In recent months, what is to most of us a web -based company called ProWheelbuilder.com, has been coming up more and more often in discussion threads regarding tandem wheels. For the most part, their specs for tandem wheels have been pretty reasonable, even when customers have been chasing dubious goals, i.e., super lightweight wheels in their quest for bragging rights on super-light tandems while eschewing the far more pricey and perhaps less reliable boutique racing wheels.
As is often my habit, I decided to see if I couldn’t learn a little bit more about the firm than was offered in their “About Us” blurb which, in and of itself, was actually a pretty good news story, i.e., evolution from small LBS into speciality bicycle business which I’ve quoted below:
Pro Wheel Builder was established in 1997 as an extension of a Las Vegas bicycle shop (Cyclery N Cafe later know as Pro Cyclery). At that time we had developed our highly sought-after Cappuccino, Latte and Espresso branded wheels which entailed Velocity or Zipp rims and White Industries or DT Hugi hubs. In 2006 Pro Wheel Builder established itself as a separate corporation and developed its Prowheelbuilder.com website. Prowheelbuilder now occupies its own space in Las Vegas NV. We have over 60 years of wheel building experience to handle all your wheel building needs Since its inception, Prowheelbuilder inc. has built several thousand wheels and has developed numerous systems and machines to insure consistency, accuracy and reliability. Prowheelbuilder is constantly striving to improve upon design standards and provide accurate information about what entails a good wheel design.
There was also the ubiquitous, albeit dated Google Profile of PWB.com owner Richard Craig that was a bit more revealing:
- I am very passionate about everyone and thing I am involved with such as my Children, my Wife, Bicycle Racing and Riding and Business.
- Born in 1971 I have been married since 1995 and owned my Bicycle Shop (ProCyclery) since 1994. My current business (Prowheelbuilder.com) was established in 1997 and went online in 2006. It currently is what takes up most of my time.
- I am a Category 2 USAC licensed rider and a Expert XC and DH licensed rider. Top age grouper in Multisport events.
- I am a event promoter for both bicycle races and charity rides. I am a USA Cycling official since 1998.
- I have built 3 human powered landspeed record bikes (one of which has officially reach 58 mph).
However, the real treasure chest was an excellent piece on Bill Palladino’s now somewhat dormant Blog, LostGears, where he spent a day visiting Richard Craig at ProWheelbuilder.com’s storefront in Las Vegas back in April 2008. It’s a fascinating article replete with many photos and insights into both the man behind ProWheelbuilder.com and the business itself. You can find the Blog Entry here: Richard Craig – ProWheel Builder Dot Com.
The crux of the Prowheelbuilder.com business model is revealed in the interview and it really struck a chord with me, as it’s the same bicycle and tandem wheel philosophy that I’ve held for many years. From Bill’s interview with Richard (RC):
RC: “From there, only about a year and a half ago we decided to see what we could do with an all custom brand. At that point a lot of the wheels being sold were pre-built. They were obviously really good wheels, and they really had everyone’s best interest at heart in terms of value. As it turns out, as we looked at the market closer we figured we could offer a better value, more uniqueness. It was really a matter of trying to shake people out of that lull of buying prefab stuff. So it seems we got into at just the right time, and then we decided to introduce the website. That has been a major undertaking.”
“The fallacy we were fighting was one that suggested the set of pre-built wheels you could buy for let’s say $1200 bucks was superior to a set you could have built custom for $700 bucks. I believe that to be just a misconception. Anymore you can build a custom wheel that’s lighter, more durable, and less proprietary.”
Again, let me encourage readers who want to learn more about Richard Craig’s ProWheelbuilder.com to visit and read the blog entry at LostGears. Bear in mind that the article was written over 2-years ago and it would appear that Richard has put some additional builders on staff, i.e., 60 years of experience which would be Richard’s 28 + one or two other builder’s experience. Also, those who have read and swear by Jobst Brandt’s book, The Bicycle Wheel, may take umbrage to at least one comment regarding wheel physics, but if they can look past that everything else is spot-on for what I’d be looking for in a wheel builder. Great stuff to be sure.