Last year, I went bicycle touring in Italy with my son Shintaro. I borrowed his Araya Federal while he used his Panasonic touring bike. The Araya is an inexpensive randonneur bike that uses 650A wheels and down tube shifters. The fork with the front wheel and fender attached can easily be removed as a whole to pack the bike for travel by train or air. It performed very well for me. Unfortunately, on the return trip to Japan the front wheel got bent out of shape, probably by rough baggage handlers.
I finally decided to get new wheels built for it by Tim Smith of GS Astuto in Kawasaki, near Tokyo. I received them last week.
Though the custom wheel set was originally meant for the Araya Federal it will now keep two bikes on the road 🙂
The wheel set is based on the 650B version (584 mm) of Velocity’s versatile Dyad rims. By switching the wheel size from 650A (590 mm) to 650B (584 mm) I will get a much better choice of tires on the Araya. I love my 42 mm Compass 650B tires! The brakes had enough adjustment for the slightly different rim size (3 mm less radius).
The wheel set is built up with a Shimano DH-3N80 dynamo hub at the front I had already been using with my Bike Friday since December 2011. That was my first GS Astuto custom wheel. When I converted the Bike Friday to a disk brake at the front in 2015, Tim built me a disk brake wheel based on a Shutter Precision centerlock hub and the DH-3N80 became available as a spare which is finally being reused.
The rear hub is a Shimano FH-RS505, an inexpensive 10/11-speed compatible centerlock hub available in a 36 spoke version. Its only drawback was that it’s only available in black, but Shintaro and I deanodized and polished it so it now matches the silver front hub. The Araya came with a 135 mm rear hub with an 8-speed cassette, but as a disk hub the RS505 is the right width and it works for 8/9/10 and 11 speed (give or take a few spacers). Because I specified a hub with both a spline for attaching a centerlock disk brake rotor and 11-speed compatibility, I am also able to install that wheel on my Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer (NFE) if I need to.
For now I’m only using the front wheel on the Araya to replace the damaged front wheel while the new rear wheel is doing duty on my Elephant Bikes NFE: As I found out earlier this year, my Velocity Blunt SL rear rim on the NFE had developed cracks around several spoke holes. This flaw is probably the reason why the rim was withdrawn from the market by Velocity soon after I had bought them for my NFE.
Velocity will replace the cracked rim with an Aileron 650B, which wasn’t available at the time of my NFE wheel build. Until then I can use the new Dyad rear wheel built for the Araya as my NFE rear wheel, since the hub supports centerlock rotors. Once I get my NFE rear wheel rebuilt with the Aileron 650B rim, I will use the Dyad rear wheel with the Araya’s rim brakes, with the unused rotor spline hidden under a rubber cover.
I also have a B&M Cyo Premium headlight to go with the dynamo hub on the Araya. The easily removable front fork makes the Federal rinko-friendly, so I may be using it in place of the NFE on some long distance rides starting or finishing further from Tokyo.