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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