It's interesting, what you don't know about your pals; for instance, I never realized how many tires Derin Stockton was responsible for bringing to life. Maxxis Tires' High Roller, Swamp Thing, Wet Scream, Mobster and Kraken were all the fruit of his experience and intuition. It didn't stop there; he went to Intense Cycles and birthed the Spike, Edge, 909, Zero, DH and Intruder. The words "density", "ply", "durometer", "rebound speed", "tread siping" are part of his daily lingo. In the past couple years, he's been working with Panaracer Tires and created the Romero and Aliso tires. And he's just getting started.
He's asked me recently to create a couple wheel sets, one off road and one for road, as test beds for upcoming designs. He needs wheels that are sufficiently neutral that they disappear, so to speak; the wheels must become invisible to the point that they don't color Derin's perception of a tire's behavior. We needed hubs that don't come loose, rims that can take a beating and a sufficient number of durable spokes to hold everything together without drama. What did we choose? For the off-road set, we went with Shimano Deore XT 32 hole hubs laced to WTB Frequency I29 rims. Boring, right? I don't think so; not as sexy as XTR or any number of hubs from Portland, Petaluma, Asheville or Switzerland, these hubs are THE benchmark for reliability. I chose WTB Frequency rims because they just don't quit, ever. It's not a downhill rim but the internal I-Beam joining the inner and outer wall creates a terrifically rigid structure. I've seen too many wheels where spokes de-tensioned once a tubeless tire is mounted all because of flimsy, poorly designed rims, some of these from big name manufacturers; but the WTB refuses to yield to the pressure a tubeless tire can exert. I chose American-made Wheelsmith 14 gauge silver double butted spokes and brass nipples to hold it all together.
For the road set, we went with equally low-key, high quality gems. DT Swiss 350 hubs are reliable as an anvil and only slightly more complicated; they hold together and rarely need attention to keep working well. For rims we went with Easton's R90SL; of median weight among its peers, this rim has proved itself as a competent performer with no surprises. Once again Wheelsmith 14 gauge double butted spokes hold it all together -- this time 28 of them.
These wheel sets will allow Derin to focus in on the fine details of tire design, the small differences that can make a good tire really great; or consign a dog to the recycle bin a little earlier.
You can see the other things Derin is doing at http://santabarbaracycling.com or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 805 570 2486