Bearded Bespoked

What the heck does this beard have to do with Bespoked?

Bespoked 2019! The RyanBuildsWheels team attended another amazing edition of Bespoked. We had an awesome time, loved it, loved meeting all of you and are already looking forward to next year. Unfortunately, the experience was a bit marred  by the unconscious bias Joey experienced during the event. Read on…

I (hi, Joey here!) joined the business in October 2018 and this was my first Bespoked as an exhibitor. It was so exciting to meet other passionate makers and to see some legendary frames, tools and components in the flesh. I bought my first pair of ‘casual’ cycling shorts. Rock and roll.

We were lucky to be placed right next to Abbey Tools so, had the pleasure of shooting the breeze with some pretty awesome kinfolk from my country of origin… whilst drooling over amazing precision tools. (Next year I WILL possess a Crombie Tool, a Fit Kit and a Hanger Alignment Guage, at the very least.)

Highlights for me were Beaumont Bicycle (hey Liz!) Ingrid Components and LD Frameworks (anyone who has a purpose built pizza front rack and breaks out the red wine at lunch time at an event like this is someone I fully support!), Lauf Cycling, Varonha Frameworks and meeting the lovely team behind Just Riding Along. It gave us the warm fuzzies to be just down from both Starling and Clandestine, two local businesses for whom we have built, and continue to lovingly build, wheels.

The RBW Coop representing.

It was truly wonderful to speak to so many enthusiastic cycling and bike bods. One conversation that stayed with me was a chat with a Canadian woman whose husband was part of the group who established the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path. He recently suffered a stroke and was told to not ride his bike for at least a year. He was back out on his bike in about eight days and, rather than dole out a scolding, his wife rode behind him and would shout if he started to veer into a hedge or off the road!!

This was one of the very few women that I  spoke to whilst I was there. I was actually surprised that there weren’t more women attending or exhibiting. I know, we all know, cycling is still dominated by men in terms of media coverage and those working in the industry but, actually on two wheels, the demographics are changing* and I expected to see this reflected in the attendees this year.

*Speaking of wanting to change demographics and as a (much needed) side note: I want to start up a Women of Colour riding group – similar to what Jenny from LBK has done in London – to not only ride but discuss all things cycling and what issues within cycling are important to and affect us as women of colour – if you’re interested, get in touch! A further important side note: At this time I won’t go into the white-middle classness of the cycling world (another post in future) but I was disappointed that the crowd was majority white and seemingly middle class. I was one of three Asian exhibitors and Adrian, from Reilly Cycleworks, was the only black exhibitor (not sure he was actually on the stand but I did spot him walking around).

To give you some background, I am a recovering Civil Engineer so, I’ve worked in a male dominated industry before. In fact, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was a site visit to a viaduct, where I was the lead design engineer, and having to keep my cool whilst being continually called ‘girl’ by the client. Lovely.


Image result for vivien leigh resting bitch face

My face when called ‘girl’ on a site visit.

So, when I changed careers (I certified as a bike mechanic and planned to pursue mechanics work before I got this gig), I felt I’d be prepared to take on whatever the cycling industry might throw at me. Bespoked, and working in the RBW workshop, has been a wake up call. During Bespoked, whilst I stood at the front of the booth, being my most smiley and welcoming (which is pretty much me anyway), I would say about 80% of the men visiting our booth avoided eye contact, walked around me and asked Pete or Ryan their question. Questions asked ranged from ‘where are you located?’ (when I smile do I look that gormless that I wouldn’t know our address?) to technical things like engagement angles, bracing angles, etc. I started saying hello to men who were avoiding eye contact to get acknowledgement but I’d still experience a closed lipped smile and then be bypassed for the men.

I came into this job expecting existing customers to take a while to warm to me, and to maybe assume that I was the admin person at a glance. Our business name might lead people to think that we only have one male wheel builder… if, at the workshop, I’m standing at the wheel jig, building a wheel, we would hope that this might alter that assumption. Here I am, 9 months and a Bespoked later and still wondering why, when people appear door, a lot don’t say ‘hi’, or acknowledge me and head straight on over to the men. And there are the times when I’m struggling with a tubeless installation for a waiting customer and as they leave they will thank Ryan wholeheartedly but only give me a cursory ‘thanks’. (Insert stink eye face here, and sigh.) I make it clear that I’m open and friendly when anyone arrives by smiling and greeting them. So, dear readers, please don’t hesitate to say ‘hi’ back and a ‘bye’, when you go, with a sincere ‘thanks for your help’ to let me know you appreciate the work I do that contributes to your wheelset.

By the final day of Bespoked I was so fed up with being ignored that I wore a fake beard to see if more men would talk to me. It started a lot of conversations and I realised that men who are in a position to do some effective influencing are seemingly unaware of the issue I’ve experienced.

I’d like to shout out to male allies and say: Confront the behaviour I’ve experienced when you see it, or if your female counterparts are telling you it’s a problem! Also, my thanks to those repeat RBW customers who already greet me by name and have a chat with me – you’re the proof that it’s not ‘all men’ and my hope that things are shifting (and that I won’t need to actually wear that beard).

I’ve been part time up until 1st June and am now full time (yay!).  In the next couple months we’ll start getting me more involved in discussions with customers.  With the extra hours I’ll start gaining more product knowledge, learn how to advise on wheel builds, and be able to start answering technical questions – you’re welcome not to take the bypass and have a chat!

There are a lot of people, of all genders, in the industry actively trying to change the  behaviour I’ve experienced and the attitude behind it… I’d like to see this happening faster and across the board! I posted about my experience at Bespoked on my own personal Instagram and the responses I received showed me that I am far from alone in feelings of frustrations about this. It’s time for a revolution.

Me and Lucy of Greaves Cycles papped while smashing the patriarchy!


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Post Bespoked Wheelset Price Crash!

We recently built a number of wheelsets to show at Bespoked, The UK Handbuilt Bicycle Show and it was excellent! We now have these wheelsets to sell at a fantastic 20% off! Buy ’em now before they’re gone! We’ll be adding direct link to these in the web shop over the next few days – alongside more pictures and in depth specification details – but if you can’t wait, give us a call and we can sort it out over the phone!

Well worth noting that on almost all of them we’ve used hubs that have interchangeable axle end caps and freehub bodies; if you need them in, say, quick release rather than thru axle, an XD or Campag driver rather than Shimano, then we can almost certainly do that and at no extra cost!

Grab ’em whilst they’re hot and click title of each wheelset for a link to it’s page in our shop to purchase!

The 420’s – 27.5″/650B disc brake gravel wunderkinds!

1460g / £455 £364

Our go to high end Gravel and XC MTB build! With the Velocity Blunt SS rims (28 hole front, 32 hole rear) , Bitex centre lock disc hubs (BX106F and BX106R – both 12mm through axle), double butted black spokes and black alloy nipples.

The Affordables – 700C rim brake SOLD!

1515g / £235 £188

Our entry level road wheels are a great upgrade versus cheaper factory sets.  They’re built with Kinlin XR220 (front) and XR270 (rear) rims (28 hole front and rear), Novatec A141SB (front) and F162SB (rear), double butted silver spokes and silver brass nipples.

Polka Dot Climber – 700C rim brake

1420g / £455 £364

The Polka Dot is a lightweight climbing wheel that can carry a max rider weight of 75kg however, riders weighing sub 65kg, carrying no extra load, could use these as an every day wheelset. The rims come from a well respected factory in Taiwan, capable of working with 6066-T6 alloy – naturally stronger than the traditional 6061 used in most rims. They come with a ceramic braking surface, similar to Mavic’s Exalith, that require specific brake pads (Swiss Stop BXP pads come free with this set) and extra rider care and maintenance. This wheelset has 20 hole spoke count on each wheel and comes with Bitex RAR10 (front) and RAR9 (rear) hubs, silver bladed spokes and silver alloy nipples.

Carbon XC Gold Standard – 700C disc brakeSOLD!

1350g / £808 £646.50

A race ready set of stupid light XC wheels ready to smash PB’s and win podiums.  The XC Gold Standards comes with Light Bicycle XC925 carbon rims, flyweight at the front and standard at the rear (28 hole front and rear), Bitex centre lock disc MTB hubs (BX212F – 15mm through axle and BX212R – 12mm through axle), black double butted spokes and silver alloy nipples.

Road Disc Alloy – 700C disc brake  SOLD!

1510g / £470 £376

This performance focused road set comes with rims from a well respected factory in Taiwan, capable of working with 6066-T6 alloy – naturally stronger than the traditional 6061 used in most rims (24 hole front and rear). They are set up with Bitex centre lock disc hubs (BX106F and BX106R – both 12mm through axle) in blue, black Sapim CX Ray bladed spokes and blue alloy nipples. Is  your bike blue or some other contrasting colour? Buy these wheels!!!

Trail Finder/Gravel Grinder – 650B disc brake

1775g / £451 £337

Our Finder/Grinders continue to use our favourite OEM rim manufacturer with a 28 hole front and 32 hole rear setup. These rims are ideal for large volume gravel rides and singletrack based mountain biking delivering excellent value for money even at full price; here they’re an absolute steal! This pair are set up with Bitex 6 bolt disc hubs (MTR12 front – 100*15mm through axle and  142*12mm through axle rear), black double butted spokes and silver brass nipples.  They’ll do any common axle standard but Boost and we can switch them over to whatever you need in less than a minute.  Need a SRAM XD rather than Shimano driver? Same applies, no extra cost!

Carbon Disc Road – 700C disc brake  SOLD!

1520g / £883 £706

Our go to performance disc road set comes with the legendary Venn Rev 507 TCD unidirectional finish carbon rim (24 hole front and rear), Bitex straight pull centre lock disc hubs (BX312F and BX312R), black bladed spokes and internal alloy nipples for a setup which is wonderfully stable and stupidly fast! A set of high end carbon handbuilts at a price less than most entry level carbon setups from lesser wheel based businesses? You’d be stupid not to!

SHUTUPANDRIDE!!!!! 27.5/650b High End MTB Enduro Race Wheels

1520g / £530 £440

Our go to build almost every time for high end MTB setups! Presented here in their ‘basic’ setup using a custom blend of Sapim Butted Spokes, the legendarily bombrpoof DT Swiss EX471 and a pair of Hope Pro4 hubs, all in black with DT Swiss Squourx Alloy Nipples in Silver. As ridden to exclusively by the Starling Cycles Race Team to many podiums across the UK.

RBW’s Over and Out! Any questions? Get in touch!

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Why we’re not touching Black Friday

An alternative view on this most sacred of days:

Black is one of our favourite colours; it makes most of our wardrobes intensely simple, goes well with Ryan’s favourite red and white aesthetic, makes wheel components available in a great looking gloss, satin or shot peened options, allows an anodised nipples to really pop or for silver spokes to hit that sweet high contrast.  If there was a flag we were going to wave then it’d almost certainly be black and Black Flag are a fucking excellent, right on kinda band.  We like black, we like it a lot.

Let’s just say that we feel differently about Black Friday…that awful cut price, product pushing, heap of emails trying to sell you shit you just don’t need year after year; it’s almost as bad as Christmas…

Consider this; days termed ‘black’ are usually pretty awful! Here’s a few from the ages:

-Battle of George Square, a riot stemming from industrial unrest in Glasgow.
-The 1978 massarce of Iranian’s protesting against an oppressive monarchy.
-1910’s mass arrests of Suffragette demonstrators preceded by accounts of police violence both physical and sexual against many women interviewed after being released.
-The Haymarket affair in which 7 protestors were hanged on charges of a bombing that took place during a gathering of the people; a black day for all sides regardless of opinion.  The Haymarket Rally stemmed from a desire for workers rights and demands for an eight hour day.

Given the above examples we’d put forwards two arguments. Firstly that a day geared towards the consumer being able to access shiny new toys on the cheap is somewhat offensive to the struggles and at times sacrifices that many have made for the liberties, freedom and rights that many of us take for granted.  Secondly, that maybe, just maybe, our  modern day Black Friday truly is a travesty.  If – like us – you feel that the sheer amount of stuff that humanity consumes and creates, not forgetting the potential for societal and environmental damage that the creation of said stuff causes, then today sure does feel pretty dark. We’d prefer to work towards a future that doesn’t look quite so bleak.

You may have noticed that there’s three people in that picture up top. Funny for a business with just one person’s name…the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ have been used  a lot too; isn’t RyanBuildsWheels more of an ‘I’ kind of affair? Not any more!

Allow us to help you meet the team. On the left you’ve got Ryan; Bristol’s very own bearded bike grouch and wheel wizard; he’s responsible for making all this happen, and is just about fed up with the way of the world; he’d love to help make it look better.  Front and centre please welcome Joey. Joey joined us in September 2018 as it started to become obvious that more folks were needed to build as many awesome wheels as we do. Joey’s busy learning the craft and wants you to Google ‘Seitan’ immediately.  That guy on the right? Meet Pete, he’s our resident ‘Spoke Bloke’, sales manager and all round good egg. If you’re ordering custom cut spokes from our sister site SpokesFromRyan it’s Pete who will sort you out and who’s careful callused hands pack your new high end hoops as they wing their way to your door.

What’s all this got to do with an anti Black Friday diatribe? Simple; profit before people.  There’s three of us working here now, and you’ll notice that many of the example events from earlier focus on worker’s rights.  Do you know how many people you need to form a workers co-operative whereby profit is shared fairly between those whose labour is directly tied to the means of production rather than being skimmed off the top by owners who feel that the livelihood and well being of their workforce is somehow worth less than their own? Three!!!

Here at RyanBuildsWheels we’re working hard to make becoming a workers co-operative a reality and you can expect to see some exciting news and changes in how and what we offer over the coming months.  We’re keen to make sure the wheels we build are the best that you buy for whatever budget you may have, crafted by skilled, knowledgeable people who’s time and effort are fairly valued.  We’re about quality over quantity, and – you know what – if we gave into something as whimsical and offensive as reducing the value of the product we create then somewhere, quality has got to give; be that in the livelihoods of the people that the business supports or just how fucking excellent the wheels we build truly are.  Those are two things that we’re not going to budge on; not now, not ever. And if that means we miss out on the chance to de-value ourselves and our product in exchange for a little extra cash, then so be it.  We’ll be here, year after year, waving our black flag proud; building wheels that come in all shapes, sized and colours, but – we think – very often look best in that classic shade; black.


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Winter Training Wheels Autumn Sale

Winter Training Road Wheels

Sorry to draw on an old cliché but yep, Winter is coming.

If you’re serious about riding road you’ll want to consider a pair of Winter Training Wheels.

You can see my hand built winter wheels in my shop, contact me for a quote on a custom wheel set… or read on for some insight on what I’d recommend for your Winter Training Wheels.

A decent set of winter wheels are a great way to make the winter much more bearable and to save wear and tear on your pride and joy. Why? They’re tougher, wider and a bit more robust than your summer race wheels.

Where conditions get a bit wetter and slippier they’ll offer a bit more confidence thanks to a wider rim and tyre combination and a few more spokes. They’ll also be a bit more resistant to winter weather and the dreaded road salt. They’ll churn out the miles and you can keep your race wheels tucked away safe from the elements.

The downside is a bit of added weight – but – they’re for training, right?


What rims, hubs and spokes should you chose for winter training wheels?

Winter training wheels have a lot asked of them. They need to be tough, versatile, cost-effective, light enough and capable of grinding on all winter without suffering to the elements.

There are plenty of decent machine-built wheels out there for you to consider … but getting them hand build by an expert means a much better quality build that will stay true for much longer.

There’s also the ability to be more selective over your spokes, hubs and rims to get the wheel that exactly fits you and your riding.

Sturdy, comfy rims.


I’d recommend a sturdy rim that allows for a straight up 32 spoke, 3 cross build (that means that the spokes cross each other 3 times for stiffness and strength).  A 28 spoke, 2 cross set up for the front wheel can save a bit of weight without much impact on sturdiness.

I consider the ever popular H Plus Son Archetype to be the quintessential choice.  It has a deeper, wider V section than most and an excellent high quality finish. Best of all, a down to earth price means that you a set of new wheels could cost you as little as  £250.

Tough, durable hubs.


Your winter hubs need to be workhorses that can grind out hundreds of miles in all weathers, maintaining their performance well into the spring. They need to be easy to service and they need to be light enough that they won’t turn your bike into a tank. The old addage of “weight, price, strength … pick two” applies more than ever!

Here are three of my favourite choices for Winter Training Wheels that fit a range of budgets.

Shimano 105 hubs

  • A great value option for the budget conscious
  • £76.50 a pair
  • 523g a pair
  • Cup and cone bearings are easy to service

Bitex hubs

  • Tough and weather proof whilst keeping costs down
  • £100 a pair
  • Just 301g a pair
  • UK weather-proof treatment keeps them robust
  • Optional stainless steel bearing upgrade for an extra £40

Hope hubs

  • A bit more money but brilliant performance and serviceability
  • £204 a pair
  • Made in the UK
  • Pro4 and MonoRS offer disc and rim options
  • Very easy to service and very reliable with easy access to spares
  • Cartridge bearings for legendary durability

Spokes and nipples


I’d recommend either Sapim Race or the lighter triple butted Sapim D-Light spokes. They’re tough, durable and very good quality. Black anodised spokes both look very smart and offer added resistance to corrosion.

Nipples will depend on your budget. Silver brass nickel plated nipples can help to keep costs down … but Sapim’s excellent 7075 T6 heat treated nipples are a great upgrade. They’re more resistant to corrosion from wet, salty roads and come in loads of great colours.


Looking for winter training wheels?

You can find several great pre-built sets all handbuilt by myself in the shop.

For those that have read this far though a little secret: all those wheels are also up for auction in our eBay Store with reserve prices set to over 40% off or more. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. All auctions end Sunday 6th November.

I’m also offering 15% off labour AND parts for all winter training wheels ordered before the end of November. This could be a set of wheels from the kit above or something totally custom.

If you’d like to talk wheels, place an order or get some advice … you can contact me here.

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25% off Ready to Roll Wheels!

***Up and coming stock builds listed at the bottom!***

It’s easy to accumulate a good amount of spare hubs and rims as a wheelbuilder…and this past year has been no exception! As well as the hundreds of custom builds that have kept me busy out of any downtime so as not to wreck productivity I build the odd ‘stock’ wheel when it’s quieter.  Built to slightly less than my usual exacting tolerances (0.1mm runout, 5% tension balance; these are 0.25mm at the most, balanced to within 10%: still pretty close!) these represent wheels built to the standards of quality that you’d be able to buy from most quality bike shops if you asked for a set of handbuilt wheels from them.  I price all of these wheels at 25% off their usual RRP thus representing a real bargain: contact me for purchase details.  Complete wheelsets can be shipped from as little as £12.50.

See details below and keep on scrolling down to see what else will be available shortly. Once these are gone, they’re gone so grab ’em now!

hand built winter training wheels Archetype ultegraQuality Winter Trainers £275/1800g SOLD

  • -Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed Hubs
  • -Front Hub New
  • -Rear Hub Fully Reconditioned
  • -Silver Sapim Laser Spokes at Front
  • -Race/Laser Mix at Rear
  • -Sapim Sils Brass Silver Nipples
  • -Mavic Open Pro Hard Anodised CD Rims
  • -32 spoke, 3x Pattern
  • -Excludes Skewer, Rim Tape Included
  • -Looks great with a raw titanium frame ;-)!WAS £369! Now £275!




I built these purely because I ended up with the rear hub in my possession and I love Ultegra’s Ice Grey colour! It’s a great match with the long lasting CD Open Pro finish whose hard anodising means they’ll last longer in the winter months.  Another option for a custom build might be an H Plus Son Archetype which is a much more modern design of rim.
Spoke choice saves those crucial grams, whilst everything else is designed for winter punishment from the excellent seals of the hubs to brass over aluminium nipples.




Budget Winter Trainers £150/2020g

  • -Shimano Sora 3300 10 Speed Hubs
  • -Black Sapim Race Spokes Throughout
  • -Sapim Sils Brass Silver Nipples
  • -Ryde Chrina 700c Rims
  • -32 spoke, 3x Pattern
  • -Skewers Included, Rim Tape IncludedWAS £200! Now £150!






Handbuilt quality with solid, trusted and dependable components at a great price!

A pair of good quality factory built training wheels retail at about £145, for a mere £5 extra you have a pair of wheels that are handbuilt and come with all of the bonuses of having been so.

I wanted to offer an entry level wheelset that will last the course, take the hard knocks, and yet not cost the earth. This is they…




Still to Come/Available on Request!

  • Winter Trainers, Silver:  Shimano Tiagra Front Hub/105 5700 10 Speed Rear Hub, Sapim Laser Spokes, Open Pro Rims. £245 £180!
  • Uber Winter Traines/Adventure Wheels: Hope Mono RS, H Plus Son Archetypes, Sapim D-Lights with Alloy Nipples. Stealth Black Throughout.£495 £370!
  • Trad Quality Road/Cross Wheels/Trainers: Shiman0 105 11spd Hubs, Sapim Race Spokes, Mavic CXP Pro Rims.  £305  £225!
  • Custom Painted Modern Road Trainers: Shimano 105 11 Speed Hubs, Sapim Laser Spokes, H Plus Son Archetypes, Black Alloy Nipples.  The rims are being custom painted by 7PotCustoms here in Bristol and will carry our logos. Deep Gloss Black. £335 £250!
  • Bombproof 700c Tourers, Silver: Shimano XT T-780 Hubs, Sapim Race Spokes, Ryde Sputnik Rims. £213 £160! SOLD!
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