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.