiar!
(Picture courtesy of one confused SOC)

Check out the spoke at 2 o'clock! Talk about some uneven spoke tension. Or the wrong length spoke. (Another SOC picture)

I didn't know how to approach this post because I didn't want to put any weird attention on Cane Creek's brand new wheels. I didn't even want to point out a slightly older version of the hub-nipple idea. After all, the Missus and I are huge fans of their ThudBuster.

Earlier this year, though, Cane Creek decided to get out of the wheel biz. They sold off their wheels (at close to my $700 threshold). And so now I feel like I can poke some irony in their wheels' direction.

So I am.

(Originally conceived Oct 26, 2008. And, no, I never climbed Palomar Mountain in a 54x11.)

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