One recurring forum/email thread that i always find interesting is that of the squirrel -vs- bike encounters. The typical scenario is that someone is just riding along, and a squirrel decides that they can beat the train across the intersection, so to speak, and gets caught in the wheel spokes of the bike. It would be hilarious but for the fact that people have been seriously injured, paralyzed or killed in this situation.
Typically, the squirrel will get caught in the front wheel, which means it will inevitably be pulled around until it meets the fork. Despite the inherent momentum of the bike (this seems to happen at a good speed), the squirrel’s body is surprisingly tough and rather than cleanly (or messily) ripping in two will lodge there. This obstruction stops the front wheel instantly, which, predictably, sends the bike rider over the bars.
Except when it doesn’t. In some cases where a bike has a carbon fork, it can be worse. Carbon fiber parts are designed for the stresses of the application. A bicycle fork has stresses evenly distributed between the bottom of the headset and the fork tips where the wheel connects, and they’re pretty well understood. Carbon fiber can do this job well, because the strands are laid out and multiplied to account for this stress.
The problem is that carbon fiber is lousy with impact resistance. An impact that might dent an aluminum or steel tube will often crush or at least crack a carbon tube. This is the case with the squirrel: that carbon fork wasn’t meant for the reverse force of an object hitting it from behind, and so it snaps like a fresh pretzel stick.
Lots of people will blame the fork, saying that carbon fiber is not durable enough for a fork, and a steel fork wouldn’t have that problem. Well, steel forks break too, but i generally agree. The blame is misplaced though, as the real problem lies in the spokes.
If you study the gamut of squirrel -vs- bike incidents as long and as closely as i have, you will notice that a common thread is the very low-spoke-count wheels being used in virtually every case. Bigger gaps in the wheel = more space for squirrels. Hell, you could probably fit a badger through those new Shimano wheels. With traditional, old-skool 32- or 36-spoke wheels, there just isn’t space in which the squirrel can solidly lodge. Oh, they might lose a leg or something, but they’ll live to kill themselves another day, as will the cyclist.
So, the problem is the wheels, and the solution you say is a strong return to traditional, quality handbuilt wheels with strong squirrel-resistant spokes in a multitude of attractive styles. Or more radically, disk wheels, which remove the gaps altogether. No, sir/madam, the solution is the new Ginsu Wheel.
With the Ginsu Wheel any obstruction, whether from the rodent family or simply a stick from a joking fellow cyclist, will be cleanly chopped into little bits, sparing the lives of cyclists living in squirrel-overrun areas, sparing the poor squirrel a prolonged and painful death, and providing an easy, nutritious, pre-tenderized meal for lazy scavengers. Ginsu-spoked wheels are tough enough to shred beer cans, but ride as smooth as warm Bag Balm. Available with as few as 12 spokes, saving valuable grams from your wheelset while staying safe from indecisive rodents. The Ginsu Wheel, ask for it by name!
And, for you do-it-yourselfers hopelessly attached to your current hub and rims, ask your LBS to order the Ginsu spoke set. Easily squirrel-proof your classic ride with spokes available in a full range of lengths for all applications.
* Ginsu spokes are not meant for culinary use.
** The Ginsu corporation does not encourage cyclists to seek squirrels while riding.
*** Please use common sense precautions when adding air to a tire on a Ginsu-spoked wheel to avoid injury.
**** Ginsu spokes are not recommended for bikes intended for use in derby, track, bmx or cyclocross events.
***** Sharpener sold separately.