A dream realised through the brilliance of Spin

The hand-built Koppenberg Dark Energy DMX550 Fat Boy carbon clinchers I bought from Spin Industries
The hand-built Koppenberg Dark Energy DMX550 Fat Boy carbon clinchers I bought from Spin Industries
Lorry stuck by the bollards

City cycling scheme gets national award

  • Spin Industries makes buying British a breeze
  • Gill proves hand-crafted can be affordable
  • Fat Boy design rivals most modern in peloton
  • Stellar service puts factory alternatives in shade
0
Have your say

When a pal asked whether I was going to get the wheels for my new bike hand built or off the shelf, I laughed.

Call me naive but I’ve watched enough episodes of Grand Designs to know as soon as Kevin McCloud utters the words ‘bespoke’, ‘made to measure’ or ‘hand crafted’ the shot inevitably cuts to a tearful couple explaining how they’ve blown their budget or ploughed helplessly through the construction deadline.

Okay, so the build always gets finished. But by the end the couple look as though they have aged 15 years and probably sold a kidney or two.

The idea of having something customised is a special one. However, the general consensus is it will come with a hefty price tag and a long wait.

But Spin Industries dispelled that myth by finishing off my new bike with stunning, hand-built hoops at a fraction of the price of their mass-produced, factory-dwelling rivals.

I can’t remember the last time something was custom made for me, aside from the odd birthday card from the wife.

The chance to pick the brains of a master craftsman, hatch a grand plan and then set him to work seems like an impossible dream in the modern world.

But it doesn’t need to be. Just ask Drew Gill of Spin Industries. That’s what I did.

Spin first came to my attention when I was reporting on former i-Team talent Sam Redding and his Tour Series exploits in 2013 – although it took a chance conversation with his old coach, Guy Watson, to jog my memory.

Redding rode for Spin Rotor Primal C-Originals as he took on the domestic elite before turning his attentions to a career in London.

The Dark Energy rims complete the look of the bike

The Dark Energy rims complete the look of the bike

As I weighed up the path of my own cycling future, I contacted Gill. We discussed my dream, covering everything from rim depth right through to tyre size.

His enthusiasm and knowledge of the terrain was inspirational. He genuinely seemed to care. It wasn’t sales patter or lip service, just a bonafide love of his craft and determination to make his customers go fast.

I placed my order on November 19 and a week later – yep, just seven days – a pair of Koppenberg Dark Energy DMX550 Fat Boy clinchers were on my doorstep.

Gill, who operates out of his Speed Shop in Edstone, near Stratford-upon-Avon, kept me informed throughout – from when my wheels were booked in to his build schedule to the moment he posted them out.

His enthusiasm and knowledge of the terrain was inspirational. He genuinely seemed to care. It wasn’t sales patter or lip service, just a bonafide love of his craft and determination to make his customers go fast.

The whole process was a pleasure. And I know if I ever have a crash or need them serviced, I can simply call the man who made them and he will get me rolling again.

For bike nerds like myself, here’s the techy stuff. My S-Works Tarmac frame, formerly raced by Hampshire professionals Pedal Heaven, is a climber’s dream but Gill took on board my desire for a little extra speed on the flat as he recommended his 50mm rims.

Their 3DToroidal design and 25mm width at the brake track is bang up to date, resembling the fatter donut shape of the Firecrest from pioneers Zipp – at a fraction of the price.

For 2016, Spin have taken this stable, aerodynamic profile even further, in turn reducing the rim depth of their newest wheels to 45mm to keep the weight down.

The Fat Boy width, which is larger than the likes of Campagnolo’s Bora, extracts all the benefits of wider tyres - boosting grip while cornering and shedding rolling resistance on the straight.

I have fitted a set of my preferred 24mm S-Works Turbo boots, despite Gill making a case for his favourite Vittoria’s Open Corsa SL.

Much like Zipp, Spin have switched the full carbon braking surface for a carbon-ceramic hybrid, which generates less heat and should offer superior control in the wet.

Next up were the spokes. Spin use Belgian specialists Sapim, who have been at the top of their game for almost a century, and offer the choice of their CX Ray, D-Light and Race ranges.

I went for the former – the bladed option – with 20 on the front and 24 on the rear but savings can be made by switching.

British time trial champion Hayley Simmonds rides the predecessor of the 550s with the more wallet-friendly Race spokes and she hardly struggles for pace!

The beauty of custom-made wheels dazzled again when each spoke was laced to high tension and finely balanced according to my weight – around 72kg before the festive feasting – to ensure a stiff and responsive ride.

Gill will make your wheels with Chris King hubs, if that’s your want and your budget allows. But I was happy to stick with the super-light offering of Spin, who have more than 20 years of experience in precision engineering.

With the HyperDrive freehub providing 48 engagements per revolution, they promise to be far more responsive than most on the market (twice the engagements) and a match for even the dearest of rivals.

On the scales and the wheelset comes in a shade under the estimated 1,570g. And although I’m biased, I think they look stunning, too.

In the box you will also find Spin’s eye-catching rim tape and their own Dark Matter brake blocks to ensure you are ready to go.

All this, built and tuned right here in England, for £1,049. That’s considerably cheaper, in some cases more than 50 per cent, than those factory-produced alternatives.

And Spin’s impressive pricing does not end there. Their Dark Energy wheelsets begin at £890, while they currently have hefty discounts on 40mm rims.

So how do they perform? Well the answer to that question will have to wait until I have got some big miles into them in the spring, so watch this space.

But if the tech delivers and they are half as fast and responsive as Gill’s customer service, I’m in for a thrilling ride.

For more information on Spin Industries, their range of wheels, components and stunning hand-finished titanium frames, visit ridefullgas.com