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Introducing November Nimbus Ti hubs, manufactured by White Industries. Industry leading performance, unprecedented value. Complete wheelsets starting at $585.

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Wednesday
May272015

Tire Size Reëxamined, Again

Instead of, you know, actually racing this weekend, a friend and I went to VT and rode kind of just for the sake of riding.* To have the kind of weekend we always wished we could have when doing Green Mountain Stage Race, except without all the "I can't have a second beer/ice cream/a 4th pulled pork sandwich because I'm going to get dropped tomorrow if I do" type of tom foolery. It was fun. On Saturday, we did this really fun ride (and I don't mind telling you, I had absolute miracle legs that day), and when I got home and loaded it up, I realized we'd ridden the exact shape of Block Island. So that.

Anyhow, there's always a purpose to the madness, and this weekend's purpose was to test out a new kind of rim tape. In doing so, I had a rear wheel that was set up tubeless, and a front tire that was normal tube/tire. Front rim was a Kinlin XC279 (which if you aren't into tubeless may be your ideal rim, and we've still got a couple of them at a great deal wink wink hint hint), with a 23mm Michelin Pro4 Service Course. This measured just under 24mm wide. The rear rim was a Pacenti SL23, original recipe, with a Maxxis Padrone 25 set up tubeless. Front psi was in the mid to high 70s, rear psi was in the low 80s. Given the size differential between the tires, I thought that this was fairly well normalized (which is to say that had I had a larger front tire, I'd have bumped the pressure down a bit).

There are two questions we get far and away more frequently than any other: the first is how many spokes should a set of wheels have, the second is what size tires should I run. The answer to the first is involved and complex. The second is superficially incredibly simple: whatever you prefer. 

Well, my new answer to this question is that I find that I very much like tires that measure 25mm wide. Whatever they may happen to say on the side, I like them when they measure 25mm or a shade bigger. Let's look at the parameters...

The narrowest internal width rims I am ever on these days are 17mm, and the widest in my regular arsenal are 20. I have no idea what I like on a road bike with a 23mm internal rim, because I don't think I'll ever use on, and I know that the days when I rode 14mm internal rims are in the dark and murky past. In the range of rims I use, I prefer tires that measure 25mm. So... why?

1. They look right to me when I am riding. Don't discount this. It's an established fact that pro golfers prefer putters that make the noise they prefer, over all other characteristics. A 25mm tire looks wide enough that I'm confident in riding it on crappy roads, and it doesn't look too balloon-like. The front tire I used this weekend looked a little narrow, and I've ridden larger tires that looked like beach cruiser tires.

2. For me, they are the most comfortable. A lot of people have a preferred psi, and that's absolutely valid. I find that 25s allow me to use the range of psi on which I feel most comfortable. They feel right at that psi, which for the sake of quantifying it is 76 front and 84 rear. Those numbers are as good as any. I weigh 160. 

3. I generally find that I am exceedingly confident when cornering on said tires. 90% of the reason I even ride bikes is to go through the corners. The pedaling I can take of leave, but the corners are where it's at. 

It's taken me a couple of years of paying super close attention to this to even arrive at this conclusion, so your personal revelation may come more or less quickly than mine.

Last, yesterday I wrote the sentence "Maxxis Padrone tubeless has become my favorite road tire; tubed, tubeless, or tubular." I meant it. Your mileage may vary. 

Wednesday
May202015

This must be the place

The shop's Pandora machine (aka my old phone) has been playing an awful lot of Talking Heads lately, keeping the flow going and not letting me forget what a jaw-droppingly good record is "Speaking in Tongues." Alternately, I might have used "Cities" for the title, but this title better evokes how I feel about where we are - physically and metaphorically - which is that I love it. 

Everyone's probably sick of me blathering about sailing stuff with the Volvo race having been here, but it was a fun circus to have in town. Even if I did make one of the boats hit a rock on Saturday (you can catch a glimpse of my white hat under the cockpit dodger of my friend's boat in this video - and we actually played no part in their rock finding, it's just become a fun joke). But now it's gone and life is back to normal, which means building wheels. 

The Nimbus Ti has already been a bigger hit than we thought it would be. We still get a lot of questions about how dumbed down it is versus a T11, which is natural and understandable. Of course the answer is none, except that the T11 comes in colors and has perhaps a more refined looking hub shell. 

The benefits to us, and thus to you, of our newfound ability to build wheels in series production are huge. When we established the Nimbus Ti wheel set pricing, we knew it would be a challenge for us. The market is competitive, and you have a lot of choices. Basically, our pricing statement was "if we manage this as well as we can, this is the absolute lowest price that lets us make what we need to make in order to have a sustainable business." It takes a lot of work and focus, but we look at what's available for what price and know that our option is the best, period.

Physically, the shift to the new HQ has been transformative as well. There is still a bit of tuning to be done in order to better match the space to our operations, but in general the space itself and the location are so pleasing and energizing that it's somewhat shocking. The added bonus is that there is a bounty of pro sailors around who are always happy to pick up a day's work helping out with various projects. Whether that's building a new rim storage rack or making boxes and running shipping labels, or even learning to lace wheels, a nearly infinite supply of the world's most resourceful and competent people at the ready is just unfair. 

New primary rim storage rack. Pro sailors are good at building stuff

We've always prided ourselves on our responsiveness to contacts of all sorts, and still are. We had a chance to check ourselves recently in addressing a concern a customer had about whether the wheels he wanted would fit into his frame. I called and emailed the company that made his bike, and three days later have heard nothing. Fortunately, a friend owns the same bike that this customer owns, and that friend owns a set of Rails, so a quick confirmation text allowed us to circumvent what's unfortunately an all-too-common case of unresponsiveness. We are ALWAYS happy to help people figure out what's going to work and work best for them. We are less happy to entertain chiselers who want to tell us we're being unreasonable for not letting them get custom wheels at Nimbus Ti prices. Those non-productive conversations are maybe the most nefarious time threat we face, so while the guy in question may have been a little salty when I asked him to please look elsewhere, it's simply a case of us keeping our focus on what's important and what's working out so well for us. We won't be rude, but we are teaching ourselves to be more time aware in these situations.

I'm over the word limit, it looks like a beautiful morning, and it's time to go ride. Have an awesome day. 

Monday
May112015

Brown Bag Wheels

A lot of people have asked if we are going to sell Nimbus Ti hubs as a standalone parts, which we have no plans to do. There are a bunch of reasons behind this, among them:

1. They have a longer lead time than any other hubs we work with, even Tunes, and we don't want to put ourselves in the position of not being able to sell wheels because we sold too many hubs.

2. This has already proven to be a great move for us, and we don't want for it to turn bad for any of the relevant players. Our aim is to offer an exceptional product and value that helps us to continue to grow our wheel business. The plan has never been to disrupt the hub market in that manner, as we feel it would be counterproductive to do so. 

3. Without anyone ever having mentioned a price target for a would-be standalone hub, my instinct is that people would expect it to be lower-priced than it would be. 

4. We are able to offer a great range of rim and build options that give riders the ability to select and tailor something that will suit their exact needs, yet allows us to manage production efficiently. A great deal of the value in the wheels comes from exactly that - the job board is WAY simplified compared to what it looked like in the very recent past.  

We also have a mousetrap which allows people who want to use a rim that we don't offer, or who have a set of rims that need new hubs, to get precisely what they want: BYO rims. Send us your rims in the appropriate drillings (20/24/28 front, 24/28/32 rear) and we will build them with a set of Nimbus Ti hubs and black Sapim Lasers for you, for $500. If you must have CX Rays, those are $80 more. This includes the material cost of the hubs/spokes/nipples/skewers, plus the labor to build them. Return shipping is $35, as with all wheels. Turnaround time is roughly 10 days from receipt of rims. There are of course limitations - rims need to be in good shape, need to be from a reputable source (contact us to be sure), and hell hath no fury like a wheelbuilder who gets a set of nasty dirty rims or tubular rims with glue from one end to the other - but it's a tremendously consumer-centric program that we feel is unltimately a much better all around solution thanselling loose joints hubs.

Of course Rail rims are their own compelling argument, the new Pacenti SL23 v2 rim is taking off like a shot and is a beautiful rim to build, look at, and ride, and the Stan's rims are excellent as ever.

Questions, comments? Fire away. 

Sunday
May032015

Our New Hubs, Really This Time

If you've been paying attention, we've been teasing a new set of hubs. For as long as we can remember, we've recognized that there's a large and multi-faceted gulf between Asian-produced OEM hubs and premium hubs like Chris King, Tune, DT Swiss, and - let's just say it - our favorite, the White Industries T11. For some further insight into those particulars, you can read this blog from last week.  The long and the short of it is that there's a big jump in product (performance, durability, reliability) and price between the two groups, and we've wracked our brains trying to figure out how to address it. 

So let's get right to it. The new hubs are called Nimbus Ti. They are made by White Industries. Their most important features are shared directly with the T11: bearings, axles, cassette body, geometry, weight - all the same. Nimbus Ti hubs are available in front 20, 24, and 28 front drillings, and 24, 28, and 32 rear drillings. They come in the titanium grey/silver color as pictured here. 

As excited as we are about being able to offer Nimbus Ti Rails for $1385, hand built with a hub that's every bit the equal of anything on the market, we're perhaps even more so about the alloy builds. Take your pick of the rims we offer (including the new Pacenti SL23 Mk2), have us hand build them with black Sapim Lasers and Nimbus Ti hubs, and you're at $585. $585. There's quite simply no better deal in an alloy build anywhere on the market.   

This being cycling, and people being right to exercise skepticism when something like this comes out, let's talk about what compromises were made to bring the pricepoint to where it is:

1. Nimbus Ti are only available in one color

2. Nimbus Ti have a hub shell that is a simpler shape that's easier to manufacture

3. Nimbus Ti forego the machined logos of the T11 in favor of laser etching

4. November takes a lower margin on Nimbus Ti. We are able to do this through the efficiency of operations that standardized builds afford us. Purchasing and stocking is simpler. Build planning is way more efficient. The "oh crap he wanted blue nipples" scenario never happens. One decal color allows us to batch apply them. Marginal gains galore. 

5. Since this is our own hub in our own builds, all superfluous distribution costs are minimized or outright eliminated. Farm to table hubs, if you will. 

Plenty of wheels have been promoted as having "DT Swiss inners" in the hubs, so people ought to at least be a bit familiar with that concept. Nimbus Ti is a similar thing, only they have T11 inners. What do we mean by T11 inners?

Same non-drive bearing and placement

Same drive ring, drive side bearing, and placement

Same cassette body, axle, and pawlsIn the interest of full disclosure, the Nimbus Ti rear does weigh 3 grams more than a T11 rear, and the front is 4 grams heavier than a T11 front. We know weight is a big concern, but those 7 grams are the equal, weight wise, of 2 pennies. A bigger concern might be what to do with the weight of the tens of thousands of pennies you'll save. 

$1385

You can order your own set of hand built Nimbus wheels right here, right now. We get the first shipment of Nimbus Ti toward the end of the week and will build for received orders and for stock beginning immediately. 

The disc version is already well in the works, and will be ready in plenty of time for cross season. 

November remains resolutely committed to putting customers - riders -  first. Yes, we think that the Nimbus Ti project will improve our business, absolutely. But at a time when too much of cycling is asking you to pay more and more for the same and same, Nimbus Ti is so much more, for less. 

Friday
May012015

Our New Hubs!!!

Sort of an ante-climactic (yes, ante-) post here, since we got this notice from UPS:

WE'VE INCORRECTLY SORTED THE PACKAGE AT OUR FACILITY. THIS MAY CAUSE AT LEAST ONE BUSINESS DAY DELAY

So instead of building up the first sets with our actual honest-to-God fully live versions of the new hubs, we're dealing with our insurance policy and writing this blog. 

You thought the sign Mike got for outside was cool...

You've still got all weekend to get a set of Rails for $50 off by using your secret decoder ring to input "speedweek" at checkout (actually no ring of any sort is needed - just put the code in). The new hubs won't affect anything on that front. And the women are smashing it at Speed Week, and loving their Rails. We're getting to be quite the big deal, apparently. 

This has been a busy place this springMy keen wit probably cost us a sale when I told a guy "when people see what goes on with our new hubs and alloy builds, anyone who's dumb enough to buy anything else, I just can't help." I am indeed just like a box of chocolate. 

Bleached black has a HUGE lead over the chase group

So, back to insurance and building wheels that don't have our new hubs in them. Which is unfortunate, since I'm doing a 6 hour mtb race on Sunday and what exactly that's going to do to my Monday, no one can say. Actually I can, and what it will do is make me pretty useless.