Carbon has long been the material of choice for performance bike wheels. Boasting stiffness, strength and weight benefits over other materials, there is a lot to be said about a set of fantastic plastic hoops can offer.
Not to be considered an inferior material, a set of alloy rim equipped wheels can offer most of the performance benefits of a carbon set. Realising this gave Hunt co-founder, Tom Marchment, the inspiration to create hardy wheels like the 4Season Disc and the much loved Race Aero Wide.
"I am a huge proponent of a good set of alloy wheels... alloy remains top of the tree in terms of £-£ performance."
Tom Marchment | On Alloy Wheels
We sat down Tom to ask him why he believes the metallic variety of wheels is still a fantastic material which continues to inspire new up-and-coming wheelsets.
Name: Tom (or Thomas!!! when I was in trouble with my Mum) Marchment
Age: 35 (wow, that’s gone fast)
Born and Bred: Born in Leicestershire (returned for uni at Lboro, pretty flat but, windy enough to make the legs hurt). Grew up on the Isle of Man, there’s a saying about 80k ppl [who enjoy a drink] clinging to a rock, not far off the mark but it’s also a sports (including cycling) mad place.
Ice breaker – describe yourself in three words. “Pain In ‘Arse”, at least that’s what my Yorkshire bred wife might say! From a bike point of view I’d say “too excited by bikes” sorry couldn’t get it in 3 words, oh and doh may be the fact this is now about 70 words shows I never shut up!
We know you’re busy with planning exciting things for 2018, so we’ll try to keep the questions as on topic as possible! Firstly, 2017 has obviously been great for us, how would you describe the year’s progress for HUNT and The Rider Firm more broadly?
It’s been amazing and being able to listen, learn and create more great products for all you dedicated riders out there has just been incredible. Working with more riders working here at HUNT | TheRiderFirm with cool ideas and feedback just makes every week exciting. Of course there are always spreadsheets and a million emails to do but I just can’t wait for 2018 and all the new products, taking our now legendary customer service to the next level, new website and of course some great events!
This week we are looking at celebrating all things alloy. As we’ve discussed in the office a lot, aluminium is a material often underrated and overlooked in cycling. What’s your take?
As always these things are never simple and I tend to take the view that pretty much all technology in cycling has it’s place where it works for the right types of riders. Of course carbon in wheels offers some significant benefits and I do choose to ride carbon wheels on my road race bike for some much needed free speed from the extra aero benefits (obviously from depth but also from external width) but in reality I most often reach for alloy wheels for road, CX, gravel and of course MTB. A high spec light weight alloy wheelset just offers such amazing bang for your buck in terms of a performance upgrade from the standard wheels supplied on bikes. Plus, if alloy does get damaged, can often be bent back into shape (of course we have to say; please get a mechanic to check any damaged parts). I am a huge proponent of a good set of alloy wheels and often surprise customers who ring up considering carbon and I suggest they save money and go for alloy. Obviously disc brake wheels have taken away the rim wear issue from rims, but alloy remains top of the tree in terms of £-£ performance.
Leading on from this, do you see a big & bright future for alloy both in frame and wheel design?
Yes, hugely, as alloy materials, forming and production techniques continue to advance I think we will see some impressive weights and new shapes being produced in both rims and frames. We are already testing a new high end 6069 alloy Gravel Race disc rim that is very wide at 20mm internal, mid depth at 25mm deep (many light MTB rims are under 19mm) and weighs as little as 385G! Watch this space for more info in the spring, this wheelset will smash carbon out of the water and the whole wheelset will weigh around 1440g, have 28 spokes and brass nipples and sell for just under £500, half of the cost of carbon!
Final question on this topic, what’s your favourite property found in alloy componentry?
Simple; super easy to bend back.
So, what’s your cycling story? When did it all start and why?
Actual riding; I remember my Dad putting in endless hours holding the back of my saddle, so massive thanks to him and we regularly ride together now, in fact he still tows me round wheel sucking him on his road bike…I mean what kind of nuts 65 year old can do a sub 23 minute 10 TT!
My proper riding started when I was about 18, a guy called Stu, who owned Pedal Power the Bike shop near our school, was totally cool and did shuttle runs so we could thrash our hardtails down the local trails, oh and take the piss out of each other, good times.
First & favourite bikes you owned?
First posh bike (so it seemed when I was 18) was a second hand Scott Team Limited in bright yellow, a hardtail with Rock Shox Judys. I loved it and it saw some serious action even in Morzine, although that pretty quickly lead to spending all my cash on a full DH bike. Road bike wise, twas a trusty Spesh Allez in sky blue, I worked at a Spesh dealer at the time, it’s still my turbo bike.
Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo?
I have at least one bike with each in my garage, but I have to say SRAM is really advancing in areas such as wireless, 1x cross and Eagle 12 super wide range for MTB, which puts them beyond the other two for me. I can’t deny Shimano is just so good at the basics of shifting being perfect.
Mathieu or Wout?
I’m just not qualified to make this decision, as I don’t watch enough CX like Ollie, Stan and Jack do here. Hey I’ll throw my own in; Flanders or Roubaix? Flanders; after riding the Cyclo with my Dad and brother Pete 3 times it’s got special memories and the Belgians are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and the place is just cycling crazed.
What grinds your gears?
Misplacing my tools.
We like to end with a crash story… What was your biggest cycling accident/crash, and how much stuff did you break?
I crashed into a tree in Morzine once, knocked myself out and woke up a few minutes later to find I’d puked in my full face helmet, not a nice smell for the rest of my holiday.