The other day I was asked a question by a friend, who I’ve known for a good 15 years now.

“Do you still enjoy building wheels?”

Its a fair question, I’ve been building wheels for 25 years now… Not constantly as Beespoke, but for companies, shops, individuals, friends and obviously myself. So you’d think by now I’d be bored of it, maybe become a little stagnant, lacking enthusiasm etc.

The process of measuring rim and hub dimensions, cutting and rolling spokes to the appropriate length, prepping the spokes, nipples and in some cases washers. Lacing up the wheel, feeding each spoke, nipple and washer in by hand, slowing bringing the wheel into the required tension, stressing the wheel several times along the way, before the final truing.

Bringing the initial client discussion from an idea, into a physical form consisting of a custom built pair of wheels, where the lucky new owner then collects them. Seeing their eyes light up on first holding their new investment is such a great feeling that will never grow old.

Feedback from clients after the first few rides, is the icing on the cake. Especially if the initial discussion had a noticeable leap of faith from the client, perhaps having never had a pair of hand built wheels built before.

I don’t enjoy building wheels, I absolutely love it!

Second Anniversary!

Wow… Is it really Beespoke’s second anniversary!

It’s been a challenging 12 months, experiencing the natural down turn of last winter, however activity in the workshop increased earlier than expected this January, only for the whole Covid thing to begin and the UK to enter full lockdown by the end of March… This began a period of uncertainty for the beespoke workshop… 

Yes we were allow to ride our bikes and thankfully those in the cycle industry were the lucky few, enabled to continue trading, but would anyone want to spend their money on some shiny new wheels, during a period that no one could predict.

Well indeed you have, to which I am immensely grateful for your support. Wheels have been flying out of the workshop, to both new and repeat customers, you have been travelling from all over the North West, Peak District and North Wales to collect your new wheels, while meeting the builder of said wheels, “obviously inline with social distancing guidelines” It’s truly humbling for me that you guys are willing to travel to meet me, only to be bored witless with my geeky wheel knowledge. 🤣

Although busy, this summer has not been a walk in the park, timescales of deliveries, component availability and patience’s “mainly mine” have been and are continuing to be a real challenge. Again I’m so grateful to all my customers, the patience & understanding that you have all showed has been truly outstanding, waiting weeks and in some cases months for components to arrive. Chapeau 👏

I’d also like to thank other cycle shops & businesses, who have provided support for my hand built wheels over proprietary wheels. 💪

You are all amazing and I couldn’t continue to do what I love without you, I look forward to seeing you all over the coming months and hopefully years.

For now though, here’s to the next 12 months, lets face it who know what could happen 🤷‍♂️



Why buy handbuilt wheels?

Its a good question and I’m sure something a lot of riders think about when buying a pair of wheels. Because lets face it, after the frameset its generally the largest single outlay to a bike build or upgrade.

There are lots of very appealing factory wheelsets out there at very attractive prices, internationally known reputable brands like Mavic, Fulcrum, Shimano, Hunt etc. So why would you even consider what is essentially a bloke in a shed. Ok I’m not quite a bloke in a shed but you know what I mean.

Well firstly…

The main selling point of most branded wheels is their weight. It’s a handy point of reference and in black and white, it’s easy to compare before you use them, X is lighter than Y, therefore X is better. But something Keith Bontrager, one of the California mountain bike pioneers, said, “strong, light, cheap – pick two.” An awful lot of branded wheels are light and relatively cheap, but not very strong, and that’s often because they’re aimed at racers. If you’re choosing racing wheels, light weight is often more important than durability, and therefore factory wheels tick a lot of boxes, but a lot of race wheels are only really made for racing, fair-weather training and riders around their race weight. That makes them a bad choice for anyone who’s going to be using them all year round, especially bad for commuters, who often require reliability from their components above all else and put in a surprisingly high number of miles.

The easiest way to save weight is to use a lighter, weaker, alloy for the rims and to reduce the number of spokes. But this means that the rims will wear out faster and also that each spoke has a wider range of forces to deal with as the wheel is ridden. The latter increases the onset of metal fatigue and shortens the life of the spoke. Which brings me on to my next point…

I’ll happily replace spokes on pretty much any wheel, including the more arcane designs, if I can get hold of replacement spokes, sometimes these aren’t always available in the uk which says a lot. But that lightweight rim material wears faster than normal, especially in grotty uk conditions or if not kept clean, and it may be weaker and more easily buckled if your wheel takes a knock. Most wheel manufacturers also make it prohibitively expensive, and sometimes deliberately difficult, to replace the rim with a new one. It often works out about the same price, and sometimes cheaper, to simply buy the same complete wheel over again and that’s the way the manufacturers like it – this way, they sell more wheels. I have a prime example of this in the Beespoke workshop, a Mavic Ksyrium SLS rear wheel where the rim is worn out, can I get a replacement rim… Nope, so we have a £400 rear wheel that in a few years has become a disposable item!

Whereas a hand-built wheel will almost always be easier to repair and therefore less expensive, if a spoke breaks. It will also be a relatively inexpensive and straightforward process to replace the rim, which makes it much more economically viable and a lot less wasteful. It’s usually possible to transfer a hub and spokes to a replacement rim several times, making a good hub and a good build much more economical in the long term.

Top-end branded wheels are fantastic. They’re incredibly light and very stiff and often use exotic and beautiful technologies but, following Keith Bontrager’s theory, they’re often eye wateringly expensive. Few branded wheels are sold on the basis of their strength because it’s often hard to quantify and compare, whereas it’s easy to advertise a weight saving. But if you look closely at the wheels used by riders on the Paris-Roubaix, one of the toughest cycle races in the world, they are almost always hand-built and have at least 28 spokes. The same goes for the wheels used by downhill mountain bikers, fully-laden long-distance tourers, trials riders or any of the other cyclists who place high demands on their wheels. This is because a good wheelbuilder can build a wheel with a high, even spoke tension that withstands greater loads, for much longer, than any factory or machine-built wheel.

A hand-built wheel certainly doesn’t have to be heavier or more expensive than a branded alternative, I’ve built more wheels than I can remember over the last 20 years, for a vast range of users ranging from feather-light racers to touring tandem riders, including plenty of hardy commuters along the way. Over these years I’ve gained my knowledge and will happily discuss the technical and physical merits of different components, designs, technologies and materials, or of course you can just leave it all to me and trust me to build a good wheel.

Many people think that wheel building is a dark art… And looking at it from the outside, it probably seems that way, but it isn’t really, however to consistently build strong, durable wheels requires knowledge, skill and practice, these qualities can’t be taught, they are learnt over years of wheel building. I’ll probably never know everything there is to know and I’ll never stop learning either, but I know my wheels are good and customers who are riding my wheels confirm this, so I’d like to think I’m doing something right.

Bike Love

Well after owning this bike for the last 8yrs, she’s so close to being finished…

In her early years, she was fixed wheel and ridden hard around a few Sleepless in the Saddle 24hr events, then a 3 day 185mile charity ride saw the addition of a freewheel and a rear brake.

Soon after the new born towpath warrior completed the 97mile Cheshire Canal ring in a day. Over the following few years she settled into her local area, being used to pootle around town and trips to the pub etc…

However in recent months the love for her has been rekindled and the very recent addition of some stunning wheels, just cements the fact.

So just a couple more things to do, probably a new saddle will be soon, along with some special pedals currently being worked on… And then she’ll be finished. Hope you love her as much as I do ❤️

A big thanks to Sam at Singular Cycles for starting it all, many moons ago.



Its all a bit wooden

Definitely exciting times at Beespoke, lots of continuous hard work updating the website with an increasing amount of amazingly good quality products from all over the world, with the latest being a very nichetastic from Italy.

Ghisallo…….. who I hear you say, little known in the UK, but Ghisallo family have been handcrafting wooden rims for last 70 years, they are pieces of artwork on their own. However laced up onto a shiny high quality large flanged hub and they become exquisite.

12345 Ghisallo

Beespoke are proud to introduce these rims into the uk direct from Italy.

These rims aren’t for everyday use, nor are they intended for competition use. However if you’re wanting something a little bit special for that classic steel road bike, then these are the rims for you.

Build time for these are different to normal alloy or carbon rim, these wooden rims take time, each stage of the build must be individual and broken down into stages, this provides the wood to settle, doing this minimises the stress through the rim and reduces unnecessary maintenance in the future.

So if your local to Macclesfield, look out for a retro looking steed with a unique pair of wheels coming soon……