Matt’s Bike Build Part 2: The Diablo is in the Details

By Todd Munson

Matt’s Bike Build Part 2: The Diablo is in the Details

(See part one here.)

The bicycle wheel and the pizza are two of the greatest round things ever invented.

To break them down into simple terms, they both start with common ingredients and how they end up all depends on the wheelbuilder or chef.  

After mulling enough wheel options to fill an Excel spreadsheet, Matt decided to stick to the familiar and try the new, while entering a deeper realm of bike geekery.

“I enjoy comparative research, apparently,” says Matt. “I generally start with products (or companies) I’ve heard good things about, something I think looks really good, or someone that’s maybe pushing a new direction while leaning towards smaller companies. In the end, I try to strike the best balance between durability, cost, and weight.”

For the hubs, Matt went with the familiar, selecting the T11 hub set from White Industries.

“This was an easy decision for me because I have had wheels built up with these hubs on my current road bike for the last 6 years and they have been flawless. I like the durability and serviceability considerations they build into their products with a titanium freehub body and no proprietary tools needed for maintenance. They’re a very durable, fairly light, good looking product that is also very reasonably priced. Plus, they’re really friendly people and that will tilt the scales for me.”

For the rims, Matt went with an up and coming choice with the Altamont Lite from Boyd Cycling

“I wanted a wider rim to pair with 700x28 tires. I have been running 23mm wide rims on my current road bike and like them a lot so I was curious to see how rims just a little wider would ride. I like to run a wider tire because some of my regular loops include unmaintained roads and off-road cut-throughs.

After some direct comparisons I found the ride difference when running 700x28 tires on traditional (narrow) road rims and the newer wider road rims to be significant. I don’t know the engineering behind it but 28s on narrow rims always felt like riding through wet sand but on wider rims they feel like a narrow tire but somehow still manage to have extra cushion.

Anyway, I made my usual lists and there were two choices at the end. I went with the Boyds because of the profile. This felt like an opportunity to try something a little different to see if there is any noticeable (for me) ride difference.”

To handle the build Matt turned to Ryan Morse of Diablo Wheelworks, located in the Pacific Palisades. 

After 20+ years of wrenching in Portland and LA’s biggest shops, Morse decided to take his passion/obsession for wheel building and service to the next level by striking out on his own with a shop that offers true one-on-one service. Over the past year, Diablo Wheelworks has been building an almost cult-like following and doubled their staff to two to keep up with demand. Matt’s friend Alex from the blog velospeak was an early convert and knowing how fastidious he is about his equipment speaks volumes about Diablo’s level of service.

After a getting to know each other session and a discussion of wants and needs, Ryan and Matt decided to go with the Laser spoke from Sapim to tie it all together. 

“These spokes are great for the right rider,” says Ryan. They are light, inexpensive, and build up well (you have to be careful to account for spoke wind up, especially as tension increases). Although the spokes are as light as the more expensive Sapim CX- Ray, they offer great durability and good elasticity for a great and responsive ride for such a lightweight spoke.

Matt wanted low weight but with durability in mind, so he went with brass nipples all around and 2x lacing front and rear. "I chose the Sapim Polyax brass for the front and rear driveside and the Sapim Secure Lock on the non-driveside. The Secure Lock nipples have a mechanical thread lock function that keeps the nipples from coming loose due to low tension, which is why I used them on the non-driveside.”

If you think that answer is thorough, wait until you see Ryan build a wheel. His process is equal parts “Diablo magic” and a level of focus that is impossible to attain in an ordinary bike shop setting full of distractions. No detail is overlooked and everything is checked and rechecked.

The end result is like the difference between a pizza made by that guy who calls himself Papa John and Mario Batali. They might make the same thing but one taste (or ride around the block) and you will notice there's a difference.

Specs/Weight

Boyd Cycling Altamont Lite rims 24f/28r
White Industries T11 hubs (campy)
Sapim Laser spokes
Sapim Polyax brass nipples on front wheel and driveside rear wheel
Sapim Polyax brass Secure Lock nipples on non-driveside of rear wheel


Rims/pair: 895g
Hubs/pair: 350g
Spokes(52): 255g
Nipples(52 brass): 50g
Total weight: 1553 grams

(Includes grease on rim holes, Wheelsmith Spoke Prep on spokes, T9 Boesheild on nipples, and spoke freeze on non-driveside nipples)