Spinning Wheels For Bikes

The growing trend of customization as it applies to the bicycle market, especially with respect to spinning wheels.

One of the most prevalent themes in popular culture at the moment is that of customization. Though some Sociologists trace the origin of the trend to the proliferation of readily-modified software programs, whatever its starting point, the concept of making something uniquely your own has taken over as have few trends have before. From cellular ringtones to multi-color iMacs, nearly any product these days can be custom made to suit its user.

What's really helped the customization craze take off has been reality television. Shows like "Monster Garage" and "Pimp My Ride" beamed the idea automobile customization, formerly a fringe activity in Southern California, into millions of homes world-wide, turning it into a huge business. Another trend, which also traces its roots the American Southwest, is that of bicycle customization.

Though elite and recreational bike racers alike have always fiddled and fussed with the components on their race rigs, this newest wave of bicycle customization is not about speed, but style. Most the bikes involved are low-slung "choppers;" pedal-powered motorcycle look-a-like machines, with laid-back geometries and smaller wheels that hearken back to Schwinn Krate and Stingray bikes of the 1960s and 70s. Accessories of choice include gold-anodized parts, long banana seats with a sissy bar on the back and heavy-but-beautiful 144 spoke wheels.

But by far the newest, and most definitely the hottest accessory to hit this market is the bicycle spinner wheel. The spinner basically takes one of the hottest parts of the automotive custom world, the spinner, or "moonwalker" rim, that keeps rotating even after the vehicle has stopped, and adapted it the bicycle use. Rather than traditional spokes, the bicycle spinning wheel has 5 stylishly cut aluminum arms on each side to connect the outside of the hub to the rim. Then, in between these two sets of arms is a star-shaped center section that rotates around the hub on a set of ball bearings. This center section spins up as the bike moves along, and when you hit the brakes and stop, because it's attached only to hub by bearings, it keeps right on spinning, usually for about a minute.

The spinning rim isn't for everyone: prices range from three to four-hundred dollars a pair, keeping them out of reach of all but the most hardcore of bicycle customizers. And though companies claim the wheels are lightweight, the extra set of bearings still means more maintenance and attention. Plus, the age-old design of the steel-spoked wheel has proven itself to be extremely durable over time. If you plan on doing any seriously rough riding, it might be a good idea to leave your set of spinning wheels in the garage. Still, if your goal is looking good and making the best custom rig you can put together, the spinner is an absolute must-have.

If you want to mount a pair of spinners on your bike, make sure you've got the right machine for the job. Current models of spinner wheels require frames that accept a 3/8 inch standard axle and a 20 inch wheel. Plus your bike has to have a rear handbrake. Be sure, also, to have a pair of 20x2.25 or 20x1.75 inch tires on hand, as these are the only tires spinner wheels currently accept.

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