Meet your Maker

Meet Your Maker

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The wheel has always fascinated me, and why wouldn’t it? It’s one of the oldest known inventions, with the earliest archeological example believed to be about 5500 years old. They get us from point A to point B every day, one way or another. Without the wheel, we’d be reduced to walking. It’s not natural. So when I got the chance to have a look at the Wheelworks team and their slick operation in action, I was more than a little excited. And the best part? I get to ride them!

I headed over to the salubrious Wellington beachside suburb of Lyall Bay to meet up with Wheelworks’ owner Tristan Thomas, a transplanted Canadian and former engineer who started the company in 2008 and has been churning out wheelsets in increasingly large numbers ever since. Recently Wheelworks have launched discipline-specific branding for their wheels, with the mountain bike side dubbed Flite and the road builds under the Maker moniker.

Tristan and his right hand man Gavin McCarthy ran me through the build process, and if you think it’s just a matter of chucking some spokes in and giving them a few turns, well you’d be very far from the mark: the process Tristan has developed over the years is one of precision, order and involves more than a few tools and tricks that most other builders wouldn’t even know of. I’ll do my best to run you through the steps as I watched my Maker/White Industries/DT x Velominati wheelset come to life.

I’ll be putting some time on these wheels over the next month or so and will bring a full ride report after that.

// Accessories and Gear // Awesome Canadian Guys // La Vie Velominatus // Technology

  1. Thanks for the insight into how these guys roll. I could sit and watch a master wheel builder all day, fascinating stuff.

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  2. Very pretty Brett. Looking forward to hearing how they ride. I’ve also just got some lightweight carbon wheels. Vision TC24s with a quoted weight of 1280g. So far so good, they haven’t collapsed under my bulk and seem to be very nimble.

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  3. Are those the T11’s? Fucking gorgeous in chrome, I’ve been eyeing a set for myself actually. Looking forward to your report on them sir.

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  4. You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

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  5. I want that truing stand!

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  6. @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    True story!

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  7. Ooh boy, having a set of wheels built up right now as well. Hoping they’ll be ready for Le Tour mid-summer rolling.

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  8. @frank Centrimaster, I think. Not too common in North America but I’ve heard good things about them. German quality for significantly less than P&K Lie.

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  9. @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    Well, beggars can’t be choosers! Tristan sells mainly clinchers to his clientele, and if I were actually buying these wheels I’d buy clinchers because A) I don’t race; B) Practicality for everyday use and C) see A and B. Or maybe I’d say “fuck A and B” and go with the heart, not the head…

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  10. Serious wheel envy. And couldn’t agree more on the part about the most important part of any shop activity. At least four times daily, whether in the shop or not.

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  11. @brett

    @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    Well, beggars can’t be choosers! Tristan sells mainly clinchers to his clientele, and if I were actually buying these wheels I’d buy clinchers because A) I don’t race; B) Practicality for everyday use and C) see A and B. Or maybe I’d say “fuck A and B” and go with the heart, not the head…

    Been admiring Tristan’s wheels for a while now. Referred a friend recently who got ENVE’s with T11hubs from Tristan. They are magnificent apparently. Want me some makers also. Demo’s for Aus ? (insert appropriate smiley face )

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  12. @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    I’d swear, you all and your tubulars… what gives? You’re essentially stuck with riding the same damn tires ALL THE TIME. What’s the fun in that? It’s like owning a pair of socks and having only one pair of shoes that work with the socks because they’re glued together yes? Or something like that… whatev… Tubulars must be pretty friggen cool because folks that can be bothered with the hassle sure do love them that’s for sure. Cheers!

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  13. @Brett – very timely article – I pick these up this weekend – White Industries T11 hubs with Hed Belgium’s.

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  14. @wilburrox

    @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    I’d swear, you all and your tubulars… what gives? You’re essentially stuck with riding the same damn tires ALL THE TIME. What’s the fun in that? It’s like owning a pair of socks and having only one pair of shoes that work with the socks because they’re glued together yes? Or something like that… whatev… Tubulars must be pretty friggen cool because folks that can be bothered with the hassle sure do love them that’s for sure. Cheers!

    You know that bit of human nature which says that if a person is going through some sort of hassle, tedium, or annoyance for no good or apparent reason then they think everyone else should suffer too? Well it’s the same with tubulars…

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  15. A. I don,t race B. I ride tubulars day in day out without issue C. Don,t be afraid of or knock something you have never tried … D. Did clinchers for years never again, the plus,s of tubs far outweigh, hate to even say the word “clinchers”

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  16. @ChrisO

    @wilburrox

    @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    I’d swear, you all and your tubulars… what gives? You’re essentially stuck with riding the same damn tires ALL THE TIME. What’s the fun in that? It’s like owning a pair of socks and having only one pair of shoes that work with the socks because they’re glued together yes? Or something like that… whatev… Tubulars must be pretty friggen cool because folks that can be bothered with the hassle sure do love them that’s for sure. Cheers!

    You know that bit of human nature which says that if a person is going through some sort of hassle, tedium, or annoyance for no good or apparent reason then they think everyone else should suffer too? Well it’s the same with tubulars…

    Tubs are great if, when you get a puncture, you raise your hand and a nice man comes running along and puts a new wheel in and gives you a little push to send you off on your way. For the rest of us, fucking around in the dark, wind and rain, trying to hold your front lamp in your teeth as you wrestle with a sticky python that doesn’t want to play for 1/2 hour as your core temperature drops dangerously to hypothermic levels and every passing lorry showers you in a freezing mixture of oil, grit and dead wildlife is not an attractive option.

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  17. @wilburrox

    @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    I’d swear, you all and your tubulars… what gives? You’re essentially stuck with riding the same damn tires ALL THE TIME. What’s the fun in that? It’s like owning a pair of socks and having only one pair of shoes that work with the socks because they’re glued together yes? Or something like that… whatev… Tubulars must be pretty friggen cool because folks that can be bothered with the hassle sure do love them that’s for sure. Cheers!

    One is not “stuck” riding the same tubulars all the time; one should be so fortunate to have found and committed to the ideal tire. Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

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  18. @Nate

    Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

    HA! You just summed up my tyre philosophy, and shamed me, in one fell swoop. Chapeau.

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  19. @VeloJello

    @Nate

    Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

    HA! You just summed up my tyre philosophy, and shamed me, in one fell swoop. Chapeau.

    Ask me how I know, I have a plastic tub full of clinchers I have tried before I ran tubulars.

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  20. @Nate

    @VeloJello

    @Nate

    Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

    HA! You just summed up my tyre philosophy, and shamed me, in one fell swoop. Chapeau.

    Ask me how I know, I have a plastic tub full of clinchers I have tried before I ran tubulars.

    That’s a bit harsh, there are plenty of good clinchers out there. They’re called open tubulars and want to be tubulars when they grow up.

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  21. @Chris

    @Nate

    @VeloJello

    @Nate

    Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

    HA! You just summed up my tyre philosophy, and shamed me, in one fell swoop. Chapeau.

    Ask me how I know, I have a plastic tub full of clinchers I have tried before I ran tubulars.

    That’s a bit harsh, there are plenty of good clinchers out there. They’re called open tubulars and want to be tubulars when they grow up.

    That is exactly what my bin is full of. If an open tubular guides it’s user to the light of real tubulars it has done its job.

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  22. @Nate I’ve got a set of Open Pave on an older set of RS80 Ultegra wheels and they’re pretty good. There’s always a place for a set of clincher wheels no matter how wedded to tubulars you might be. I wouldn’t dream of going on holiday without them. Two weeks in South West France would be wasted repairing and glueing tubulars.

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  23. @Chris

    @Nate I’ve got a set of Open Pave on an older set of RS80 Ultegra wheels and they’re pretty good. There’s always a place for a set of clincher wheels no matter how wedded to tubulars you might be. I wouldn’t dream of going on holiday without them. Two weeks in South West France would be wasted repairing and glueing tubulars.

    Don’t worry, I am just being a bit poetic and hyperbolic. Open Paves are great tires.

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  24. @Nate

    @Chris

    @Nate

    @VeloJello

    @Nate

    Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

    HA! You just summed up my tyre philosophy, and shamed me, in one fell swoop. Chapeau.

    Ask me how I know, I have a plastic tub full of clinchers I have tried before I ran tubulars.

    That’s a bit harsh, there are plenty of good clinchers out there. They’re called open tubulars and want to be tubulars when they grow up.

    That is exactly what my bin is full of. If an open tubular guides it’s user to the light of real tubulars it has done its job.

    Although I’m not leaving the light of real tubulars and expect to continue with them. The Veloflex Corsa “Open Tubulars” are awesome and make the humming sound of the Death Star as well.

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  25. @wilburrox

    I’d swear, you all and your tubulars… what gives? You’re essentially stuck with riding the same damn tires ALL THE TIME. What’s the fun in that? It’s like owning a pair of socks and having only one pair of shoes that work with the socks because they’re glued together yes? Or something like that… whatev… Tubulars must be pretty friggen cool because folks that can be bothered with the hassle sure do love them that’s for sure. Cheers!

    “Riding all them various tyres… well it’s my job.”

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  26. @unversio

    The Veloflex Corsa “Open Tubulars” are awesome and make the humming sound of the Death Star as well.

    Wow, never heard of a clincher that sings — something I previously associated with only the finest tubulars.

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  27. Howdy, Been ages since I’ve posted here, but I had to chip in when I saw this article. I’m in Tasmania, Australia (it’s like… opposite NZ) and I got myself a pair of wheels from Tristan at Wheelworks. We went back and forth about what I wanted, what I could afford and what my aspirations were and he came up with the DT585 rim, DT aero spokes laced to WI T11 hubs. I wanted something lighter, but I’m a rotund wombat of a man and Tristan assured me that this was the combo to have down to how many spokes front and rear was optimal. He even told me it was the best rim for the larger, more powerful people… he didn’t call me fat. That’s service. He couldn’t have been more right. The wheels turned up, quickly in their own specially designed shipping box, and were as true as a…. err… true thing. Every piece of the build was quality, the after service was prompt, polite and helpful and the wheels have just kept rolling and rolling and rolling. I’m not sure how many k’s I’ve put on them between November 2013 and now, but it’s a fair whack and they only just now need a slight truing. I have really tried to destroy them, I just couldn’t. I babied them for a couple of months when I first got them because they were pretty, but I’m a bloke who sees things to be used, so used they were. Potholes, bunny hops, gravel, shit roads… the lot. WI hubs are insanely easy to work on, if you ever need to. The only reason I pulled mine apart was to chuck some C-Bear bearings in there because, well, I could. I honestly cannot recommend the folks at Wheelworks highly enough… So if they’re doing their own carbon rims, you know you’re going to be getting something that’s tried, tested and bombproof. I realise this reads like an advertisement. I’m not sure how I can change it though!

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  28. Wait… why the hell is my name Emilie Cabral!?

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  29. @Steve G

    Wait… why the hell is my name Emilie Cabral!?

    Hmm… seems my account wasn’t just my account. Password fixed!

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  30. @Steve G Lucky you. The sign of a well built set of wheels is they stay true for years and it sounds like you have them. The owner referring to you as powerful instead of a rotund wombat, icing on the cake. These guys are the real deal. I’m very impressed with the trimming and rethreading-o-the spokes. Someone is a fanatic. The addition of the custom graphics is something one rarely sees on wheels. This is certainly an argument against factory wheels or one building them one’s self.

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  31. @Gianni

    @Steve G Lucky you. The sign of a well built set of wheels is they stay true for years and it sounds like you have them. The owner referring to you as powerful instead of a rotund wombat, icing on the cake. These guys are the real deal. I’m very impressed with the trimming and rethreading-o-the spokes. Someone is a fanatic. The addition of the custom graphics is something one rarely sees on wheels. This is certainly an argument against factory wheels or one building them one’s self.

    Does this mean I can sell my warrantied Shimano DA 9000 C24’s and email Tristan ? Lets see how that pans out. Red T11’s to match the black and red on my SST. Bucket list that idea eh

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  32. Mates bike whom I ride with, just completed custom Canyon build himself complete with wheels from Tristan ( I’m still chasing commission on this referral ). To say I am ENVEous is an understatement. Needs to be anchored down at nights so it doesn’t float away ! Best looking rig Ive seen in these parts.

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  33. @Barracuda

    Mates bike whom I ride with, just completed custom Canyon build himself complete with wheels from Tristan ( I’m still chasing commission on this referral ). To say I am ENVEous is an understatement. Needs to be anchored down at nights so it doesn’t float away ! Best looking rig Ive seen in these parts.

    OK, that is the best looking Canyon bike ever. I didn’t think ENVY wheels could look more badass than they already do but these do.

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  34. @Gianni Tell me about it!! Ive gotta try and ride alongside the thing ( well behind it, the bloke can ride better than me) Photo doesn’t do it justice

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  35. @unversio


    Although I’m not leaving the light of real tubulars and expect to continue with them. The Veloflex Corsa “Open Tubulars” are awesome and make the humming sound of the Death Star as well.

    Haven’t tried those but Vittoria Open Corsa (SC are the ones with tan sidewalls) are also a sweet ride, especially with latex tubes. Gorgeous.

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  36. @Nate

    @unversio

    The Veloflex Corsa “Open Tubulars” are awesome and make the humming sound of the Death Star as well.

    Wow, never heard of a clincher that sings — something I previously associated with only the finest tubulars.

    I run Veloflex Roubaix Tubs on The Butler, Vittoria Open Tubular Corsa SC on the Pina Sestrierre, Vittoria Open Tubular Pave on #1 and all hum on a nice road surface – I think it is more to do with the micro tread pattern common to them all. On another note, I just put a Sachs NOS Freehub on The Butler and it’s totally silent on freewheeling. That is awesome freewheeling downhill once escape velocity has been attained on a smooth surface. Hum from the road and wind in the ears.

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  37. @brett

    @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    Well, beggars can’t be choosers! Tristan sells mainly clinchers to his clientele, and if I were actually buying these wheels I’d buy clinchers because A) I don’t race; B) Practicality for everyday use and C) see A and B. Or maybe I’d say “fuck A and B” and go with the heart, not the head…

    A and B are the arguments that people who are scared of tubs use to justify their disgraceful decisions. (What does racing have to do with enjoying better ride quality and you can change a tub faster than a clincher) You nailed it on the highlighted bit.

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  38. @Nate

    @wilburrox

    @frank

    You ruined those wheels by going with clinchers. Disgraceful, especially for a Keeper.

    I’d swear, you all and your tubulars… what gives? You’re essentially stuck with riding the same damn tires ALL THE TIME. What’s the fun in that? It’s like owning a pair of socks and having only one pair of shoes that work with the socks because they’re glued together yes? Or something like that… whatev… Tubulars must be pretty friggen cool because folks that can be bothered with the hassle sure do love them that’s for sure. Cheers!

    One is not “stuck” riding the same tubulars all the time; one should be so fortunate to have found and committed to the ideal tire. Meanwhile, the clincher-riding heathen is convincing himself that the next pair of tires might be better than the last.

    On my HEDs, the Ardennes and Jets I’ll swap between Speshy 24c s-works turbos for racing and 25c regular turbos for summer time riding. I’ll use 25 and 28c Pave’s depending on my mood when I want to ride dirt roads. On the DA’s, the C24’s and 35’s, that we use on my daughter’s bike (and I’ll ride for fun every now and then) we’ll swap between the s-works turbos for crits and Conti’s 4000’s for summer and road races and all seasons for winter. All are 23c tires on the DA’s narrow rim beds. The whole clincher thing is just awfully convenient for me and what I like to do vs what I’d envision tubes to be. But, admittedly, I haven’t road modern tubular C road wheels with latest tires. And yep, above is for the time being as I’m always trying new tires. The next pair of tires might just in fact be better than the last! Even if it’s all just in the head. Cheers.

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  39. A rim or any “circle” can be out of round and still give 3 equal diameter measurements depending on where you measure. – Learned from reading about the Challenger disaster

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  40. @wilburrox talk to me sir about the HED Ardennes V’s the DA C24’s. Im not happy with my DA C24’s constant need for the clear to delaminate. Comparison easy to comment on or two different horses?

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  41. @Barracuda

    @wilburrox talk to me sir about the HED Ardennes V’s the DA C24’s. Im not happy with my DA C24’s constant need for the clear to delaminate. Comparison easy to comment on or two different horses?

    Two different horses. Very. Maybe think of it kinda like a mtn bike. If were riding an XS or S frame go with the 650b’s and if M or L go with the 29er. After riding the Ardennes +s the C24’s feel, and this isn’t exactly correct, but dainty. Probably quick/nimble’d be better descriptor. But, its a different thing than the HEDs with wide rim bed and large volume low pressure tires. I think the C24’s are perfect on my daughter’s 49 cm frame and she weighs maybe 80 lbs. I like ’em but really, of all my wheel sets, it’s the HED Jet 4s, that I kinda keep going back to. The delaminate issue I haven’t experienced.

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  42. @Barracuda

    Mates bike whom I ride with, just completed custom Canyon build himself complete with wheels from Tristan ( I’m still chasing commission on this referral ). To say I am ENVEous is an understatement. Needs to be anchored down at nights so it doesn’t float away ! Best looking rig Ive seen in these parts.

    None, none more black.

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  43. Thanks for the kind words guys! We work really hard at offering great customer service and it’s nice to know that it gets noticed.

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  44. @Gianni They certainly are the real deal. They’re just all about wheels that are fit for purpose… the flattery is, indeed, icing on the cake @Barracuda Yep, sell them and sell whatever else you need. I’m trying to sort some cash to get another set of wheels from Tristan myself… Carbon perhaps, if they don’t fold under my weight!

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