There is one name that comes up consistently when talking about custom hand built wheels: John Jones. The son of an engineer, John’s notion of mechanical concepts is innate. A consummate craftsman through and through, he still strives to learn and innovate. Wheel building with tensioned spokes has been around (in the words of John Jones) ever since they realized bikes could go faster than seven miles per hour. Lacing patterns and tension and spoke and rim and hub types all lead to a unique ride, and it is up to the builder to create an ideal wheel with the right combination. Through our partnership with John and Jones Precision Wheels, we’ve got you covered with a wheel that will perform, is trustworthy, and can be uniquely the rider's.
Andreas Herr, an Ojai based journalist, helped us with the Interview.
Andreas: Why bikes, why wheels?
John: I don't think I ever wanted to work in an office, so I enjoy the structure of working in the bicycle industry. Bicycles themselves are a pretty amazing invention. They've served us well for a long time. They have the ability to almost heal the planet, really. If we ride them we don't pollute and we become healthier. If you live a healthier life, you live a better life.
I enjoy the intricacies of working on bicycles. My dad was an engineer, and so I think I might have some of that in my blood.
Bicycles are very clear. When you look at a bicycle, even with today's electronic systems, it's very clear how they work.
I like them from the point of view of using them for transportation. I like them from the point of view of working on them. I enjoy the skill that I've developed working on bicycles. They just hit all the buttons, really.
Andreas: The Stinner brand carries certain values with it, such as craft or simplicity, the idea of a considered approach and self-expression. Out of those four values, which one would you say is the most important to you personally, and why?
John: I think craft is probably the most important thing.
If you're a craftsman, if you're an artisan, if you're a maker of things, you really couldn't do it well without having a considered approach. I think it's part and parcel of the whole thing. Whenever I build a wheel, there's always certain steps to be done. You can't jump the steps. You can't get the steps out of sequence. There's definitely an approach that's important for us and I'm presuming this is the same for Aaron.
It's just keeping your eye on how good you want the final product to be. If you want the final product to be good, that means every single part of the process, every single stage of the creation, needs to be done in the right order and as well as you can do it.
Andreas: Wheels are very difficult to build well. I know you've been doing it for a long time. How important is process and craft in what you do?
John: It's the whole thing. It's so important, it's really the thing that makes it work. Just about anybody can assemble the various bits and pieces that make up a wheel, and it might look like a wheel, but it won't behave like a wheel. You've really got to have, should we say, an understanding of the inner workings of the wheel. You may join all the spokes to the nipples and the rim to the hub, but if you don't know what you're doing, if you don't have that craftsman's touch, it's likely the wheel will not behave very well.
Experience and intuition and repetition and proving one's craft every day is important. It makes the process good. It's really all about wanting to do it as well as possible every time. For me it's important that I never, ever assume that I know everything about wheels.
As soon as you think you've absorbed everything that you can about wheels, you should probably go and do something else because you're not open to the lessons that they're still there to offer you.