INSIDE: Spank Industries Wheel Building Factory 6

<b>Lee Trumpore has been on the 2013 Ozzy EVO all mountain wheelset for the past two months testing it for Vital in the mountains of Taiwan. Lee took a tour of the Fratelli factory where the wheels are made to find out what goes into these light, but durable hoops.</b>

<b>Welcome to the Fratelli factory where Spank Oozy rims and wheels are made. Spank's Mike Dutton walks you through the process in the audio.</b>

<b>Spank and Fratelli use high quality materials and unique material extrusion processes to create wider rim profiles at that still pass rigid strength tests while retaining lighter weights.</b>

<b>We weren't allowed to see the actual extruding process, but all rims start out as a piece of billet about the size of a plastic water bottle.  The billet is heated and forced through a series of channels in a proprietary process until what emerges is rod of aluminum the exact dimensions of a rim profile.</b>

<b>Special alloys and advanced extrusion techniques allow for thin wall profiles while maintaining exacting tolerances.</b>

<b>Raw rim material arrives at the Fratelli factory in single-rim lengths too.  Many manufacturers make 3 rims out of each piece of material, meaning the one in the center is often better than the 2 cuts on the end.</b>

<b>At the factory, each batch is hand tested for hardness and checked for tolerances within a few 100ths of a millimeter before the material moves to the hooping table to be turned into an actual rim.</b>

<b>To maintain precision alignment, custom tooling, specific to each individual rim profile and diameter, is used in the hooping process.</b>

<b>No robots here. Hopping a rim is done under the careful eye of a trained technician. As the straight sections are fed into the machine they are bent uniformly into the desired rim diameter.</b>

<b>Hooped rims are then measured to assure the proper diameter, then cut to make an even seam for joining.  A flat table is used to check for bends and a visual inspection is made of seam alignment.  Rims that do not pass inspection are discarded.</b>

<b>Rather than pinning welded seams, Spank rims are joined with sleeves to assure the highest strength-to-weight ratio.</b>

<b>A high-tolerance metal sleeve is pressed into each side of the rim with a pneumatic clamp, and high-strength epoxy is used as a redundant safety measure; much like the way a steer tube is joined to a fork crown.</b>

<b>Joined rims are again hand-checked for precise tolerances of only a few 100ths of a millimeter.</b>

<b>Spank and Fratelli founder, Gavin Vos and Commercial Manager, Alan Slade do their best to try and separate a rim at the seam.  The standard test is 180Kg, but Alan hopped on just for good measure.</b>

<b>A computer controlled drill does more than just put holes in the rims.  It optimizes spoke hole profile, angle and dimensions specific to each unique rim design and intended use.  Combined with exacting tolerances this allows Spank to produce rims without the use of heavier eyelets.</b>

<b>People are heavily involved throughout the process. Simply hooping a rim and sending it out the door to finishing requires no less than seven differnt people and 12 quality control checks.</b>

<b>Fratelli does extensive in-house testing of various rim profiles, wall thicknesses, and alloys. This particular test batch did not pass the spoke pull-through test.</b>

<b>Each rim batch is specifically numbered so that any problems down the road can be easily traced and addressed quickly.</b>

<b>Finished rims are sent for finish grinding, polishing, shot peening, powder coating, or anodizing.</b>

<b>Spank offers rims in a rainbow of colors and finishes.  At the request of their dirt jump athletes, there is even a specific finish and anodizing designed to evenly reflect light and allow the color to pop in photographs.</b>

<b>Special ultra-thin decals are applied and then backed into the pores of each rim.  Extremely durable, and thinner than paint of traditional stickers, they will never peel off or interfere with a truing stand.</b>

<b>All finished rims are given a final check before being packed for sale or send for wheel building.  This particular rim was within full dimensional tolerance of .02mm</b>

<b>All Spank wheelsets are hand laced and hand trued. Tolerances and spoke tension are checked repeatedly and all built wheels are pre-stressed overnight and re-trued prior to being shipped to customers. The attention to detail and quality assures that every wheel starts out straight and stays that way after repeated abuse. </b>

<b>A Spank Oozy EVO rim undergoing the pull-through test. The spoke broke in half at a force of 350Kg with almost no damage to the rim. The wall behind has not been so lucky.</b>

<b>All finished rims are given a final check before being packed for sale or send for wheel building. This particular rim was within full dimensional tolerance of .02mm</b>

<b>Finally, Spank and Fratelli impact test their wheels to 3 times the international standard, or 2.5million impacts with 150lb sitting on your handlebars.</b>

<b>Don't miss <u><a href="http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Wheelsets,44/Spank/Oozy-26AL-EVO,11538" target="_blank">Lee's long-term test of the Spank Oozy wheelset</a></u>. Thanks to Spank for the educational look at how their wheels are made.</b>

High quality, hand-made, and direct involvement of people from all over the world are not exactly terms associated with *Made in Taiwan* for most people. Maybe they should be. Spank Industries works with Fratelli in Taiwan to produce light, strong, functional rims and wheels like the 2013 Spank Oozy EVO.
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6 comments
  • Zoro

    1/30/2013 9:30 AM

    Easton Cully pedals Lee !! Yeah!

  • Danimal5-0

    1/30/2013 8:43 AM

    As a proud builder and Destroyer of many wheels, I have been nothing less than astonished by the strength of my spank subrosa rims. Four years of riding the same rims with too many bone chattering g-routs to count and they are still going strong. I put a dent in the rear and it cracked a little bit on one side, that was two years ago. They are every bit as strong as my old trail pimps were, and don't chew through tubes like a badger. All of this durability at 540g? Quality counts.

  • Primoz

    1/30/2013 6:42 AM

    Pause the slideshow and then click through manually. There will be no music and you will have to click, but you would have to do that either way.

  • rickihuang

    1/30/2013 12:59 AM

    开工大吉。哈哈

  • phillemaistre

    1/29/2013 5:45 PM

    Lee: Awesome awesome awesome. I've learned a TON having watched your wicked slideshow. But please: if the v/o is amazing and informative, aaaand the caption is amazing and informative, I gotta keep jumping back on each photo, cuz I'm a dude, and I can't listen and read at the same time. I've noticed the same thing bothers me on the WC slideshows from Sven and the lads from time to time. All that having been said, more please...

    Ps that pull-through test shit is cray-cray.

  • general lee

    1/29/2013 6:02 PM

    Thanks, it's been really cool getting to see the production process first hand. At both Banshee and Spank what really stands out are emphasis on quality and the hands-on workmanship. Not what many associate with 'Made in Taiwan'

    As for v/o and csptions, I guess you'll just have to watch it twice