The Handbuilt Wheel

The Handbuilt Wheel

1. The Craftsmanship

A Condor hand-built wheel is made by our wheel build specialist, Martin Muller. He puts his soul into each wheel, he knows spokes, lacing patterns and tension like the back of his hand.

"Most people underestimate the quality of the spoke; it's not just about the rim, the real strength of the wheel really is down to the skill and the knowledge of the builder. Then it's the sum of all the parts that create something you're truly proud of."

2. The Tools

Martin treats the thread of each spoke end and the nipple with linseed oil.

The oil reduces the friction as the spoke is tightened, worked, tensioned and re-tensioned without compromising the strength.

Linseed dries quicker than most oils and forms a seal. This barrier keeps out the dirt from the delicate thread, stopping it from seizing in the future. Linseed is a natural oil and chemical free, so much less harsh on Martin's hands.

3. Preparation

When built, we stress the wheel. Martin places all his weight onto the rim and pushes down. Then he rotates the wheel and repeats this again and again. The effect is similar to bedding a factory wheel in over 100 miles. The wheel is then re-tensioned. This way the wheel is kept straight and true for its lifetime without the rider needing to return to the store.

4. Tailored Calculations

The hole count, rim type and lace pattern are all factors tailored according to rider weight and riding style.
Before beginning, particular forethought, experience and nasty mathematics are needed to ensure the spokes do not cross at the valve hole and the valve hole and hub logo line up. Spoke lengths are calculated, measured and re-measured, cut and threaded by the millimetre. It's that detail that separates the master builder from the machine.

Wheel build

Martin Muller explains how he begins his work. "There is definitely an art to building a good wheel. Different people use different techniques to build in different ways; spoke prepping, nipple prepping, stressing the wheel, bedding in the spokes. I feel uncomfortable building wheels at home because I'm so used to my workshop set up. I have a ritual of placing my linseed oil, Phil Wood Tenacious oil, little bowl of nipples and spokes all around me. It's comparable to a chef or anyone who's involved in a process that needs the ingredients one at a time."

Martin, like many respected wheel-builders is proud of his abilities in the black art; you are unlikely ever to receive a wheel with which both of you are not pleased.

Read a full article and interview with Martin on the WashingMachinePost, click here.

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