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Just finished my PhD on bicycle wheels...

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Just finished my PhD on bicycle wheels...

Old 12-11-18, 05:07 PM
  #1  
dashdotrobot
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Just finished my PhD on bicycle wheels...

Hey folks,

My name is Matt and I'm a cyclist and bike geek living in Chicago. I am heavily involved in a wonderful little non-profit community bike shop called The Recyclery. A few years ago I picked up a copy of Jobst Brandt's book The Bicycle Wheel and got interested in wheels and wheelbuilding. I got so interested I made it the subject of my PhD thesis in Mechanical Engineering! I developed a theoretical framework for stress analysis of the wheel, and specifically studied the "taco-ing" problem.

I just did a solo bike tour from Chicago to Minneapolis and definitely caught the touring bug. I ride a Velo Orange Campeur (with a custom wheelset, of course) and a Dahon folding bike around town.

I teach bike maintenance classes at The Recyclery and I've attended Bike!Bike! a few times (conference for non-profit bike shops), but otherwise I haven't spent much time connecting with other bike enthusiasts online. I'm hoping to connect with the BikeForums community!
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Old 12-11-18, 06:05 PM
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Cool thesis. Will it be available to the public?

Oh, and welcome!
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Old 12-11-18, 06:14 PM
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79pmooney
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Welcome! I've been building wheels for decades. Never got too analytical about it and the book I've owned nearly forever is the far simpler "Building Bicycle Wheels" by Robert Wright from the same neck of the woods. I was introduced to him, by of all things, a wheel that did not taco. A story with a happy ending. Santa Cruz Cycling Club Saturday morning ride with its town line sprint. Less than a year after I hung up my race wheels. I went early and got passed by the local hotshot with a strong newbie on his wheel. Hotshot snapped over to my line as soon as he was past me to shed this newbie into the wind but the newbie came over also. Suddenly I had a rear wheel where my front belonged. It was crash or make contact. I elected contact and leaned my bike into his. Long crunching sound. We separated and I rode the wobbly bike to a standstill.

Another rider also stopped, introduced himself and thanked me for keeping it up. He was on my wheel and would have been the next to go down. Wrote off the rest of his ride, went home for his truck and drove me home.

That wheel had 8 consecutive right-side spokes cut (out of 36). It was a Weinmann Concave laced with light, not so tight spokes. No lasting damage, just needed new spokes. Fork had paint removed at the top of the inside left blade from the tire. I feel I owe a lot to a super stiff rim and the advice of the racing bible of the day, the Italian C.O.N.I. manual which recommended the not-so-tight spokes so you could finish a race missing one or two (in the days when quick wheel changes were not to be counted on). In this case I would have been at the bottom of a pile of, oh, half a dozen bikes and riders after a quick deceleration from close to 30 mph.

Ben
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Old 12-11-18, 06:53 PM
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Welcome, and congrats on finishing the PhD!

Did you pass through La Crosse, WI by any chance? We love cycling here!
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Old 12-11-18, 07:11 PM
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Congratulations on your PhD!
.. and welcome
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Old 12-11-18, 08:01 PM
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Welcome to Bike Forums Matt!
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Old 12-11-18, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Cool thesis. Will it be available to the public?

Oh, and welcome!
Should be available through the library of the granting institution. Which university did you attend Matt?
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Old 12-11-18, 08:22 PM
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Wow! Welcome to Bike Forums, dashdotrobot!
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Old 12-12-18, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Cool thesis. Will it be available to the public?

Oh, and welcome!
Absolutely! I can't post links yet (10 post rule), but you can find a link on my C.V. page of my personal web page: dashdotrobot [dot] com. It's a completely "open-source" dissertation: all the code is available on my GitHub page: github [dot] com / dashdotrobot.
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Old 12-12-18, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Welcome! I've been building wheels for decades. Never got too analytical about it and the book I've owned nearly forever is the far simpler "Building Bicycle Wheels" by Robert Wright from the same neck of the woods. I was introduced to him, by of all things, a wheel that did not taco. A story with a happy ending. Santa Cruz Cycling Club Saturday morning ride with its town line sprint. Less than a year after I hung up my race wheels. I went early and got passed by the local hotshot with a strong newbie on his wheel. Hotshot snapped over to my line as soon as he was past me to shed this newbie into the wind but the newbie came over also. Suddenly I had a rear wheel where my front belonged. It was crash or make contact. I elected contact and leaned my bike into his. Long crunching sound. We separated and I rode the wobbly bike to a standstill.

Another rider also stopped, introduced himself and thanked me for keeping it up. He was on my wheel and would have been the next to go down. Wrote off the rest of his ride, went home for his truck and drove me home.

That wheel had 8 consecutive right-side spokes cut (out of 36). It was a Weinmann Concave laced with light, not so tight spokes. No lasting damage, just needed new spokes. Fork had paint removed at the top of the inside left blade from the tire. I feel I owe a lot to a super stiff rim and the advice of the racing bible of the day, the Italian C.O.N.I. manual which recommended the not-so-tight spokes so you could finish a race missing one or two (in the days when quick wheel changes were not to be counted on). In this case I would have been at the bottom of a pile of, oh, half a dozen bikes and riders after a quick deceleration from close to 30 mph.

Ben
What a story! I haven't read the Wright book, but I'll likely check it out. It's interesting you mention the "not too tight" spokes. One of the results in my dissertation is a formula for the maximum tension a wheel can be built to without tacoing (on its own, that is). Turns out the lateral stiffness of the wheel _decreases_ progressively with tighter spokes, so a good wheel should be a balance of tight enough so the spokes don't buckle and not so tight that the rim buckles.
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Old 12-12-18, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Should be available through the library of the granting institution. Which university did you attend Matt?
Northwestern University. It should be available through the institution after my official degree date (sometime this month), but in the meantime, see my post above.
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Old 12-12-18, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
Welcome, and congrats on finishing the PhD!

Did you pass through La Crosse, WI by any chance? We love cycling here!
I just barely skirted La Crosse, staying the night in Onalaska and heading north up the river from there. I planned to have an entire day in La Crosse, but my third day out the winds turned against me in a brutal way and I had to re-work my plans significantly. Maybe next time!
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Old 12-12-18, 12:12 PM
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Welcome Matt. I lived in Chicago for two years. I remember some brutal winter days and that’s about the only thing I miss. Great city.
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Old 12-15-18, 07:38 PM
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Welcome Matt. I look forward to your contributions in the mechanics forum. Nothing brings out the chest thumpers like a good wheel building discussion, and those making the most noise are usually the ones that have the least to talk about.
As for myself, there is well north of a thousand of my wheels out there rolling around,but the more I learn about the craft, the more I realize there is to know, so I look forward to what I can learn from one who has made such a study of the science behind them.
Perhaps, you may even be able to shed some light on some of the claims made by Jobst Brandt and it would be interesting to know if you support or dispute some of his assertions.
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Old 12-16-18, 03:24 PM
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Welcome Matt! What a cool idea for a thesis!
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Old 12-17-18, 06:38 PM
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Welcome!
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Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 12-17-18, 09:14 PM
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Welcome!

You will find bikeforums.net addictive... The folk here really know how to give you a high
Workin on that Ph.D musta been fun and painful and joyous, but extremely satisfying I'm sure. Congratulations!
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