I can honestly say it was really nice riding on our 36°conventional wheelset during last Sunday’s 65-mile Tour de Cure event. Nice, because (a) they delivered a great ride and (b) I never gave them a second thought.
While conventional wheels still have their issues — most of which these days are associated with folks building wheels for tandems who really don’t know how to build tandem wheels — by and large they tend to be rock solid, dependable and deliver 10’s of thousands of trouble-free miles when they are built by a tandem pro.
The wheels on our Calfee were built by the late John Kovachi here in Marietta, Georgia. Sadly, John passed back in Oct 2011 at the very young age of 48; he was an icon in the local cycling and national BMX world. He built a total of four wheelsets for us over the years and with easily over 20,000 miles on those wheels none of them has ever gone out of true or had any other issues. I wish I could say the same about all of my wheel builds. I got pretty good at it, but after struggling with a wheelset several years back I decided to go with the pros for our tandem wheels.
Speaking of which, I’ve got to throw out a big thank you to Mel Kornbluh at Tandems East who just built up a new set of wheels for our triplet. Despite being slammed with other work, Mel worked us in and delivered an awesome set of White Ind / Velocity Dyads for our Precision Triplet in no-time at all such that we were ready to roll on those new hoops at last weekend’s Georgia Tandem Rally.
The only thing I had to do was remove the yellow & red rim decals, throw on some tires, a disc rotor, cassette and skewers and we were really to roll! And boy did they roll… not so much as a squeak or peep out of the spokes on the first ride! That, my friends, is impressive. It’s not often that you throw a brand new set of freshly built tandem wheels on a tandem with 400lbs of riders and not hear at least a couple spokes unwind with a slight “tink”. Not so with Mel’s wheels.
Therefore, and just like our Calfee on Sunday, it was really nice riding on our 40°/48° conventional wheelset on Friday & Saturday at GTR. Nice, because (a) they delivered a great ride and (b) I never gave them a second thought.
So, does this mean Team Livingood is done dabbling with boutique wheelsets? Perhaps. There is always part of me that likes to learn more about some of the newer offerings. However, given the cost of our 4-year experiment including the now retired Topolinos, I’m not sure how quickly I’m jump in to another $$ wheelset just for sh*ts and giggles.