Canadian Cyclist


May 8/15 9:56 am - Jobst Brandt RIP

Posted by Editor on 05/8/15

These days, pretty much everyone buys wheels as a complete set, but it didn't used to be like that.  We would painstakingly analyze the benefits of various setups:

Hubs - High or low flange (or more exotic 'Hi-Lo' flange)

Rims - Double eyelets or not, anodized, shape

Spokes - Gauge (14, 15 or 16, or double butted), stainless steel or not, tied and soldered

Spoking pattern - 3-cross or 4-cross, more exotic and show-off mixes (I was very proud of a pair of 2-cross / 1-cross I ran for a while)

In the 1970s, much of choice came down to what the local expert or tradition dictated (and a lot of it was crap), but in 1981 a book came out that revolutionized (no pun intended) wheelbuilding:  The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt.  Brandt died on Tuesday, May 5th, after a long illness.  He was 80 years old.

The Bicycle Wheel, published by Avocet, for the first time explained the mechanical principles behind the structure of a bicycle wheel, and broke down the merits of various materials, component designs and spoking patterns.  It also contained a clear and concise step-by-step process for building wheels, one that became the standard for at least two generations of wheelbuilders.  I still have my first edition copy.

I didn't know Jobst Brandt well - I met him at trade shows, asked questions and occasionally suffered through his lengthy expositions on what was wrong with a design.  He was a character and a passionate rider, and he helped bring cycling into a more rational and scientific age.


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