One easy way to make a 29er rider jealous. Show them this 12 foot wheel!
When the Hayes Bicycle Group purchased Sun Ringle, they wanted to also find a way to source spokes domestically for complete wheels. They purchased Wheelsmith and Asahi ((which was located in Japan at the time), and moved those tools to Milwaukee to make the Wheelsmith spokes you see today. Wheelsmtih spokes are made in the U.S.A. and you can watch how it is done inside.
Warehouse stores much more than just Wheelsmith spoke manufacturing
As mentioned earlier, The Hayes Bicycle Group purchased Wheelsmith and Asahi to domestically make spokes. They have the manufacturing area marked off in one of their facilities in Wisconsin. This warehouse also stores a variety of parts that they sell / make. The faster moving inventory items in this facility are stored closer to the ground for quicker transportation. They store a lot of wheels and rims here. They’re responsible for making a lot of rims including Stans No Tubes rims.
Video: How a Wheelsmith spoke is made
Wheelsmith steel reels feed into the cutters
It all starts with the 304 stainless spools. From there it is fed and cut off the loom. Having the right quality steel from the beginning is very important in creating a solid final product. Wheelsmith offers spokes in 14 gauge, 15 gauge , and a DH 13 gauge (petticab)
Raw wire on the spool is fed to a series of dies that straighten the wire and then the wire is cut into a “blank” or a predetermined wire length. Quality checks are done throughout the process to ensure a solid product is created when this whole process is complete.
Reel of wire ready to be cut
From here, if the spoke is going to be a straight spoke, it will go to the threading operation and then onto heading / J-Bending (if needed) / stamping (Wheelsmith W).
It then gets kneeled in some media to make the spoke nice and strong.
Butted spokes in the process of being made
If they need a double butted spoke, it will go from a cut blank into the rotary swager. The rotary swager will hammer the spoke in the areas that need swaging. Swager process puts a slight arc in the blank and it needs to be straightened before it can enter into the next process. (watch the video above to see the swaging in action).
Spokes get straightened. They drop down after completed (near where you see the loose spokes that are staged)
From here, it moves into a straightener before entering the next step as the arc in the spoke from the swaging process has to be adjusted.
The butted spoke will then go to the threading operation, heading, J-bending (if needed), and stamping (Wheelsmith W).
Throughout all of this various quality controls checks are done to ensure a quality product is produced. All spokes then go to rinse and drying process as well as a final quality check and into final packaging.
Wheelsmith also offers custom powder coated spokes (white, red, green, blue). These are also available in small quantities as they are used for custom wheels as they are not typically needed in bulk.