Wheels transported the old-fashioned way

One of the more onerous duties attendant on an RCUK staffer is that of carrying booty – er, test product – from the office to the home, where it can be properly assessed and prepared for action. Few components pose as much of a problem as wheels, unless said staffer is the proud owner of a pair of wheel carriers.

They are simple artefacts, comprising nothing more than a thick (1/4”x 1-3/4”) strip of aluminium cut to provide suitable space for the spindles of the wheel to be carried and the front wheel, which does the carrying.

A slight kink at each end takes the wheel outwards. This not only makes it easier to secure the top of the wheel with a toe strap but improves clearance between the rim and the underside of the down tube.

It is generally best to attach the carriers to the cycle before attempting to fit the carried wheels, since trying to position both wheels at the right height while closing the quick release lever, which at this point is almost inaccessible, can prove infuriating.

Removing skewer springs makes life easier. The carried wheel skewer will work fine with its nut turned up against the end of the spindle. The toe strap is an absolute necessity; without it, the first bump will jolt the wheels downwards no matter how tight the front wheel skewer.

Perhaps predictably, the effect on handling is not beneficial. Not only does steering become very heavy, but turning in tight corners risks both chipping the underside of the seat tube and a fall, since the wheel rim/seat tube interface presents the limit of steering angle.

Riding into a headwind is seriously hard work, as is any real climbing. Don’t expect car drivers to give you any more room than normal, although the offside wheel presents a serious threat to bodywork.

Transporting wheels this way is rarely done these days. In fact, as I was riding home recently with wheels attached, another cyclist pulled alongside at the lights and said he hadn’t seen wheel carriers used for 25 years. Which happens to be how old these are. Are they still on sale? Dunno; I haven’t seen any for years. Carrying wheels in cars is so much easier.


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