Tommy Barse

custom paint | custom wheels
My birthday 6 years ago… I still haven’t fixed my front tooth. One day…

My birthday 6 years ago… I still haven’t fixed my front tooth. One day…

icarusframes:

Cool paint teaser!

Hell yeah, Ian and Bryan! So happy I learned to paint from Bryan. (not my work but I wish it was!)

icarusframes:

Cool paint teaser!

Hell yeah, Ian and Bryan! So happy I learned to paint from Bryan. (not my work but I wish it was!)

MMXIV

I thought I should say hi and happy new year. I would like to make an effort to update this more frequently. 

Also, it’s been just over two years since I was struck and crushed by a car doing my last run as a courier. Six fractured vertebrae, fractured sternum and ribs, collapsed lung, severely sprained right ankle and knee… the list goes on. I am nearing the end of the legal battle with hopes that I can finally open my own paint shop. I am grateful for all those that have supported me through the struggle!

With all that out of the way I thought I’d share an article that I wrote for my bike shop’s newsletter. 

"The Case for Hand Built Wheels"

by Tommy Barse

There are many things on our bicycles that we have all considered upgrading.

“Maybe I should get a new cockpit. I hear Ritchey’s bar/stem/seatpost combo is solid…”

“I think I’ll spring for better tires next season. Tommy won’t shut up about those Challenge tires.”

“The Shimano road pedals have a wider platform than my Looks do. I’d like to try some…”

This is a common ‘identity crisis’ for a lot of cyclists new or experienced. There is always that Next New Big Thing. It’s not a bad thing! It is important to try different products and there are always new products being released. These products are generally an improvement to make cycling more enjoyable and comfortable. Upgrades make us feel good and make our bikes look good.

But what is one of the most important upgrades that will positively affect your riding experience? Judging from the title you already know: hand-built wheels. The significance of a wheel upgrade is twofold- performance and customization.

There is currently a strong appeal for wheels built by hand. Wheels can be built to suit any riding style on a custom level that stock wheel companies cannot come close to replicating. While there are merits to using wheel ‘systems’ like Mavic or Zipp; there is an issue of cost of maintenance as well as sustainability.

The pros include a well engineered system that, for all intents and purposes, is proprietary to the manufacturer; stiff and reliable acceleration and cornering; light weight and generally decent to good components as well as a limited warranty.

The cons of wheel systems can vary. Some manufacturers use poorly engineered hubs or proprietary spokes that are expensive to replace. Wheel manufacturers tend to change their designs over the years thus creating obsolescence. Some companies require difficult processes to replace a broken spoke costing both customer’s ride time and the shop’s time. This is only the tip of the ice berg.

Wheels made by hand from quality components in the right hands are a great investment. A good wheel builder will be happy to discuss what the best custom options are to a customer. The ability to service custom wheels is much simpler as well. The spokes in your custom wheels are easily available if there is ever a need for replacement. The bearings and freehub bodies are simple to replace. If the rim is ever damaged the wheel can be rebuilt. It won’t have to be shipped back to the manufacturer. The ability to offer a lifetime guarantee on a wheel is a testament to the care and professionalism of a passionate wheel builder.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options available from hubs; rims; spokes and nipples as well as spoke lacing pattern. It’s important for a wheel builder to understand where a customer is coming from.

A few questions that will arise from the builder:
-What is your riding style? Road? Mountain? ‘Cross? Commuter? Triathlon? Touring?
-Will these wheels be used in multiple disciplines?
-How much do you weigh?
-Is wheel weight a concern?

A good conversation (or two) about the wheels helps personalize the process. It will allow builder and customer to relate on a better level. Both builder and customer come away learning something and reinforcing an important relationship in the cycling community. Don’t hesitate to bring up the topic at the shop and with friends to get some insight.

Thanks for reading and let’s hope to log a ton of miles this year.

Music for building. Feeling the Super Champion energy! I love these rims!

icarusframes:

Hey, did anyone out there know that I had a bike at Interbike?  Well I did, and it was made of Carbon and Steel.  This photo shows a piece of it.Sure, plenty of folks make TIG welded Ti or Fe frames with Carbon tubes but it takes a real nut to fillet braze one with carbon!

Ian is an inspiration.

icarusframes:

Hey, did anyone out there know that I had a bike at Interbike?  Well I did, and it was made of Carbon and Steel.  This photo shows a piece of it.

Sure, plenty of folks make TIG welded Ti or Fe frames with Carbon tubes but it takes a real nut to fillet braze one with carbon!

Ian is an inspiration.

Going through old(ish) photos. This was taken at afterparty of the DC leg of the Triple Crown in 2011. I organized the Baltimore race; Meredith and Bruce (and maybe John Dinn?) organized the DC leg; Stu and Co. did the RVA leg which I could not attend. It was a really good time and I love this picture of what was then Baltimore’s finest (ha). Patrick is currently the only active courier from this photo. Photo courtesy of Kevin Dillard. L to R: Patrick (Handsome Jesus); yours truly; Bryan B; Jay Byrd.

Going through old(ish) photos. This was taken at afterparty of the DC leg of the Triple Crown in 2011. I organized the Baltimore race; Meredith and Bruce (and maybe John Dinn?) organized the DC leg; Stu and Co. did the RVA leg which I could not attend. It was a really good time and I love this picture of what was then Baltimore’s finest (ha). Patrick is currently the only active courier from this photo. Photo courtesy of Kevin Dillard. L to R: Patrick (Handsome Jesus); yours truly; Bryan B; Jay Byrd.

Big in Japan (and Germany). These hubs (Suzue Classica) are totally underrated. Buttery smooth, beautifully finished and not as heavy as you’d expect. More pictures of wheels coming soon.

SVEN NYS traint op Mallorca

I don’t know what that says but the video and riding look fun. ‘cross season is upon us.