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::::~ Wheelbuilders thread ~::::

Which tyres for Paris-Roubaix? Whose time trial bike is fastest? Suspension mountain bikes or singlespeeders? Talk equipment here.

::::~ Wheelbuilders thread ~::::

07 Nov 2009 06:12

A meeting place to discuss everything wheels. This will come in handy since there are a number of shop and industry folks that frequent these forums who offer great advice. Here we can share our ideas and help out people with technical questions without having to start a new wheel thread every time a question, comment, or idea arises.

I'll start it off with a bit of wheelbuilders art. Just finished lacing up a wheel set for a SS commuter road bike. This 32h front wheel is radially laced with Sapim CX Ray bladed spokes, alternating heads in/out. Some will say the CX Ray is a bit overboard for a commuter, I realize that, but I had some extra stock of an odd size that has been laying around here for more than a year. I'm happy.:)

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“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
[SIZE="2"]~Roger De Vlaeminck[/SIZE]
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07 Nov 2009 08:42

Will advice include how to reverse the inevitable "oh sh!t I did this...and the wheel looks like this" scenarios?

I have a desire to build my next set of road wheels. I have books, tools, a basic truing stand, and ZERO experience building wheels...so I will invariably be a requester of such advice at one point this winter. :D

I've had my last two sets of wheels hand-built by my buddy who runs a shop...and this of course just screams "you have to try this yourself" at me. I'm doomed :eek:
[SIZE="1"][/SIZE]"If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe."
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07 Nov 2009 12:33

flyor64 wrote:Will advice include how to reverse the inevitable "oh sh!t I did this...and the wheel looks like this" scenarios?

I have a desire to build my next set of road wheels. I have books, tools, a basic truing stand, and ZERO experience building wheels...so I will invariably be a requester of such advice at one point this winter. :D

I've had my last two sets of wheels hand-built by my buddy who runs a shop...and this of course just screams "you have to try this yourself" at me. I'm doomed :eek:


Most of us(who may do this bike wrench/wheelbuilding stuff for a living) started out by buulding a wheel for ourselves. I did, about 24 years ago. Taught by a great wheelbuilder named Mike at Colley Ave Bikes in Norfolk. Try it, every wheel you build is an adventure. No 2 are the same.
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08 Nov 2009 14:14

Hi all, I've been reading this forum for a while, and decided to join up now as I have just built my first wheel, saw this thread, and wanted to ask a few questions. I've built a 32h rear wheel using a Mavic Open Pro rim, Shimano 105 hub and DT revolution spokes, to replace the Shimano RS20 wheel I had which kept breaking spokes (something which isn't uncommon, from what I've read in another forum). I laced it radially on the non-drive side, and 2 cross on the drive side, whereas I believe that 3 cross is the norm for 32 spoke wheels. Is lacing it 2 cross likely to cause any problems? Also, RDV4Roubaix, is there a practical reason for lacing the wheel in your pic heads in/out, or is it just for looks?
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08 Nov 2009 16:54

Bobby700c wrote:Hi all, I've been reading this forum for a while, and decided to join up now as I have just built my first wheel, saw this thread, and wanted to ask a few questions. I've built a 32h rear wheel using a Mavic Open Pro rim, Shimano 105 hub and DT revolution spokes, to replace the Shimano RS20 wheel I had which kept breaking spokes (something which isn't uncommon, from what I've read in another forum). I laced it radially on the non-drive side, and 2 cross on the drive side, whereas I believe that 3 cross is the norm for 32 spoke wheels. Is lacing it 2 cross likely to cause any problems? Also, RDV4Roubaix, is there a practical reason for lacing the wheel in your pic heads in/out, or is it just for looks?


Hey Bobby700c, welcome to the forum!

General rule is to use 3 cross for 32 or 36 hole, and 2 cross for 28 hole or anything less. You'll run into durability problems with 2 cross on a 32 hole because the spokes are leaving the hub at less of an angle, the cross becomes too severe and ends up bending too much where the leading and trailing spokes meet at the final cross (where they touch). Hope that helps.

You're right about the pic I posted. The alternating heads in/out on a radial pattern was done for purely aesthetic effect. Some say that lacing all heads in/elbows out makes for a stiffer wheel, but where talking fractions here, and it's only for a commuter.
I was feeling artsy.
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
[SIZE="2"]~Roger De Vlaeminck[/SIZE]
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08 Nov 2009 20:45

Bobby700c wrote:Hi all, I've been reading this forum for a while, and decided to join up now as I have just built my first wheel, saw this thread, and wanted to ask a few questions. I've built a 32h rear wheel using a Mavic Open Pro rim, Shimano 105 hub and DT revolution spokes, to replace the Shimano RS20 wheel I had which kept breaking spokes (something which isn't uncommon, from what I've read in another forum). I laced it radially on the non-drive side, and 2 cross on the drive side, whereas I believe that 3 cross is the norm for 32 spoke wheels. Is lacing it 2 cross likely to cause any problems? Also, RDV4Roubaix, is there a practical reason for lacing the wheel in your pic heads in/out, or is it just for looks?


I realize this was for RDV$Roubaix but since this is a 'wheelbuilder's thread' and I are one-

-I don't think Revolution spokes are a good choice for a rear wheel unless you are in the 'buck 12' range in rider weight. 14/15 are more durable, make for a more durable wheel.

-Radial left side, 2 cross right side on a 32 hole wheel just doesn't do anything to help the wheel. It does make for a less reliable wheel, however, when compared to 3 cross both sides. You save no meaningful weight, do nothing for reliability or performance, so my opinion is why do it when compared to a 32/3 cross, 14/15 spokes, brass nipples.

-Remember the main reason the wheels are there is to get you there. Unless you change material(carbon-BIG $), small things like light spoke gauge or mixed lacing, mixed spoke gauge have a negative impact on reliability but do nothing for performance, unless something fails, then it has a BIG impact on performance.

-this from a long time wheelbuilder, 29 years, lots of wheels that has taught me to be pretty conservative in my wheelbuilding design and build philosophy.
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08 Nov 2009 22:09

Thanks for your replies Bustedknuckle and RDV4 - I'm going to re-lace the drive side 3 cross when the longer spokes I ordered arrive. Regarding the radial lacing on the non-drive side, I actually read that this improves durability - from Sheldon Brown's website:

"A spoked wheel relies on having all of the spokes in constant tension. A highly dished rear wheel starts with very light tension on the left side spokes. The torque of hard pedaling combined with cyclical weight loading can cause the left side "leading" spokes to occasionally go completely slack momentarily.

Repeated cycles of tension and slackness cause these spokes to fatigue at the bends, and ultimately break.

With half-radial spoking, the amount of dish is very slightly less to begin with if you run the radial spokes up along the inside of its flange ("heads out.") In addition, since there are no "leading" spokes, no amount of torque on the hub can reduce the tension on any of the spokes."

Is this not the case? To be honest, I laced it this way mainly because I think it looks good, and I wanted to make it a bit more interesting for myself, not for the sake of durability.

Finally, I have to confess I don't know what the phrase "buck 12" refers to - I weigh around 63kg, not sure if this qualifies!
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09 Nov 2009 05:24

There's nothing wrong with that radial left/3cross drive spoke pattern for a 32 hole wheel, and Sheldon is right in theory, but any real world advantages are minuscule to just about none. I concur that it does look cool, but a 32 hole wheelset really should be 3x all around. However, I do build lower spoke count rears for lightweight riders or climbing specific wheels almost always with radial left/2cross drive.

I'll add too that your hub isn't meant for radial lacing anyway, you really should use a hub with reinforced flanges specifically for radial lacing like DT 240's (best available option), Miche Primato or Racing Box, Edco Super G.... etc, etc. And most builders that use radial lacing in their wheels are using low spoke count hubs made for straight pull (nailhead) spokes, hard to get 32h or 28h of these unless you're in the industry. This is the trouble with stock Shimano or Campy hubs, and the reason they say the warranty is void if you radially lace them. I've tried it with a stretch of good luck, but one day many moons ago cracked a radial side Record hub flange while riding, and I'll never do it again.

Bustedknuckle is absolutely right about Revolutions not being good for a rear wheel, unless you're a lightweight and ride nothing but the smoothest of pavement. They're really only a good lightweight option for front wheels.

Since you're just beginning, I would suggest to get really proficient at building basic 32 hole/ 3 cross wheels, and save the exotic lacing patterns for when you have more experience and proper components to do them with.
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
[SIZE="2"]~Roger De Vlaeminck[/SIZE]
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09 Nov 2009 10:24

Thanks for the advice guys, I'll re-lace the drive side for now and see how it goes. I can't see myself getting in enough practice to ever get really proficient, mainly because I haven't got enough cash to be building myself numerous wheelsets!
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09 Nov 2009 13:25

Bobby700c wrote:Thanks for your replies Bustedknuckle and RDV4 - I'm going to re-lace the drive side 3 cross when the longer spokes I ordered arrive. Regarding the radial lacing on the non-drive side, I actually read that this improves durability - from Sheldon Brown's website:

"A spoked wheel relies on having all of the spokes in constant tension. A highly dished rear wheel starts with very light tension on the left side spokes. The torque of hard pedaling combined with cyclical weight loading can cause the left side "leading" spokes to occasionally go completely slack momentarily.

Repeated cycles of tension and slackness cause these spokes to fatigue at the bends, and ultimately break.

With half-radial spoking, the amount of dish is very slightly less to begin with if you run the radial spokes up along the inside of its flange ("heads out.") In addition, since there are no "leading" spokes, no amount of torque on the hub can reduce the tension on any of the spokes."

Is this not the case? To be honest, I laced it this way mainly because I think it looks good, and I wanted to make it a bit more interesting for myself, not for the sake of durability.

Finally, I have to confess I don't know what the phrase "buck 12" refers to - I weigh around 63kg, not sure if this qualifies!


125 pound rider. Yes, I have read Sheldon's thoughts on radial left side rear and have even yakked with him in person about it(may he rest well and peacefully). If the right side tension is proper, the left side will be fine and dandy, if laced 3 cross.
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20 Nov 2009 18:44

RDV4ROUBAIX wrote:Though I've been very nice to HED about the quality of their wheels, one thing that am at odds with is that their C2 'Classics' wheels are not truly meant for the real Classics. Basically, they are very good all around consumer race wheels that have cute Belgian names. 5 different versions of essentially the same wheel might be a little overkill, and you'll never see the pros using them at the hardcore battlegrounds of RvV or Roubaix, simply because they're all low spoke count clinchers.

I agree with the "thinking man's Ardennes", due to the simplicity of using a clincher rim. Still not a true Classics wheel though. If you're riding and racing on the rough stuff like pavé or gravel, the latter of which I do quite a bit, box section, eyletted tubulars are the way to go.

The basic formula is: Ambrosio Nemesis tubular/DT Hubs/Sapim spokes.

I'm not exactly sure why the pros demand Sapim spokes over DT, have my own opinions, but you'll notice that just about every wheel mfg and builder that is involved with racing is using them. That's reason enough for me.


Are you going to distro Sapim spokes as well? KHS(not the bike) is the sole distributor for the US AFAIK and their length selection is poor to ****poor.

They are cheaper, don't come with nipps tho(which can be pricey), work well. I do fine with DT but have used Sapim in the past and they 'work' as well.
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20 Nov 2009 18:52

Bustedknuckle wrote:Are you going to distro Sapim spokes as well?


No, I have enough headaches being a business owner as it is. :o Wouldn't be beneficial for me in any way to keep a bunch of different size spokes in stock other than what I need for my wheels. Just like you said about KHS, their stock is hard to deal with, especially if you're a shop, since the bulk of their orders come from wheel mfg's, and I'm always ordering a month ahead of time. Had this system down for a few years now with KHS. United Bicycle Supply also carried Sapim, not sure that they do anymore.
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
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20 Nov 2009 20:00

RDV4ROUBAIX wrote:No, I have enough headaches being a business owner as it is. :o Wouldn't be beneficial for me in any way to keep a bunch of different size spokes in stock other than what I need for my wheels. Just like you said about KHS, their stock is hard to deal with, especially if you're a shop, since the bulk of their orders come from wheel mfg's, and I'm always ordering a month ahead of time. Had this system down for a few years now with KHS. United Bicycle Supply also carried Sapim, not sure that they do anymore.



No mas. Even with 15,000 spokes on hand rigtht now, and ordering about 1000 or so per month, they aren't intertested in doing better(KHS). I carry so many hubs(5 makes), rims(5 makes, numerous models), adding drillings, combos, I can't order 5000 of any one length. It's 100 of this, 100 of that, about twice per month. I get my spokes from Paceline. Also my DT rims/hubs, great people.

Maybe that's my next biz..get to travel to Belgium...only need about $bazillion$ to start it.
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20 Nov 2009 20:26

Ha! Had to come back and post. UPS just dropped off my back ordered spokes from KHS. Only took a week.:)

I feel your pain though Bustedknuckle. When I was working in the shops, it was the same thing with KHS. It all comes down to money. You know that they're a very small family owned business, and Sapim is a fraction of the size of DT, so the ease of distribution is vastly different. Same theory applies to rim companies like Ambrosio, another very small family owned biz that makes a very scarce, but highly prized product. I don't know, I guess I've found a system that works for me with the smaller companies, learned to have patience with them, just like good food takes time. Time to get cooking, I got spokes.:D
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
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20 Nov 2009 21:24

Ah, the headaches of maintaining spoke inventory.

It wasn't all that long ago that I was still working in shops full-time so I remember this well. However, I also remember the day we picked up a used Phil Wood spoke cutter. It cost a little bit to get the dies sharpened but once the thing was up and running, spoke inventory was slashed to a tiny fraction of what it was before. Still had to carry full runs of ultra-butted stuff like Revolutions, etc., but we only had to stock one size of 14g straight and just a handful of 14/15g. Big initial investment but well worth it in the long run if you build a lot of wheels. Plus, you almost never have to keep a customer waiting for some proprietary spoke.

As an alternative, Ric Hjertberg over at wheelfanatyk.com is carrying the Morizumi spoke machine.
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21 Nov 2009 13:53

James Huang wrote:Ah, the headaches of maintaining spoke inventory.

It wasn't all that long ago that I was still working in shops full-time so I remember this well. However, I also remember the day we picked up a used Phil Wood spoke cutter. It cost a little bit to get the dies sharpened but once the thing was up and running, spoke inventory was slashed to a tiny fraction of what it was before. Still had to carry full runs of ultra-butted stuff like Revolutions, etc., but we only had to stock one size of 14g straight and just a handful of 14/15g. Big initial investment but well worth it in the long run if you build a lot of wheels. Plus, you almost never have to keep a customer waiting for some proprietary spoke.

As an alternative, Ric Hjertberg over at wheelfanatyk.com is carrying the Morizumi spoke machine.


We have a Phil cutter but cutting a double butted spoke has it's limitations. Having a 306mm 'blank', you can only cut so far or you get a 14/15/__ spoke, threading the 15g section, cutting off the **** at the threaded end. Like when you need 278mm spokes, for instance. Still gotta buy the spokes also, whether you have 100 285s or 500. Cost is the same, from Paceline, for example.

Morizumi machine is VERY nice, but we don't need 2 machines. Phil works fine. Biggest issue is having a 'spoke distributor' actually do their job and stock spokes for the next to end user, the wheelbuilder. Too bad a bike shop has to take up the slack for distributors that don't want to go the extra MM.
For KHS, either carry and distribute Sapim or give it up.

Paceline does great in that regard. Never an issue with lengths or black/silver gig. Even good stock of obscure things like 16mm black brass nipps and such. DT does what Sapim does, no difference in the wheel they make. I'll stay with DT.
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21 Nov 2009 17:52

Bustedknuckle wrote:Biggest issue is having a 'spoke distributor' actually do their job and stock spokes for the next to end user, the wheelbuilder. Too bad a bike shop has to take up the slack for distributors that don't want to go the extra MM.
For KHS, either carry and distribute Sapim or give it up.

Paceline does great in that regard. Never an issue with lengths or black/silver gig. Even good stock of obscure things like 16mm black brass nipps and such. DT does what Sapim does, no difference in the wheel they make. I'll stay with DT.


I'd say you'd have a valid argument about KHS if Sapim was the size of DT, but that just isn't the case. DT must have half a dozen or more distributors in the US to Sapim's one, a marketing budget that is 10 fold what Sapim has here, which is zero, and a production output that is like comparing a mountain to a molehill. The majority of KHS's stock goes to wheel mfg's that order 10 thousand+ spokes at a time, unlike the shops who are ordering a fraction of that, so, of course, given the huge difference in the scope of business the product is going to be more scarce. The most important aspect of this whole discussion is to understand that Sapim and KHS are geared more towards the OEM/manufacturing side of things, and DT is largely exists for the aftermarket in the shops. Most shops get the fact that they have to exercise a bit of patience when dealing with smaller companies like Sapim and KHS, some don't.

Hate to burst your bubble, but even if Paceline carried Sapim, they wouldn't always have everything you want in stock either. :rolleyes:
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
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22 Nov 2009 13:13

RDV4ROUBAIX wrote:I'd say you'd have a valid argument about KHS if Sapim was the size of DT, but that just isn't the case. DT must have half a dozen or more distributors in the US to Sapim's one, a marketing budget that is 10 fold what Sapim has here, which is zero, and a production output that is like comparing a mountain to a molehill. The majority of KHS's stock goes to wheel mfg's that order 10 thousand+ spokes at a time, unlike the shops who are ordering a fraction of that, so, of course, given the huge difference in the scope of business the product is going to be more scarce. The most important aspect of this whole discussion is to understand that Sapim and KHS are geared more towards the OEM/manufacturing side of things, and DT is largely exists for the aftermarket in the shops. Most shops get the fact that they have to exercise a bit of patience when dealing with smaller companies like Sapim and KHS, some don't.

Hate to burst your bubble, but even if Paceline carried Sapim, they wouldn't always have everything you want in stock either. :rolleyes:


Well, since this is a wheelbuilder's thread. What if that OEM builder needs 295 and 297(KHS seems to mostly have even lengths), 10,000 each? Do they get those odd lengths or 'settle' for evens? I know 1mm means little but I like to use the proper lengths as calculated.

Small or big I think a distributor, who is a customer of a manufacturer, should be able to get what they order. Sapim makes all lengths, 1mm increments, they 'should' be able to supply 1mm lengths. I think KHS just doesn't want to spend the $.
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22 Nov 2009 17:47

Bustedknuckle wrote:What if that OEM builder needs 295 and 297(KHS seems to mostly have even lengths), 10,000 each?


I'm an OEM and just so happen to have a little less than 3,000 Race 297's sitting on my bench. Not in stock when I ordered them, but I have 'em now.

Do they get those odd lengths or 'settle' for evens?


Since KHS is primarily an OEM supplier they know what sizes they have to keep in stock for their customers that generally order 10k+ of the same size, the bulk of which are even sized Race and CX-Rays in J-bend and straight pull. You can get odd sizes, only if you have patience, I understand not as easy if you're a shop where turnaround time is key, but that's the nature of their biz.

I know 1mm means little but I like to use the proper lengths as calculated.


No doubt! As every wheel builder that is worth anything should be using proper lengths. We work in an environment that requires precise measurements of the parts we use to build a wheel, anything less would be Bush League.

Small or big I think a distributor, who is a customer of a manufacturer, should be able to get what they order.


They do, and have done so for over 50 years.

Sapim makes all lengths, 1mm increments, they 'should' be able to supply 1mm lengths. I think KHS just doesn't want to spend the $.


Yes, you're right, it is about money when it comes to small, family run businesses like KHS. Looking at it from a shop's perspective that seems a bit archaic for an importer/distro to run on a smaller scale, but they have their niche and don't want to expand sizing in their aftermarket sales unless Sapim could vastly improve their production output. KHS is an OEM supplier 1st, as is Sapim, who doesn't have the production output or marketing budget to compete with DT in the aftermarket, especially in the US. To give you an idea of how small Sapim is that some larger orders, which would be a drop in the bucket to DT, are actually made to order, custom spec spokes for mfg's.

My disagreement is with what you've had to say about KHS in your last few posts, because I've had a very good working relationship with them for the better part of my time in the industry, and I take it personally when someone has bad things to say about them if they simply don't understand their company model. A really nice family to boot that is well respected in the industry, especially amongst wheel mfg's. Whether it was in the shops, or as an OEM builder, I've always had appreciation and respect for KHS's more than half a Century of service to the US bike industry. They're a small company, and I can relate to that because I am too, so are you. Hopefully now that you know the the scope of how KHS and Sapim operate in this country, there should be no confusion there. I know why some shops are never going to be happy with KHS, because they don't understand that the aftermarket is not their main focus, how this is not common knowledge, I don't know. Not that it ever was a big secret being around as long as they have. I guess it takes a conversation with your vendor, especially the smaller ones, and taking the time to talk to them about expectations and the ability to fulfill them, rather than just shooting an order down the pipe and expecting magic to happen every time, which happens all too often.
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the Devil."
[SIZE="2"]~Roger De Vlaeminck[/SIZE]
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23 Nov 2009 13:42

RDV4ROUBAIX wrote:I'm an OEM and just so happen to have a little less than 3,000 Race 297's sitting on my bench. Not in stock when I ordered them, but I have 'em now.



Since KHS is primarily an OEM supplier they know what sizes they have to keep in stock for their customers that generally order 10k+ of the same size, the bulk of which are even sized Race and CX-Rays in J-bend and straight pull. You can get odd sizes, only if you have patience, I understand not as easy if you're a shop where turnaround time is key, but that's the nature of their biz.



No doubt! As every wheel builder that is worth anything should be using proper lengths. We work in an environment that requires precise measurements of the parts we use to build a wheel, anything less would be Bush League.



They do, and have done so for over 50 years.



Yes, you're right, it is about money when it comes to small, family run businesses like KHS. Looking at it from a shop's perspective that seems a bit archaic for an importer/distro to run on a smaller scale, but they have their niche and don't want to expand sizing in their aftermarket sales unless Sapim could vastly improve their production output. KHS is an OEM supplier 1st, as is Sapim, who doesn't have the production output or marketing budget to compete with DT in the aftermarket, especially in the US. To give you an idea of how small Sapim is that some larger orders, which would be a drop in the bucket to DT, are actually made to order, custom spec spokes for mfg's.

My disagreement is with what you've had to say about KHS in your last few posts, because I've had a very good working relationship with them for the better part of my time in the industry, and I take it personally when someone has bad things to say about them if they simply don't understand their company model. A really nice family to boot that is well respected in the industry, especially amongst wheel mfg's. Whether it was in the shops, or as an OEM builder, I've always had appreciation and respect for KHS's more than half a Century of service to the US bike industry. They're a small company, and I can relate to that because I am too, so are you. Hopefully now that you know the the scope of how KHS and Sapim operate in this country, there should be no confusion there. I know why some shops are never going to be happy with KHS, because they don't understand that the aftermarket is not their main focus, how this is not common knowledge, I don't know. Not that it ever was a big secret being around as long as they have. I guess it takes a conversation with your vendor, especially the smaller ones, and taking the time to talk to them about expectations and the ability to fulfill them, rather than just shooting an order down the pipe and expecting magic to happen every time, which happens all too often.


MY ONLY contact has been over the phone, about 2 years ago and they were very dismissive of my 'request' that they 'try' to carry 295s and 297s, in the Race type. They just weren't really interested in going out of their way to sell me 200 spokes and I now see why. Why you 'take it personally' if I choose to not spend my money with them when they aren't interested in having me as a customer kinda surprises me. They 'could' have explained over the phone why they weren't interested in having a small bike shop as a customer instead of saying, 'just use 294s and 296s..close enough'. They could have explained they were primarily OEM....but.

Not sure I understand the emotion. I don't dislike them any more than I dislike BTI or QBP when they don't have a derailleur. I don't take it personally when somebody gets a EXCEL wheelset instead of one of mine...just business.
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