A Visit With Bill Shook Of American Classic- with Guitar Ted and Grannygear

Of the several appointments we had at Interbike 2012, one of the more interesting ones was with Bill Shook of American Classic. To be able to sit down with the “brains” of the operation, of any company, is always a treat, in our view. Mr. Shook did not disappoint us.

american classic

Guitar Ted (L) and American Classic's Bill Shook (R)

With so much changing in the world of wheels of late, American Classic has been especially busy. Take for instance the 27.5″er trend, which American Classic is keeping up with. There is also the new XX1 drive train from SRAM. The 11 speed cassette requires a special free hub, and American Classic has responded with a free hub which will retrofit to their current hub line and also will be available as a complete hub. Expect to see that early next year.

american classic xx1 freehub

Am. Classic's XX1 freehub proto

Another item we were shown is a rim. American Classic, up to this point, has not allowed aftermarket sales of rims only, preferring to be in total control of the wheel building process.

american classic 101 rim

Profile of the new "101" rim

The New 101: This will change now with the introduction of American Classic’s “101” rim. The 101 is going to be offered across all three mountain bike wheel sizes and in a few different drillings. Appearing in a very understated anodized black, these rims have little branding, and are in response to wheel builders and customers who have wanted an American Classic rim to lace to their own choice of hubs.

Of course, these rims will also support tubeless tire set ups, and will utilize the same bead barb technology that other American Classic mountain biking rims have. Weight for the 29″er 101 rim is targeted at 380gm each. 27.5″er, and 26″er rims will obviously weigh less.

american classic 101 rim

L to R: Race rim, All Mtn rim, 101 rim

Bill Shook was quick to point out that he was targeting a competitor’s product with the 101 and feels that he has a stronger rim at a competitive weight. Optimization of the rim extrusion and dimensions were key in achieving the goals set for the 101. Those looking for a light weight, XC racing oriented wheel set should take a close look at the 101. Availability is slated for early next year.

The 101 does not use a UST standard dimension, and when we asked Mr. Shook why not, he stated that the UST bead seat and rim wall were not as optimal as they could be. He stated weight and the mechanical interface of the rim and tire as specific areas where he felt American Classic rims were better. Obviously, weight in a rim is of concern to many riders, and Mr. Shook felt that the UST outer rim wall above the bead seat was too high. In addition, much like Stan Koziatek’s beliefs, (he of Stan’ No Tubes fame), Mr Shook felt the taller rim wall inhibited tubeless tire benefits. Lowering that rim wall obviously reduces weight and allows for a better tubeless tire performance since the rim isn’t inhibiting the tire sidewall from bowing outward naturally near the bead.

Recall that Grannygear has been on a set of tubeless single speed wheels (reviewed here) and they have been stellar performers with a very good blend of stiffness, width, weight, and so far, toughness.  They roll like crazy too. (Look for a Final Review on those soon.)

Twenty Nine Inches would like to thank American Classic and Bill Shook in particular for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. For more information on American Classic, see their website here: American Classic .