Tubular wheels for cyclocross are proving very popular. Rim stock is getting a bit low but more are on their way from Carbonal
Demand for specialist wheels for the sport of hillclimbing is increasing. We have been supplying minimalist and very light (just over 1000g/pr) tubular wheels to competitors where weight is the main thing and aero/braking performance is secondary.
Mark took part in the annual Dorset Dirt MTB event at the start of the month. After riding with a young XC racer for most of the distance, the youngster took advantage on a long offroad climb and left the old legs a couple of minutes behind at the finish. Second place overall isn’t too bad though!
Mark and Ann took a break mid-month and rode the Veloscenic cycle route in France. This varied and interesting route starts in the centre of Paris and finishes at the Mont St’Michel. We added an extra 80km to St Malo to get the ferry back to Portsmouth.
It is almost August and we have just received a big delivery from Carbonal with a new design of 38mm deep carbon clincher rim (to the same spec as our 30mm and 50mm depths), fresh supplies of the very popular 50mm deep rims and more 29mm wide carbon gravel/road disc brake bike rims.
Sorry for the long gap in reports. We have been very busy with orders and had a number of other distractions.
The Spokesman Team has attended a number of road and off-road events (purely for wheel testing purposes, of course!) with a decent degree of success. The biggest was the Velothon Wales at Cardiff on July 8th with all the team riding the 90 mile route. A good route but on a very hot day. Riding times ranged from 4h30m to 5h30m. Mike commented that his ploy to avoid complete dehydration was to ride the Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain as slowly as possible but without actually coming to a standstill!
In June we had the annual Nello 100m charity ride. A great route with the best food stops I have come across. Hot once again!
In May, we went to Bakewell for the Peak Tour road and Peak Pioneer gravel bike events. Both around 75 miles and on consecutive days. Both events great fun but hot again. Top 10 results on both days which was nice. Also in May (and hot) was the Eden Project sportive in Cornwall which was very scenic but ‘lumpy’. No massive climbs but very little flat running.
In April we had the Haldon Herioc CX stage race. Not a nice day but Mark had top 5 placings on 5 of the 8 timed stages.
In March, Ann and Mark completed a 2 week tour of the Patagonian regions of Chile and Argentina. Highly recommended with wide largely empty roads and great scenery. Crossing the Andes twice was probably the (literal) highpoints but whole ride was enjoyable. Our tour was arranged through Skedaddle in Newcastle. Not cheap but certainly excellent.
Produce wise, we have new rims from Carbonal, new Bitex hubs and new Novatec hubs – details in the Current Stock page.
What awful weather we have been having this winter. The wet and cold conditions seem to have gone on for ever! However, Mark has returned to road riding following his accident and getting back to his previous level of fitness.
No event reports but we did attend the annual Core Bike trade show for the UK cycling industry. Following new contacts made, we can now offer Hutchinson Fusion tubeless road and gravel tyres, certain DT Swiss 240s hubs and Bitex hubs.
New Kinlin rims disc specific rims have arrived in 26mm and 31mm depths along with a new 26mm deep rim brake rim. These are decent quality but mid-priced and will build into nice looking wheels.
Sapim have suddenly increased the cost of their spokes by 20% and unfortunately we have had to include this in our priceing. Although the European made Sapim spokes are the highest quality available, we are looking at a cheaper Taiwanese alternative to the CX Ray aero spoke in order to keep our wheel prices affordable. The quality from this supplier has improved immensely in the last 2-3 years and is now a viable alternative.
No event or ride news as Mark has been sidelined with a broken collarbone following a crash in a cyclocross race in mid-October. Unfortunately it wasn’t a simple break and has required an operation to fit a steel plate to hold all the bits together.
Meanwhile orders have continued at a brisk pace, especially from Europe and Scandinavia. MTB XC racing for juniors seems to be popular in these parts and we have developed light and extra lightweight 24″ wheels for this purpose.
New 50mm deep carbon clincher rims arriving from Carbonal gradually. These have been made specially for us with an extra heat resistant finish on the brake track. See the Current Stock page for detail.
A little group of events in September. We rode the Wiggle Mendip and New Forest 100 road sportives along with a MTB orienteering event on Dartmoor. All went well with Mark finishing 7th in the Mendip results and 4th overall at the MTB event and joint winner of the pairs with Martin.
The big wheel news (in our little world!) is that after years of denying the need, Mavic have produced a new version of the evergreen Open Pro rim which is wider, stiffer and tubeless ready and very slightly lighter. Mavic must be pretty committed to this rim as they have done it the hard way with different alloy extrusions for each spoke number rather than simply producing a flat top rim and drilling a varying number of holes.
Even more unexpected news is the impending arrival of lightweight alloy Powertap wheels for race and training. While these are not a new thing, the price has been slashed to a built pair of wheels for less than the RRP of the rear hub alone. See our Ebay shop for details (and don’t forget that there is a discount for a direct purchase!) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Powertap-G3-DT-Swiss-R450-power-meter-road-bike-wheels-bargain-price-/162671069458?hash=item25dff38912
We have just learnt that the very popular Iron Cross rim for cyclocross has been discontinued by Stans. We have bought much of the remaining stock of rims and Stans built Iron Cross wheels.
We attended the Eurobike trade exhibition on the German/Swiss border at the end of August. This is a massive affair and covers everything to do with cycling, including a lot of products which are not seen in the UK. We had face to face meetings with all our main suppliers and made some new contacts with interesting products.
Apart from our portfolio of rim, hub and spoke suppliers, we came across a range of highly innovative reflective products for wheels and bike frames, some of which are protective and nearly invisible until used at night. Great for road/tri riders who train in the dark and, of course, commuters who don’t want to look like ‘Dayglo Joe’!
Watch this space for developments.
Spokesman Wheels customers raised £390 for the Children with Cancer during June and July from wheel sales. A big thank you to everyone who contributed.
Mark did his best to get the charity noticed at Ride London finishing 12th overall (out of 5000 in the 46 miler) and probably 1st over 55. Average moving speed of 24mph wasn’t too shabby for an old fella!
Ann cruised round in 2h.48 showing the way to many younger chaps.
New rims and hubs becoming available – see the New Stock page for details.
A cluster of events to report. Firstly the Nello 100. A lovely ride which started in sunshine in Exeter, unfortunately deteriorated to drizzle over Exmoor and back to sunshine when we hit the Taw valley. As always, brilliant organisation, proper (and regular) food stops and a nice route. Highly recommended. Mark got in with a good group and completed the route in around 5 hours.
Next was the Kitsons Devon Classic. Similar to the Nello in that it is a fundraiser for charity, this newer event moved to Bicton College for 2017 which proved to be a good base. Nice route and generous catering included! Mark took around 4.5hrs to complete the 60 mile route which included 2 of the climbs used by the Tour of Britain in recent years was about 5th finisher.
Devon Delight Audax. This is a lower profile event, but still worth doing. It raises money for a local hospice and has a reasonably challenging route. Proper lunch at the halfway point and a cream tea at the finish, all provided by local Cycling UK volunteers!
We will be donating £15 from every set of wheels sold from June 12th to end of July to the Children with Cancer UK charity. Mark is riding with Ann in the London 46 to raise money for this worthy cause.
Next event is the Nello 100 mile charity ride from Exeter onto and around Exmoor.
The Devon Dirt ride on Easter Sunday provided a chance to burn off some of the chocolate egg calories with a 40 mile XC ride. Despite stopping to inflate a punctured tyre, Mark finished 3rd overall.
Next up and requiring a change of bike was the Wiggle Jurassic Beast road sportive. This is a lovely route through the Dorset countryside and includes a couple of testing climbs over the military firing ranges around Lulworth Cove. Despite losing 10 minutes waiting for a train at a level crossing, Mark finished 21st overall from an entry of around 750.
A couple of events this month. Mark took part in the Haldon Heroic CX event. This is run rather like a MTB Enduro and there were 6 timed ‘special stages’ spread along the 50 mile route varying from 1.5 miles to 6 miles long. Mark did OK, won one of the stages and was second overall on total time.
The next event was a MTB orienteering event on Woodbury Common. Mark entered as a solo rider as his usual partner was away on holiday. After a few errors, Mark came in 4th place overall with 12 seconds to spare on time!
The big news this month is that Novatec have produced a limited number of centrelock disc hubs and we have been able to secure a small consignment from Taiwan. These are available in 24h and 32h and will be around £90/pair cheaper than the equivalent from Hope.
The test of the 20/24 spoke disc wheels has concluded and these are now available to purchase either through Ebay or direct. Mark used these for around 400 miles on the back roads of Devon completely without issue. With good quality components, this may well be the way to produce disc brake wheels which are nearly equal in weight to their rim brake counterparts.
The Mad March Hare went well with a full entry and decent (if windy) conditions. The first 70km often had a tailwind so was despatched fairly easily. The final 35k was on high ground and straight into the wind. Many riders struggled to keep up speed and there were a lot of tired legs at the finish. Mark trundled in as 3rd finisher having ridden alone for most of the event.
The second XC night race at Haldon Forest on Jan 21st was good fun and more technical than the Lanhydrock event. Despite a couple of ‘offs’ Mark finished 12th out of 120 starters and 5th overall in the series. Next up are the Mad March Hare audax from Exeter and the Haldon Heroic CX/MTB sportive in March.
Wheel news – Mark has been testing a set of 20/24 spoke disc brake carbon road wheels on the rough lanes around Devon to see how they stand up. Popular wisdom suggests that a 86kg rider would need at least 28/28 spokes in a disc wheel but so far life with these wheels has been completely uneventful (even a 4o mile ride in Storm Doris wasn’t too bad!!).
The 20/24 spoke disc wheels on Mark’s Bish Bash Bosh winter road bike (mudguards and rack removed for photo vanity!)
December 2016. Only one event this month. The XC night race at Lanhydrock House in Cornwall was great fun. Mark was running in a solid 9th before going off into the undergrowth on the last lap and allowing 3 riders past on the sprint to the finish line. Overall 12th out of 80 and second Vet.
The 9mm QR/thru axle hybrid has been a minor revelation in stiffening the forks on the Genesis CdF. The front wheel no longer pulls to the left under braking. The effect of the 10mm QR/thru axle at the rear is harder to feel on a road bike but should be good for full suspension MTBs which use a QR.
We have been getting increasing enquiries for Boost width wheels and have ordered a batch of 110/148 width disc hubs from Novatec. Due in at end of December.
Novatec 12mm front end caps have arrived for road/CX bikes. 12mm seems to be settling as the axle standard for drop bar bikes with disc brakes in the same way that 15mm has become the accepted MTB size for most uses.
November 2016. Many disc brake road bikes with QR forks suffer a bit from fork flex under braking (Mark’s Genesis Croix de Fer certainly does!). Test by holding the front brake on and pushing the bike forwards. The wheel may appear to move sideways a bit. if you have mudguards, this is very easy to see. Newer (and more upmarket) designs are starting to use MTB style bolt thru 12mm and 15mm axles to counteract this. We have just discovered that Novatec produce 9mm and 10mm bolt thru systems which fit QR bikes which should stiffen the fork/frame. We have some on order and will report back after testing.
Events have been a bit thin since September. Mark competed in a Midlands MTB orienteering event nr Banbury with his brother (a non-MTB rider!) and finished second pair.
Team Spokesman (all 6 of us) took part in the Autumn Storm 100k charity ride around mid-Devon on a beautiful Sunday morning. This isn’t a timed event and full enjoyment of the feed stops was in order!
Mark also completed the Dartmoor Devil 100k audax on a beautiful day at the end of October. This is designed to be a challenge to finish, taking in a number of the hardest climbs Dartmoor can offer (7500 feet of climb this year!).
September 2016. Ann and Mark have just returned from completing the Velodyssey (EV1) cycle route from Ilfracombe in Devon down the west of France and into Spain. This year we rode the 550 miles from La Rochelle to Irun in Spain with side trips to the Isle de Re and Bordeaux. Our chosen steeds are basic hybrid bikes which have been upgraded over the years.
Ann’s bike is has disc brakes and uses Stans Crest wheels with Schwalbe G1 38mm tubeless tyres. These proved fast on road and grippy on the hardpack gravel cycle ways which make up some sections of the Velodyssey.
Mark’s bike uses rim brakes and has Velocity Dyad wheels. As an experiment we set these up for tubeless use with Stans rim tape and valves and fitted Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 35mm tubeless tyres. Although not a ‘tubeless’ rim, it has all worked very well and can be recommended.
Neither bike had any punctures or required the tyre pressure to be topped up over a 2 week period. The only puncture on our trip was suffered by our riding companion with a conventional tyre/tube set-up.
Mark’s bike also has Shimano Alfine Di2 11 speed hub gearing. This worked faultlessly and used very little battery power. At the end of the 2 week ride, there was still 3 out of 4 ‘bars’ showing on the handlebar readout.
August 2016. More orders from around the world and enquiries from the UK are picking up again. We have received a good sized delivery of 50mm depth carbon rims which luckily were ordered the day before the EU vote and have largely escaped the price rises we are expecting in the future.
Ann and Mark took part in the annual Prudential Ride London at the end of July. Ann rode the new 46 mile route and finished in a highly creditable 2h.37 despite a holdup of a few minutes while medics attended to an unfortunate chap who had suffered a heart attack. Mark completed the 100 miler in 4h.46 which was slightly slower than last year but an inconvenient call of nature after 50 miles meant a stop of around 8 mins to queue for the loos!
One success to report, Mark and Martin are 2016 National Champions in their catagory (over 60s!) for MTB Orienteering and 11th overall. Held over two days starting with a 5 hour race on Exmoor and followed by 3 hours on the Quantocks the next day. Exmoor didn’t go too well with a fundemental mistake in route choice (too much climbing) but our overall fitness served us well on the Quantocks when other competitors struggled to keep the pace up for a second day.
July 2016. Sorry for the lack of updates recently but we have been very busy keeping up with orders. There has been a (hopefully temporary) post Brexit slowdown in orders from the UK but an increase in sales to the rest of the world. Last week we built wheels destined for Taiwan amongst others (Japan, Norway, Netherlands, USA) which is rather ironic considering the vast majority of factory bike wheels originate there!
We are currently able to hold our prices steady despite the plunge in value of the £. The crunch will come when we have to re-order stock from our suppliers. These are all priced in either US Dollars or Euros so unless the £ has recovered in value some price rises are likely.
Since our last report we have completed a few events. At the beginning of June, Martin and Mark competed in the regional MTB orienteering event from Tipton St John in Devon. We know the area pretty well and finished 3rd overall but lost a bit too much time looking for a checkpoint in one of the less well trodden corners of Aylesbeare Common.
The following weekend, Mark traveled to Dover for the French Revolutions sportive. This is an event riding in France but starting very early (5.30am!) with a mass ride to the ferryport and breakfast on board. The timed ride started in Calais and had a flat start and finish. In between were some surprisingly hilly roads but great riding overall. Mark finished 6th or 7th overall out of around 800 entrants.
At the end of June it was the Dartmoor Classic sportive. This is very definitely hilly (6000ft+ in the 108km ride) but a great challenge. Despite being held up by a car for 10 miles(!) which wouldn’t overtake the riders in front, Team Spokesman all got round in Gold medal times with Mark just missing his 4hr target time by 8 seconds.
Following rapidly it was back to MTBs when Team Spokesman undertook the Trans-Cambrian Way in a group led by Phill of www.mtb.wales. This is a 3 day off-road ride from Knighton on the England /Wales border to the Dovey estuary on the western coast of Wales. We decided to go with an organised group as it took all the logistics of navigation, overnight stops and luggage away and allowed us to simple enjoy the ride and company. We were very pleased we took this decision as the correct route is very difficult to follow in places as there is no obvious track to follow. On a fairly challenging ride, the last thing you need is to miss a turn and have to cycle back us a steep hill!
If you are considering this ride, we would thoroughly recommend the services of Phill at www.mtb.wales for the friendly, knowledgeable and organised way in which it was arranged. The food and accommodation was a better standard than we expected too.
April 2016. A busy month with wheel orders. One niche which we have explored is 24″ MTB wheels for junior riders. A bit of research showed that the rims and wheels available in this size were really heavy and seemingly built down to a price rather than a quality. This is not helpful for anyone developing their skills and may even put a young rider off cycling for life. The exception we found was Stans Crest 24″ rims which are nice and light, tubeless compatible and look pretty good. Because 24″ wheels are likely to be a stepping stone to the larger sizes as the rider grows, we have come up with a formula which pairs multi axle compatible lightweight hubs with basic (cheap) spokes and alloy nipples. When the time comes to upgrade to a new frame/wheel size, the same hubs can be economically built into new wheels and the 24″ rims sold or passed on if not too battered.
Eventwise, only a couple in April. Firstly the Haldon Heroic CX Sportive/Enduro. Around 50 miles long and not timed except for 5 ‘special stages’ of off-road competion. The Spokesman team competed on MTBs and had some good results. Mark was 4th on a couple of stages and third overall on total time in the special stages. Unfortunately prizes were only offered to third place for each stage and not overall!
Later in the month came the Devon Dirt ride with around 425 entries. This is really an off-road audax although a certain amount of competition to get back in the first few was evident! Despite being overtaken by a few riders (sometimes more than once!) Mark came home first, as the faster boys got lost around the route!
A project which may be of interest is Mark’s £150 Saracen hybrid now fitted with Shimano Di2 electronic shifting gears. Not the usual Dura-Ace/Ultegra set-up but the 11 speed Alfine hub gear variation. Apart from the chain, there are now no external moving parts in the drivechain which hopefully will be virtually maintenance free. What we hadn’t appreciated at the start of this project was that Di2 is quite clever. If you simply build everything up and then plug in the battery, nothing works!! The system is designed so that a computer and (expensive) Shimano electronic gizmo is needed to make all the bits chat to each other and agree to work! Now we have the Shimano box, we can also activate/adjust the derailleur versions as well.
March 2016. A couple of events to report. Firstly the Wiggle Chalky Chaser MTB sportive on 13th March. A cold foggy start and a remarkably wet course give the recent dryer weather. Nothing too demanding technically but a good pedally XC event. Even taking it relatively easy, Mark finished 12th from 400ish with Martin a few places behind. A week later it was back on the road for the Mad March Exeter Excursion audax. Dry roads for a change and a nice route with excellent food stops. Ride time was around 4 hours for the 107km route which is OK for this time of year.
Wheel wise, we have been pretty busy. Lots of carbon road wheels and high quality 26″ MTB sets. It seems that the major suppliers are abandoning 26″ riders, leaving it to specialists like ourselves to fill the gap. We have sold out of some types of carbon rim but more are on their way from Carbonal.
February 2016. Hope hubs. Following a successful day at the annual Core Bike trade show, we can announce that Spokesman Wheels are now official dealers for Hope hubs. These are more expensive than our ‘house’ brand Novatec, but are made in the UK and designed expressly for UK riding conditions. We will be keeping black Hope MTB hubs in stock in QR,15mm and 12 x 142 formats but can get any of their wide range of colours and different formats within 48hrs.
We are also now Schwalbe tyre dealers and will be specialising in their tubeless products. Also Rohloff hubs for anyone wanting the ultimate in internal hub gears.
Re-stocks of Carbonal CX/Gravel bike rims, 38mm clincher rims and 20mm tubular rims have arrived.
Mark and Martin won the Mud and Sweat MTB Orienteering event on Dartmoor on Feb 7th. The weather leading up to and directly after the event was extremely wet and windy which made life pretty unpleasant for the organising team who set out the course (and collected the checkpoints after we had all gone home to a warm bath!). Full marks to M+S for running the event.
January 2016. Carbon rim delivery from Carbonal. The ultralight 20mm depth rims have nearly sold out within a couple of weeks so more are on order. New wider 38mm depth tubular rims for road and CX use with disc brakes and a range of carbon ‘gravel’ bike disc rims. See the Spokesman Wheels Ebay listings for pics and details.
On the event front, Mark completed the second Mud and Sweat XC night race at Plymouth. A real mix of sloppy mud woodland trails and estate roads/tracks made progress difficult at times. Overall result was 7th and second in veteren class. Mark took the decision to use the very low tread Thunder Burt tyres despite the conditions while most of the others had mud or knobbly tyres. On the woodland sections all tyres quickly clogged with mud and everybody ended up with the same lack of grip but the deeper tread carried an extra 2-3kg of mud around with them.
December 2015. Mark took part in the Mud and Sweat night time XC race at Haldon Forest nr Exeter. Despite losing out a bit in the uphill sprint to the first corner he worked his way back to 10th overall from around 140 starters.
Stans Alpha 340 and Alpha 400 rims are out of production! Stans NoTubes have stopped production of all rim brake rims, which is a real shame as we think they are the best lightweight rims for tubeless road use. We have secured some of the remaining stock in the UK. If you have a set of these which will be needing a rim change soon, get in contact with us. if you would like a set of fast, sturdy sub1400g road wheels, contact us for a quote.
November 2015. We are pleased to say that from Nov 20th we can now offer custom built tandem wheels at a better price due to a trade deal with the UK’s leading tandem component supplier. This includes hubs in 140mm and 145mm widths and rims in 36,40 48 hole drillings.
Wet and windy day for the Hill-O-Saurus MTB sportive at Corfe Castle. The forecast was worse than the reality but around 750 riders started anyway. A very nice route up and down the Purbeck Hills area of Dorset with stunning views out over the cliffs at Swanage – even in the rain! Mark pootled around steadily to finish 10th overall – the hell of Provence had obviously had a beneficial effect on the legs!
We are receiving an increase in enquiries for 26″ MTB wheels. Despite the fact that 27.5″/650b wheels are everything you always wanted (according to the manufacturers and magazines!) it is fairly obvious to us that the difference between the nominal 26″ and 27.5″ isn’t very much – in fact the spokes required for 27.5″ wheels are only 6-8mm longer. Don’t throw away your 26er just yet – there is plenty of life left in the format for everyday riders.
October 2015. Adventure/gravel bikes seem to be taking off in a big way. We have been making loads of disc brake wheels for road/off-road use – Stans Grail and Velocity Aileron rims being especially popular. Stans Grail wheels are fitted to the upper models in the highly regarded GT Grade adventure bike range. A couple of customers have twigged that they can get a set of Grail wheels from us for less than the upgrade cost between GT Grade models.
Team Spokesman recently returned exhausted from a short break in Provence to do the Vaucluse long distance MTB ride. Snaking around (and over) Mt Ventoux, this proved much more physically and technically challenging then we had expected from a ‘tourist board’ promoted route. Suffice to say that the easiest section was the off-road climb of Mt Ventoux!!!!!!!!!
Earlier in the month, Mark and Martin competed in the final SW MTB orienteering event of the year. Although Martin was suffering badly with a cold, we managed to get enough points to win our class on the day and win the series overall. So Spokesman are 2015 SW MTB pairs champs for the year!
September 2015. Team Spokesman turned out in full for the Moor2Sea sportive around Devon. All achieved gold medal times in their catagory which was satisfying given the pretty hilly nature of the course.
Ann and Mark have completed a 500 mile/10 day tour on the Velodyssey (EV1) route from Roscoff to La Rochelle. Largely good weather with a few showers. The main issue was wind on two days which reduced forward speed from around 20kph to under 10kph. At one point on the return crossing from Isle de Noirmoutier the headwind was so strong that we had to dismount and walk. Even then it was hard to keep up forward motion.
Wheelwise, Ann’s hybrid bike had a set of Stans Crest 29er wheels with 35mm Vittoria Voyager Hyper tyres fitted without inner tubes (in MTB tubeless style). These worked very well and provided a light and comfortable ride at 40-45psi. We have previously found that pressures over 55psi can lead to the tyre blowing off in the same way as MTB tyres can do.
VAT. Spokesman Wheels have been VAT registered from Sept 1st. We hope to be able to maintain our prices with just a very modest increase. Anyone who can possibly use our products for business purposes can, of course, now claim back the VAT.
August 2015. Mark took part in the London-Surrey 100 on 2nd August in much better weather than last year. Decent time (for an old fella) of 4 hrs 42 mins achieved on Carbonal 50mm depth tubular wheels with Vittoria Pave 25mm tubs.
Big delivery from Novatec of road and MTB hubs. 20h A291SB/SL superlight hubs now available again.
July 2015. The CX season is just around the corner and we are receiving a lot of orders for CX wheels, especially Stans iron cross and 38mm carbon tubular disc wheels. If you are planning to buy new CX wheels, don’t leave it to the last minute before ordering.
2 day BMBO mountain bike orienteering event on Dartmoor in good weather. Mark and Martin were in the top few overall and won the pairs catagory. One BMBO event left this season to see if they can win the series.
June 2015. Stocks of carbon rims have arrived. Apart from our usual range we are the first to receive some of the new Carbonal ‘Superlight’ range and some wider MTB rims in a new design. See the Current Stock page for details.
Recent events attended are the BMBO MTB orienteering event at Stinchcombe in the Cotswolds (3rd and 1st pair), Tour of Wessex sportive (Mark 5th) and the Nello 100 miler (6hrs with lots of cake stops!).
We also managed to fit in a short break in Provence, the highlight of which was a trundle up Mt Ventoux (Mark 1hr 35).
28th April 2015. We have had a number of recent enquiries for 650c road wheels for junior racers and TT riders in recent weeks. There isn’t much choice around so Carbonal are making us some carbon clincher and tubular 650c rims and we have found a source of Mavic Open Pro 650c rims in Europe.
27th April 2015. Two recent MTB events. Devon Dirt ride audax on 19th April was successful with Mark finishing 5th despite a couple of tumbles on rocky decents. The Wiggle Ups and Downs event in Dorking on April 25th was also looking good for a top 10 finish but a flint slashed Mark’s front tyre about 10 miles from the finish and delayed Mark and Martin by around 15 mins, dropping them to around 50th out of 600.
31st March 2015. Things are hotting up on the wheel front with the approach of spring. Road and touring bike wheels have been the main trend with quite a number of carbon sets being built.
A few recent events to report. Firstly the March Hare Audax on March 1st. A 4 man Team Spokesman completed the course on a fine but windy day. Without rushing too much (the food stops were rather fine!) we finished in 2nd-5th place – all on the same time.
Next was the Haldon Heroic on March 21st. This was brought to our attention by a customer who need some new wheels for the event. Billed as a Cyclocross Sportive, it was more of a CX Enduro in that there were timed off-road race sections and untimed travel between them (no need to rush in the feed stops!). Mark, Martin and Mike completed the Medio event. Mark and Martin used their MTBs while Mike had a new CX bike to try out. Everyone enjoyed the event and did respectably in competitive stages. Mark was fastest on two of the three timed stages and had the lowest total time for the Medio event.
Most recently a return to MTB orienteering for Mark and Martin for a 3 hour event on Woodbury Common and Exe Estuary area. We elected to cover the miles to get all the high score checkpoints while leaving some closer but lower score points unfound.
The policy worked pretty well. Mark and Martin finished second overall, won the pairs/team catagory and only lost out to an ex- National Champion orienteer.
23rd February 2015. The first events of the year are under our belts. Mark and Martin won the Mud and Sweat MTB orienteering event on Dartmoor on Jan 23rd followed by third in our first night time MTB orienteering event last week. This was run by BMBO from the Route 5 Diner at Haldon Hill near Exeter and was great fun. Nightime offroading is a bit new to us and thing look very different at night. Tree roots which you would sail over in daytime look twice as big when picked out with headlights and require caution.
Next up is the March Hare Audax on March 1st starting in Exeter.
25th January 2015. Mark has fitted a set of Velocity Aileron disc wheels to his Croix de Fer allrounder road bike with a set of 28mm Schwalbe One tubeless tyres. These are proving quite capable of keeping up with decent riders on the local club runs and give a comfortable ride (55psi front and 60psi rear with an 85kg rider). Mark tried them at 70 and 75psi but apart from giving a more jittery ride, they were actually slower over a known 40 mile distance.
5th January 2015. Delivery of Kinlin XR270 and XC279 deep section alloy rims in 20, 24 and 28 hole drillings. We can offer these for good value road wheel builds. The new stock rims are black with machined brake track without any decals.
20th December 2014. Good demand for wheels built using the new Stans Grail disc rims – enough to keep us busy over the holiday period!
17th November 2014. Team Spokesman have done a few events since the last update. At the end of September we road the Force Cancer Charity Autumn Storm on a clear but chilly Sunday. Not a timed event but a great route in an area of mid-Devon we don’t know very well.
Next up in mid October was a SW Cyclocross race at Escot House in Devon. I am a bit large/old for this sort of thing but finished just above halfway in a field of 118 (and third in class).
This was quickly followed by the Wiggle Circuit Breaker sportive from Silverstone motor racing circuit. My brother Julian had arranged a group of local riders to do their first 90 mile event and Martin and I were due to be the pacers. After about 25 miles it became clear that the group had a wide range of ability and so we split up and went at our own pace. Mark came in about 40th and Martin finished with Julian around 90th – all in gold award times.
November 15th was the Wiggle Hill-o-saurus MTB sportive from Swanage in Dorset – up and down the Purbeck Hills a few times and along the clifftops just west of Poole. A great ride. A perfect time was difficult as there were lots of competitors walking the hills and preventing anyone from riding up them! That and a broken chain slowed us down a bit but Mark still managed 15th overall. Martin about 10 minutes later – still well inside the Gold award time cut-off.
9 September 2014. To take account of the number of enquiries we are receiving for disc brake road wheels, we have added a bit of an overview on these to the Technical Blurb section.
26th August 2014. We are aware that a proportionally large part of the cost of a basic set of wheels for MTB, hybrid or tourer is taken up with labour cost. A set of £125 MTB wheels takes us as long to make as a set of £500 ones. Therefore we are considering offering self-build wheel kits to enable owners of older or less valuable bikes to replace worn out wheels with quality components at a lower cost.
Wheelbuilding is a skill which has to be learnt but it isn’t ‘rocket science’. Anyone with the sort of hand skills and logical thought used to build a kit car, model aeroplane or even Airfix kit should be able to build some useable wheels, even if it it takes quite a long time and tests your patience.
We are still working out the details on how this would work but if you are interested in having a go, get in contact. We wish to offer tried and tested combinations of components for wheel builds which we know are relatively straightforward.
12th August 2014. Ride London 100 weekend. After a gentle ride with 50,000+ others on the closed road 10 mile loop London Freecycle, the sportiive was a different challenge altogether! The first challenge was cycling across London from Pimlico to the Olympic Park for a 05.45 arrival. I don’t know London at all and don’t really do early mornings! It was an amazing experience just getting to the start. Rather like the Pied Piper, cyclists popped out of side turnings all along my route and we ended up in a tidal wave of bikes just getting to the start.
The event itself was really well organised but on a scale I haven’t seen before. The forecast of bad weather had made the organisers take out the two main climbs and decents on narrow roads which reduced the length to 87 miles. Given the amount a rain which fell during the event, this was the right decision. At some points we were riding through rivers flowing down the road at pedal depth.
With 25,000 riders, there is going to be plenty of opportunity to form into groups of a similar ability. I joined up with 5 or 6 riders from a club in Kent and we sped our way round the course. Despite the weather, it was a fast ride. My time was 3.53.28 which seems to be pretty OK for an old geezer. It was nice to overtake and beat Chris Boardman but humbling to have Marianne Vos fly past and take 20 mins out of my time!
1st August 2014. Sapim spoke supply situation has eased to a large degree with two sizable deliveries. We have also taken delivery of a bulk order of hubs from Novatec so are well stocked with both road and MTB hubs again.
21st July 2014. Ann, Peter and Mark completed the Devon Delight audax 108km ride. Lovely day for a ride around south Devon and the fringes of Dartmoor. It was Ann and Peter’s first 100km ride so we took it at a leisurely pace and had a decent lunch stop at the halfway point. it make a nice change to do an Audax as the atmosphere is much more relaxed and there isn’t any pressure to do ‘a good time’. (Unlike the Ride London 100 which I will be doing in a couple of weeks!)
30th June 2014. It has been a while since I last updated this page. Since mid May we have completed the Tour Of Wessex Stage 1 (7th), Dartmoor Classic Medio (20th out of 1600ish) and the 100 mile Nello ride for Force Cancer Charity (not timed and plenty of cake eaten!).
Next up is the Devon Delight ride on July 20th with the full Spokesman team. Again this is a non-timed charity event so cake will feature quite highly!
More seriously, we (and every other wheelbuilder) are experiencing supply problems with Sapim spoke products. Sapim can’t keep up with orders and we have been waiting 8 weeks so far for some sizes of black CX Ray. The ‘official’ explanation is the sudden increase in demand for spokes during the current cycling boom.
19th May 2014. Back from our travels and starting to catch up with enqiries made over last couple of weeks. Our break in Greece was excellent but we wouldn’t want to be doing offroad climbs of 1000m + with the weather any warmer than the 20-25 degrees we had. It is hard to carry enough liquid for longer rides and local wells/streams were used to top up on occasion.
27th April 2014. Exmoor Beauty sportive. What was meant to be an easyish season opener had a route change to the 2013 Exmoor Beast route a few days before the event. Apparently there had been threats of sabotage from local residents on along the original route.
The event itself was anything but a Beauty on a cool, grey and wet day. The Spokesman team started together but soon split up as the hills were encountered. Mark had a decent ride round and remembered to eat enough to prevent fading in the latter stages – time of 3.53 and 20th overall. Martin also did well to finish in 4.20 without having ridden a road bike since early March. Mark 2 found the hills a bit of a bore and decided to settle in to the feed station for a 3 course lunch which sort of affected his overall time!
29th March 2014. BMBO MTB Orienteering event starting form Postbridge iin central Dartmoor. Mark and Martin set off with plenty of vigour but unfortunately started in an area of woodland where the forest roads had been destroyed by logging machinery. This rather slowed them down and prevented access to some high score checkpoints at the other end of the mapped area. Despite a late surge collecting easy stations in Bellever Forest they finished 8th overall but won the pairs prize.
9th March 2014. Mud and Sweat MTB Orienteering event on northern Dartmoor starting from Okehampton. A beautiful day – the best of the year so far! The check points were mainly hidden in the military ranges which are normally a bleak and windswept part of Dartmoor but today the visibility was excellent and it was warm! Martin and Mark made a strategic mistake in missing one of the checkpoints in the middle of the moor in order to be able to collect the rest and get back to base on time. Unfortunately the going was so good that riders were travelling faster than normal and the Spokesman team got back to base with 30 mins to spare. A valient effort was made to get back onto the moor and collect the missed points in the time but had to be abandoned when it became clear that we weren’t going to get there and back.
Second place in our catagory isn’t too bad and it turned out that we had a big enough points margin from previous events to win the mini series overall by a whisker!
4th March 2014. First delivery of the new Ryde Trace 21XC lightweight MTB rims. The 29er versions are 10% lighter then the already light Stans Crest rim and have a assymetric spoke hole pattern to even up the spoke tensions on a disc wheel. We will build a test pair when we get a slot in our (busy) wheelbuilding schedule.
2nd March 2014. First road event of the year – the Exeter Mad March Hare. Although really a CTC organised 100km audax it attracts quite a lot of other riders for an early season event. Mark and Martin started gently and gradually overtook the slower riders. Unfortunately Martin made a nav error and went off route for a while but Mark trundled round at a respectable rate to come in 4th finisher. Strong southerly winds (and rain) meant 25mph+ on the flat going north and more like 10mph heading back to Exeter!
6th February 2014. Ryde Pulse Disc test ends this weekend and a customer has already asked to purchase the test pair. We are very impressed with these rims. Light, fast and pretty strong. The test pair has shrugged off wet and windy conditions without issue. Average speed on our test route of pockmarked Devon lanes has risen by about 6% but this figure is diffcult to be objective about as conditions have been very changable. The Pulses definitely feel faster uphill than the regular wheels on this bike.
1st February 2014. British Mountain Bike Orienteering event on Woodbury Common and Mutters Moor in Devon. Despite being a bit under par for various reasons Mark and Martin managed to finish fourth overall and second pair. It was interesting to compare the BMBO event with our local Mud and Sweat organisation. Both have held events from the same base in recent weeks. The BMBO event was more pressurised because the area covered was greater and the time allowed 30 mins less.
25th January 2014. We have made up a set of Ryde Pulse Disc road rims with Novatec hubs, Sapim Laser spokes and Schwalbe Ultremo R tyres for test purposes. We chose Laser spokes as they will show up any weaknesses in the rim as they are quite flexible. Mark is using them on his Genesis Croix de Fer steel framed CX bike for general road riding on the Devon lanes. First signs are pretty good. They ride well and are firmer than the previous 32mm tyres (which is to be expected). More detail when we have put in some miles. If all goes well, these wheels will be sold off as ‘ex-demo’ in a few weeks so if you would be interested, let us know.
6th January 2014. First event of the year for Team Spokesman. Mark and Martin competed in and won the Mud and Sweat MTB orienteering event held on and around Woodbury Common in Devon. For the first time we got to all the checkpoints and back to HQ with 90 seconds of the 3.5 hour event left on the clock. Roughly 100 people entered on a pretty wet and muddy day which was an excellent turnout.
3rd January 2014. First delivery of the exciting new rims from Ryde. There is a new range of Ryde Pulse for road use and Ryde Trace for MTBs. First in stock are the Ryde Pulse Disc which weigh a minimal 330g (80g lighter than the Stans Alpha 340 disc). We plan to build a pair using Sapim Laser spokes to test their strength in general road use..
1st January 2014. Annual Spokesman stock-take. Probably one of the more useful things to do on a miserable day but after counting and checking nearly 17,000 spokes, 700 hubs and 400 rims we were glad when we were done!
14th Nov 2013. Apologies for the lack of news and updates in recent weeks. The website host has been suffering ‘technical issues’ which meant we couldn’t access the site to add/edit;
31 October 2013. Big day. Delivery lorry arrives full of boxes containing 800 hubs and bits from Novatec in Taiwan. Much delayed for various reasons but now finally here. Details are on the stock page but there is a good mix of superlight stuff for ‘sporting’ use and more rugged bits for training/commuting/everyday use. The DHL driver was a bit miffed because we didn’t have a fork lift to unload and he and Ann did it all by hand!
20th October 2013. The Exmoor Beast. A tough course traditionally held in grim weather! This year the weather was kind to us and it only rained for the first 10 miles and the wind was a bit less than the usual gale. The new HQ at Tiverton is much easier to reach than Minehead for most people. Mark and Martin started towards the end of the start time window in order to avoid needing lights to see where we were going. The new course was the usual mix of hills and more hills topped off by the full monty ascent of Dunkery Beacon after 40 miles – a real leg tester as it is 15-25% incline all the way apart from a quick breather about one third up. Luckily, after that there were only a couple more hills and then it was gently undulating back to Tiverton. Mark’s target time was 4 hrs and he just squeaked in with 3.56. 26th from 1500 overall and 3rd Vet over 50. Martin cruised in a few minutes later having stopped to chat to someone before crossing the timing line.
6th October 2013. Martin completed the gruelling Hell of the West CX/MTB 86km event on Dartmoor. Held on one of the best days of the year, this is a tough course where the CX bikes fly away on the flat and road sections and the MTBs catch up and zoom by on the rougher bits. Overall the 2 bike types are well matched but the CX riders looked well shook up by the end
30 September -8th October 2013. Ann, Mark and Peter traveled to the Puglia region of Italy for a spot of touring in the warm. Booked through Inntravel in the UK, the tour was organised by a local agent who provided us with good hybrid bikes and all the routes to follow. Our main luggage was transported to the next destination so we only had to carry a day pannier with a few tools and spares. A very interesting part of Italy with UK standard roads (OK but not brilliant) and was very quiet away from the towns. On one 55km section of road we only saw 10 moving things and 3 of those were cows in the road! &
29th September 2013. Mud and Sweat MTB Enduro on Dartmoor. First time entry for Mark in one of these events which are rather like Rally GB. You complete a number of timed course sections individually and have time to rest/pedal to the next section start in between. On the first 6km section all went well until Mark hit a granite rock hidden in the water in one of the many drainage gully crossings and did a not very graceful forward loop onto another granite boulder beside the trail. A couple of minutes were lost counting the stars and massaging a whacked shoulder. Thank goodness for helmets or it could have been a lot worse. Mark carried on with the stage and finished the event. Apart from a slit tyre on stage 3 which needed a tube to be put in (losing another 3 minutes) the event was fun. On the final 9km uphill stage Mark took nearly 3 minutes off the next fastest time to finish 5th overall and 1st Senior.
22nd September 2013. Mark and Martin complete the Wiggle Ex-Terminator in Gold medal times. Mark came home 5th in the 70 mile with a time of 3.53 and Martin a couple of minutes back.
19th September 2013. Mark’s first closed road race at Tour of Britain support event in Sidmouth. The oldest competitor (by some margin!) among the lean teens and twenty somethings. Rather lacking in racecraft, Mark let the bunch get too far ahead in the lap behind the pace car giving himself a 200m handicap before the actual start! After that it was trying to catch up and passing racers as they tired. Mark finished about two thirds of the way down the field but was lapped by the leading bunch! Good fun though
11th August 2013. 7 Spokesman team riders completed the Jurassic Classic sportive in August. Best result was Mark who was 29th from 565 in the 100k. Special mention must go to Ann and Karen, competing in their first event, who came 43rd and 45th overall from nearly 200 on the 50k route.
11th July 2013 Stans Alpha and Iron Cross rims finally arriving tomorrow after a 8 week wait for a shipment from the US. See stock page for details
1st July 2013. Team Spokesman complete the 100 mile Force Cancer Charity ride in 5hrs 30 mins. Not too shabby for a bunch of old timers – average age 57! Also known as the Nello ride, this one sets off from Topsham near Exeter and follows the River Exe up and over Exmoor before returning via South Molton and Crediton.
28th June 2013. First set of tubeless wheels using the new tubeless ready Velocity A23 rim. Fitted with Stans yellow tape and tubeless valves with the very latest Schwalbe 23mm tubeless tyres – as used by a certain F Cancellara! They tyres went on easily and inflated / sealed first time The customer, JR, is local and a first time tubeless user. I will be getting progress reports of how he finds living with them
Update September 2013: JR has reported that our local ‘test’ hill – Peak Hill near Sidmouth is noticably easier with the new wheels. He completed his first sportive on his new wheels at the Wiggle Exterminator in Devon. Rode really well to get a Gold medal time and be in the top 10% overall – well done! He thinks he may have picked up a thorn puncture along the way because he heard a hissiing but it sealed without losing any noticable pressure. One of the joys of tubeless tyres. These currently look like being an economical (if slightly heavier) alternative to the Stans Alpha range.
24th June 2013. Dartmoor Classic sportive. A wet, cool and windy day on Dartmoor but a huge turnout. A lot of the 100 mile riders changed route at the first feed station due to the conditions making 2300 riders for the 110km course I was doing. I found it difficult to form a group with riders of a similar speed and spent a lot of the day towing a little train behind! 68th overall and 3rd in my age group isn’t too bad but not as good as previous years.
29th May 2013. Tour of Wessex sportive. I only did the Saturday leg of the event due to other commitments but finished the 73 mile ride in a time of 3.55.01. It currently looks like the second fastest time of the day
23rd May 2013. Back from Provence in one piece. Legs a bit tired though! What a wonderful place for cycling. Little traffic, smooth road surfaces, wonderful scenery and great food. The weather wasn’t brilliant (it was warmer in the UK!) but we got out and about for a couple of ‘Col collecting’ routes of 70-80 miles before tackling Mt Ventoux on the only clear day we had.
What a great climb. We warmed up with a (fairly hilly) 20 mile ride to Bedoin to do the same climb as the Tour de France riders will do in the summer. This is considered the hardest route but compared to UK climbs, it isn’t very steep at 10% average gradient. However, it just goes on and on for a very long time without any flat bits to get a breather I (Mark) got up in 1hr 45 mins which isn’t too bad for an 85kg old geezer and Spokesman rider Martin just crept in under the 2hr mark. Cycling in Devon is good training for this sort of thing – riders from other countries were really struggling in the top half. The picture shows me about 1.5km from the top and looking a bit knackered
I am still very impressed with the Stans Alpha 400 wheels I am using. I changed to some lighter IRC tubeless tyres before we left and this combination was great both for climbing and the downhill runs of up to 30km. Travelling at 40mph+ came a bit blase at one point – tight hairpins beside a 1000′ drop tend to get your attention though
We stayed at a great British run B+B in the next valley to Mt Ventoux but with a clear view of the summit from their front window. Nick and Tracy produced a superb breakfast each day to fuel us on our rides. They don’t advertise, prefering word of mouth recommendations but can be contacted at
15th May 2013. The Spokesman team are heading off to southern France for a spot of wheel testing in the mountains. Actually it’s a lads long weekend of wine, beer and good food at the foot of Mt Ventoux with the option of having a trundle up the mountain if we get up in time.
23rd April 2013. Results just in from the Exmoor Beauty. I had a decent ride and finished in 20th place and first rider over 50 from a field of about 980. An unscheduled loo stop and general lack of energy in the last 5 miles cost around 10 places. My mistake was not eating enough in the middle hours of the event. By the time you are feeling deadbeat, it is too late Still, the Stans Alpha wheels with their tubeless tyres sailed serenely over everything the gravel laden and pot holed lanes could throw at them while others dropped back with punctures
15th April 2013. Spokesman team victorious in the Mud and Sweat MTB competition held on the Quantock Hills in Somerset yesterday. Mark and Martin won the long pairs event and the series overall with a clean sweep of 3 wins from 3 events.
it was a tough event with some long climbs and great singletrack decents.Mark took a bit of a tumble while avoiding a 4WD and horse box which had parked across a Byway while Martin suffered progressively worse cramp in his legs in the last half hour of the event. Next event is the Exmoor Beauty sportive on Sunday 21st April.
31st March 2013. More miles on both the tubeless road bike and the 8.9kg Chinese 29er. The tubeless road tyres have maintained their pressure over a month and about 350 miles of Devon lanes – very impressed so far
The 1400g 29er wheels have settled down now although I did tear the rear tyre sidewall of the on a sharp flint on a 25 mph downhill singletrack run. The rim got dinked before I could stop, but sealed up again properly after a bit of a whack with some wood.
3rd March 2013. First road event of the season and first win on Stans Alpha wheels and tubeless tyres. The Spokesman team of Mark and Martin came first and third in the Exeter Mad March Hare audax event. The 104km course was bumpy, potholed, icy in parts and virtually every metre had mud from tractors on the surface. The wheels were completely unaffected by any of this – not bad for 1425g ‘race’ wheels.
28th Feb 2013. First road event of the season coming up on Sunday. The 100km Exeter Mad March Hare will be a chance to try out the latest Stans Alpha 400 rims fitted with Hutchinson Fusion 3 tubeless tyres
16th Feb 2013. First ride out on Gaea 29er. 28 miles on and around Woodbury Common in Devon. The light weight is immediately obvious on road ride to Woodbury. Capability of rigid frame and forks on stoney and muddy trails is quite an eyeopener. Who needs suspension! Martin tries the bike for a long offroad climb and scampers off into the distance leaving the rest of us puffing in his wake. Not suprisingly, the lightweight wheels need a bit of truing when we get back. Whether this will settle down after a few rides remains to be seen. If so, I will offer the wheel build to MTB riders looking for the ultimate in weight saving.
13th Feb 2013. Carbonal Gaea 29er MTB build completed. Spec is Carbonal frame, forks, seatpost, bars and stem in UD matt carbon. Shimano XT 2 x 10 groupset, Quad Nano 180/160 disc brakes and of course some ultralight Spokesman Wheels. Total bike weight inc pedals 8.9kg.
Mark and Martin win Mud and Sweat MTB Orienteering event on South Dartmoor. Conditions were difficult with areas of the upper moorland extremely wet. Highlight was riding down a steep grassy slope which had been turned into a 75m wide river by the amount of water running off the moor.
30th Jan 2013. New Carbonal Gaea carbon 29er MTB frame set arrives from China (with some carbon tubular rims as well). Lightweight MTB build starts in spare time between wheels
2nd Dec 2012. Mark and team partner Martin win Mud and Sweat MTB orienteering event on East Dartmoor. Quite a nice day by Dartmoor standards. Local knowledge helped as other teams got bogged down on a long muddy track to reach a high score checkpoint. We avoided this and gathered 3 or 4 lower score checkpoints in the same time which gave us the advantage. Wheel deep flood just before the finish cooled us off nicely!