New rim and a Rohloff Spring Clean

The rear wheel rim on my Thorn, being over 4 years old, has been retired.  I was using the original Mavic EX721 rim, which as well as being old and worn had the distinct disadvantage of being a extreme downhill mountain bike rim – designed for 2 to 3 inch wide tyres!  Quite why the original owner specified these rims I don’t know – they’re expensive and highly thought of within the MTB fraternity but not really suited to touring.  They are I guess a long-distance option in countries where few real roads exist!

The wheel was packed off to Madgetts last Saturday, and I have been in London working all week so today was the exciting moment when I went northwards to Diss to collect the wheel.  I have posted an article about Madgetts before, and in my opinion there are few wheelbuilders around that would gain more respect in the cycling world than Mick Madgett himself.  I felt that although not cheap, I was guaranteed a good job – and I was.  There’s a great quote on the shop’s website:

Mick’s expertise in wheel building is renowned world wide having learned from his father at a tender age and his wheels have been used in the Olympics.

Eric Madgett still holds the Trump Card of wheel building as he also built wheels used in the Tour de France. The nearest Mick has got to this was supplying the ‘Mavic’ service mechanics with spoke keys!!”

True to form, it is a tremendous job.  I specified their last remaining Mavic XC717, the ‘standard fit’ rim for Thorn bikes where Mavic rims are specified.  The spokes are DT Swiss stainless, and the whole Rohloff hub has been given a good clean into the bargain!  It means I can now run the tyres at a much higher pressure than was safe before, and I can also run narrower tyres in the summer (Marathon Pluses at 1.5 inches in the winter, and something slicker in the warmer weather).  A quick chain lube and a tightening of the chain via the eccentric bottom bracket later, and the bike is fit for the year ahead.

LINK: I mentioned Marathon Plus tyres from Schwalbe.  Click here for a useful article summing up their many uses.

Postscript: A word of advice from Robin Thorn himself, who spotted the new lacing on my spokes in the above photo.  He points out that if you have a Rohloff hub and are having a new wheel built, then be aware that some wheels will have had the spokes laced in a different way to the way it is generally done now, certainly by Thorn.  If this is the case, then lacing the spokes in a different pattern to the way they were originally laced may mean that you end up with dents in the hub flange where the spokes used to sit at about 90 degrees to the current spokes. This is a potential stress riser and may cause flange failure.

As a rule, any hub (especially Rohloff) should be laced the way it was originally built, even if it means crossing the spokes the wrong way over the valve (caused by Euro or US staggered drillings).

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