While not every single item we sell is made in the USA, we try to source everything we can from US-manufacturers. We are proud to offer parts from Chris King, White Industries, Paul Component, Phil Wood, Industry Nine, Onyx Racing Products, King Cage, Wolf Tooth, Enve Composites, and Astral Cycling and there are many reasons for this, so we thought this 4th of July week would be a perfect time to talk a bit about them.
Arguably the most important reason–from a purely functional standpoint–is quality. When you think of quality, durability, and dependability, brands like Chris King and Phil Wood are hard to ignore, and for very good reason. These are a couple of companies that have built a reputation for making products that work well and last. Chris King's in-house bearing production yields bearings that simply last longer than almost any other, and they do this through extremely tight tolerances, high-quality materials, and serviceability. When you buy a Chris King hub, bottom bracket, or headset, you're making an investment in a part that you can expect to get better with age, which is a trait that's becoming increasingly rare.
A company like Phil Wood takes a slightly different approach by having bearings custom made to their specs. If you've ever used a Phil Wood hub, bottom bracket, or headset though, you know that their approach seems to be quite effective too. They combine those custom bearings with hub shells, headset cups, and bottom bracket parts that they machine in house, and the result is a line of products that just keeps spinning.
Astral Cycling is a branch of Rolf Prima, a company that's been building wheels in Oregon for decades. There's a lot of really interesting history to Rolf, and the paired spoke design the they've used, but importantly they were also one of the first companies to bring rim manufacturing in-house at a time when finding a US made rim was nearly impossible. Making their own rims allows them to have more control over the final product, and to more readily create designs that satisfy the needs that they experience as riders, and with the launch of their Astral line, with its standard spoke configuration, you can get the same quality with any hub design!
Another reason we like these companies so much is their accountability. By that we mean that they're easier to reach when we have questions about a product, and they also stand behind their products more than many companies that don't have such a direct relationship with their customers. And important aspect of this is the availability of parts, and design with an eye to a more future-proof product.
White Industries is a great example of this design philosophy. We love that their hubs all use the same freehub driver design because it means that swapping one for another is a piece of cake, and that if you have one of their older hubs, you aren't forced to buy a new one if you want to run the latest drivetrain. This type of thoughtful design makes servicing their parts easier, and it insures that the parts you buy today will still be good next year.
It can be easy to forget that there are riders behind these companies, but if you look, you can see their work: Industry Nine's Hydra hub, with its unheard-of 690 points of engagement is a result of riders wanting faster, more solid engagement, with greater durability. The tool-free endcaps and interchangeable drivers of these hubs are the result of working on the hubs, and wanting that service to be as easy as possible.
Onyx Racing Products' sprag clutch is another great example of a rider-generated innovation: Onyx began with a desire to make a BMX racing hub with the lowest drag and fastest engagement possible. The result is instant engagement and completely silent operation. And because these hubs were being designed to be used, and were being use
d throughout their development, they had to prove their durability. Between their completely different freehub design and their huge range of color choices, Onyx hubs are great examples of what we love about US made products.
Wolf Tooth and King Cage's Morse Cage collaboration is another example of innovation with US-made products: Ron Andrews started making titanium bottle cages in 1991 because riders wanted a better cage–one that would actually hold up to off-road riding–and Wolf Tooth saw a need to make an adjustable cage. The result is a twist on Ron's proven design, and it's also just such a cool example of rider-driven innovation to make products that enhance your riding experience.
Enve Composites has shown that carbon fiber wheels don't have to just come from overseas, and they've done it by producing some of the best rims ever made. Their innovative rim shapes, construction, and great durability have made them easily the most sought-after rims around, and they don't show any signs of stopping.
Yeah, maybe the way most of the parts we sell look is the elephant in the room here, but there is so much else that's special about them, that we didn't want to focus on it first. But it's hard to overlook how much care is put into the finishes of pretty much all of the US Made parts we sell. From Industry Nine's in house anodizing and Onyx Racing Products' almost endless range of color combinations, and Paul's classic machined look and White Industries' matching crank extractor caps, these parts are designed to look just as great as they function.
When looking for a low-profile aero rim that's tubeless compatible, light-weight, and made-in-USA, there aren't a whole lot of options, but luckily Velocity USA has a very good one: the Aileron. That's the rim that's featured on this week's Wheel Build of the Week, so check it out!