HANDCRAFTED WHEELS BY CRAFTWORX
On the north side of Brisbane, there’s a small shop frontage that hides some impressive wheel production. Craftworx wheels was born in part from Velocity Rims, and what started as a wheel-building and repair service, has grown into a rim and hub design, hand-built wheel speciality company.
Meeting with Mark Kirby, he states that the company definitely has a South East Queensland feel – mostly as their growth has been so organic. Thanks to the skills of wheel builder Steven Craft, many people who buy Craftworx wheels have been personally referred by previous happy customers.
Made for riding
Craft and Kirby have developed a full range of wheels, including the carbon-rimmed Dirty Harry we tested last issue. But their range spans road wheels, XC wheels, trail riding wheels and wheels best suited to gravity riding. And while they have built rims and hubs with others in the past – they’ve used their long-term industry knowledge and cycling experience to develop hubs, rims and total wheel builds to suit each purpose.
“We are driven by function,” says Kirby, when I ask about what leads them in design. Wheels are designed with responsiveness in mind. Not total rim weight, or hub weight, but how the whole unit will operate. To this end, they avoid following trends - unless there is a true increase in functionality.
In the workshop Craft has a precision wheel truing stand, and a custom made jig for stressing spokes. Each wheel is prestressed to exact tolerances with the arm that has a built-in Wurth torque wrench. It helps seat spoke heads into the hub, stretches spokes, and beds nipples in too. It’s just a small part of making a long-lasting, great riding wheel.
But the rims need to be made for the task too. Craftworx has four alloy rims besides their Dirty Harry carbon rim. By working directly with factories to make the hubs and rims they want, Kirby and Craft believe they have made better wheels than what’s mostly available on the market. Each of their rims has a different width, but they’re also different in their stiffness. The demands of a rim for trail riding is different to that of a rim for gravity racing after all. It’s this ability to make the rim exactly what they want it to be that means they have only recently released a carbon mountain bike wheel – as alloy is such a hard material to beat.
“People remember reliability,” says Kirby, when asked about the key aim for their mountain bike wheels. And this message is starting to spread. Beyond the doors of their workshop, and beyond the Queensland border, more people are learning about the quality craftsmanship and intelligent design of Craftworx wheels. I was impressed with the Dirty Harry wheels I rode – maybe it’s worth checking out these Queensland crafted wheels yourself?