As soon as I scheduled my trip to Minneapolis to attend the Freewheel Winter Bike Expo, I contacted Andy from Hed to see if I could visit their production facility and possibly, demo a set of their new carbon fat bike rims. As the date of my visit grew closer, Andy and I worked out all of the details to get me onto a set of their wheels. Since I usually ride a Moonlander with an offset rear wheel, I needed to find a a 170/135 symmetrical fatty to borrow for the weekend. Luckily, I have many amigos that ride fat bikes. I was stumped, for a little while, as to who would have the kind of bike I needed but wouldn’t mind swapping fat bikes with me for the Global Fatbike Day weekend. I thought of my amigo Steve Meurett who traded bikes with me at Gnomefest so he could get some time in on a Krampus. Steve is recovering from bionic implant surgery and can’t ride for a few weeks, but I decided to hit up my amigo Jamison. Jamison rocks a polished 9:Zero:7 and I hoped, since he’s in the middle of prime downhill ski season, he’d be up for the trade. I thought he would have to work on Global Fatbike Saturday anyway. I called Jamison and luckily, he was cool with the trade. Especially, when I told him that he (might) get a chance to ride set of Hed’s new Big Deal carbon rims. That’s right….the rim formerly known as Yo Momma, has changed its name to “Big Deal”. I bee-lined it up to Hed’s manufacturing facility up in the Twin Cities with Jamo’s bike and met up with Andy on a bitterly cold Friday afternoon.
They had my back wheel all ready to go, but they saved the front, so I could watch it being built. Andy sat at his desk and started slinging spokes as we chatted about his eighteen years at Hed. It looked as though he could lace a wheel with his eyes closed. I hung out in the build room and watched my test wheel come together. After the wheel was laced and tensioned, it gets put into a press that gives even side pressure to all of the spokes to simulate riding stresses and after that, the wheel gets retensioned and trued up and is ready for the trail. As I watched the process, guys were bringing in armloads of fresh, off the line, fat rams to the builders. Hed is a pet friendly company and I loved that there were puppies hang’n out, all over the office. When my wheel was completed we walked a short but frigid distance to another building, where they showed me how easy the Big Deal goes tubeless. The sound of the bead seating into the rim was like a small firecracker going off. They warned me, but I still jumped! We swapped out the wheels with Jamison’s and I was sent on my way back into the heart of MPLS with a bike that was 2 pounds lighter. I met up with my amigo Tyler and we rode from his house up to Adrian’s Tavern for my first, Juicy Lucy along with some great local beer. It was like, eight below zero and snowing here and there. I don’t think my beard has ever been so frozen (or happy)! The next day, I rode for a couple of hours out by Fort Snelling for GFBD. The wheels passed the ride test very well. Any concerns that I had about the wheels being weak or flexy, were erased by a very normal and stable ride feel. It’s hard for me to tell if the light and easy peddling feel that I experienced was from the (lighter than Moonlander) borrowed 9:Zero:7 or the Hed test wheels…. but I know that I liked that feeling. I think you would like it as well!
Upon my return home, I dropped off Jamison’s bike and we hatched a plan to get Sven to arrange a photo shoot of Jamison jumping the wheelset at Alpine Valley ski area, where Jamison is in charge of snow-making. I asked Jamison if he could build some four foot tabletops and later in the week he met up with Sven and got some sweet air shots.
Jamison is about 6 feet tall and approximately 190 pounds. The Hed wheels held up and stayed true!
The next stop on the Hed Big Deal testing schedule is a visit to Angry Andy’s trails and hopefully, get in some race laps, before we need to send the wheels back. Look for Andy’s report coming up in January.
For more information about Hed visit – http://www.hedcycling.com/