Handbuilt Wheels

Russ and I took a little trip out to Utah last summer and had the pleasure of riding a fleet of incredible bikes we’ll never sell in Illinois. It was called “Dealer Camp” and a number of dealers were invited out to experience the new goods from a number of smaller upcoming brands. This was a much nicer experience than say, Interbike. We didn’t feel like sheep, for one thing, and we didn’t come home reeking of filth for a month.

One company that successfully caught our eye was Nuvinci. We were familiar with “those weird hub guys” before the trip, but getting to try out their system was what made us take a second look. It’s unlike anything else, and although we can (and I’m about to) use many common words to describe what it’s like, you won’t get it until you get on it.

The Nuvinci N360 in an Internal Gear Hub system that uses a Continuously Variable Planetary (CVP) transmission. In earthspeak, that means that it uses little balls in the hub to create infinitely adjustable gear ratios – not fixed gears like a chain shifting on cassette cogs. The most unique part of this experience is using the grip shifter. Because the ratio continuously changes, there are no “clicks” – just a smooth, silent, shift. You just leave the shifter where the ratio feels good. You can shift from a standstill and accomplish a huge shift with just a flick of the wrist.

The range is pretty incredible: 360° of change. You can have a higher or lower range by changing the chainring or cog.

We’ve built up a couple bikes with the N360 recently and we’re thinking it should be an option for more people. It’s a hassle-free drivetrain for commuters and touring cyclists. It’s perfect for people that want the gear range of a standard drivetrain but don’t want the hassle of derailleurs. And it’s pretty attractive if you’re a just an IGH nerd.

Here’s a video showing the inner-workings of the CVP technology. I’ve watched it a few times now and I still don’t get it.

Elves. I’m just sticking to the theory that there are elves in there changing the gears.


Ari built up a beautiful Gunnar Fastlane this week. Full Sram Apex, handbuilt wheels. What a bike! Lightweight, smooth-riding, abuse-friendly, off-road road bike, handbuilt in the US of A.

Here are a few Gunnar builds we’ve done since last fall.

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Very few people will appreciate this spread. It’s taken some retail acrobatics to get it all in one place.

G. Sherck is happy. So happy, in fact, that he’s packing the dog and hitting the road to drive here from Ohio to pick it up in person. He’s been waiting since September and only in the last two weeks have all the parts become available. We will take this pile and make it functional over the next few days.


[Amendment: the build is now done… see complete build pics on the Flickr album.]

The Eddington Big Dummy Project deserves a post of its own. We can take very little credit for the spec on this bike, as it was mostly chosen before it was presented to us. Janice has excellent taste in components.

The red Rohloff came straight from Germany for this project. We matched the anodized red with a King front hub, King Headset, Crank Bros 50/50 Pedals, Salsa Skewers and Seat Clamp. The rest of the bike was black. The hbar is a Nitto Dove, over which we sewed black calfskin. Janice later added the XtraCycle Peapod which blacked out the rest of the longtail and made room for the whole family. It was quite a beast.

The Rohloff system has been written about online ad nauseam, so I won’t ramble on about the technology. It’s incredible.

Check out this video for a look inside the hub.



It seems we’ve skipped all the pretty parts of Autumn and slid into that bleak and ugly pre-winter, post-fall season that has none of the benefits of either season. And yet, there is action.

We’ve had a handful of very fun and very intricate projects present themselves to us over the last month and we’re working on those as the components arrive. Stay tuned for updates on those.

Ari and Russ have been rejoicing (like the madmen they are) for the early and frosty evenings with almost nightly mutant rides on gravel and road. Ari will take any excuse to bundle up to the eyeballs and expirement with at least 4 light systems at a time. This is his element.

We’re still seeing a nice flow of new goods come in. Here’s a smattering:

As daylight rapidly fades, we’re talking more and more about lights around here. There are so many lights to choose from that it gets dizzying to have too many options. We’ve been stocking a range of LED options from $25-99 for a while, and now we have a dyno option in stock. Dynos are a great option for the commuting cyclist riding through the seasons. No batteries, no hassle. It’s on, and it’s on.

Ari and I (finally) put together an economical dyno kit. He laced a Shimano dyno into a Salsa Delgado Cross rim and connected the Shimano LP-R600 headlight. The built wheel and light package is $239, $250 with a Schwalbe Advancer tire and Schwalbe tube.

We even have an “interactive” (cutting edge, really) display. Come in and give it a spin.

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