Maker’s Mark

If the best things in life are free, Messrs Lennon and McCartney must’ve just been given a huge bag of top-grade cocaine and were off their little chops when they wrote that one. There are plenty of great things in life that are free, the outdoors, mountains, air, but no-one is giving away bicycles, cocaine or bourbon last time I checked (and I did check… was lucky to get away with a warning, on several occasions).

You see, there are things, there are good things, and there are really good things. You can chip in for a case of Woodies with a couple of mates, get smashed down at the footy fields and probably cause some property damage on the way home. You could buy a bottle of Jim Beam, mix it with Coke and drink it from a plastic cup in the shed while listening to AC/DC. Or you could acquire a bottle of Maker’s Mark, drop in an ice cube or sup it straight from a tumbler, while reading Tolstoy in front of the fireplace in your slippers. There is a difference, and usually, you pay for that difference.

I’m sure there is plenty to be gained from riding around the park on a department store bike, for most people. We call these people ‘ordinary’, i.e they are not bike riders. Bike riders will quickly eschew the Huffy and buy a ‘good bike’ to get to work on, ride in local events and maybe tootle around on some trails occasionally. They are happy with their $1000 machine, and why not? There’s not too much wrong with those bikes. But Cyclists don’t do this as a sideline, and having equipment that not only functions, but adds a certain refinement to the activity not only enhances the physical experience, but more importantly the mental one.

This is why companies like Wheelworks exist. While catering to a minority of people who ride bikes, they are sought out by those in the know, whose tastes and requirements go beyond that of just ‘getting around’. They exist because we like things to not only work, but work well, and to add a good helping of form to function, garnished with that little bit of spice that sets the ayahuasca apart from the oregano. Their wheels may be built by hand like many others out there, but as we witnessed, their meticulous methods add yet another dimension to the already personalised touch that machine-built hoops can only aspire to.

No matter what methods are used in production, the taste test always is the true marker of quality. These wheels ride great. You want semantics? You need me to legitimise their quality with terms like “laterally stiff” and “marketably compliant”? Or should I just tell you that they felt great in corners (stiff), accelerated well (but not with the ‘snap’ of ultra-light ‘climbing wheels’), were fantastic at speed in strong winds (aero effect of the 35mm rim, and there’s a 50mm option if you want even more buzzword for your buck) and matched my bike perfectly (prompting lots of questions from other gear geeks). If I had to pigeonhole this wheelset, I’d think it’d be a great crit racing wheel due to the incredible cornering, and a great all-rounder for anyone who just wants a well-made, unique wheelset that is easy to forget about and just ride.

The Maker brand is becoming conspicuous by its presence in these parts, and infiltrating the wider community of connoisseurs off-shore. It’s the same path that Jack Daniel trod all those years ago, from a backwater to the world. Because when word gets out, quality can’t be ignored.

Check out the Maker website for more info.

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64 Replies to “Maker’s Mark”

  1. If people that ride Huffys are “ordinary” we are no more than “extra” “ordinary” to be literal about it.  Semantics indeed, but I read Tolstoy to please a professed-to-be-lecturer, not in front of a fireplace with slippers.

    Tho’ I’m now old, slow, and everything seems steep, I long for the simpler days of “train on MA2/MA40s, race on GL330/GEL280s”.  I did race long enough to use Spinergys and Shamals and their ilk, but the styles of my youth, praise Merckx, win out.

  2. @Carel

    Whisky, please! Whiskey is Irish or Bourbon! Arrgh! ;-)

    @RobSandy

    “whiskey”

    I’m going to have to ask you to retract that. I know exactly how ‘whisky’ is spelled and if you look back you’ll see I never actually typed that.

    I will not be besmirchified.

  3. @RobSandy

    @Carel

    Whisky, please! Whiskey is Irish or Bourbon! Arrgh! ;-)

    @RobSandy

    “whiskey”

    I’m going to have to ask you to retract that. I know exactly how ‘whisky’ is spelled and if you look back you’ll see I never actually typed that.

    I will not be besmirchified.

    You’re absolutely in no fault, that’s right and you didn’t write the ugly word. Somebody later in the thread misquoted. Shame on him! ;-)

  4. @Teocalli

    @Phillip Mercer

    I’m with you too, though I go further.  If you buy and Italian frame it has to be Gruppo.

    Indeed.  American or Canadian frames need SRAM too.  Japanese get Shimano of course.  The rest are a bit of a puzzle though.

    Definitely recommend Fulcrum wheels with non-Gruppo setups.  Its what it was designed for.

  5. @tessar

    @Puffy

    HED Belgium is what the tubular rim is called.

    Funny you should say that because until I saw this advert Ardennes/T11 were atop my list.

    To set the record straight I contaced them and found they do have a Tubular in the 35s…available, just not publiclly released yet. Recommended the 35s with 240 hubs. I’ve spent the last three days trying to work out how to pay for them since they’ll be over double the cost of the Ardennes but double the wheel set….

  6. @Barracuda

    Delamination of clear coat on both front and back.  Full warranty return and decided to sell as brand new.

    Yeah they do that. Set I own did that. Never thought to ask for warranty though! Bugger.

  7. @ErikdR

    @eenies

    Just stumbled across a site called Colewheels-dot-com: couldn’t help thinking (hoping?) that it might be possible to lace a set of their (alloy) rims to your DA hubs-spokes? (Not sure whether they will sell loose rims, though – but may be worth a try. Just a thought…)

    DA wheel set hubs are a special breed. The spokes are straight pull, and paired. That’s not to say they can’t be re-used, just not easily or cheaply. The contents of the hubs are replaceable, but if you need cones, you’ve got to buy a comple axle assembly at $150aud for a rear. Same on the front but price is unknown to me.

  8. @Puffy

    @ErikdR

    @eenies

    Just stumbled across a site called Colewheels-dot-com: couldn’t help thinking (hoping?) that it might be possible to lace a set of their (alloy) rims to your DA hubs-spokes? (Not sure whether they will sell loose rims, though – but may be worth a try. Just a thought…)

    DA wheel set hubs are a special breed. The spokes are straight pull, and paired. That’s not to say they can’t be re-used, just not easily or cheaply. The contents of the hubs are replaceable, but if you need cones, you’ve got to buy a comple axle assembly at $150aud for a rear. Same on the front but price is unknown to me.

    Re custom Dura Ace hubs and straight-pull spokes: yes, I know; I’ve been riding these things for a while. The only reason I mentioned Colewheels is that they seem to have sets of wheels on offer with 20 high-tension, 2-crossed straight-pull spokes at the rear, and 16 ‘radial’ s-p’s at the front. The hubs they use are not similar in shape to DA at all, from the looks of it – but my thought was, that even though the Cole people build wheels from their own custom spoke-and-hub combo’s, the RIMS they use just might fit the bill – and the company just might be convinced to sell you a pair of ‘loose’ rims – who knows?

    I’m not at all sure it’s possible – but wouldn’t it be nice if you could detach you high-quality Dura Ace hub-and-spoke assembly, for and aft, from their ruined rims – and lace them to a set of new rims? (As far as I can tell, the rims they use at Cole are alloy, so the resulting wheel(s) would probably turn out heavier than the original DA’s – but providing it could be done, the swap could, in theory, still result in a very good set of training wheels? But as mentioned before: just a thought.

  9. @ErikdR @eenies

    I personally cannot see why it cannot be done. So long as you get a rim with the correct number of spokes, a spoke can be bought/modified to suit the length needed. I believe Wheel Works cut and re-thread spokes to suit the application. My boss often asks me “Is it possible to..” and “Could we…” and the answer is always; “Yes, of course. All it takes is time and money”.

    Still, I personally have recently sworn off these hubs. I was initally attracted to them because they are “easily and cheaply” serviced. Last week I had mine serviced only to find that I need new cones and that means a new kit of the entire hubs internals – $150AUD. If I had cartridge bearing hubs, I would have got new cones with ever service with the only premium being another $30. Cheaper in the long run…

  10. @Puffy

    @Barracuda

    Delamination of clear coat on both front and back.  Full warranty return and decided to sell as brand new.

    Yeah they do that. Set I own did that. Never thought to ask for warranty though! Bugger.

    FWIW, I spoke to Shimano and asked that if Im buying there top line wheel, are they designed to delaminate !   The answer I got was “NO”.  Therefore warranty return.

    Full new replacement given.  And rightly so !

  11. @brett I hope you are getting a commission…

    As I was considering some new wheels anyway I have bought a set (tubular none the less) and in doing so blew my budget by more than double. Oh well, I’ve got another 20 years to pay off the home loan. Free brake pads for the life of the wheels… I’m fairly certain that will offset the budget blow out. Won’t it?

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