Aug 16, 2022
In this episode, Craig has Randall back in the guest chair to explore wheel design and development along with the philosophy and design principles behind Lōgōs and its new Omnium wheel collection. From engagement systems and materials to profile design and assembly and everything in between, this episode will leave you with a broad understanding of the wheel landscape and equip you with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about your next set of wheels regardless of brand.
Episode sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (use promo code: thegravelride for a free heart rate monitor)
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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:
[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport
I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.
Today on the podcast. I'm welcoming Randall Jacobs to the show for an interview. You may very well know him for his efforts in the, in the dirt episodes, as my technical sidekick, as well as an increasing number of standalone interview episodes that he's handling on behalf of the podcast. I very much appreciate his technical orientation and his passion about the gravel cycling community. But today I wanted to get him on the show to talk about his new efforts with his company logos components.
He's introducing three new wheels this month to the gravel cycling community. We wanted to do an episode obviously touching on the new company, but also as something that's standalone for anybody who's interested in upgrading their wheels or purchasing a wheel set for their gravel or mountain bike.
I think there's a lot of nuance in the hubs, spokes, and rims that you can learn from this show that you can take across any decision you're making with any of the. RI and wheel manufacturers out there in the world. So with that, before we jump in, I need to thank this week's sponsor hammerhead and the hammerhead car two bicycle computer.
The hammerhead car two is the most advanced GPS cycling computer available today with industry leading mapping navigation and routing capabilities that set it apart from other GPS options, free global maps with points of interest included like cafes and campsite means you can explore with confidence and on the go flexibility, I've talked about how I've been appreciating the hammerhead and how increasingly I've taken the time.
To customize each screen. My latest way of geeking out was with rival access componentry. You can actually track the number of shift. In any given ride, obviously not mission critical information, but I just thought it was kind of interesting because as you think about it, uh, you know, you do shift more or less depending on the ation of the terrain out there.
I very much appreciate. Hammerheads biweekly software updates. I always look forward to it. Sometimes it's things that are like no brainers. Like they've been improving their points of interest along the way. And other times it's deep tech that, you know, I perhaps don't have a need for today, but I very much appreciate the fact that they update it constantly because it's just something that gives me confidence that I've always got the most up to date.
Technology on my bicycle computer recently, I think I mentioned I've been doing some exploring in my hometown. I love and appreciate that return to home feature. I was out on a route, um, actually when I was traveling and I wasn't exactly sure how I was gonna get home and I was pretty beat and I just navigated to return to start.
And it gave me the most bike appropriate route home, which was very much appreciated as I was cracking in the heavy Tucson heat. For a limited time, our listeners can get a free heart rate monitor with the purchase of a hammerhead Cari, simply visit hammerhead.io right now, and use the promo code, the gravel ride at checkout to get yours today.
This is an exclusive limited time offer for a podcast listener. So don't forget to use the promo code, the gravel ride. Add that free heart rate monitor into your cart. And when you purchase the car two, you'll get that heart rate monitor for. Go to hammerhead.io, add both carts and the promo code, the gravel ride with that said, let's jump right into my conversation with Randall.
[00:03:56] Craig: Randall welcome to the show.
[00:03:58] Randall: Great to be back on Craig, been looking forward to this conversation.
[00:04:01] Craig: I feel like I owed you a more specific welcome because unlike our, in the dirt episodes, this one's a little different, we're gonna go deeper. And I think it's important. Many people who listen to in the dirt are where you're my sidekick. You're someone who's got, you know, a little bit more technical knowledge about the bike industry and bike components, et cetera than I do.
And we're just a good muse for each other on our journey in this sport. But in today's episode, we're gonna go a little deeper about you and your companies.
[00:04:30] Randall: Yeah, it's a bit of, a bit of a throwback. It reminds me of I think it was June 2018 when I first came on the pod, which is when you and I first got acquainted as well in this friendship. That's blossom from that. So, it'll be fun to have another, another such conversation.
[00:04:45] Craig: Yeah, it's super early days. And I remember, part of that journey was me ending up selecting a Thesis Bike in part, because I just found you to be very thoughtful as a product designer. And I would love for the listener today who may be coming at it, having not listened to that original episode, to just understand a little bit more about your background in the bike industry and your philosophy around creating bicycles and componentry.
[00:05:11] Randall: Sure. There's a deeper dive that we did in that aforementioned episode, but long on the short I've been riding, as many of us have been riding, since I was a kid really got serious into it. Around age 18, started racing was working in a bike shop here in the Boston area.
Then later on, I got to pack fodder pro status on the cross country circuit for a couple of years, which was a lot of fun dirt bagging out of the back of my Honda element around the country.
And from there did some supply chain work outside of the bike industry in China lived there for some years picked up Mandarin,
[00:05:44] Craig: Hang on Randall. So how. Did, how did you get into supply chain?
[00:05:49] Randall: So let's see. I was 21 and getting ready to finish college and decided to go and do a study abroad. I was at Zhongshan university in Guangzhou and met a man who became a good friend and a mentor who hired me to work for his trading and manufacturing company. It was a Chinese company Chinese own Chinese management.
So I was the only non-Chinese on the team. And I was charged with first business development. But later on, got deep into product development, I was brought into all the, the key meetings with our big vendors and learned the ropes of how it works at that very deep level. And at the same time was picking up a lot of the.
Not just the technical language and understanding of how things are made across a, a broad range of sectors, including, technologies that apply to bike. But then also the cultural elements of successfully architecting a supply chain. That was a pretty formative period for me.
[00:06:46] Craig: I bet. Yeah, it's so huge. And one of those things that it's easy, if you've never got into the manufacturing world to, to not think about, but really understanding the culture and particularly in your case, understanding the language and developing a fluency of communication in the native tongue. It's just so immensely helpful in greasing the manufacturing wheels, so to speak.
[00:07:06] Randall: Oh, absolutely. Frankly, none of what, the companies I've been involved with do, would be possible without, having learned the language and later did a graduate degree in us China relations. So learning, not just the culture from a firsthand perspective, but also a lot of the history, a lot of the philosophies reading some original texts, very slowly with the dictionary, but reading them nonetheless.
It all makes a big difference when you're trying to build a, a deep trust based relationship with a party who has a very different background.
[00:07:39] Craig: A hundred percent. Now, was the bike still part of your life during this period? Or had you shelved it, pursuing your professional vocation?
[00:07:46] Randall: So I was riding a bit, not a ton but I was good friends with the owner of the biggest bike shop in Juhi a couple hours outside of Guang Jo, where I had lived when I first went to China was teaching English for a period. He's still a good friend. We've actually done some bike packing together.
And it was, it was interesting. He was someone who, doesn't speak much English at all. So I've only ever spoken Mandarin with him. And this is saying in Chinese, it's like a duck talking to a chicken. And that was our relationship at first, but we are unified by this love of the bicycle.
And over, over time, I, I, you know, obviously learned to communicate and we had a lot of shared experiences, so,
[00:08:22] Craig: And then did you, did you find yourself drifting back with interest into the bicycle industry? Proper at some.
[00:08:29] Randall: That kind of came later. I got to a point in my career where I graduated from grad school, going through a lot of, of life change, life transition, and. Was just thinking to myself, well, what, what is that kind of nexus of things that I'm good at that I'm knowledgeable about?
That I care about that resonate with me in, in my lifestyle and that I can, I can get paid to do. And working in the bike industry made a lot of sense because I had the experiences as a racer. I had some relationships, obviously Mandarin was, very useful from a supply chain management standpoint.
And also I ended up doing some market development stuff when I was at specialized, but mostly supply chain. And so it really, it's kind of the, the same way that my decision to go to China you know, was made it was okay. Well, you know, here are a bunch of different factors that I can weigh in order to, to make a decision.
And ultimately, bike was like, okay, this makes sense I can do this and I can probably do it well, and I can, I can learn this. I can Excel at this. If I put my mind to it,
[00:09:32] Craig: So you mentioned that you ended up at specialized bicycles out in Morgan hill. Can you just talk about what your role was there and some of the things you've learned, obviously you had supply chain experience. You had the experience over in China, but transitioning to a bicycle specific supply chain.
What were some of the takeaways from that experience and, and maybe what were some of the projects of note that you worked.
[00:09:54] Randall: Sure. So as you make clear, I wasn't there very long around a year some places are a good fit. Some places are not for each of us. But specialize in a lot of ways is, is arguably one of, if the not most innovative big brand also a marketing powerhouse and marketing is a substantial part of it, but there was a lot of very smart people in the room.
And working for a company like specialized. We were a major account.
So even though I was not an executive in the company I was working with the leadership of the factories that we were buying from on the projects that I was helping to manage. So that was, again, another one of these serendipitous experiences that made it, such that when I started my own thing, those relationships were already established in terms of projects.
So the one that probably people know know most would be the diverge. And I was one of the team members on that. I shouldn't overstate my role. And it was an interesting project. I remember riding around on, prototypes of that bike. And just the concept of a gravel bike, making a ton of sense and being really excited about it.
It didn't realize the vision the way that I would liked it to have. I think the biggest compromise I saw was there was a different tariff code for frames that can fit bigger than a 35 millimeter tire. So it was like 7% more expensive. And so we constrained the tire size to a maximum 35 millimeter in order to stay under the tariff, cuz otherwise it's a mountain bike and there was some protectionist policies around mountain bikes at some point.
And then there are various other things that I did on my own bikes later on. I didn't have those constraints.
[00:11:27] Craig: Yeah, that's so interesting. I, I remember in our earlier conversation back in, in June of 2018, when you first came on to talk about thesis and you talked about your history there, and I remember walking away from that conversation, just finding it, very interesting, the business decisions that get thrown on top of a product designer's vision that end up creating constraints, whether it's the time of year it has to launch or the, the tariffs that it may incur because it has larger than a 35 millimeter wheel tire size.
It's super fascinating and interesting, and I can see why knowing you as well as I do that. You know, you don't want to be constrained by those criteria. You ultimately, your heart is in creating the best product.
[00:12:10] Randall: Yeah. And there, of course there are constraints in what I do too. Right. I, I'm not gonna make a, like, I didn't make a $10,000 bicycle. I made a bicycle that did everything that I think a bicycle needs in order to, not. Really be dreaming about the $10,000 bicycle at night.
Right. So, there's different constraints when you have to have a complete line and you have to have good, better, best, and you need to have a 3.2 to 3.5 X markup relatives cost a good sold in order for your business model to be viable because all these different things that when you are a small company with less overhead when you're mostly word of mouth and so on that, you can do things a little bit differently.
[00:12:49] Craig: Yep. Yeah. So I'm gonna fast forward a bunch here, but at, at you decided to create a brand called thesis bicycle. And when did that come into the world? Was it 2018?
[00:13:01] Randall: Early 2018. I flew over to Asia, did a whirlwind several week tour, three factories a day in mainland China in Taiwan to set up the supply chain, decide who we were gonna work with, build to build the materials, came back with a suitcase full of parts and built up a prototype.
And then was actually you'll probably recall I had that, that raw black frame that I had a decal cutter that I cut decals for. And then I had all the parts and then I was loaning this bike out and asking people, would you buy it? And enough people said yes. And I said, okay, well here's the website.
And enough people actually put their dollars down where it made sense to start a company around it.
[00:13:38] Craig: And people keep saying yes to the thesis bike. I mean, it's, it's one of them that's in my quiver, in my garage that I, I still enjoy to this day. I mean, it's super well executed. And I think my opinion of the bike has been well documented. One of the thing along things along the way, you know, you decided it was gonna be a direct consumer brand.
You sourced a bunch of components primarily to make sure that every rider could get the precise fit that they want. I know you're a big advocate of differing, the crank length size. For example, handlebars are an obvious one, but crank length is, I think is one that often gets overlooked and you get, you know, incredibly short riders still riding 1 72, 5 cranks.
In addition to those components, you also developed a thesis wheel line. And I wanted to, to sort of talk about that a little bit, because obviously as we go into what's next, you have a history making wheels. So when you made that thesis wheels thesis wheel set, what, what were you going for at the time?
And as you embark on this new brand, that will mention very shortly, we can talk about what your goals are for that.
[00:14:45] Randall: Sure. Well, actually my, my wheel building history goes back a little bit further. I built my first wheels when I was 18 for myself not knowing anything. So, literally ordering parts outta QBP and I had some XT hubs and a magic rim and researched each component. And I built a set of wheels that held up.
Later on it specialized, I was charged with revamping the access line, which I don't know if it's still this way, but at that time it was basically their non-real house brand for all their more entry to mid-level stuff. And was able to talk to the wheel engineers at that time and really learned a lot from them.
I read a pretty well known book called the bicycle wheel by jobs Brandt amongst others and kind of learned a lot of the physics of wheels at that time. The cost structure around them. And then with thesis, those wheels I just kind of incorporated all the best practices in terms of component selection and engineering and so on. And in fact, if you look at what we did for thesis, you see a lot of that DNA in logos logos takes it a step further, but it's, a lot of the same principles.
[00:15:49] Craig: Interesting. Yeah. So I think it's a great opportunity to introduce your new brand. Why don't you just give us a little bit of an overview of the brand and what it means to you?
[00:15:59] Randall: Sure. So the brand is logos L O G O S, which is a bit of a play there. Right? Bike industries notorious for just slapping some logos on things and throwing a bunch of marketing at things. But logos is the concept of logos it's a Greek philosophical concept implying a reason or, or discourse, especially a reason to discourse. And even deeper than that, the underlying principle of order or knowledge that underpins reality. The idea for logos actually came from Sam Jackson, our head of brand who's been with us
almost since the beginning. And it really deserves a lot of the credit for the brand identity and voice and a lot of the vision for the brand. I can't say enough how, how pleased I am with the work that he's done. But this idea of logos being, first principles based which very much aligns with thesis as well.
There was a strong point of view again, itself built on first principles. And it ties into other concepts that are very much aligned with how I see the world is ties to Daoism and Zen that this word logos is imbued with.
[00:17:01] Craig: That's exciting. And congratulations on the recent launch. I know you to be very meticulous and I know for the listener, you're passionate about sharing knowledge. So I think it's, it'll be great to just talk about what makes a great wheel. To begin with, because whether they're buying a logos wheel or some something else, the listener needs to know, how do they need to think about the wheels that are underneath?
[00:17:28] Randall: Sure. The reality is that wheels arguably more than any other component in the bike industry. There's a, a huge number of brands. There's a ton of marketing, a lot of a lot of storytelling that may or may not be based in, in reality or in science. And so, of course what we do reflects my pH.
Reflects our team's philosophy, but I think that a lot of these principles are fairly universal, so I'll try to keep it at a higher level. So, we look at it in terms of performance, strength, reliability, and serviceability. And we're calling the wheels we're launching with the Omni collection.
And omnium has this concept of a high degree of versatility, right. Excelling at a wide variety of disciplines. So there are three different wheels a 700, a six 50 and a two nine. We'll talk about the specifics in a moment. But we can go into components.
You wanna start with hubs.
[00:18:17] Craig: Yeah, I think that makes sense. I mean, and, and I don't want your, your comments to be lost on the listener. I think wheels, God, I feel. Ever since I started in the sport of cycling wheels have always been regarded as like something that if you invest a little bit more in, you get a lot more out of it. So it's, it's interesting to think a lot of us, when we buy bikes from a bike shop, you're just gonna get the wheels that come to it.
And it takes a while before you start to think about getting a replacement set of wheels or a second set of wheels. One of the interesting things I've always found about gravel cycling is a lot of us come into the sport thinking I'm gonna get two sets of wheels right off the bat. So I, I, I do think for, and I can speak for my personal experience.
Like I've thought more about wheels than I ever have historically, in any other sector of the sport, primarily because when I got my first proper gravel bike, I was all in on getting two different wheel size.
[00:19:12] Randall: Yeah, and in fact, one of our core thesis, if you will, when we started thesis, was that you could have one bike that does nearly everything. And two wheels recorded that. And we, we saw, I mean, we still see about a 50% adoption rate on two wheel set amongst our riders.
And we encourage people before they, start looking at an entirely new bike. Well, consider two wheel sets as a way, as long as you have the tire clearance of a way of getting more utility outta the same bike, instead of having a road bike and a cross bike and a gravel bike and, and all these other bikes that if, if thoughtfully designed and thoughtfully curated from a spec standpoint can actually, serve all of those purposes really well.
It's really an omnium bicycle.
[00:19:54] Craig: Yeah. So for starting at the hub, I mean, for many of the uninitiated, the hub is a bit of a black box, right? As long as it's working and the bike is rolling forward. The bike you're buying off the shelf. You're not thinking too much about it, but what, what should people be thinking about with respect to hub?
[00:20:13] Randall: Well, hubs are a major point of failure and there is a lot that goes into making a good hub and there are certain designs that are better than others in certain designs that have inherent trade offs. I mean, every design has inherent trade offs.
Some of those trade offs are well, we'll, we'll talk about like, if you want reliability, you want strength to weight. You want something that's serviceable. You want something that performs well, well, there are certain designs that, really aren't necessarily amenable to that. And then other designs that are but they have other constraints.
So, there are Paul based systems. These are systems that have spring loaded poles that press against an outer ring that has teeth in it to engage when they're turning. And this is a very common hub design you see them on the very entry level.
You also see some higher end versions of them that are out there and that, tend to hold up better, but they all inherently have the same issue of if you have three Pauls, one of them doesn't engage properly. Or, or maybe there's a little bit of wear some contamination. Well then all the load is going to, potentially just one of those poles.
And so instead of having three poles to spread that load over, now, you just have one and that's when they tend to, detonate, they tend to fall apart. And then additionally, a three Paul design doesn't have the same peak load strength, nevermind the, resiliency against MIS clocking or contamination of the next one, which I'll talk about, which is a ratchet system.
So the most famous ratchet is the star ratchet. This was patented by Hugi in the nineties and then popularized by DT Swiss. Folks here will have heard of the DT three 50, which we used on our thesis wheels. And then the more expensive DT, two 40, which achieves a lighter weight by using higher end materials.
But otherwise is, functionally identical. And the original design, which I would argue is, superior to, newer iterations has two ratchets that are independently sprung, such that when they are rotating, if one of them were to get jammed or misaligned, the other one can still adapt to fully interface with the one that's not perfectly aligned.
So you get full engagement and it's very unlikely where you have a situation where all the teeth are not engaged. So you with me so far,
[00:22:26] Craig: Yeah, I am. And I, and I'm having a little bit of a smile on my face, cuz I do remember the hige hub back in the, in the nineties. I may have actually had one and I remember it was the loudest hub of anybody I knew. Which I took a little bit of pride on, on my mountain bike, but it was, it was always regarded as something that was the design was, you can't say failure proof, but very, very reliable.
[00:22:52] Randall: Well, and two things about that. One newer iterations are not as loud unless you have the 54 tooth versions. And then secondly, there's a very good chance that that hub is still on the road. James Huang over at cycling tips called hubs with this design, the world's most reliable hubs and they have a reputation for that for very good reasons.
What we just discussed. They're very resilience against all the sorts of failure modes that you might see with other types of systems. Now, the patent for that expired a few years ago. And this was one of the reasons why we saw an opportunity to, start a company because on their higher end stuff. Companies like DT and others have migrated towards a single sprung mechanism. And there were some issues with that. They actually had a not a recall, but a a service bullet put out because, when you have only one side sprung, if that one sprung ratchet gets jammed or is not properly aligned with the fixed ratchet, with the fixed interface the teeth won't engage and you'll get wear, or, non-engagement.
[00:23:53] Craig: is the decision to go that route a, a cost savings.
[00:23:56] Randall: not cost savings. I think it's twofold. I think the primary driver honestly, is probably that you need to have something new and if your thing goes off patent, then, being able to point to something and say, this new thing is better is, useful. And there, there are some advantages to the what's called EXP system.
I think they were able to shave a little bit of weight. They were able to push the, main bearing outboards, slightly to distribute, forces a, little bit better on the axle. But at the expense of this, gold standard reliability and part of it is tolerances.
So you need to have much higher tolerances on a product like that , because you only have one ratchet that's moving. So if it ever gets jammed that fails versus with dual sprung, if one of them gets jammed as, we said, the other one can, slide to meet it. It's just something inherent about that design that, will always be true.
And there's a bunch of different iterations of it. And if it's executed, well, it can, hold up. It can perform well over time. But one of the things that we believe in is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. There wasn't a problem with the dual sprung mechanism. And in fact it has some advantages.
So that's, your single sprung mechanisms. And then the other one is spray clutches. So this is a hub like Onyx, you're familiar with them.
[00:25:09] Craig: I'm not familiar with.
[00:25:10] Randall: So without going into the details of how a spray clutch works the big advantage of a spray clutch is you get instant engagement. Now that instant engagement is something that a certain subset of like trials riders and some mountain bikers seem to swear by I think that for, at least from my perspective, the obsession with, instant engagement is a little bit overblown and there can be some downsides with kickback on certain suspension designs.
Plus they tend to be heavier a little bit more draggy, a lot more complicated. There's a lot more parts in a, hub like that. But if you need something for that application, that's not a bad way to accomplish it.
Now I've put the dual sprung star ratchet on this pedestal as is what I think is the best. Right. But these other ones have advantages, too. So instant engagement with the spray clutch. With a Paul based system. There's ways in which you can design that, where you can get effectively instant engagement as well. And so if instant engagement is really critical for you, well, with a star ratchet design, we use a 36 tooth star ratchet, which 36 tooth, 360 degrees of rotation divided by a 36 that's 10 degrees of engagement. We find that that's kind of the sweet spot, where you get, a high degree of strength and reliability and long term durability together.
Engagement. That's plenty quick.
But if you want instantaneous engagement, you're probably looking at Paul based or spray clutches, and then just accepting the compromises of, more complexity, less reliability, more weight, more drag.
[00:26:38] Craig: Yeah, it's always interesting from a business perspective, when you, when you layer in that patented technology component of it, that was on lock until, as you said, I think it was last year that that patent expired and allowed other people to build in that way. Cuz until that point, if you were building a wheel and you wanted to, you know, do something similar or not pay those licensing fees, you had to go through these efforts to kind of design something new that inherent with everything is gonna have compromises and, and positive things and negative things about it.
So it is interesting. It'll be interesting to see going forward if some of those companies that invested a lot in these other technologies. Actually just adopted a dual SPR floating star ratchet because it's off patent and they can do so.
[00:27:20] Randall: I mean, there are a few others that are out there. Execution matters, tolerances matter. The quality of the material, the quality of the machining, the quality of the heat treatment process. So the design of it is only one part that goes into making a great hub. One of the other things that I wanna call out that I really like about this dual SPR star ratchet is because it's been out there so long and because it's so established, I mean, these have been used in Roal wheels and bond tracker wheels , N be used spec DT hubs with this design.
There's tons of parts out there and they're serviceable without tools. So. some riders may already have parts that are compatible with our new hub set in their toolboxes because they already have, a set of DT three 50 S the, free hub mechanism, the end caps, the star ratchets and Springs.
All of these parts are interchangeable. So, this gets into some of our philosophy of around open standards and this is effectively an open standard and arguably the best open standard. And, I would argue further the best standard period for hubs, for the vast majority of riders.
[00:28:25] Craig: So we've gone nerd deep on the inside of this hub. And if you're interested, like, I think you, you have to either look at the hub on your bike or on the logos components website. They've got a, sort of a blown out diagram of the different components that, that are inside there. I do think it's interesting to, to have in your back pocket to understand, and maybe even think about what you're riding today, but there's other parts of the, the hub that we should probably talk about.
So outside of that mechanism is the, the hub shell. So what do you, how are you building these hub shells?
[00:28:56] Randall: Yeah. So, one of the big things with a hub shell is, well, one there's the material, and then there's two, how you process it. So, a lot of hubs use 60 61 which is a, pretty standard, still a high grade aluminum. But it's cheaper to buy cheaper to work with.
So if you look in the specs of some of your components, these are numbers that you'll see, and this is just relating to the, formulation of the alloy. We use in our hub shell a material called 60 82 T six. And this is stronger and lighter, but also more expensive to purchase and to process. And that T six refers to the heat treatment process. You start with ability of this material. You cold forge it. So these like giant forging machines, to forge this form. And then you heat treat that, and then you put it on a lathe to machine out, all the circular parts on the internals and external of the hub.
And then you use a multi-axis mill to mill out all the features and that's, the main differentiator, for example, between the, DT three 50 and the two 40. Is that material and the fact that because it's stronger, you can machine away more of it and still get the same strength.
And because we're making them, in-house now we're able to use the, higher end material, but still put it into a product that is, in this case, a grant,
[00:30:12] Craig: Got it. And then the final component of that, that hub is, is obviously the bearings and bearings get a lot of attention in the bike industry. Why don't you talk about your choices there and what, what should, what should riders be thinking about with respect to bearings?
[00:30:25] Randall: honestly, any good brand name stainless steel bearing with good seals and so on is, is going to work well. I'm actually gonna take a step back from answering this one, because I'm going to have someone on the pod to go deep nerd on bearings in the future. We did look at ceramic and found that there's not really any advantage to ceramic for, the vast majority of riders who don't have sponsorship and a team mechanic because you get a, trivial performance benefit and that performance benefit turns into a deficit pretty quickly, cuz they wear so quickly for reasons that I'll, hold off until that, in-depth bearing interview.
[00:31:00] Craig: That makes sense and funny, you know, on my, my bottom bracket from my recent build, I was sort of enamored by the notion of doing a ceramic bottom bracket. But in talking to the experts, I ended up with a stainless steel bearing bottom bracket as well,
[00:31:13] Randall: Yeah. I, I made the mistake in my racing days of spending a lot of money on ceramic bearings and not having reviewed the science. And so tend to be a lot more disciplined these days.
[00:31:23] Craig: better than my racing days, where people were spending money, replacing all of their steel bolts with titanium, bolts, and spending ungodly amounts of money to save a few grams here and there.
[00:31:32] Randall: Well, I guess you pay more attention when you're buying many thousands of bearings than when you're buying one bicycle's worth
[00:31:38] Craig: Yeah.
[00:31:39] Randall: Yeah.
[00:31:39] Craig: exactly well, it's it's coming out from the hub. We've got spokes and nipples to talk about and then really definitely wanna get into rims. Cause I think there's a lot of kind of takeaways that people need to revisit regarding rim technology that I want to get into.
[00:31:52] Randall: Sure. Let's start with spokes. So we use pillar wing 20 spokes, which is a, bladed actually more of a diamond wing shape spoke. And we use these not because they're arrow though. That is a benefit, but because the same process that generates that aerodynamic shape is a cold forging process effectively.
It's a cold rolling process that helps to orient the grain structure of the metal in the spoke to improve its elasticity and thus its fatigue life. That spoke also has some, complex strain relieving at both ends by the threads and by the head. And these are the areas where the, spoke tends to fail.
And with a lightweight spoke, they wanna wind up. So if you're using a lightweight round spoke, as you're building it, you're gonna essentially twist the spoke. But if you have ablated spoke, you have something to grab onto and a reference point to be able to see, okay, this spoke is oriented straight.
And any twisting in that spoke is, again, these are stresses that are going to result in increased fatigue and failure over the life of the spoke. So that's why we went with these ones and pillar, they make a great spoke out of the same, high end Swedish, sand Vic material.
3 0 2 plus is the particular wire that they start with, which is what a lot of the top end spoke start with. And it just makes for a spoke that's really lightweight really easy to build with, and that has outstanding durability,
[00:33:17] Craig: and you're lacing those to brass nipples. Am I correct?
[00:33:22] Randall: Exposed brass nipples. Yeah. We have essentially a zero tolerance policy towards aluminum nipples or hidden nipples. The reason being that well, first aluminum ones they tend to see split and fail. And for a wheel to perform at its best for a long period of time, there are some basic maintenance that needs to be done part of which is, checking the tension and truing it and retentioning as needed.
We'll talk in a moment about how you can reduce the maintenance that's required, but with an aluminum nipple well, two things, one you tend to get oxidization that results in the nipple seizing in the interface with that stainless steel spoke. So now you have an oxidization process, a chemical process where it's making it.
So it's sticking and yeah, you can put, spoke prep on there, so it doesn't stick. But eventually that oxidization is gonna take place. And then it's a much softer material than brass, so brass won't oxidize in the same way. And it's harder. So, why would you lose use aluminum then?
Well, it's lighter. Well, how much lighter? Well, with a 24 spoke wheel. So 48 spokes, total 48 nipples. It's like 36 grams. So for 36 grams, you're gonna take a wheel that could last a really long time and you're gonna make it so that there's a good chance, especially if you ride in rain or any sort of wet conditions that the moment you try to true this, wheel or, retention the wheel you're gonna have to rebuild it from scratch with new spokes gets real expensive, real quick.
[00:34:46] Craig: that makes sense. And I, I will make a point on exposed nipples. I'm definitely a big fan of that. The, the one, a couple wheels I've ever had that have broke. I've been fortunate not to break a lot of spokes in my life, but I did break one on a hidden nipple wheel. And it was the most frustrating experience in my life trying to fix that wheel.
[00:35:03] Randall: Yeah, well, and, that's a, more extreme, but still common scenario. But again, being able to just tension the wheel, right? If I have a hidden nipple, I need to remove my tires. I might be wasting the sealant that's in there, cuz everything is too going tubeless. Now I have to remove the, valve stem and the rim tape. Right. And then I need to go in and, access the, back of the nipple from, from.
And then when the wheel is all trued, well, then I gotta clean up the rim. So I have a nice clean surface and then I have to retape it. I gotta put the valve stems in. I need to put the tire back on and I need to put sealant in and then reinflate it. And so you're, it's harder to true there's no arrow benefit. This has been shown. The one tiny benefit is that you can have a slightly smaller spoke hole, but you can make up for that with just having a tiny bit more carbon reinforcement.
And the added weight is on the order of single grams.
[00:35:56] Craig: Yeah.
[00:35:56] Randall: And so I'll add those single grams every day.
[00:35:58] Craig: So now we're, now we're out to the rim. Let's talk about the rims. You, you mentioned op opening up that from a size perspective, you're doing 6 5700 C and a 20 Niner, but let's talk a little bit more specifically about the material you're using and what you're going for with these particular rims.
[00:36:16] Randall: Well, I wanna start with something off the bat, before going into materials, which is be hooks. So this is another one of those things together with nipples that we take a strong stance on. We believe that any rim that is designed and marketed to be used with a road tubeless tire should have a bead. There's a trend in the industry towards going hook list for these rims and there's still tires that are blowing off of rims. And, I don't believe that having compatibility charts. So like our rims are only compatible with these tires is a good solution.
[00:36:49] Craig: So to be spec, to be specific Randall, just so, just so the listener's clear. So you're saying on your 700 sea rim, which may take a higher pressure road size tire. So not talking about your 40 C gravel tires, but if someone's running a high pressure, 32 C tire, you think that Beed hooks are a safety require.
[00:37:11] Randall: Absolutely. And in fact, we're not talking that higher pressure either. It's interesting. Up until recently the pressure charts would go up linearly with weight and then they would taper off and have the same weight for a bunch of higher weights.
And it's because of concerns about blowoffs. If you have a system tires, rim, and rim tape that are all within tolerance, then a hopeless system can be safe, can secure the tire properly. The problem is. There are too many variables. There's the particular manufacturer.
There's the production batch. You can't check every tire. You do check every rim. So the, tolerances there tend to be a lot more stable, but then let's say you have a tire that is within spec and a rim that's within spec. And even the tape is in spec, but then you have to replace the tape and you replace it with a slightly thicker or thinner tape, or you don't apply it properly or something like that.
Now you have a blow off risk, right? So I think that relying on different manufacturers to stay within a very high tolerance for a part that has a very high consequence in the events that something goes wrong is just not a good approach. speeds have advantages. Up until recently they were a lot lighter and they were cheaper to manufacture because you had a lower scrap rate because the way that the hooks were formed you were machining or you were having an insert in there. So on fortunately we have what we're calling a high impact bead hook that adds a trivial amount of mass per rim. It's on the order of five grams and it's molded in. So you can have that high impact resistance.
You can have the tire retention, you can have the weight more or less on par and the cost is slightly higher because of how it's produced. But we think that it's absolutely worth it.
[00:38:55] Craig: Beyond these safety concerns? What am I experiencing differently when I'm installing a tire on a, a, a bead hook versus a hook list rim.
[00:39:04] Randall: If it's designed properly, nothing because when you're installing the tire you have that, trough in the middle of the rim and on today's wider rims, that trough is generally pretty big and plenty deep. So you just drop the bead into there and then it pops out and sits on the bead seat, retained by a bead lock, which we also do on our rims.
And then the hook is again, helping to prevent blow offs, which can be catastrophic.
[00:39:29] Craig: Okay. Gotcha. Cause I'm, I'm sure I've, I've set up tires on both bead hooks and hook list and haven't really noticed the difference
[00:39:36] Randall: yeah. Any difference that you would notice would be a consequence of something other than the hooks.
[00:39:40] Craig: Yeah. Gotcha. Gotcha. So good. An interesting data point for people to research, particularly, and specifically on 700 C rims and high pressure tires. So taking that. At that point aside, let's talk about the rims. These are carbon rims. You're making what's the talk about the carbon rims in general.
[00:40:02] Randall: sure. You have the carbon, you have the resin and then you have how it's processed, how it's formed. Right? So we're using Tory 700, 800 carbon, very common material throughout the bike industry. We're using high grade residents that again, very common throughout the industry on the higher end.
We have access to the same materials as all the other brands and vice versa. So the magic is not there per se. There is some cool things you can do at resins. That's a whole nother conversation. But the processing is really a big difference. So we have a really high precision molding process where the rim comes out of the mold free of any imperfections in the surface such that there's no coatings required.
So that's 20, 30 grams a rim easily of coatings just to deal with cosmetic imperfections that our rims come out without. And then you save it an additional little bit of weight as a result of this the precision of the process and the way in which it removes. As much excess resin as possible, cuz the resin is not what's giving the rims, their strength.
It is the carbon. And then the resin is bonding the layers of carbon together to give it that structure. So any excess resin , you can remove and maintain the same strength. Right? So any excess resin is not contributing to the structural integrity of the structure.
[00:41:19] Craig: Right,
[00:41:20] Randall: So that's on the material side other things I mentioned Beadlock asymmetry. So this is another thing that we do across our line and we'll always do across our line. The, rim is basically it's kind of biased to one side.
[00:41:31] Craig: Yep.
[00:41:32] Randall: and what this does is your hubs are not symmetrical, right? So up front, you have a disc on one side, no disc on the other. In the back, you have a disc on one side and you have a much bigger, much wider cassette and free hub body on the other side. So by going with an asymmetrical rim, it helps to balance out the spoke angles and thus the spoke tensions, which means that you have a wheel that has higher average tension and total tension with the same number of spoke. And you have a reduction in the change intention with each revolution or each impact. And these two things together make a stronger wheel. That's more durable with the same number of spokes and the, the impact is actually quite, quite substantial. So we do that across the board and think that we can't see any reason with the exception of a wheel that is designed purely for arrow, and even then we would still do an asymmetric rim.
[00:42:28] Craig: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So we've gone into a lot of detail as to the component tree and the quality of what you guys are putting together, but at a certain point, these things need to get assembled. And I know historically like that, that is a challenge from a process perspective. It's like, how do you build these wheels up from these quality components?
Because if they're not built well, you'll end up with a shit wheel.
[00:42:50] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. So there's exactly right. There's the curation in manufacturing the, of the components and how they're put together is no less important. You can have the best components in the world. If they're not assembled properly, it's not gonna hold up. You're not gonna get the performance outta the box, nevermind over time. So this is basic things like, prepping the spokes. So you have a, material that helps to lubricate the interface between the threads and the N. And this is, something that's basic needs to be done. In our case, we have essentially hand laced machine built for a first pass.
So a machine will go through and adjust and get the wheel round and true. And then we'll have a skilled person finished the wheel and this bring. It from round and true to where the tension around the wheel one is as high as it can be. And again, this results in a stronger wheel that also has less change in tension as it turns.
But then also the spokes are as close intention to each other as possible. And this part is actually hard to achieve. It requires a lot of skill and it takes more time and money. And then how do you validate that while you machine check it? So you check the tension in every single spoke and then put it through the true and the roundest check again before going out the door.
[00:44:02] Craig: Yeah, that makes sense. So I think we've, we've dug in pretty deep on wheel technology
[00:44:06] Randall: Yeah.
[00:44:07] Craig: a lot to think about I'm sure people are gonna be interested in, in these wheels. We've talked about, you know, all three, all three sizes are gonna have asymmetric rims. The 700 C is gonna have a, a high impact bead hook for the reasons you mentioned, the other two are gonna be hopeless.
The one thing we haven't talked about. It's just been the, the width. And I, I have found that in other conversations with other wheel manufacturers, that that's an interesting area to talk about and just kind of nail home, you know, why we're seeing some of the gravel wheels go wider in the width of the rim than, you know, historically was part of, you know, road and road plus bikes.
[00:44:49] Randall: Sure. I mean this is a trend across the board. And in fact, it's, it's been taken a little bit too far in some cases, there is a, Goldilock spot.
[00:44:56] Craig: I think is great. Like, I, I, I mean, I think that's one of the great things about gravel is like we've been and component manufacturers, like they've been pushing the extremes to figure out where the sweet spot is.
[00:45:07] Randall: To figure out what the sweet spot is, but then also to, meet what, what the market is telling them to make and not really sticking to first principles is like, oh, people have a perception that wider is better, so let's keep going wider. Right. Just like lighter is better. Let's keep shedding weight and then a year down the road let them worry about it.
But in terms of widths, the sweet spot I would argue for a 700 sea wheel is 23 to 25 millimeters. Right. And you see a lot of wheels coming out in that range. Ours are 24. And again, with these bead hooks, and you can run down to a 28 millimeter tire with a 24 internal width.
And it'll be secure and it'll be properly supported. And a 28 or a 30 will be aerodynamically. Well matched to that rim, which will have an external width of 32 in our case. Which by the way, we we'll talk about arrow in a second. And also being able to support the, the higher end of the range.
So in the case of narrower tires, you want it to be aerodynamically matched on the case of bigger tires. You just want it to be wide enough to support that tire at low pressures, without tire squirm, and to give the tire a good shape, as opposed to a light bulb shape, that you're engaging the side knobs of the tire, maybe a little bit early and so on.
And tire design has had to evolve together with rim with but as a system it's definitely an improvement in the sweet spot is really in this 23 to 25 millimeter internal range
[00:46:34] Craig: Yeah.
[00:46:34] Randall: for a 700 C rim.
[00:46:36] Craig: I think that light bulb shape of the tire is kind of interesting. It was an interesting visual for me to initially get introdu juice to and how the wider rims have kind of, made that shape less pronounced. And you do get more performance out of the tire. I've found.
[00:46:50] Randall: and this has enabled substantially or it's required with the lower pressures that tub bliss is allowing. So remember the original et RTO standards the European standards body for narrower rims came out at a time when everyone was running clinchers with tubes and you had to run higher pressures because otherwise you would pinch flat.
Well, now you have tubeless tires, so you can push the limits of pressure. But once you drop below a certain pressure, if you're not properly supported by a wide rim, that thing's just gonna score 'em around. So that's what kind of force this issue.
[00:47:25] Craig: Yeah. Gotcha. Gotcha. And I was, you know, when you mentioned your new efforts around logos components and you mentioned you were adding yet a third wheel size, I was actually a little bit surprised. So can you talk about adding the 29 ER, wheel into your lineup?
[00:47:42] Randall: Sure before I do, I wanna close out one thought on the 700 CS because it's relevant, which is aerodynamics. And this kind of applies across the board, but especially seven hundreds. There's the rule of a hundred, 5%. And this rule essentially states that your rim has to be a hundred, 5%, the width of the seated tire, not what's stamped on the side, but the tire as it's actually measured on the rim when it's seated in order for there to be any significant aerodynamic benefit, which is to say, let's say you have a 50, 60 millimeter deep rim.
And you're like, oh, it looks so air. It looks cool, but it's really narrow and you run a 28 mill tire and your rim is only 28 or 27 millimeter wide. Most of the air dynamic benefit you're losing because the airflow is becoming detached before it even gets to the rim. It's detaching as it goes around the tire.
And this is even more so for gravel, fortunately we're seeing less of this, but arrow gravel rims is just marketing. In fact, if anything, it's just giving you more turbulence in a cross. So the rule of one oh 5% that's says physics and everything else is marketing.
Unless you're adhering to that the two nine, so we built wheels with thesis specifically for our bikes. And when we did this program, we wanted to have a three wheel quiver that covers the, the full range of experiences.
And so the two nine wheel it's built to a trail standard, it's a 31 internal versus the 24 of the 700 C is designed to take tires anywhere from 2.1, 2.2 on the smaller end, all the way to 2.6. And again, it's gonna be wide enough to support that range of tires at a wide range of pressures.
It's light, but not super light. It's 1,565 grams which is on the heavier end of cross country in the intermediate lighter end of trail. But we wanted something that would just be bombproof it's light enough to race, but we'll hold up for all your training.
And when you're underbid and you hit something sketchy, it's gonna gonna hold up as well.
[00:49:43] Craig: Yeah. So they obviously there's some gravel bikes, like the cut through it that run a 29 or wheel, but just so I'm clear. So this is a, this is a proper, in addition to servicing that market, this is a proper mountain bike wheel.
[00:49:55] Randall: Oh, yeah. So when you think about the types of gravel bikes that are using a two nine wheel, they're generally more expedition type bikes, otherwise you'd be better off on our 700 sea podge. So the Uday 29 is very much a wheel that if you were going and doing a, an expedition this is a great wheel to bring, because even though it's on the lighter side compared to some wheels in that segment, you have the asymmetry, the weight is being saved through materials and precision engineering and manufacturer rather than compromising on structural integrity.
And one thing that's true about all these wheels by the way is each wheel set uses a single length of spoke, which we include a spare with it. So, if you ever did have an issue being able to change a spoke in the field is, about as simple as, it could be .
[00:50:40] Craig: Gotcha. Super interesting. Well, we've, we've gone deep on wheels. I, I, there's a few more things I wanted to cover, but I think we're running a bit long on time. Is there anything else in, in parting? You know, this is a, a big week probably when you listeners hearing this a week behind us, but you've got logos components off the ground.
We'll certainly put a link in the show notes. Is there anything else about the brand or the ethos that you wanted to share with the listener before we sign off for today?
[00:51:08] Randall: The long and the short is, you have to have a reason for existing. And in our case, we saw an opportunity to make something that fit our perspective on what the ideal wheel would be, and to pull it off at a price point that is affordable to a much bigger audience and to provide some, education at the same time.
So if you're curious about any of the concepts that, that we discussed here on the pod, I know we went pretty deep nerd here. Logos components.com hop in there. We've created some materials there to make it easy to get one's head around these things and, it applies to wheels more generally.
The last thing is, I really want to thank all the stakeholders who helped to make this happen. This is particularly Sam Jackson, our head of brand, who I mentioned before, as well as Angela Chang, our head of operations.
This is our vendors. This is various industry experts. Who've provided their 2 cents. This is the ridership community.
Many of whom I assume are listening who contributed their thoughts when I first posted the idea for this project some months ago and got a lot of positive feedback. And in fact, quite a few presales. So can't thank you enough.
And then Greg. The first conversation that we had was really the tipping point with thesis in terms of providing an opportunity for people to get to know us and to see our philosophy and how we approach things. And it's been immensely gratifying to be on this journey with you first as a guest and then now as someone who gets to do episodes, not just with you, but then explore ideas with guests that I bring on myself. So a lot of appreciation we would not be here if not for the support of those parties. And we feel excited about what the future holds.
[00:52:46] Craig: Well, cool. I mean, best luck to you and the team. It's always great to see. I I've always enjoyed your philosophy around the transparency of what you're doing and your openness to have discussions with people. I think you've whether it's the thesis brand and I'm sure the logo brand, you have an openness for discussion with people who are considering the, the products and whether or not they choose your particular product.
I think they'll understand your point of view and your commitment to providing and creating the product that you've arrived at in your mind. So kudos and congratulations. I look forward to continuing the journey with you. Obviously we'll have you back on the, for the listener, you'll be back on here for, into dared episodes in the future, and also doing deep technical dives around both bicycle componentry, but also the philosophies of community and, and general philosophy of what cycling brings to our collective lives.
So good to talk to you as always Randall. I wasn't surprised that we went a little bit longer today, but hopefully the listener can give us a little a little bit of room there for enjoying our conversations together.
[00:53:52] Randall: Yeah. And if anyone has any questions or comments please jump in the ridership in the logos channel or drop us an email.
[00:53:59] Craig: Cool. Thanks Randall.
[00:54:01] Randall: All right. Thanks Greg.
[00:54:03] Craig Dalton: That's gonna do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. I hope you learned a little bit more about Randall's background and are excited to check out logo's components. I know you can learn a lot just simply from visiting the website. As I mentioned, they've got. Breakdown diagram of the hub, which I found very interesting.
If you're curious about what a, a star ratchet looks like inside big thanks to our friends at hammerhead and the Caru two computer. Remember use the code, the gravel ride to get that free heart rate monitor with the purchase of your crew to computer.
If you're interested in connecting with me or Randall to ask questions about this podcast or otherwise best way to do it is simply join the ridership. It's a free global cycling community. It's at www.theridership.com. You can interact with the two of us, but also more importantly, thousands of other athletes around the world to answer your questions and share your joy and share roots from around the world.
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