Journal: Doug Maclachlan Touring on Wheelworks

Wheelworks for Any Bike!

Receiving Doug and Meri’s request for better wheels for their 200kg electric tandem was unusual but one of the joys of custom wheelbuilding is our ability to design, spec, and build a completely unique wheelset with unique requirements. We’ve built wheels for stand-up bikes, bike-polo bikes, racing recumbents, and of course wheels for ‘normal’ bikes for riders of all shapes and sizes.

As with every wheelset we pay special attention to the requirements of the rider (or riders!) and bike. We then use our knowledge of components to select what is going to work best for them, and then use our wheelbuilding skill to create a bombproof pair of wheels.  In this case we started with a Flite Electric Alloy wheelset and customised from there.

Doug and Meri have been all over NZ on their new wheels and it’s simply fantastic to get stories and feedback like this one from Doug.  We feel incredibly proud that we’re able to help Doug and Meri explore this incredible country that we call home.

- Tristan

Wheelworks made new wheels for our Moustache electric tandem at the beginning of 2022. This was after we experienced several broken spokes when touring on the original wheel set. We nearly had the rear wheel collapse when riding near Methven triggered by a broken spoke. The Moustache replaced a non-electric Apollo tandem, still used, but not ideal for touring. We explored the idea of electrifying the Apollo but opted for the Moustache via Bicycle Junction in Wellington who just happened to have one arriving a month after we enquired. We are a very happy pair on this bike.

The new Wheelworks wheels have given us the confidence to tackle remote roads and several long stretches of remote shingle roads and trails which have tested us and the wheels. We have toured extensively without breakdown apart from one puncture. These rides include:

  • Forty six days around the South Island from top to bottom, down the West Coast through the Lake Dunstan Trail to Invercargill and back up the middle
  • Lawrence to Middlemarch via Lake Mahinerangi (50km of shingle)
  • Kurow to Burkes Pass over the 965m Hakataramea Pass (another 40km of shingle and several fords)
  • Masterton to Taihape and onto Napier
  • Masterton to New Plymouth and back through the Forgotten World Highway
  • To Napier and back (gorgeous back roads kept us off the highways)
  • Picton to Golden Bay over the Takaka Hill and back via the Wairau Valley negotiating roads badly damaged by recent storms
  • Touring around Wairarapa and to Lake Ferry and riding in Athletics & Cycling Masterton club events.

These rides commence from home in Masterton leaving the car in the garage. Some require using the train to Wellington then ferry to Picton. We are planning to ride to Auckland and Northland in the New Year and also want to take on the North Island east coast north of Napier around to Whakatane and back through Waikaremoana or the Taupo/Napier highway. Another on the list is Arthurs Pass after visiting Westport and Karamea.

We’re a pair of 77 year olds. I own an online image subscription business which I am able to keep operating as we tour. My partner Meri, an ex US psychologist, is a serious gym/Pilates/yoga fan. Although we’re not large the bike weighs near on 200kg when fully loaded. We are not out to be martyrs so carry an often-used spare battery, a bottle of red and a white in the drink bottle holders (we use Camelbak packs for hydration), two MacBooks and wet weather gear for whatever we come across meteorologically speaking. The bike is equipped with plenty of lights, flags and ribbons. We don’t camp but make use of motels, B&Bs, rural cottages, Airbnb and baches and are self-sufficient for meals. We ride from café to café if at all possible and routinely average 25kph per hour over four to five hours of daily riding.

We’d encourage any reasonably fit rider to go touring. Being out in the fresh air, rain or shine, covering the country in small bites is very satisfying. We’re hooked.
Douglas Maclachlan and Meri Murphy