Ghisallo has been producing its unique wooden rims for approximately forever, and while they undoubtedly have a place on restorations, we were somewhat surprised to see that it produces a full range of hardwood rims for Bromptons.
It’s hard to believe, but aluminium rims weren’t introduced until the 1934 edition of the Tour de France, when Mavic introduced the ‘Dura tube rim’.
Before then, wooden rims were ridden to innumerable victories and, according to an excellent article on Ghisallo by Road Bike Action, its rims were ridden to success as late as the ’50s, with Florenzo Magni using the rims in conjunction with foam wrapped bars to tackle the Tour of Flanders — winning the race in 1949, 1950 and 1951.
While the ‘damped’ ride quality of the wooden rims may have helped propel Magni to success, I suspect that the Italian’s temperament — he famously rode to second place with a broken clavicle and humerus in the ‘56 edition of the Giro, making him possibly the hardest man ever in cycling — may have also had something to do with his success on the cobbles.
But what place do these hardwood hoops have on a Brompton?
Such a small diameter wheel is unlikely to deflect in any meaningful way, regardless of whether it’s drawn of alloy or hewn of wood, so it’s probably safe to assume that these aren’t going to be any more ‘comfortable’ than a regular 16” alloy rim.
Alloy rim braking is also pretty well refined these days and I suspect that the unmachined, shiny surface of the Ghisallo rims probably won’t perform particularly well in the wet (though they do ship with some wood-specific brake pads).
Instead, I suspect that the the unusual aesthetics of the wooden rims will appeal to some of the equally quirky riders of the famous folder — Bromptonauts around the world seem incredibly eager to customise their bikes in all sorts of bizarre ways and it doesn’t get much more unusual than 16” wooden rims produced in a shed in Italy.
The rims are available in both tubular and clincher configurations. We were quick to scoff at the idea of a16” tub’, assuming that none would be available, but soon ate our words upon discovering that Panarcar produces a 16″ tub!.
If you’re looking for a way to kill the next 50 minutes, I highly recommend you indulge in this video tutorial on how to build Ghissalo’s rims up for your Brompton.
Accompanied by an incredibly ill-fitting yet oddly pleasing operatic score, the well-aged “Ghisallo WheelMaster” Mr Lucio Colzani talks us through the process.
If wooden rims don’t tickle your pickle, Ghisallo also produces a range of other wooden parts, including handlebars, mudguards and trendy leather distressed grips.
We were also quite taken by this scooter made of laminated beech that features a diminutive, clincher version of the brand’s wheels and is available in both child and ‘teenager’ sizes. Find me a teen who doesn’t want to be seen dodging about town on a wooden artisan scooter.
And if you clicked through to this article to see some large hard wood, there’s always this elephant library.