Whilst there is a team of us behind the scenes, all our wheels are signed off by one person. He is likely to be both advising you on your dream build and building your custom wheels.
So here is a bit about Rob Hampton our senior wheel builder.
How long have you been riding?
“Like a lot of people I've ridden bikes for as long as I can remember. I started out on mountain bikes up in the Peak District when I was in primary school. I did some longer distance touring in secondary then picked up track and road cycling at university. Now I ride whatever I can get my hands on except for a unicycle! If anyone fancies teaching me how to ride one though I’m game to try.”
What got you into riding?
“For me It started as a means of transport and grew from there. We lived in the countryside so if I wanted to get anywhere it was a case of either wait 30mins for a bus or jump on a bike. There was a group that went out mountain biking at school and I turned up for a ride and it grew from there.”
What riding do you do mostly at the moment?
“I still do a range of road and off road cycling. Most of my off road is more toward cross country but I still enjoy the downhills. I will hopefully start doing some crit races again now that restrictions have lifted. I used to race fixed gear crits and its something that I’ve been desperate to get back into."
Why did you start building wheels?
“Because I kept breaking them! I was replacing spokes and wheels almost every month at one point. I’m 6ft5 and not kind to my bikes. So, yer I got to the point where I was fed up with having issues and started to build wheel for myself. Built my first wheel at 10 and haven’t looked back.”
You mentioned being unkind to your bikes. You have a reputation for using the wrong bike for lots of things. Do you think that’s fair?
“Haha I can’t really argue with that. I enjoy pushing bikes to their limit so yes. I've taken entry level mountain bikes to downhill parks. I ride a track bike 60k+ regularly and will often wind up going down some bridleway when I get lost. There is a reason that I get a lot of the new product to try and destroy”
What do you enjoy most about wheel building?
“For me there is the art of it. I can teach someone to build a wheel in an afternoon, but it takes years to perfect. No two wheels are exactly the same. You build one then the next takes more destressing to get it perfect. Or the rim is really responsive to spoke tension, so it feels like you blow on it and it comes out of true when building. When its finished there is a great feeling of knowing that that the wheel will now last for years and make the owner really happy.
We do such a mix of wheels here that no day is the same. I’ll go from doing a track bike wheel that’s going to be used in a velodrome, to doing a 20inch BMX wheel to smash around the local skate park. I love that the people are out there enjoying whatever riding they are into. I want them to have the best wheels to enjoy their riding without the fear that they're going to break."
Have you ever broken a spoke on wheels that you built?
“Yes, but very rarely. I've folded a couple of bikes in half and somehow still had true wheels. I have a set from 7 years ago that are still going after nearly daily use, that I am going to have to rebuild soon onto a new rim as the brake track has worn out. Most of the spokes I've had break these days are from crashes.