October 21, 2012
If you haven't noticed, it's cyclocross season in the Northern Hemisphere. Hardly a more fun spectator sport has been invented and some participants claim it's added decades to their lives. Tomorrow (10/21/2012) will be a wet and celebratory CCX event at Seattle's Magnuson Park. 27 races, categories including Jr Boys and Girls Grades 3-5, beginners Women, Little Kids, and the usual suspects. A little sloppy? Some families coming home muddy?
Good times like no other cycle sport. There's perhaps no competitive cycling event for which wood rims can make such a contribution. Immunity from dents, super smooth handling, shock absorption galore, light weight, what's not to love. And that love has quite a history.
Brian Palmer of the well-known and eclectic Scottish blog, thewashingmachinepost.net, recently took possession of a pair of Ghisallo clincher wheels, thanks to Jude Kirstein of Portland's Sugar Wheelworks. She must have done a good job because Brian's been raving since. Recently, he wrote:
i have fitted a set of cx tyres to the wood rimmed wheels built by jude at sugar and found them to be the most incredible clincher rims for use when playing at cyclocross (29mm width helps). however, perhaps not unnaturally, those cork pads have worn away the varnish on the braking surface. does this part of the rim need to be treated in any way (teak oil for instance) to aid weather proofing, or will it survive on its own just fine? more folks ought to be riding wood.
(1) Check brake pad surfaces. They may have a glaze-like coating made from the rim lacquer. Easy to remove with a bit of sandpaper. Not harmful, no need to remove all of it, don't reduce the pad's thickness more than necessary.
(2) The rims left entirely untreated in Seattle, where it rains more than not, seem to thrive. The wood is unaffected. However, all the examples I have are bikes stored indoors overnight. Unheated (preferable) and dry shelter is best. Any amount of wet during the day is fine..
(3) I prefer oil for hardwoods. I'd use teak oil on the rims if I made them. No varnish. Would also add about 20% Daly's Profin Satin to Watco Teak oil. The point is adding some solids to the Watco (that works fine without Daly's). But, together, they seem the best. I'd just rub oil generously on the brake surface, let soak in for a couple hours, and wipe off as much as your cloth will carry. Many a fine wood boat can endure decades with such treatment.
So, I recommend oiled wood for bike wheels. Don't treat them as often as your chain. One or twice a year is plenty. Enjoy your cross and mix your materials!
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