Bike polo has been a sport of borrowing.
We borrow mallets from club mates when we start, we borrow face cages from hockey or baseball, we borrowed balls from street hockey and bikes from the track or mountain. We borrow and borrow and borrow.
Because of that, we often break the hell out of equipment because it’s simply not made to take the kind of violence that bike polo can dish out, and there’s no better example than the taco’d wheel.
Unlike other bike sport, bike polo makes wheels do all sorts of things that a wheel was not initially designed to take. It’s because of this that bike polo players generally roll through rims like butter on popcorn. But it looks like that tide may be changing.
The Velocity NoBS rim was made for polo–pure and simple. Inside and out, the rim was designed to take what you (and the opposing team) is dishing out. On paper it comes in 26 and 700c varieties, 32, 36 or 48 spoke count, and costs around $60.00 for the rim.
Here are some of the specifics from Velocity’s Website:
Rim Size: 700c
Tire Interface: Clincher
Valve: Presta 32 – 40mm
Bead Seat Diameter (BSD): 622
Effective Rim Diameter (ERD): 606
Tire Interface: Clincher
Valve: Presta 32 – 40mm
Bead Seat Diameter (BSD): 559
Effective Rim Diameter (ERD): 543
As you can see from the above graphic, the rims are designed to take lateral strikes and still keep true (you and I both know that any wheel will eventually fail under the right kinda stress, but the point is this rim was made to withstand more polo-appropriate punishment than other wheels). The internal reinforcement helps prevent denting and failure, leading you to spend less time trying to fix your wheels–and less money trying to replace them after every tourney.
Velocity sent a two of the 26″, 48 spoke variety to Lancaster polo a few months ago. As soon as I took them out of the box (imagine a small child opening presents on Christmas and you’ll have the visual), I could feel and see the quality of the build. With other wheels I’ve felt as though they were the weakest point of the bike (and they kinda are, really), but the NoBS wheels struck me as remarkably solid and strong.
Laced to Fixcraft’s Core series front disc and rear fix-free hubs (Which you can read all about in this post), the wheels looked like something that belong on the court just as much as any other piece of polo equipment. They are burly and act the part of a polo player’s wheelset.
And I just want to mention one thing here: these aren’t deep V, and frankly if you still think that matters for your polo bike, you’re horribly mistaken. Deep V, in my opinion, just means you have more chances to dent your rims. These rims are exactly what is needed: tight, well-constructed and hearty as a honey badger’s don’t-care-o-meter.
Despite what the whole world would think, I didn’t take these beauties for myself. I knew I needed to test these under a few different styles of players, and that’s exactly how the journey of these beautiful wheels came to pass.
Editor’s note: actually, they got passed around a few times until finding a home with a single player, giving me the opportunity to see how they responded to different types of play. Lucky for me!
They first went to Gene, who is by far the most tough-on-equipment player in our club. To give you some background, Gene has destroyed two bikes since I’ve been playing (maybe three?) and several sets of wheels. The dude is hard on his stuff, and that makes for a perfect chance to test out these Velocity NoBS rims.
Gene tested the rims for quite a while, doing his normal Gene stuff. He ran into other players, ejected himself from the saddle to let his bike crash front-wheel-first into the walls, and sometimes even just threw his bike around as a matter of course. During that entire time, the NoBS rims did exactly what they advertise: resisted denting, stayed straight and true, and didn’t once require old Gene to sit a game due to a mechanical issue relating to his wheels.
Next they went to another player (Irish), who is still heavy-hitting but far more technical. He reported that the wheels ran smooth and straight as well, which is surprising considering who the previous owner was. He took a few good crashes and made sure (for testing purposes only) to beat the hell out of the front wheel with his mallet while shooting to no effect–to the wheel, at least.
Finally, the wheels were past to Rodney, who is one of the newer players in our club. While I didn’t tell Rodney this exactly, I was happy that he had the wheels because of how often newer players…uh…crash. You could give wheels to a veteran and wait for years to figure out how strong the rims are, or you could give them to a newb and figure it out in fifteen minutes.
And after a month or so–and dozens upon dozens of high speed crashes–the NoBS rims are still staying strong and haven’t required much more than a few on-the-spot spoke tightenings.
But that’s just for the rim.
A little birdie has chirped to me that Fixcraft and Velocity are teaming up (and have in the past, in this case) to offer special deals on purchasing the Velocity NoBS rims already laced to Fixcraft Core series hubs.
Fixcraft was kind enough to send me a price list (which includes retail amounts, Velocity’s cost (without Fixcraft hubs) and Fixcraft’s price (with Fixcraft’s hubs):
Just a note here: these prices were given to me 2 or 3 months ago, so they might not hold true now. Either way, they’ll give you a ballpark price
Front Disc Hub
- Retail: $259.10
- Velocity: $187.99
- Fixcraft: $199.99
Front Free Hub
- Velocity: $142.99
- Fixcraft: $184.99
Rear Disc Hub
- Retail: $282.10
- Velocity: $227.99
- Fixcraft: $222.99
Rear Fix Hub
- Retail: $269.10
- Velocity: $172.99
- Fixcraft: $209.99
So you’re getting a deal either way (Velocity or Fixcraft), so you’ve got to decide if you want to go full fledged polo ready and get the Fixcraft hubs (which I highly recommend if you’re going to go 48 spoke) or the lower priced Velocity build, which uses standard hubs.
It should come as no surprise that I’m impressed with these rims. Velocity certainly did it’s research and took it’s time in developing something that polo players can benefit from. Our sport moves closer and closer to having all polo-specific equipment, and Velocity is certainly joining the chorus of companies who are aware and actively pursuing the opportunity to make their mark.
If you get these rims, you won’t be disappointed. They are well-conceived, well-constructed and…well…exactly what this sport needed.