Blunt SL: Twenty Nine Inches Top Ten Product of 2011

Over the course of the last few weeks, Mark aka Guitar Ted has been unveiling his Top Ten Products of 2011 over at Twentynineinches.com.  We were privileged to have the Blunt SL to be selected at #8. Read, his final thoughts below and check out his reviews of the Blunt SL over the course of 2011 (Out of the Box, First ImpressionsMid-term, Final)

Top Ten 29″er Products of 2011: Velocity Blunt SL Wheels

December 15th, 2011 by Guitar Ted

Top Ten 29″er Products of 2011: Velocity Blunt SL Wheels: by Guitar Ted

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.
1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2010 through to the end of November 2011. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2012 Top Ten list.
2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.
3. The reviewed products were provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review.(Except where indicated) I was not paid or bribed for this review. I will give/gave my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
That said, let’s get on with this……

bluntsl2011 001

Number 8: Velocity Blunt SL Wheels: Velocity announced a new, lightweight XC racing rim for 2011 and to showcase the newer rim designed in similar fashion to the wide P-35, they sent over a complete wheelset featuring their own hubs as well. You can check out the test/review by clicking the links herehere, and here.
bluntsl2011-2 002
Why They Made The List: The Blunt SL rims are in the same class as some other popular tubeless rim company’s offerings and are offered as complete wheels, or as a stand alone product, giving riders another great choice in tubeless rims to build up a great set of lightweight 29″er hoops. Velocity’s tubeless system works very well, and the rims performed at a high level, placing them on the list this year.

My Two Cents: The Blunt SL rims represent a perfect opportunity to build up a set of light, race worthy wheels, however, in the case of our test set, we had a wheel set that maybe wasn’t “race weight”, but had a decent weight and a nice, lighter rim spinning around out there. This made for a snappy acceleration, and the hubs, (Velocity branded), rolled very smoothly making these a lot of fun to ride as trail bike wheels. In addition, Velocity now offers the front hub with convertible end caps for compatibility with all popular axle configurations in use now.

Velocity’s tubeless kit, also used for their P-35 rims, worked perfectly well on the Blunt SL rims and my tires set up fine with zero issues over the testing period. The rims did exhibit a bit of flex under my riding, but that was to be expected for such a light weight aluminum rim. The flex wasn’t bad, didn’t detract from my riding style, and in the end, didn’t seem to affect the trueness of these rims at all.

For offering another great choice in lightweight, (soon to be U.S. made), XC/light trail rims, ease of tubeless conversion, and in a variety of drillings and build options, the Velocity Blunt SL gains a spot on this year’s Top Ten List. I also was impressed with the excellent wheel build, hub quality, and versatility of the front hub. All of this adds up to a Number 8 on my list for 2011.


BMX vs. FGFS edit

The crew over at Mashafix.com on Christmas posted a new edit with two of our FGFS riders Jakob Santos and Justin 'Congo' Mitchell. It's a BMX/FGFS mashup of sorts - enjoy. Just a warning, if you're not into rap, BMX or the FGFS scene - this might not be the edit for you.


Some more to read?

Looking for some more to read to get you through the day?

Head over to The Wheel Department website and blog.

You might have heard of The Wheel Department at Interbike or if you're a shop received an insert on them in your last order from us.  Simply put, every wheel coming out of Velocity USA is handbuilt by the professionals at The Wheel Department.

Why? I'm glad you asked... and the answer lay in their mission statement:
The Wheel Department is committed to providing our customers with the best handbuilt wheels in the bicycle industry. We believe that when properly executed, the handbuilt bicycle wheel is unmatched in strength and longevity. This is the driving force for what we do.
Enough said.

Be sure to like them out on Facebook also.  Have a great weekend everyone.


Model T Wheelset

Have that old frame looking to turn into a single speed or fixed gear but don't have horizontal drops? Or have a road bike with 130mm spacing and can't find a track hub to work? Look no further than the Model T Wheelset.

Our friends over at Excel Sports have put together a wheelset that solves all those issues. The Model T is build up on the White Industries ENO 130mm fixed/free hub laced with DT Swiss Competition spokes to our Aerohead rims.

It comes in every color you like, as long as it is black. Head over to Excel Sports to get your hands on this stellar wheelset.


Guitar Ted's Blunt SL Review

Yesterday, Guitar Ted posted his final review of our Blunt SL wheelset over on TwentyNineInches.com. You can view it there or continue reading it below.

Velocity Blunt SL Comp Wheels: Final Review

November 28th, 2011 by Guitar Ted

Velocity Blunt SL Comp Wheels: Final Review: by Guitar Ted

With the year quickly coming to a close, here is another Final Review! This time I take a last look at the Velocity Blunt SL Comp wheels that I have been riding for several months now. The last update on these wheels can be reviewed here.
blunt final 001
For much of the test period, the Velocity Blunt SL Comp wheels spent their time on the Specialized carbon hard tail test mule. They were a great addition to this bike, but after riding them on this rig for the summer, I decided I wanted to swap the wheels over to something completely different. I had been hoping a more XC/Trail oriented full suspension tester would materialize, but that did not happen in time for this test of these wheels. so, I opted for a completely rigid set up on a new frame and fork I recently added to my personal stable of bikes: The Salsa Cycles Fargo, generation II model. (Note: The first test sled these were mounted to was a full suspension rig- the Specialized Epic Marathon. See here for that post)
Blunt SL Fargo 11 001
Adding in a rigid front end with a “not-as-stiff-as-carbon” frame brought out some different feelings in the wheels. I could feel a definite smoothness without going full on race pace as I had to do on the Stumpjumper. Likely the frame and fork feel there, but something did jump out at me more dramatically than it had with the carbon frame. Here on the Fargo, the rear wheel lateral “give” was not felt, but there was something notable in the front end.
Blunt SL Fargo 11 004
Going harder into corners, I eventually hit an obstacle at the apex of a corner with the rigid front end which I could not compensate for by unweighting the front wheel, or by steering around it. I was fully committed to a line here and the front wheel smacked the obstacle with much force. I happened to see the entire wheel deform slightly as it reacted to this input and subsequently the bike was put a bit off kilter for a brief moment and I had to gather it up quickly to keep everything moving in the direction I had intended.

This showed me that a feeling I felt with the Stumpjumper in slower, technical terrain was more pronounced with the rigid fork at speed. Hitting an obstacle in a more lateral way, (or perhaps if you were to mis-land a jump, and side load this wheel, let’s say), would certainly not be conducive to keeping this front wheel intact. While in my experience described above, the wheel returned to its shape and rolled on, I could certainly see that I had approached the “point of no return” here with regard to this wheels resistance to lateral forces before it failed.
Blunt SL Fargo 11 003
Conclusions: So, what does that tell me? Well, for starters, let’s keep in mind that the Blunt SL falls into a weight category that is reserved for XC/racing pursuits, (420gms for the rim), and is not really intended for “general trail” riding where playful, aggressive, and demanding riding is what you and your buddies are into. Velocity makes the Blunt rim for that. So, I am not all that concerned to see that the Blunt SL gets a bit flexy laterally at times since it is such a light rim. Would carbon be better here? Undoubtedly it would, but at what price? There is the conundrum riders wanting light, easily spun up wheels for 29″ers face. You can get a Blunt SL wheel built up for far less money than your typical carbon rimmed wheel goes for. The compromise is that the aluminum rim isn’t going to be as stiff. Not with this or any similarly weighted aluminum rimmed XC wheel build.

The question is how does the Blunt SL stack up against the “apples-to-apples” competition. In that regard, the answer is easy. It holds up quite nicely, thank you very much. The Blunt SL wheels I have on test here would be great XC racing wheels, endurance racing wheels, and would probably be okay “daily drivers” for smoother riders or for those that ride buff trails most of the time. Lateral performance is really quite good for this sort of wheel, and tubeless set up is easily done with Velocity’s own tubeless wheel kit. End caps are convertible from 9mm quick release to 15QR, or 20mm through axle, so all axle configurations up front are covered. (Although I might hesitate to put these on any bike requiring a 20mm through axle!)
With the variety of ways this rim can be built up by at Velocity, and with the weight of the rim to start with, a nice, race worthy wheel set is well within possibility that should satisfy most riders needs. Of course, the option of getting just the rims exists as well, so doing a custom build with different components would be another way to go here. That isn’t always the case with many carbon rims, or some aluminum rims, for that matter. Another interesting tidbit that has come to light recently is that Velocity will be producing rims in the U.S.A. come February 2012. So, here is an opportunity for riders to support a U.S. based manufacturer, if that matters to you.

I recommend these rims to anyone looking for a light weight XC/Racing/Light Trail use rim, and I can heartily recommend Velocity’s in-house complete wheel builds. (This being the second one we have tested, the wheels have come through with flying colors.) With all the options available, ease of tubeless set up, and great performance for the weight, the Blunt SL is a good rim to base your next light weight wheel set off of.

Note: Velocity sent these wheels for test/review at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review. We will strive to give our honest opinions throughout.


2011 Edmund Fitzgerald Ride

Last weekend, a group of 20 riders who took part in a 2 day, 200 mile ride appropriately named the Edmund Fitzgerald Ride. Of those 20, only 8 finished and two being Matt and Ryan. One of the other riders on the trip, Tim Stoepker put together a little video from the weekend. You can also read more about the ride on his blog. Enjoy.


Happy Veterans Day: Win a new bike frame!

Help support some hardcourt bike polo 'veterans' by getting in on the contest for a new MKE Bruiser frame and fork. Head over here to buy raffle tickets and you could be the lucky winner of this bad boy:

*frame and fork only*

You'll be supporting one of the finest polo clubs in the world!


A Special Annoucement


(Grand Rapids, MI) Brothers and partners, Tom and John Black will begin manufacturing rims in Jacksonville, Florida in February 2012.  Currently, all Velocity rims are made in Australia, and production will cease in Brisbane by the end of November.

Tom Black, the founder of Velocity, will be relocating from Australia to Florida where he will continue to oversee rim production at Velocity’s new manufacturing factory.  Velocity’s distribution center will continue to operate out of Grand Rapids, Michigan as it has since 1992 and become their worldwide headquarters; with the Australian facility remaining as a distribution center for the Asian and Australian markets.

Velocity will be the only U.S. produced aluminum rim in the cycling industry.  John Black, president of Velocity Worldwide, Inc., anticipates this to further propel the company as a leader in quality, ingenuity and customization customers have come to love and expect from Velocity.

More information to follow at www.velocityusa.com


Stolen: Ryan's IRO

The unfortunate reality is that we live in a world where some people believe that it's ok to take and steal rather than to save and earn what's theirs. Just a few hours ago, Ryan the manager of The Wheel Department here at Velocity, had the bike pictured above stolen. 

It is a black IRO fixie, built up on tie-dyed Deep V's, yes you read that correctly, tie-dyed; with a Brooks saddle and IRO crank, also features a Schwinn Predator sticker on the top tube. The wheels alone make this bike impossible to hide. 

Once again, the bike was stolen from the Red Jet Cafe tonight, 10-31-11, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Please let Ryan know if you see it. Email him at ryan (at) velocityusa.com.  He also adds, please beat the person riding the bike mercilessly!

Devil's Night

How'd you spend your Devil's Night?  Well, some of us made the news.



Race Profile: Donny Green

We've had the privilege of sponsoring a number of riders throughout the nation and world. One of them who has definitely moved up the ranks quickly and has heads turning in the cyclocross world is that of Donny Green. Formerly riding for Geek House and now racing his first season as a UCI Elite Racer, Donny been rocking Velocity and Major Toms for some time now.

Cyclocross Magazine has decided to highlight his experiences as he makes this move up and last month posted a profile of Donny. Check it out on their site or read below.

Racer Profile: The Newly Elite

Our newly elite racer, Donny Green, post-race at Nittany. Molly Hurford
Our newly elite racer, Donny Green, showing off just how muddy his legs were post-race at Nittany. © Molly Hurford
It’s every racer’s dream to upgrade to the Elite field, to line up at the start with the pro racers that we love to read about. Every year, more and more racers are starting in the Elite field, and we wanted to hear what it feels like to go from winning in the lower categories to starting in the back of the grid with racers like Jeremy Powers in the front.
With that said, Donny Green is a bit of a phenom on the East Coast. A bike messenger in Providence, Rhode Island, he went from a Cat 5 on the road to a Cat 2 by the end of the summer. (Some of you might recall his last race as a Cat 3, from The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo: Death Before DNF.) In cyclocross, he quickly moved up the ranks in the past couple of years, and by the end of the season last winter, he had earned his Cat 2 and was winning races in the 2/3/4′s. This year, he’s racing his first season as a UCI Elite racer, and we’ll be checking in with him as the season progresses.
by Donny Green
This past Saturday at Nittany Lion Cross marked the beginning of my 2011 cyclocross season. It was also my first ever UCI race.
As I lined up on the starting grid, I had no idea how I would measure up to the other 50 or so riders in the field. On the bright side, I had just finished up a strong first year on the road. Starting as a Cat 5 at Battenkill in April, I moved quickly through the ranks and finished the season with a second place finish overall at the Green Mountain stage race as a Cat 2. But even with the success I had achieved on the road, I couldn’t help but feel unprepared for the hour to come.
My bike had been put together the night before and I couldn’t shake the thought that it might not be the best idea to race on a tire I had glued less the 24 hours earlier. Worst of all, I didn’t even have the normal race jitters. Without having some sort of preconceived notion of what to expect, I didn’t know what exactly to be nervous about.
With no UCI points, I was designated to the second to last row, and looking through the sea of riders in front of me I realized that I had my work cut out for me. Two years ago when I started racing, I never expected to be competing at the level I am now. So just lining up with professional athletes is really exciting to me. And then, the start light turns green and we’re off.
The mud had to have been the best part of Nittany. All over the course, there were sections of mud inches deep, including a long section that you had to dismount and run. It made for such a different race than last year, which was hot and dusty. Since last season was so dry in New England, this year at Nittany was actually only the second time I’ve ever had to race in the mud. It felt like a fitting start for the season.
Once we settled in after the first lap, the race played out better then I might have expected. I made up ground throughout the rest of the race and kept moving up with each lap. I ended the day in 18th and was quite happy with my result. I was able to move up the whole race and get inside the top 20 in my first UCI race.
Racing in this field is hard, because it’s one hour at full gas and then it’s over. You can’t really “sit in,” and every decision you make effects your outcome, second by precious second.
It’s a little intimidating, being in the UCI race, but at the same time, it’s really exciting. I get the chance to be in the same race as some of the best ’cross racers in the world. That said, I’m not really in the same race as a guy like Powers. Our race starts together, but his finishes minutes before mine does. It’s exciting just to be there.
Now if I could learn how to start as strong as I finish I just might be able to put together a good race.
Right now my biggest goal of the season is to finish top-10 in a UCI race. I would love to get that point and move up the starting grid. Other than that, it’s hard for me to have real set expectations for the year. It’s my first year racing in the Elite field, so I’ve got some learning to do, which I guess is another goal. I just want to race hard and learn from the guys around me who have more experience than I do.
I’m coached through Cycle-Smart by Shawn Adams, and he’s been really helpful — especially when I was really stressed out before Nittany. Road season had ended only days earlier, my bikes weren’t together, I didn’t have wheels, and there just didn’t seem like there was going to be enough time to pull everything together. While I was talking to Shawn, he said something to the effect of, “It’ll work out, it’s just bike racing, right?” I know that might not sound like much, but it really resonated with me. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all: the training, the travel, the expenses and the fact that all your spare time is consumed by bikes.
But what it comes down to is that I’m doing this because I love racing my bike.


In Philly.

This weekend, there is a little gathering of the bicycle community in Philadelphia that draws quite a number of folks from not just the east coast but from around the world, called appropriately the Philadelphia Bike Expo.

Two days worth of seminars, frame builders, artists, and more.

We are privileged to be a part of the event in sponsoring the 'Fastest Mechanic Contest' and giving you the chance to win a pair of Velocity Wheels.

Still not sure?

There will also be:

- A Zombiecat Race
- an urban Mountain Bike Tour
- a fashion show
- a costume party
- a Rapha morning ride

Well, here's a video from last years expo that should hopefully push you over the edge.

Purchase your tickets here


Spot those wheels

A Friday game of sorts.

We've stayed quiet on our involvement in the upcoming major motion picture release of Premium Rush for long enough.  With plenty of Velocity product on the set it's hard not to notice... how many Deep V decals do you see in the trailer alone?

The movie comes out January 13th, which might help the winter itch to ride.

We have also been working with Freqnt Flyr on a number of projects as they have been producing bikes for the likes of Christopher 'Big Black' Boykin, from the Rob and Big/Fantasy Factory show on MTV...

and K-Swiss...

Photo by Ryan Garcia 


Think City Riding is Dangerous?

We all have ridden trails where the random tree has taken out our handlebar or even had friends who wouldn't ride on the street because they feel it's dangerous.  Well, next time you happen to be riding in South Africa beware - antelopes don't mess around.  For more on the story, read here it here


Check this out...

Or more so... Chukk this out.

Last November, news began to spread that one of the local shops here in town had a fire.  After all was said and done, Chicago Drive Cycling and Fitness had been totalled. From fire, smoke and water damage the building was a complete loss. This long standing family run store quickly decided to move down the street to a temporary location as a new building was designed and built.

A few weeks later we received a call from the Klomps looking for rims. Obviously not an unusual request but as the conversation unfolded they were looking for 100+ rims for a design feature for their new building and landed on undrilled, bright silver, Chukker rims. Not our typical order but we were pleased to be able to be part of the design. 

Flash forward 8 months and the new Chicago Drive Cycling and Fitness Trek Concept Store has re-opened its doors again at it's original location.  As cyclists, many of us see the bicycle as functional art, meant to be used and abused, only to gain character over the years. It's hard not to appreciate it when parts of a bike are then taken to be used in ways and manors we could have never intended.

So if you're in the Grand Rapids/Grandville area, stop on by Chicago Drive Cycling and check out the new store and a few of our rims.


Weekend in Review... Videos and Photos

Lots of cycling events going on in Grand Rapids this past weekend. From the Grand Rapids Grand Cycling Classic (which played host to this years USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championship) and Bikestock 3 on Saturday to the Tour de Gaslight on Sunday. It was a great weekend for the sport.

Many of us took part in building the bike polo court for Bikestock which brought in players from Fort Wayne and Ann Arbor. Despite a brief thunderstorm that ripped through downtown raising havoc on vendor tents and racers, Saturday went great. The guys at Slingshot took a few other photos from the event which you can see by clicking here.

Otherwise enjoy just a brief look at some of the festivities...

spinning wheels & melodies from M|A|Mesa on Vimeo.


Introducing... Bob and his Cannondale

A few months back as we saw one of our family head out East, we welcomed a new member to the Velocity family, Bob. Bob has been with us before, a few years back during his college years for an internship and has returned to now take over all the shipping duties. As we all have, Bob has paid his dues in the wheel department - learning what sets our wheel builds apart.

With the itch for all things cycling - Bob is one of the original members of GR Bike Polo, has taken part in the Edmond Fitzgerald ride and had is part in helping shape the Grand Rapids Bike Park, to name a few. It's a privilege to have Bob part of the team and what better way to introduce him to you than to have him show off one of his rigs. So... Bob, world - world, Bob... Enjoy:

This is my 1987 Cannondale SR600. It was given to me by a friend who was unable to keep it. I am eternally grateful for it.

As the finest steed in my stable, it is a pleasure to ride. The aluminum frame is stiff, light, and fast. I enjoy taking it for rides to the beach, for a refreshing swim, or to a distant micro-brewery for a cold beverage.

Back in it's day, it came stocked with Shimano components as listed in this vintage catalog.

It still has friction downtube shifters, which are old school for a reason, but they are carbon which I don't see a lot of so I've kept them around. The drivetrain is still a 2x6, with no shift ramps on the rings. I had to replace the brakes with stock levers and modern Campy Veloce calipers since the quick release was broken on the previous Modolos. The paint shows its years, but is still pretty nice as I get compliments on the color and condition.

Other parts-
Tires: Conti GatorSkin 23c
Wheels: black Velocity Aeros front and rear laced up to Campy Record hubs with double butted DT spokes,
Cranks and Rings: Sugino Mighty Competition
Front Derailleur: braze on Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Rear Derailleur: Suntour Cyclone
Shifter Levers: downtube Modolo carbon
Seat: black Turbo
Cages: Velocity Bottle Traps of course!


Guitar Ted - A23 Ride Impressions

Won't say I mind waking up on a Sunday to read this... thoughts on the A23 by Guitar Ted.


Velocity A-23 Wheels: Ride Impressions

For quite a while now, I have been running a set of Velocity A-23's on my Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross"bike, and here are my thoughts on these pre-built wheels from Velocity U.S.A.

Minimalistic Front Hub!

First off, these rims and wheels are designed by Velocity to be used for road and cyclo-cross racing and riding. The rims are a bit wider at 23mm which seems to be the fad these days for road rims. (The rims get their name from the width, by the way) The rims, spokes, and hubs are all hand assembled and tensioned at Velocity's Grand Rapids , Michigan facility and each build is signed and dated by the builder. Nice touch.

Velocity offers the A-23's in a Pro or Comp build, but they will do custom builds as well. My set is somewhat of a custom set up based on the Comp wheels with a 28 hole front and rear set up. The front is radially laced to a very minimalistic front hub and the rear is laced radially on the non-drive side, two cross on the drive side to a Velocity branded hub. I have had these since May, and I have forgotten what they weighed in at! Velocity lists the Comp Build on their site at 1445 grams, and I think my set came in at a shade under 1500 grams, but remember, my set has more spokes in the front wheel than for the Comp Build on Velocity's site. Let's just say that for a Clydesdale class rider on gravel roads, these are reasonably lightweight wheels.

The A-23 comes in several drillings
As is typical with Velocity, the rim does not have spoke hole eyelets. The design compensates for this by being thicker in the spoke bed area. I have built with Velocity rims off and on since the mid-90's, and have not seen any issues with doing things this way.

The inner rim width is a bit wider than is typical with road designs, and so my big 29"er tires are just fine with the rims and sit well on the A-23. Narrower tires will see a different, wider profile on the A-23, and as I mentioned, this is getting to be a common feature on newer road rim designs. The rims also feature a very smooth machined brake track which my brakes feel like butter on. Finally, the A-23 has a soft, triangular cross section, which should help a bit on muddy cyclo-cross courses.

Ride Impressions: With several hundred miles of gravel and commuting miles piling up on these, I am amazed by a couple of things with regards to this particular build of the A-23's.

Lateral Stiffness: The wheels are remarkably stiff for a guy my size. I have only ever gotten the rear wheel to flex noticeably once during a hard cornering effort. The front has been rock solid. I wasn't expecting this from these rims. To go along with this, the spoking pattern is something I wouldn't have ever considered for a guy my size, but it has worked really well. Radial lacing on the rear wheel just doesn't make a lot of sense to my mind, and I'm not a fan of it at all, really. However; it has not been any problem so far. Ay least Velocity did a good job of drilling the hub flanges so that radial lacing should not cause a hub flange failure.

I haven't been very nice to this wheel!
Toughness: The other thing that jumped out at me is the toughness of this particular build. I don't know how other A-23's are holding up, but this wheel build has been bounced, bunny hopped, and banged through rough terrain quite a bit with no apparent causes for concern at all. They still remain perfectly true, and the hubs and rims seem to be just dirty. No issues at all to report with the A-23's from me.

If there is anything at all I find fault with it would have to be with the skewers that were provided with the wheels. They are not very "hand friendly", and they don't hold the rear wheel in a horizontal drop out worth a hoot. I'd say get a different set of skewers, (which I did), and you'll be golden.

Conclusions: I can not see any reason why these wouldn't make great cyclo-cross wheels, or why they wouldn't be a great set of training/racing wheels for a roadie. For the gravel grinder, these also make a lot of sense. In fact, I have heard rumors that these set up all right tubeless with some sealing tape, like Velocity's kit, or Stan's. But I can't say for sure you'll get them to work that way, as I haven't tried that.....yet! If that would work out, I would rate the wheels a bit higher still.

As it stands, the Velocity A-23, which can be bought as a rim, or as part of a complete wheel, seems to be another really nice rim from Velocity.

Note: I own these Velocity A-23 wheels and was not paid, nor bribed for this review. I strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


Place your bets!!! NAHBPC 2011!!!




Photo by
Brad Q

And we've got a pony in the race...

A while back we struck up one of those cool endorsement deals all the kids talk about. Velocity is a proud sponsor of the one, the only, Beaver Boys from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Who could deny their boyish good looks, Midwestern charm and oh, rad polo skilz? Not us, that's for sure. In reality, our relationship was kindled through a beer fueled wheel building discussion between Kremin and I in a Lafayette, Indiana bar. Eric calls wheel builder his day job at one of our favorite places, Ben's Cycle. So naturally, we were drawn to one another. Wheel builders...the salt of the earth. Really though, all personal and professional associations aside, these guys are the best in the world. Literally.

So they're riding our wheels (two sets of Deep Vs, one set of Chukkers), giving us feedback and helping us stay atop the dad gum heap for strong polo wheels.

They'll be rocking them this weekend at the NAHBPC in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

You can follow the action live right here.

All the best to you boys! I leave you with these encouraging words from a few of our friends in Ann Arbor:


Matt's Perspective: GTDRI '11

So, you know, Alo and I drove 16 hours to do a 100 mile gravel ride through Nowheresville, Iowa...big deal. Barreling west down I-80 this past Friday I mentioned that I'd never been to Iowa before. Turns out that wasn't completely true, I'd driven through it twice on the way to and from a spring break trip out to Colorado, probably pushing ten years ago. In spirit, though, I'd never been to the Hawkeye State. Whoa boy have I been missing out! Fell in love...in love I tell ya! I mean everyone there is super duper friendly, there's corn everywhere, and the best part...gravel roads for miles in every direction. Not to mention it's the home of the one, the only "Guitar Ted", who was Iowa style friendly enough to invite all souls brave enough to his annual Guitar Ted Death Ride.

We rolled into Cedar Falls around 10PM, hit the sack by 11, and rose at the ungodly hour of 4:30AM to prepare for the ride. We arrived at Hickory Hills park, met up with our crew of around a dozen, and took off a bit after 6AM. The scenery during the roll out was flippin' amazing. Really, it made waking up so early worth it, and for me to say that it takes a lot. This morning's fog was thick but the rising sun blasted on through making for some incredible scenery. Magic Hour.

That's me on the right, gettin' all emotional

We all commented that even though visibility was limited, the fog and low temps would be a fond memory later in the day. More on that later...

We chatted the first 15 miles or so away and made it to the town of Traer to fuel up and shake the dew off. A scant mile or so down the road Adam comes rushing to the front of the group, declaring he's left his keys back in town. So we pull off while Adam goes on a little recon mission back to Traer. This proved to be the perfect opportunity for Mark (Guitar Ted) to drop a little knowledge bomb on us. Apparently, there's a phenomenon called "derecho" that afflicts Iowa from time to time. One of these straight line winds had come through the area in the previous weeks, and the effects were obvious.


There were entire groves of trees that had been uprooted. Farmers placed the once great spires into roadside ditches, now transformed into make shift burn furnaces. Outbuildings were ripped apart, bits of tin roofing material were strewn everywhere...it was serious carnage.

So yeah, Adam comes back, defeated, still without keys. We soldier on, hoping the attendant at the gas station will turn something up and call, or some other miracle would happen. I think we just tried not to think about it. If you've read Alo's post, you know the outcome of this episode so I won't try to hold you in suspense.

The next 35-40 miles went off pretty smooth with temperatures remaining manageable, only hinting at the heat that would come later in the day. We traveled over some chunky gravel, some finely ground smooth stuff, and put in some miles on some SWEET B level roads. These 'unmaintained' roads were smooth and fast. Some rutting, but I mean, who doesn't like to jump over stuff like that?

Friggin' awesome B level!!!

About five miles shy of Toldeo, our second and final stop, Alo hit the wall. The hills were getting more intense, the sun was waaay up in the sky, and we were both about out of hydration. So we limped on, caught up with another rider, Steve, and banded together for the final push into town. Upon arrival, we found the group chowing on pizza and ice cream, ready to take on the remainder of the course. Alo and Steve called a ride and headed back to the starting point. I hooked up with the group and we sped out of Toledo towards the hilliest section of the ride. Just out of town, the crazy mofo on the Mukluk picked up some glass and had a flat. I was in the middle of one of the larger climbs of the day when the call came up, so I made it to the top and pulled off to wait. A bit winded from the climb, I look to my left and what's standing next to me?

These guys!!

Zebras in Iowa say whaaaaat?! That really made my day. What better place to wait around for a bunch of dudes to take turns pumping up a Mukluk tire. There were five adults and one foal, just hanging out keeping me and a few others company.

From here on, it was hot. It was really friggin' hot. Oh, it was hilly too. Riding one of two singlespeeds in the group, I had no choice but to just throw down and get after each and every one of the hills. It was go hard or walk, and it was too damn hot to be walking. I needed the wind on me to stay cool. These tactics kept me going but split me from the group. I'd look back every minute or so and they'd be farther behind, so I decided to press on alone. Following Mark's perfectly executed cues, I made my way from one sweltering hot road to the next. Every so often a cloud would cover me, which was a welcome solace from the heat. There was even one point where I was riding under a cloud which was moving with me, which spiked my spirits in a big way.

Nature Boy, Iowa...Iowa, Nature Boy.

About 20 miles from the finish, I ran out of water. Things were starting to look bad. In what seemed to be a mirage, I caught a glimpse of hydration heaven in the form of an elderly gent cutting his lawn atop his Allis Chalmers tractor. I stopped over, said hello, shot the shit for a few minutes while he told me how crazy my directions were, then filled my bottles. Upon leaving he told me I was gutsier than he, to which I replied "more guts than brains, sir" and pedaled on into the heat.

Knowing I was near the finish, bottles full and with no companions in sight, I turned on the gas. Rolling into the park my legs really started to let go. Perfect. Mark, your ride whooped my butt. I found Adam napping in the air conditioned haven of his car, woke his ass up and started drinking beer. We waited around for the group to show up and proceeded to drink beer and eat cookies together. What a blast! I'm in love with Iowan gravel.


All City Nature Boy, 42x18 | 700c x 34 Hutchinson Piranha tires

A23 Pro Build wheelset-

Seriously? 1,400 gram road wheelset, 20/24 bladed Sapim CX Ray spokes to alloy nips. SO AWESOME...didn't budge out of true. If my 180lbs can't knock these out of true on semi smooth gravel roads, bunny hopping B-levels, and through generally un-smooth riding habits, I've got to imagine a rider much heavier than I will have no issues with them for road riding. At around 52 psi, the rim/tire combo were like pillows. Pillows of fury ripping down the road. These wheels make me smile.

Most of these photos are courtesy of Guitar Ted. Check out his ride report here and here.