Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The Guitar Ted Wheel Series: Introduction


The Guitar Ted Wheel Series was inspired by a recent thread on social media where I saw one of myriads of "what _____are best" questions. Typically those have to do with tires. I don't touch those with a ten foot pole. Tires are something you just cannot talk sense about with cyclists, so it would be useless to even try that here.

However; I saw a thread on wheels. I won't repeat the question here, but what it asked will be covered in this series. I was inspired to share my years of knowledge concerning wheels and what they can do, cannot do, and the myths behind them which may help someone reading this cut through the fog and find the solution that is right for them. All specifically concerning riding on crushed rock and dirt roads, but you could extrapolate much of what I will share across any wheels for bicycles. 

Some of the topics I will discuss include the following, in no particular order:

  • Materials for rims, spokes, and hubs.
  • Hubs: Bearings, free hubs, axle types, and more.
  • Spokes: Types of spokes and spoking patterns, including nipples.
  • Rims: carbon vs Aluminum. Tubeless vs Tubed. Rim width and its effects on tires. Aero and its importance for gravel riding. 
  • Wheels: Cheap vs Expensive. Does "vertical compliance" in wheels exist? Why is a stiff rim desirable for gravel riding? 
  • You, your riding style, and wheels: What wheels will work for you? 

I will also be answering questions along the way. If you have any now, please submit them via the comments, or you can email me @ if you'd rather do it that way. I may even bring in some "expert" opinions from other wheel builders into this as necessary. 

Resume': So, as far as my experience goes, I have been building wheels since 1994. I have built wheels for customers in a retail setting, repaired wheels, and worked on about every type of wheel you could imagine. I laced up my first set of carbon wheels back in 2005. I have worked on high end hubs from DT Swiss, Hope, Chris King, Industry 9, and more. I have experience with several types of spokes including bladed, aluminum, and fiber based spokes. 

I also have had the privilege of riding several different types of wheels ranging from cheap, OEM types to high-end, uber-expensive, exotic wheels and everything in between. Aero, wide MTB, narrow roadie rims, and even wheels with composite spokes and spokes made out of threads. 

I've used and built wheels for myself to be ridden on gravel, roads, and for mountain biking. Loaded, lightweight, and standard usage. 

All that to say that I believe I have a vast amount of wheel experience and wisdom to share. But as I say, I am not above asking others about questions you readers may pose nor am I against bringing in other's wisdom here. 

Format: Each post in the series will be on a focused subject, but keep in mind wheels are a system and you really cannot change one thing - say spoke materials - and not have an effect on the rest of the wheel and how it will perform. 

The series will run concurrently with skips to miss "FN&V" days or breaking news. I hope that you enjoy this and as always, Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

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