Terry Shaw of Lightweight Cycles who seems to keep up with such things, reported on the passing of Mr. Phil Wood this past Sunday, March 14th in a posting to the Classic Rendezvous mailing list today. Per Mr. Shaw’s note, Mr. Wood had been battling cancer for some time. Other reports have noted that Mr. Wood — 83 — passed at his daughter’s home in Roseville, California.
I don’t know anyone who considers themselves a tandem enthusiast who doesn’t recognize the name Phil Wood. With some prodding and assistance from Spence Wolfe, Mr. Wood founded the company that bears his name, Phil Wood & Co., in 1971 to produce maintenance-free sealed bearing hubs for cyclists. Although Mr. Wood retired and sold his interest in the company to current owner Peter Enright in 1991, Mr. Wood’s legacy and reputation for outstanding design, manufacture, assembly and support is unsurpassed in the bicycle component industry and his company remains the oldest American cycling component manufacturer.
Mr. Wood was an innovator who introduced the first sealed bearing hubs, bottom bracket cartridges and pedals to the cycling community and also designed and manufactured the first ovalized, tandem-specific tubing for tandem frames builders. Although it ultimately may have been a watershed product, Mr. Wood also developed and patented the first modern bicycle disc brake. Other patented inventions included a spoke cutting and threading machine that manually cuts and thread a spoke to a desired length in seconds that remains in use by Campagnolo, DT, Shimano, HED, Wheelsmith, MARWI and approximately 1000 other wheel builders throughout the world. Phil Wood & Co. is also renown for it’s excellent Waterproof grease and Tenacious oil both of which I’ve had in my tool box for well over 20 years.
Readers can find an excellent story on both Mr. Wood and more about the history of the company in an article by William-Arthur Haynes that appeared in the San Jose Business Journal on December 5, 2009 entitled, “Phil Wood bike parts maker is original open source model“.
According to an update to an article posted by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, a memorial service for Phil and his wife, Vada, who passed away a few years ago, will be held on April 17, at the Calgary Baptist Church in Los Gatos, California, at 11:00 a.m. Phil is survived by his six children.