Saturday, April 04, 2009

23 Design Case Study : The Cherry Bomb MTB


Some of you may have heard that Naked Bicycles, owned by the Canadian speed demon Sam Whittingham, won the 2009 People's Choice Award at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show early this year. This is the second year in a row that he's won an award at the show. The Canadian "A" channel had a piece on that story :




In case you don't know who Sam is, you can read a little about his background in bicycle design and his dabs over the years at setting speed records, recently one of which was a little over 1/9th the speed of sound. He is considered to be the fastest cyclist in the world as far as HPV's and short, flat distances are concerned.




MOTIVATIONS


British Columbia in Canada has a lot of mountain biking. Hence, Sam felt it made sense to build an MTB showbike for this year's NAHBS, which would be one of two bikes, the other being a "coffee cruiser" (which itself was badly sought after by Shimano).

However, his real motivation was to explore what a mountain bike would have looked or evolved into in the 1930's, had it first been built in the 1920's. That is a pretty interesting thought process considering that the mountain biking movement didn't start until the 1960's with the 'clunkers' of California. In essence, I guess he wanted to take his audience back to the age of Frank Sinatra and show what folks would mountain bike with then. As he told Velo Media, he wanted to 'throw everything over the top in a MTB and see what happens'.

Elsewhere on his blog, he stated somewhat differently :
"The idea with this one was to take the lines and modern technology of a modern rig and give it some old-skool building charm. I was delighted to see that many other builders where also not afraid to step outside of 1975 and let there mind wander a bit."


He also told Velonews :
“I wanted to take the modern technology of a mountain bike, the lines, 5 inches of travel, 29-inch wheels, but put it together in a very non-plastic way. Let’s take a nice modern mountain bike, but put some soul in it.”




SIX WEEKS AND 18,000 DOLLARS LATER...



Courtesy : Zack Vestal


From the above ideas, a mere six weeks of hard work and a hellova lot of cash resulted in the Cherry Bomb, a gracefully curvy lugged steel, single speed, dual suspension MTB with 29" wheels made of classic beech rims and a maple wood seatpost. Lacquered wood and nickel finishing was plenty. Its a medly of both old and modern design elements.

The curvy frame has a lugged design, which was polished and painted metallic red. The lugs were nickel plated.

The seatpost, used to represent Canada, was made from a piece of firewood, as Sam reported, which he split and turned.

The dual suspension has 5" of full travel. An interesting feature here is that the main upper and lower suspension pivot uses modified FSA headsets, which are designed to take pivoting forces and can be replaced if worn out. The headsets use angular contact bearings and are adjustable for bearing pre-load.




A Campagnolo down tube shifter was grafted onto a Fox Shox lockout lever. The linkages, which activate the shock, were fully curved, mitered and welded, and then nickel plated to a super shine. Nickel plating, as I said before, is used very liberally in this design, including for all of the lugs, suspension pivot and rear shock mounts, and even the entire rear triangle.

Courtesy : Dirt Rag


Then comes the "beefy" pedals which, beautiful as they look, were decorated with a mother of pearl inlay for the ultimate touch. There is plenty of wood here, an aluminum platform on top and what looks to be 'spikes' for grip (not sure if that was intentional). Sam likes to call them "Shin Burgers". Hey, who wouldn't want to stomp on these, provided they're given steel toed boots? (smirk)


The handlebars were made out of ash wood, turned down to fit with the one piece Al handlebar-stem combo and wrapped with leather grips. A Chris King In-Set headset was used in the front end for steering.

Another unique feature are eccentric dropouts which have a concentric pivot for clamping the rear wheel. This design also helps adjust the tension in the chain. While bikes like the new belt driven Treks use them, such designs are a staple for Sam's bikes. I pieced together a small section of a video from Veloo Media where Sam explains at the show how these dropouts work.


video


But I felt the cake of the entire design were the wooden rims, a big step back if you will from our modern world of varied alloys, carbon fiber composites and other unobtanium. These rims were obtained from Wheel Fanatyk, a U.S distributor for Cerchi Ghisallo, the original Italian producer.

Let's talk a little about the design and manufacturing of these wooden rims.




DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE OF WOODEN RIMS


The wooden rims made of beech were provided by FSA employee Ric Hjertberg, the man behind Wheel Fanatyk, a workshop that distributes these rims for Cerchi Ghisallo.

Cerchi Ghisallo produces wooden rims, mudguards, chaincases, and beechwood packs and carry racks.


Rims like these were the bread and butter of bicycle racing for over seventy years and it made sense to rig the Cherry Bomb with the classic, lively ride of the yesteryear. However, rim brakes introduce the challenge of rim wear due to grit sticking onto the brake pads, although wood's co-efficient of friction with such brakes are superior in dry riding, as claimed by Ric here. Traditional brake pads would also melt due to the localized heat produced during braking. So it was decided that the Cherry Bomb would feature disc brakes for practicality and safety.

Ric has interesting things to teach us. I thank him for this writeup, where he talks in detail about the functioning and other design considerations for wooden rims.

"To understand how a wood rim functions, we need to talk about density and the stiffness of shapes and materials. A bicycle rim resists bending according to the stiffness of the given material and shape. However, material near the rim's exterior does most of the work. Why? When the rim bends, this exterior undergoes the greatest deformation. For example, with a bend to the left, compression is felt on the left and tension on the right. These forces are greatest on the surface, furthest from the rim centerline. As it bends, the magnitudes of compression and stretching are greatest on the surface and this area puts up the greatest resistance. If the rim were solid, material in the center would barely detect the bending. For every degree of bend, internal deformation is smaller than that on the surface.

Wood is much lighter than metals or composites, and this low density is what it leverages as a wheel rim.

Density (g/cm3)

  • carbon fiber = 1.7
  • aluminum = 2.7
  • wood (beech) = .7
Because wood is so light, its resistance to bending is necessarily less than metals. Compared to the other materials, wood needs more frequent spoke support. So, we use traditional spoke numbers like 32 and 36 per wheel. In fact, wood's long reign as premier high performance rim is a major reason for these particular spoke counts. Even three decades after switching to aluminum alloys wheel makers retained these numbers. In the face of aerodynamic evidence, spoke numbers have come down dramatically. However, research shows that the wind resistance of larger spoke numbers only becomes a liability at high speeds rare outside of competition.

So, given more spoke support, what kind of wheel does this solid but very light material make? First, the lower spoke tensions that wood prefers allow it to move around more. This additional degree of motion allows it to absorb shock, to attenuate the vibrations of the road; the same as a lower pressure tire. But the actual deflection of a wood rim during riding is tiny, so the bicycle's quickness is not impaired. What seems to disappear are the higher frequency vibrations of pavement that can tire the body over time and make joints ache. An aluminum rim, built to lower tension, would also move around. Unfortunately, aluminum does not absorb energy to the degree of other materials like steel, wood or composites. So the comfort benefit would be small.

In addition to shock absorption, wood is harder to dent. Its low density means that a pot hole will create only local damage: a nick rather than a generalized dent that might interfere with braking. So, wood rims are legendary for resisting dents; a valuable asset in a world of poorly paved roads. One further advantage is the heat resistance of wood. Rim braking dumps large amounts of heat into the brake caliper and rim, in order to slow the vehicle. Aluminum rims eagerly accept this heat which, when excessive, can melt the tire or tire cement, causing failures. Wood rims refuse to accept this heat preferring, instead, to burn superficially at their surface. A wood rim pushed to braking extremes will create a barely detectable burning odor, but its tires remain cool. The flip side of this tendency is higher heat that brake pads see. Unable to hand off the heat to the wood rim, traditional brake pads will melt on wood. This characteristic can be managed.

On first glance, the thermal characteristics of wood seem similar to carbon fiber: neither readily accepting heat. However, the similarity is superficial. A carbon rim accepts heat slowly, a wood rim nearly not at all. During a demanding descent, brake pads can feel overheated with either material, but slowly and relentlessly the carbon rim becomes hotter and hotter. It dissipates the heat too slowly, so can reach melting temperatures. Wood, on the other hand, might burn a bit on the surface but as a bicycle rim will not reach elevated temperatures. Bottom line, no rim material is ideal for braking. Aluminum or carbon, wood or magnesium, dealing with thousands of watts and trying to protect an inflated tire is a tough and hazardous job."

Ric also explains how wooden rims are historically made. It is an expensive and involved process that takes time. First, thin and specially aged beech strips are soaked prior to shaping, and then coated with a 2-part epoxy to be bent into a spiral wound, hoop shape. Between each strip is a layer of cotton cloth. The spiral hoops and basic rim shape are securely glued and then fly cut on a horizontal routing machine, several cuts after which the rim assumes its basic shape. The rim is then precisely drilled to make spoke nipple holes, after which it is carefully sanded with many coats of marine epoxy.


From Ric's Ebay Page For Wooden Rims : This beautiful wood rim is artisan made by Antonio Cermenati in Magreglio, Italy. It is constructed of aged Slovenian beech wood, assembled in thin laminations that are joined by 2-part epoxy in a proprietary process that the Cermenati's have been perfecting for over 60 years. The Sport rim is available in 700C, weighs about 560 g., has 32 spoke holes, is designed for clincher tires, and comes with a set of extra long nipples and shaped washers. This rim is sold for restoration and historic projects, however, such rims were ridden by athletes and adventurers on the World's most demanding terrain for nearly a century. Due to the individuality of handmade wood rims and the skills required of the wheelbuilder, we cannot warrant the performance of these rims. All we can guarantee is our vast experience in rim making and wheelbuilding, and our passion for excellence that extends to a commitment to work carefully with each customer. The Sport rim carries a pressure limit of 4.5 bar (65 psi) and its beads do not have the "hooks" which are common on today's high pressure rims. This design is the same as all clincher rims prior to the 1960's and carry a tire reliably as long as it is mounted carefully and pressure limits are observed. The "hookless" bead is, of course, universal for automotive and motorcycle rims. The third image is, incidentally, a daily commute bike, travelling 19 miles each way in Seattle (wearing fenders most of the year). The tire is a 700X38C IRC "Metro" tire. This bicycle uses disk brakes, although wood rims are normally used with caliper brakes. The disk brake is a nice touch, enabling the rims to retain their new appearance for many years. Wheels made with wood rims have an unmistakable liveliness and exceptional shock absorption plus, surprising strength and damage resistance. Their beauty is simply awesome. Bicycles are transformed into artistic, nearly magical objects. If you've had the treat of seeing a contemporary bicycle fitted with classic wood rims, you know exactly what we're describing.


Precise drilling of the finished wooden rim. More of the rim manufacturing pictures here.



I guess it is now pretty obvious how all the costs to make this bike added up to 18,000 dollars!

While it was a bike made to impress no doubt, what I was simply amazed with were some of the 'think outside the box' characteristics behind Sam's designs. Too often people are complaining that the bicycle has been around for 100+ years and that design has reached a plateau. Well, that plateau apparently came about because we're seeing the market saturated with the same nonsense year after year. Seriously, I could hear a sentimental ballad from sailors in the middle ages and still not get this bored.

One only needs to take a visit to bike expos such as NAHBS to see the floor teeming with hundreds of fresher ideas, or ideas brought to life from the past. Thanks to all the folks who put up a great show this year and to all the others behind the scenes who made this possible. You can read about all the other award winners and their bikes here.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES :

Design Of Vintage Bikes
Engineered Wood : The Renovo Bicycle



Hey, CHILLOUT TIME now! Bring some ol' tunes back....




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23 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:37 PM

    I feel kind of cheated after reading on the benefits of wooden rims. :)

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  2. What a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing that.

    I've been through Battle Mountain but had no idea it was a center for HPV racing.

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  3. Fritz,

    Why is it the armpit of the U.S. Don't get it. Is it boring to drive out there? Dead place to live in? I thought I've been in worser places, and I can call some the crotch of America.

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  4. That crankset looks sweet. Curious which one he used.

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  5. "Armpit of America" is humorist Gene Weingarten's title, not mine. I thought it seemed like an okay town.

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  6. Surely this thing is terrible?

    Wooden rims are great because they cant take any share of heat dissipation.. What? So it is suddenly brilliant to push all the heat into the brake blocks is it? What are we going to do with it then? We could make a brake block compound that was highly conductive I suppose, then fit a heat sink to the back, but how is it ever going to be as effective as a large aluminium hoop rotating through the air? And this material will ONLY be acting as a heatsink which seems less efficient than using aluminium we already have to cart around with us anyway...

    Single speed with full suspension seems like a poor pairing too. When I ride a single speed I tend to make up for the lack of gears by standing up, not good with full suspension.

    While using a headset as a suspension pivot seems interesting, it isnt a very good match. Headsets are designed for primarily axial loads and the suspension pivot take primarily radial loads...

    Then there are the unsupported nodes in the frame and all those curved tubes.

    I can understand that this was built as a showpiece, and as a piece of craftsmanship I am sure it is exquisite, but I wouldnt rush to praise it as "thinking outside the box" when it is such a poor piece of engineering design...

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  7. gsport : Certainly, its a showbike, which is far removed from making something cost effective and practical.

    About the rim brake limitations due to heat dissipation, that is why disc brakes were used on this bike.

    The headsets were FSA's modified to fit the application. I have asked Sam to comment more on this and why he chose headsets. Certainly, its radical line of thinking.

    It is suffice to say that he thought outside the box to build something different for this year's NAHBS. So did numerous others. But this is not engineering I agree. I will not confuse making a showbike in six weeks with engineering a practical solution to a problem. This is just a fun design, exploring what other ways could be possible with a bike. I also read somewhere that Sam is riding this bike on the trails so....there you go.

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  8. George, I've followed your products/design theory for years and I ususally respect your opinions, but I'm gonna have to disagree here.

    Sam used the top bearings/races only on the suspension pivots. They have sealed cartridge angular contact bearings. When tied together as they are with a lateral bolts they're plenty strong enough to withstand the torsional side loading that the rear end of the bike would see during offroad use.

    Before the bike was painted/chromed Sam built it up with aluminum wheels and did offroad testing to make sure the bike worked.

    The rear end of the bike is really a work of art. The BB is behind the suspension pivot so that chain tension is constant through the suspension travel. Then the King hub bolts were modified (lengthened) to run them through the eccentric tensioning system and rear linkage bearings.

    I had a chance to ride the bike after the show. Bunny hops, stoppie pivots, trials lurching etc. Sam rode it like a hooligan before me, so I didn't worry about thrashing on it. Suspension performance was pretty decent. Rising rate without too much pedal bob.

    For a 'show bike' this thing actually DOES perform. ...and really, it would not look nearly as pretty with straight tubes.

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  9. FWIW, "Shinburger" is an actual model of pedal made by Brooklyn Machine Works.

    http://brooklynmachineworksstore.com/shinburger.html

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  10. I am not sure that I agree that being a "showbike" excuses everything. Sure the lavish budget I have no problem with, but personally I would have liked to see sound engineering design take a front seat over "styling"... But I feeely admit that that is probably just me being a misserable sod about it...

    What I am utterly at a loss to and would like to see explained is WHY (other than looking retro) it makes any sense to use wooden rims on this thing.

    The long writeup about wooden rims doesnt help me with this. The opening paragraph explains why rims are usually hollow, but does nothing to explain why SOLID wooden rims are a good alternative to this. It then talks about the shock absorbing qualities of wood, but how is this relevant to a full suspension bike? And finally talks about the heat dissipation (or lack thereof) of wood, and mentions that this can be "managed" without expanding on how? But again Sam's bike has taken a very deliberate (and in my opinion sensible) choice of using disc brakes, so the wooden rims werent chosen for this property either.

    The rear suspension appears to use a "unified rear triangle" type set-up with the BB as part of the sprung structure (which is another pet hate of mine). I cant see headsets being a good choice in this application in the same way that numerous people have tried them as crank/bb bearings in the past and found the radial loads to be too much, the suspension pivot is going to "see" very similar radial loads.

    Please be clear that I am not "attacking this bike" but discussing the design, which I kind of thought was the point of the blog...

    I do like the eccentric chaintension system though...

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  11. What I am utterly at a loss to and would like to see explained is WHY (other than looking retro) it makes any sense to use wooden rims on this thing. The long writeup about wooden rims doesnt help me with this. The opening paragraph explains why rims are usually hollow, but does nothing to explain why SOLID wooden rims are a good alternative to this. It then talks about the shock absorbing qualities of wood, but how is this relevant to a full suspension bike? And finally talks about the heat dissipation (or lack thereof) of wood, and mentions that this can be "managed" without expanding on how? But again Sam's bike has taken a very deliberate (and in my opinion sensible) choice of using disc brakes, so the wooden rims werent chosen for this property either.

    Gsport, I'm not a specialist in wooden rims. But I think what Ric made clear from the writeup is that the advantage of wood is its low density. I highlighted this point in red. If you just look at the numbers, beech wood is almost 59% less denser than carbon fiber. Also, when solid wood is compared to say, solid steel of equal weight, wood is far superior. At 1/16th the density, it is 4 times as thick and if you plug it in equations for the second moment of area, it ends up being 16 times stiffer in bending.

    However, if your question is on how this superiority can be practically used in bicycle design, I'll let someone else who knows this stuff intimately answer that question.

    Ric? Sam?

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  12. Come off it Ron, no-one is running solid steel rims. As Ric's blurb kicks off, the advantage of hollow sections is that the ratio of second moment of area to simple cross-sectional area can be maximised. The wooden rim has to forgo this potantial advantage, and when you compare a hollow aluminium extrusion with a solid beech section it isnt at all hard to get the Aluminium massively stiffer AND stronger AND lighter for the same bounding dimensions within the kind of numbers we need for bike rims.
    Similarly carbon fibre CAN be made as a hollow section.

    I am fully prepared to believe that people LIKE wood, I like wood, I spent a significant part of the weekend making an oak gate, but I would never try to argue that wood is a better material than aluminium in such a demanding high performance application where weight is of such importance.

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  13. I am fully prepared to believe that people LIKE wood, I like wood, I spent a significant part of the weekend making an oak gate, but I would never try to argue that wood is a better material than aluminium in such a demanding high performance application where weight is of such importance.

    Gsport, again, I believe this was for a fun design project for a bike expo. Practically, there are concerns for wood , no doubt, when compared to modern Al alloys for the same application. What concerns me about wood are in two areas :

    1) How these rims would behave in the long term from exposure due to atmospheric moisture, or wet roads.

    2) Creep behavior and deflection of wood due to loading over time.
    If a wheel has to be made out of solid wood, my feeling is that it should be tested for short and long term creep. In this respect, FEM analysis can also be used to address whether a wood member for a rim will undergo a permanent set under loading over time.

    Doing a small amount of research, I read some forest industry articles on beech. Beech wood is classified as a medium density
    hardwood and thus, it is heavy, hard, strong, high in resistance to shock, and is highly suitable for steam bending (Bozkurt and Erdin, 1997). The mechanical properties of beech also depends on where in the world its grown. Regional conditions affect the growth characteristics of beech.

    Beech shrinks substantially and therefore requires careful drying. Ric has told us that Cerchi Ghisallo uses specially aged wood, which perhaps aims to take care of the shrinkage/warping problems through some treatments. As to what those ageing methods involve, I do not know.

    I'm trying to get Ric or Sam talk about this.

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  14. Anonymous4:06 PM

    watch out for loosening spokes on wooden rims. i have experienced that before.

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  15. Anonymous4:13 PM

    oh and splintering wood too... safety concern.

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  16. Since we're debating the merits of hollow wood wheels, what about hollow wood bicycles?

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  17. Thanks Fritz. I have read that before, and among some of the relevant things I picked up in the article :

    1) Dimensional change - Moisture causes expansion/contraction of the wood across the grain, but only in proportion to its thickness, so for the majority of the Renovo frame, the change is only a few thousandths of an inch over a 6 month period, a non-issue. There is negligible dimensional change lengthwise with the grain.

    Whether dimensional change is acceptable to a wooden rim is the question. How much is acceptable?



    2) Warping, Cracks. These problems most often occur in wood from improper drying before machining, or for example, in the case of the twisted studs in the walls, using non-kiln dried wood. Look at fine quality furniture hundreds of years old, you won’t find cracks. All wood used in the Renovo is kiln-dried before we buy it, but we check and adjust the moisture content to make sure it’s in the correct range if necessary.

    I suppose the beech wood used by Ghisallo also undergoes similar treatments? I can't tell for sure.

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  18. Hello all.
    Thanks for taking the time to talk about my obviously controversial bike design. I knew that when I started this project that I would have supporters as well as detractors. To me, this is the whole point of an expo; to try new things.
    A show like NAHBS is one of the few places that I can experiment without worrying about final cost or whether the design is fully flushed out. That is what I have to worry about the rest of the year.
    Most of my customer bikes are quite conservative from a design point of view, based on tried and true methods. The first year I went to the show I brought these sorts of bikes and in a sea of nice, practical bikes nobody noticed. The last two years I have used the show as a chance to explore both my artistic musings and my extend my skillset as a craftsman.
    I will not build anything that is not fully ridable and this bike is no exception. Does it need improving upon? Of course! Are there problems with some of the ideas. Quite likely! Does it ride well and behave as hoped? Also a resounding "yes".

    Now to speak more directly to some of the comments:

    Wheels: I am amazed that so much fuss is made over these wheels. To me, they are a proven piece of technology and are actually quite logical for a mountain bike. They are not as stiff but are VERY resiliant. Imagine an archery bow made from laminated beech and one made from aluminum. Now pull back on the string. What happens? The wood bow will bounce back to shape over thousands of cycles. The aluminum? Not even once.
    I also strongly disagree that the suspension characteristic of the rims is irrelevent on a full boinger. This is is like saying tire pressure has no affect in the suspension characteristics. Good suspension is a fine balance between small very fast acting absorption of rims, spokes, tires, seat, post, handlebars, grips, gloves, shorts, fleshy bits and human joints, combined with the big relatively slow moving suspension of forks and swing arms. I mountain bike all the time in some very gnarly terrain here in British Columbia and if one of these suspension bits is mis-behaving or just missing, you feel it.
    I have been using wooden rims for a few years now on my cyclocross bike in all kinds of weather. The feel is amazing. Yes they are solid (not hollow) but at 290 grams do they need to be any lighter. I get asked so much about there toughness that I decided to do everything wrong to see how much abuse thay could take. After 2 years, I have managed to find their short comings but all in all, love them. They do change with climate so they need fairly frequent truing. I have run all kinds of brake pads in all kinds of weather. The rims will not wear down! This surprised me quite a bit. The pads melt away though just as carbon rims do to standard pads. Disc brakes obviously helps with the pad issue as noted elswhere. I left the rims to get quite wet at one point and did notice a problem with spokes pulling a bit into the rim on the rear drive side (makes sense). Are wood rims better? Worse? Just different. Like owning a wooden boat.

    Headset pivots.
    To me this makes a lot of sense. Time will tell for sure but I am not sure why this would not be a great option for main suspension pivots. Most supension pivots don't use angular contact bearings and naturally come loose with time because of such high lateral leverage. I think this stress is much greater than the direct "radial?" loading. I looked at the stress and leverage put on a modern fork and it seems to be very similar to the load put on a suspension pivot, especially when you consider that neither rotates but simply osscilates around a given spot which is why conventional pivots always "dig" in a groove and sieze up. Headset are available, standard and adjustable. Can that much be said for most pivots? Headsets are larger and stiffer due to the size and angular contact. This is also a common complaint of most pivots. Time will tell and I am sure there are things to improve on but hey, its fun right?
    I have done some hard rides on this bike and all seems great so far............

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  19. Sam : Thanks for visiting and laying out the time to respond.

    Gsport : I wonder if you're satisfied with the response. Surely I couldn't answer that as well as Sam did because I don't know wooden rims all too well. But he has a point about its bending and suspensions characteristics.

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  20. I've enjoyed the series of comments. Thanks, Ron, for giving attention to Sam's Cherry Bomb and its wood rims.

    As far as wood rims, I first recommend approaching the subject with curiosity: how did all the great classics and grand tours depend on wood rims for over 70 yrs? How did the champions of the past accomplish their superhuman feats on wood? Why did wood remain the preferred material of competition rims decades after metals took over every other component? What is it about this application that so favored wood? Can we gain some insight into the tensioned wire wheel by examining (and experiencing) this unusual material option?

    Second, have fun with nostalgia. The past is gone, yet it contains the elements and trends that define today. Whether it's basket weaving, horse riding, or glass blowing, you can have some fun by dabbling in the practices and devices of the past. A trip in a wooden boat, a performance of centuries old music, exploring an ancient ruin...all can prove entertaining and invigorating if you are willing to relax your judgements and play a bit.

    Third, discover as much as possible. Don't have too many biases preventing you from trying something new or something old. There's a big difference between preference and bias. Have high standards and strong preferences, but reach out to discover stuff beyond your experiences. Cycling, in particular, is a haven for all sorts of curiosities. Keep checking them out.

    Lastly, as a wheel fanatic, I'm often surprised with the status quo. Years ago, there were no tension gauges. Why not know the numbers? At one time, radial spoked wheels were completely unknown. How come? Not long ago, nearly no one rode in the dirt. Again, there seemed no good reason. Today I'm surprised that only one family on this planet is making wood competition rims the way it was done for a century. Why just one? And no one you know rides wood rims regularly. How come?

    Well, I've pretty much described why I began learning about and, later, importing wood rims. The past 2 years in Seattle I've put about 5K miles on a pair of wood clinchers and about 4K miles on a set of wood tubulars. None are damaged and I'm having fun. Problems are few. How few? Well, you need to ask someone who's tried them out. Or become one of those people yourself.

    Enough philosophy. I hope most practical questions about braking and moisture, truing and tension, etc. are covered in various posts on my blog.

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  21. Re: last post by "Eric," this is me, Ric Hjertberg, and the blog to which I refer is www.wheelfanatyk.com. Thought I should identify myself since that post has such a "know it all" theme.

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Thank you. I read every single comment.