I’ve known Malcom for a while now. The image of him sitting on a bench in Reykjavik at the end of a walking expedition a few years ago regularly makes me chuckle; he hadn’t eaten for quite some time and was about to have a meltdown. Indeed he may have been mid-meltdown. It had been a long week. A week without a bike. Fast-forward 7 or 8 years and times have changed. He eats more often and in the time since the bench incident he has been wheeling away (pardon the pun) in his bike shop, The Cycle Clinic, in Glemsford on the Essex-Suffolk border. Malcom has always been an ardent cyclist, unafraid of a 100 mile commute and in some ways his latest goal of a 24hr tt (with a goal of riding 400 miles in that time) might sum him up; “Well there’s no point in setting a goal I could easily meet is there?”
Malcom's workshop at The Cycle Clinic in Glemsford
Since opening his bike shop, The Cycle Clinic in 2012 Malcom began to build his own wheelsets. His background in science and engineering and sheer love of the sport have informed their development and now Malcom builds 9 different versions for a variety of riding and riding styles. If you ask him about the whys and wherefores of wheel building there is a very real danger of being blown away by spoke tensions, asymmetric and symmetric builds, differences between what you need on a disc hub compared to a rim brake and how brass nipples might snap. At the end of such a conversation on this wintery afternoon he looks at me and says wryly, “I just know what works” and I trust that.
Miche hubs provide the centre to most BORG wheels
Malcom builds the majority of his wheels around Miche hubs, which are designed and built in Italy, because, “they work well, don't cost a lot, spares are readily available and reliability is up there with the best on the market”.
There are few better testers than Malcom himself; he rides every day and through the creation of The Cycle Clinic has made cycling central to his day-to-day life. All of the wheels he builds are tubeless-ready and come with ‘life-of-the-rims’ warranty against spoke failure (although for disc brake rims this is limited to 5 years or 10,000 miles as the rims “don't wear out”). The alloy-rimmed wheels are also warrantied against rim-cracking for the wear life of the rim for rim brake or 10,000 miles/5 years for disc brake hubs.
An undecalled BORG31 24mm wide, 31mm deep semi aero alloy clincher.
Depending on the depth of the rim, Malcom uses a mix of offset and non offset rims. “Offset drilled rims are great to improve tension balance and therefore the longevity of spokes. Proper fitting tubeless tyres compress rims and drop spoke tension so wheels now need all the help they can get. The carbon rims, being deeper, don’t have offset drilled rims. This would play havoc with the aerodynamics of the rim in cross winds”.
The BORG50. 50mm deep aero tubeless ready carbon clincher.
“Carbon rims have a 2 year unlimited mileage warranty against rim cracking that is not crash related, I tend not to quibble so I do warranties on trust. Carbon rimmed wheels are warrantied against spoke failure for the wear life of the rim. I would warranty the hubs but since I would fall over and faint if a Miche hub ever cracked a flange I don’t think this will ever be necessary”.
In order to improve ride quality, all BORG wheels use rims that have 19mm internal width which increases tyre volume and results in increased lateral grip. On this wintery afternoon, many of these rims lie safely tucked away in their boxes ready for assembly - reinforcing the fact that these are built to order. Many wheel companies will have wheels built overseas to their spec, not here, and the wealth of parts in the workshop eagerly awaiting their future homes is testament to that. It is here that I leave Malcom to box up another set of hoops for a new customer and venture back into the cold January day from the sanctuary of his cosy workshop.
Malcom can either be found riding around the wilds of Suffolk or hard at work at The Cycle Clinic and if you’re in the market for some round spinney things he should probably be on your list of places to visit. www.thecycleclinic.co.uk