Latest news, product updates, technical how to's, bling builds and more from AVT Bike.

Archives for January, 2019

What's so special about custom wheels?

Most of our customers have probably been riding custom wheels for years, but even some of them may not have really thought a lot about what makes those wheels so worthwhile, so whether your bikes still have their stock wheels or not, read on to learn a bit more about what makes a set of custom wheels so good!

When thinking about custom wheels, the most basic question to ask might be “why?”.  It’s not a bad question either: most of us have at least one bike that has a stock wheelset on it, so why should anyone want to replace it, and supposing it does need to be replaced, why not try to get the exact same one that you already have?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a stock bicycle and something like a car, for instance.  The latter has parts that are very specific to it, and which are usually of good quality and so a good choice when something needs replacement.  With a complete bike, in many cases the wheelset that comes with it has been machine-built, and isn’t of the best quality. This is because wheelsets are made of many parts that don’t look that sexy on a spec sheet, making them an easy, and definitely a go-to place to save some money when spec’ing a complete bike.

Of course this isn’t true on all bikes, and some come with really high-quality wheelsets, but in general even on higher-end bikes the wheelsets aren’t built to the same quality standards, and with the same quality materials as an aftermarket wheelset would be.  The result is that many of the wheelsets that come with complete bikes have inbuilt stresses that mean broken spokes, broken nipples, and the need for frequent truing.

Those issues are rare on a custom wheelset, and for riders who haven’t experienced one, it can be hard to believe that the difference could be so pronounced, but those who have been riding a top-quality, custom wheelset for any length of time, know that replacing spokes and nipples, and even truing wheels are things that hardly ever need to be done!  While the cost of a custom wheelset is seldom small at the outset, the long term cost can be really low when you consider the reliability and durability.  The fact that you also get a wheelset that is lighter, stiffer, smoother rolling, and more beautiful can actually start to seem like a bonus!

Beyond all of these very utilitarian differences are a whole host of aesthetic ones, because once you open the door to a custom wheelset, the options for how that wheelset looks are pretty much limitless!  That's where we really start having fun too, but we'll leave that to another day....

If you're ready to get started on your new wheelset, head over to our Wheels and Rims page!  And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!

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A custom wheelset for when you need a trio of wheels....

Sometimes you need a custom wheelset because your current wheelset is worn out, and sometimes you need one because you're building your dream bike and there isn't a stock wheelset that will do the trick!

That was certainly the case with this trio of AVT Works Custom Wheels that we recently built for a customer's new bike!  This rider wanted two front wheel options for his new bike, and they needed to match, so he had us build two front wheels-one with the tougher Enve M930 laced to 20mm thru-axle Chris King ISO AB hub, and one M630 laced to a 15mm thru axle Chris King ISO AB hub–and one rear wheel built around a Chris King ISO-B hub.  He has two different forks for this bike, and needed a wheel for each, hence the different spec.  All three wheels were laced with Sapim CX Ray spokes which are the strongest as well as one of the lightest spokes on the market today.  If you've been checking our posts recently, you'll remember that we posted some photos of this wheelset in process as we got the parts and again once we'd finished the wheels.  We did that not only because it's a trio of wheels that uses rad parts, but because this rider wanted silver accents! 

The stock hub on the left, and the finished product on the right

We love black parts, but sometimes it's really refreshing to see something that's really different, and this wheelset is nothing if not different!  We started out by switching the hardware on the hubs out to silver.  Chris King had just recently changed all of their hubs (apart from silver) to being supplied with black hardware, so we had to swap the axles and adjuster caps out.  

All of the parts set out and ready to build

Once we got the hubs prepared, we built the wheels.

The finished wheels are gorgeous.  The silver Sapim CX Ray spokes give the wheelset give the wheels a completely different appearance than the black spokes we're used to seeing laced to carbon rims, and we think it's a rad way to pull together  a classic look with modern parts to create something truly unique!

Built, but with the original decals

The resulting bike is an impressive combination of the latest tech and a very thorough matching color scheme!  Notice that the final touch on the wheels was to swap out the stock decals to matching matte punch ones.  This is a detail that we like about Enve rims, and it's certainly used to full advantage here!

The wheels with their new decals on the bike

There are many ways in which a wheelset can be custom for its rider, and this one is a perfect example of someone making use of just about all of them: the rider needed a wheelset that would match the quality and color scheme of his bike, that would be able to accommodate his two different forks and their intended use, and finally, he needed a wheelset that would handle the kind of riding for which his bike was designed! 


Admittedly, this set might not be in everyone's budget, but whether you are looking for one where money is no object or one on more of a budget, there's no reason to think a custom wheelset is out of reach!  We have a whole host of options to help you get the best wheelset for your riding style, bike, and budget; and with 34 years of experience, our wheelbuilder will build you the best wheelset around, and we think you'll be happy you took the leap!


For more info, head over to our AVT Works Custom Wheels page!

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Chris King Titanium Headsets are Back in Stock!

Chris King titanium headsets are in a category of their own.  Given Chris King's already legendary durability, these might not be absolutely necessary for most riders, but they are beautiful, and even more durable that the standard aluminum NoThreadsets, so for those who want the best of the best, this is your headset! 

Sometimes a bike simply demands something really special in a headset.  The Chris King NoThreadset Ti headset is the one for those. 

  When you see a Chris King ti headset on a bike, it's hard if not impossible to just glance at it: they require a second, closer look.  Whether it's to see the intricate pattern of the laser engraving, or just look at your reflection in the mirror polish that won't tarnish under harsh conditions, it's hard to tear yourself away from one of these beauties.

  Chris King NoThreadset Ti headsets are always limited edition parts.  When Chris King makes these headsets, that's all they make.  They have to change their tooling, and that new tooling gets worn out more quickly than usual because of how much harder the material is, which means that they don't produce them very often and there are often very long gaps between production runs. After each run there's also the question of whether they'll make them again.

We were able to buy a small stock of them recently from the last production run of the year (and maybe longer), so now's the perfect time to get one of these rare gems. 

Check out our webstore for current availability!

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Get Your Bling Here: Phil Wood Skewer Promo

From now through the end of January we're offering a special on Phil Wood skewers!

Right now, through the end of January, we're offering a set of Phil Wood Skewers for just $99 (they're regularly $130!) when you buy a hubset or wheelset (of any brand)!

We love Phil Wood Skewers partly because they're just well designed: they have long, comfortable levers than allow you to easily get plenty of clamping force to hold your wheels securely in place; but with function in the bag, they go to the next level by coming in the same wide range of colors that Phil Wood's hubs do!  This means that if you want to get some sweet purple hubs, you can actually get skewers to match! 

Of course, you don't have to get wild with the colors!  Phil Wood makes some of the best polished and black finishes in the business, so we understand if that's the direction you want to go.

Whatever color you want to get, get it now, because this deal is only good through the end of January!

With the muted tones of winter all around us, we thought it would be a perfect time to get some more color in the world, so we're having a promo on some of our favorite skewers! 

The fine print: just purchase a wheelset or hubset between now and 11:59PM Pacific Time on January 31st, and we'll credit you back the difference

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Onyx Racing Hubs Are Here!

Today we're really excited to announce that we're adding Onyx Racing Products' hubs to our catalogue! 

And for a limited time you can get 15% off any pair purchased using code "ONYX_PAIR" until FEB 28th.

Minnesota based Onyx has been around for many years, having started out making hubs for BMX racing, and has slowly been gaining a following in large part because of their unique Sprag Clutch freehub, which gives virtually instant engagement (technically there's a tiny amount of rotation needed to engage the clutch, but take it from us: it's imperceptible) and infinite engagement points.  

After the instant engagement of the freehub, the next thing that jumps out about these hubs is what happens when you stop pedaling: silence!  In a world where loud freehubs are synonymous with high-quality and fast-engagement, Onyx hubs are a total anomaly because of their silent freewheeling.  And there's more to that silence than quiet: because when you coast, the sprags disengage, there is almost no drag caused by the freehub mechanism.  This is a big departure from traditional pawl-based freehubs, which generally employ some combination of more pawls and stronger pawl-springs to ensure quick engagement, which translates to more surfaces dragging across more teeth with greater friction, and therefore more drag. 

Onyx's road hubs are heavily relieved to shed weight, and like all of their hubs, are available in a huge range of colors!

To complement the low-drag freehub mechanism, Onyx hubs come stock with Enduro hybrid ceramic bearings to lower drag even more!  Hybrid ceramic bearings have lower drag than their steel counterparts, and are an upgrade that few hubs come with out of the box.  The fact that Onyx hubs come with them stock just shows that racing is more than just part of their name: it's part of their entire design ethic.  These bearings are protected from the elements with extremely tight tolerances in the bearing covers, and a labyrinth seal between the freehub driver body and hubshell.  And for those who want either full ceramic or full steel bearings, they are replaceable when and if they wear out.  

Onyx offers the Helix hubshell option on many of their hubs to save even more weight and give a truly unique look


Beyond the bearings themselves, Onyx hubs have an easy to use, and very solid bearing preload adjuster mechanism (with titanium bolts), which can really help get the most life out of a set of bearings, and which we feel is a great feature on any hub.  It makes adjusting the bearings possible (which a good thing to be able to do even with cartridge bearings), and also makes disassembling the hub much easier.

So can you get one to fit your bike?  The answer is almost undoubtedly "yes"!  From fatbike to road, BMX to boost singlespeed disc hubs, there is an Onyx for just about any spacing and configuration! 

If there's a downside to the design of these hubs it's that the sprag clutch is relatively heavy.  There is simply a bit more steel in the freehub than is necessary in most other designs.  Whether this is a big deal to you, is a decision you'll have to make, but we tend to feel that the benefits are worth the bit of extra weight for most riders.  For reference, a standard rear ISO disc mount Onyx hub weighs about 100 grams more than a comparable hub from Chris King.  It's something; but it's not unreasonable by any means, and we feel that the silent, low-drag design makes a small weight trade-off acceptable for most uses.  If you're trying to build an ultralight project bike, you might be better-off going with something from White Industries, but for most other uses, these hubs will be hard to beat.

Bikepacking.com had two different engravings on their set of hubs!  Photo courtesy of bikepacking.com.

One final, and very important note about these hubs is that you can get custom laser engraving at no extra charge!  When you consider the almost encyclopedic range of color options that the hubs have, and the fact that you can mix and match end cap and axle colors, this means that you can customize them more than just about any other hub on the market!  There are a few limitations on what you can have etched onto a hub, but within reason (think single color mainly), the options are endless!  The photo above from Bikepacking.com shows that intricate patterns are no problem, so as long as the design is single color and not copyrighted, you should be good to go!

These technically superb hubs are backed by a 5 year warranty, and we're really stoked to have them.  We're excited to be able to offer something that offers riders a unique product that has proven extremely durable and functional, and are happy to answer any questions about them so let us know if you've got any!  Also note that if you don't see a configuration on our site, just get in touch because it may take us some time to get everything up! 

In the meantime, head on over to the product page to take a look at the options!

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