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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Phil Wood Passes

Phil Wood, the renowned engineer, designer, cyclist, and manufacturer of bicycle hubs and other accessories has passed away at the age of 86.

Phil Wood hubs are regarded among cyclists as some of the finest hubs on the market. Phil Wood along with Chris King and White Industries helped set the gold standard for light weight, reliable, high performance hubs and Mr. Wood will be sorely missed. Fortunately the brand is still going strong thanks to Wood's attention to detail and craftsmanship.

Most buyers and retailers splurge on the frame and skimp on the wheels. In my opinion this is an ass-backwards approach to building up a bike. There are lots of frames that will work, but the rider needs to choose a wheelset that matches their abilities, needs, preference and purpose. I am often surprised how many builders neglect the wheels when considering a build for a customer and how many sales people negligently send customers off on a bike with wheels poorly built for what the customer is looking to achieve. For lot of sales people, bikes are for moving... out the door. For example, a dedicated tourer should build up with strong, reliable wheels and simple components made to be resilient and long lasting with more spokes to bear the load of full panniers. A racer less spokes and a preference for lightness over rigidity. A mountain biker needs something that can float over stones and roots and take the abuse of the singletrack world and a good Taiwan bike needs something built to be abused over potholes and bearings tightly sealed against moisture.

A poor wheel build can make a really good frame feel really terrible, really harsh, really sluggish and really result in more pinch flats and truing problems. I would highly recommend Phil Wood hubs as a good place to start a new build and I would highly recommend a custom wheel build over a fancy paint scheme.