If you’re a cyclist of – ahem – a certain age, like me, you remember learning to build your own wheels. You sourced your own rims, hubs, spokes and rim tape, and you’d set about the half-craft, half-science of creating your own rimmed masterpieces, spoke nipples perched in your mouth between beer sips and one hand threading spokes while the other one was holding open Jobst Brandt’s Bible of wheelbuilding, The Bicycle Wheel.
Astral Cycling, the new premium brand from Rolf Prima, is bringing back the custom built wheelset. Only their in-house artisans are the craftsmen, so you can get back to more important things, like finishing that beer without swallowing spoke nipples.
Astral builds wheels for adventure/gravel riding, road, mountain and tandem applications right in their home base of Eugene, Oregon. A little background on Astral’s parent company, Rolf Prima: after appropriating and purchasing the rights to the Rolf name and paired spoke technology from its original German developer, Rolf Prima began producing wheelsets, by hand, in Oregon.
Astral takes the handbuilt wheelset a bit further with customizable options so you can create the blueprint for your own bespoke spoked masterpiece. An example is the mid price-range Outback wheelset, built for adventure/gravel riding (hence its name). The wheels are built with Astral’s 25mm internal rim, and matched with your choice of three hub options. Astral uses an asymmetric (ASYM) rim design than improves spoke tension balance by up to 30%. This translates to balanced handling and precision steering you can rely on in even the most demanding conditions.
Built for the wider 32-35mm tires that now predominate, the Outback is designed for disc brakes and is available in both 700c/29” and 650b/27.5” options, with Tubeless Easy rims you can easily set up at home.
Check out Astral’s booth at this year’s PBE, or their website anytime at www.astralcycling.com.