Recently, I was lucky enough to take a trip to visit one of PavÃ©’s supporters, Handspun. Handspun is an expert wheelbuilding service that’s a spin-off of one of North America’s major distributors, Quality Bicycle Products. QBP lives in a big warehouse complex outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota – a short ride on a day off for me. I went to meet with David Cory, Handspun’s Brand Manager, who was eager to show me around.
As I described in the Rest Day Review, I’ve been riding wheels generously provided by Handspun, and I wanted to see the operation behind it – as well as the operation behind the stock of just about every bike shop I’ve ever been in to (I remember being a young one just out of college, working at my first bike shop, drooling as I paged through the QBP catalogue on slow afternoons). And so, at the place where it all happens,Â David took me around the offices and warehouses, pointing out many things for me to drool over.
At their wheelbuilding facility, I got a glimpse of what they do. All Handspun wheels get hands-on attention; initially, some are hand-assembled and some are machine-assembled, but after assembly, each one is Â hand-tensioned and hand-trued. Each builder uses a frequently-calibrated, industry-top DTSwiss Tensio (wielded in the top picture). With 16 people building over 1100 wheels a week – do the math – they’re some of the best, most experienced in the business.Â Add to that the fact that they’re seated on top of one of the biggest stockpiles of gear in the continent, and they can deliver custom wheels to dealers, spec’ed to customer’s desires, faster than fast. It was very cool to see this comparatively small corner of the warehouse and imagine the amount of wheels that would pass through to wind up underneath the bikes of people all over the world.
Handspun is heavily into wide rims, offering a full line of HED Belgiums, with various customization available. I asked David why they’d devoted a big chunk of their product line to wide rims. “Because I rode them,” he said, “And the benefits are obvious. Better feel and better handling without added weight? Absolutely.”
So, I asked David: Who rides Handspuns? “Everybody,” he said, and touted the depth and variation in their line. They can be a racer’s go-to bread-and-butter all purpose racing and training wheels (they’re already mine), and they can build wheels tweaked for high performance in cyclocross, touring, casual and recreational riding – whatever. After all, they’ve got the parts – they’re right there in the warehouse.
“So how do you want me to review your wheels?” I asked David. “Ride them as they’re intended,” David replied. “Put them through their paces. It’ll be obvious how good they are.” I told him about my plans for training, for gravel-road riding, for touring, for racing criteriums, for riding singletrack on my cross bike, and for racing cyclcross. “Good,” he said. “A good set of wheels should last you through all that stuff.”