It has been a challenging couple of TotallyTandem weeks. Riding with randomly breaking spokes, the total has now reached 12 in about 12 days of riding; 6 on the front and 6 on the rear wheel. We like to keep things in balance.
As it turns out, replacing spokes is relatively easy, if not a little frustrating when you manage only 15km between breakages. Truing a wheel however, is a whole other skill. But one, as it turns out, that I have become a little better at. The front wheel got the thumbs up from Matt at Black Mountain Bicycles in San Diego. We were super lucky to find them online, and Matt is one of the best bike mechanics in Southern California. And we couldn’t have found him at a better time.
He has built us the strongest wheel ever. Instead of our 32 spoke factory built wheel with cheap spokes, we are now running a ‘Sun Ringle MTX 31 rim’ (which is one of the strongest mountain bike rims around) and 40 ‘Wheel Smith’ spokes on a DT Swiss 540 hub. It looks amazing and we are feeling much more confident about Falkor’s ability to make it into Central America without popping spokes every few kms. Not only did Matt do a great job on our new wheel, he managed to sell our original DT Swiss hub, saving us a considerable amount. What a legend!
Having spent 2 hours building our new wheel, we were ready to fit it on the bike when he noticed all the World Bicycle Relief stickers on our panniers. He was pretty impressed with our charity work and decided to generously donate all his labor time towards our touring goal. Unbelievable!
He is definitely one of the best bike mechanics I have ever seen working on a wheel. If you are out there touring through San Diego and are in need of some bike help, this is without question, the best place to go. Check them out here http://blackmountainbicycles.com
One of the benefits of beginning our long distance self-supported tour through Canada & the States, was to have the ability to sort out any gear and mechanical failures. Addressing this major mechanical failure just before we hit the Mexican border, I guess that has really paid off.
It is a pretty disappointing situation that Hase can build and sell a bike for touring, with some exceptional components on it, but then skimp on the quality of the wheels. It doesn’t really make sense. We have found through this situation, the wheel build and spokes used are nowhere near the quality they advertise on their website. In our opinion, this is a flaw that we did not expect from such a reputable company. For people looking into the Hase Pino tandem for this type of trip, I would recommend using your local bike shop before you start your tour, to customize the build so you have some control over the quality of wheels that you will be using. It may cost a little more, but a 32 spoke factory-made rim is not up to the rigors of a fully loaded tandem. But who knows, perhaps in the future Hase will consider offering custom options for the Pino. It would be pretty awesome and would make so much sense. For us, it has meant learning a lot. And luckily, we have had the great fortune of finding Matt at Black Mountain Bicycles and getting a magic custom-built wheel to keep us trucking.
Thanks Matt and Thanks Black Mountain Bikes! Your time and generosity are TotallyAwesome! Cheers!