Cake
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    • After years of riding on Zipp wheels, I wanted to try something different. I wanted to have disc brakes on my next road bike. At the time only HED was making disc specific wheels, yet I found my dream wheel set on their website. The fact is, I didn’t know much about HED wheels. Their technology, manufacturing and the company itself were all new to me. But the more I rode my new Diamondback Andean super bike, the more I fell in love with the wheel set and wanted to find out about the company, its history and people who made my wheels. So I took a red-eye flight to their factory in Minnesota.

    • Time pressed I took a red eye flight to Minneapolis to be there bright and early when the factory was just opening up. Andrew Hed greeted me in the lobby. He made a quick cup of coffee to wake me up from an overnight flight and two of us started the tour.

    • The lobby entrance is at the center, connecting two corridors of offices. The offices are layed out around the perimeter of the factory. Here all of the research, design and product development takes place.

    • The corridors were lined with memorabilia of signed jerseys from the legendary cyclists of past and present. The names like Lance Armstrong and Chrissy Wellington among many others were just parts of the decor. One of many friendly dogs roaming around the factory casually laid right there on the floor.

    • Walking through the corridor, I was excited to see where all of the magic happens: the assembly floor. This is where all of the pieces of the wheel come together to create these legendary wheels.

    • The floor was filled with wheels, parts and people putting them together. Along the walls and on the ceiling hung already assembled wheels.

    • Andrew took me to the production and testing floor, which was much bigger and louder then the assembly floor. This is where the wheels are molded from sheets of carbon. It is full of sophisticated manufacturing and testing equipment. I couldn’t capture these magnificent machines as it is a trade secret. HED has spent decades in R&D and millions on these custom built machines.  One of the most interesting test rigs there was a rolling resistance tester. There they measure all kinds of tires and wheels on a simulated road patterns at specific speeds and down forces. 

    • The assembly room is where I spent most of my time taking photos of the process and the people behind the wheels. The surprisingly small team there were very friendly, but were engaged in their task and I tried not to interfere with them. Like a paparazzi I was taking shots of them doing what they do best - build amazing wheels.

    • The first part of the assembly is lacing of the spokes through the hub. It requires steady, precise hands to make this process fast and efficient.

    • The last step was to test the assembled wheel. They use a specially designed press that pushes down on the hub and spokes simulating extreme side forces to test the strength of the wheel.

    • The exerted force of this press is well above the UCI requirement just to be sure that the wheel can take much more abuse and still hold true.

    • After the wheel is assembled it is taken to a sticker station. The HED has a good variety of stickers and colors to match a specific bike.

    • Once again, steady hands and patience is required to put the stickers on without any air bubbles. Having applied stickers many time before, I have a high appreciation for how effortlessly they make this tedious process look so easy.

    • Just to be sure you don't miss the fact that HED Cycling makes their wheels here in the USA, they put a dedicated sticker that you'll be proud of.

    • The shipping floor is where the wheels are carefully packed up in boxes ready to be shipped world-wide.

    • Each wheel gets its own box with plenty of room for padding. With this much room, it is nice knowing that it won't get damaged in shipping.

    • The safety and security of the wheels in this step is of the highest priority. Right there on the floor is a dedicated guard, ready to jump... and play with you.

    • Leaving the factory floor, Andrew took me to the conference room with a special piece of furniture at its center. Turns out this conference table is made from the roof of their family home! It was leaking and needed an upgrade, so they decided to turn it into a massive table that HED family can gather around. I loved it.

    You've been invited!