What goes around

2010-03-04, Comments

Well done whoever reinvented the wheel by putting spokes in it! Despite my mathematical training, it’s hard to believe a such spidery arrangement of wires and air can be so strong.

Shimano R500 bicycle wheel

Just such a wheel survived a high-speed run in with an evil pothole on the north Gower road last Tuesday. Survived? Well, it remained true enough for me to complete my journey. Something was wrong though: the front brakes were juddering.

The wheel is the original one that came with the bike. To date, I reckon it must have gone round about 7 million times, covering a total distance in excess of 15000 km. Friction from the brakes has worn the rims away. They’re concave.

The rims hadn’t escaped damage. There’s a bulge where they hit the pothole: hence the juddering. The next morning I ordered a Shimano R500 online from Merlin Cycles. Actually, I ordered a pair, front and back, which worked out about the same price as a single wheel.

Tracking wheel delivery

Merlin Cycles is in Preston. Parcelforce collected my new wheels from them at 12:58 yesterday. By 22:22 in the evening they were at the National Hub. They arrived where I work before lunch today.


The wheels were made in the Shimano factory in Malaysia. According to Wolfram Alpha — assuming (unlikely) a direct great-circle path, and assuming (correctly) that Preston is in Lancashire — they’ve already covered a distance of 11404km, almost ⅓ of the earth’s circumference. I wonder how many times they’ve gone round?

Malaysia to Preston