Casual Conversations – John Wilmeth – Cantu Cycling Wheels

CASUAL:  World…meet John Wilmeth. John owns and is the wheelbuilder for Cantu Cycling Wheels. Earlier this year his company launched a “gravel” specific wheel; The Cantu Rebel.  A 28 mm Disc Brake wheelset.  He loves his craft and takes pride in custom building quality wheels for the individual. He does everything he can to keep the wheels affordable yet still enjoy the occasional Texas sized steak dinner for himself. His wife Venny oversees the marketing for Cantu Cycling Wheels and makes sure the margins only support 8oz steaks not 32oz portions. John thanks for agreeing to a little Q & A. Let’s focus on the ordinary weekend Gravel warrior. Twenty to forty mile rides and maybe 2-3 Gravel Century plus events throughout the year. One to three year old stock cross/gravel/adventure bike. Stock aluminum wheelset. Looking for upgrades. Why wheels? What could someone expect to notice in higher quality wheels?

JOHN:  Hi Bobby, thanks for having me! With higher quality wheels you gain durability, lighter weight, and strength. With less rotational weight you are able to conserve more energy for the long haul. I’m able to build a stronger wheel with higher spoke tensions with carbon versus aluminum rims. This helps eliminate flex and improve power transfer.

CASUAL:  Power transfer. This has come up more and more in my mind when looking at upgrades. Makes sense. Those pedal strokes add up over a long endurance ride and more efficient power transfer is a big win. Okay so the focus is upgrades. Stock wheels. What thoughts and processes are considered in building up a Carbon wheel set for an individual?

JOHN:  When someone decides they want a set of wheels I ask a few questions….what do you weigh, what kind of power do you put out (if known), and what kind of riding are you doing. This can determine the number of spokes, and tensions that are needed to make a quality wheel for that certain rider. I wouldn’t build the same wheel for my wife who weighs 95 pounds than I would for my teammate that weighs 200 pounds and can put out over 2000 watts.

CASUAL:  I put out 2000 watts once. Actually my power meter put it out. I’m pretty sure I was doing my normal 200 but it looked really cool on the graph. I know you could answer anyone’s more advanced questions and I’ll let them ask you those directly at the contact info below. Carbon quality. Rim depth vs width. Lacing type. Hubs are a whole different topic that people love to discuss. We’ll keep this casual. You’ve left out an important aspect of Carbon my friend…bling factor. 😁👍🏼. Do people still use the word bling? If not I just started the trend again.

JOHN:  Hahaha..the bling factor is high for sure! We even have options for chrome decals to really bring up the bling factor.


CASUAL:  Okay. So let’s end the hard questions with this. Say I’ve decided to go for a set of carbon rims. What’s the basics I need to think about and look for? A quick google search shows so many options but it’s hard to decide what’s best for “gravel”. Rougher off-road surfaces.

JOHN:  There are many options out there. Knowing what tire size you are looking to run can narrow down some. The rim width can dictate what size tires you can run. Our Cantu Rebels built for gravel are 29mm wide (internal width 24mm) and can fit 32c-42c size tires. They are tubeless compatible and a set weighs in just under 1500 grams. With a 28mm rim depth you won’t kicked you around.


CASUAL:  Okay John thanks so much for the time sir. Let’s finish this up with a few easy questions.

1. What’s a race/event you are looking forward to in 2017?

2. You’re racing down a Finish Chute…what song is playing for you?

3. Last movie you saw in the theatres with Venny?

4. Guilty pleasure post race snack?

5. Words of Wisdom for riders just picking up a bike?

JOHN:  Thanks for having me, it has been fun!

1. Im really looking forward to Gravel Worlds this year. It will be my second year doing it. I learned so much last year and hope to improve even more this time. Last year my seat post fell and I had to stop several times to get it adjusted right. My goal is to finish under 10 hours.

2. Probably some kind of 90’s hip hop but usually everything is such a blur at that point.

3. Wow, we rarely make it to the movies. I think it may have been The Secret Life of Pets.

4. Hmmm…that would probably be a Dr Pepper.

5. #1 Always have fun with it. Find a group of people to go on rides with. Don’t feel intimidated by all the information out there. Just take it one ride at a time.

About BobbyT

Backroad cycling enthusiast, husband, father and friend. View all posts by BobbyT

One response to “Casual Conversations – John Wilmeth – Cantu Cycling Wheels

  • Casual Conversations – Neil Shirley – Lyman Agency | Ride Casual. Explore Casual.

    […] NEIL:  One event that’s a must-do in the U.S. is Crusher in the Tushar. It’s in Beaver, Utah and by DK standards is quite short at just 69 miles, but don’t let that fool you. You go over 10,000 feet in altitude twice, finishing at 10,500 feet. It’s one of the best run events out there and the promoter, Burke Swindlehurst, keeps it right around 500 riders so it retains the feel of a small event. Only problem is that it fills up the same day that entries go live, so you have to be fast. As far as events I would like to do, the Dirty Reiver sounds exceptional and is definitely one on my bucket list. The cool thing about gravel vs. pavement is that everywhere you go it’s slightly different and you never quite know what you’re in for. On the pavement, the road conditions never change. CASUAL:  Crusher in the Tushar. I have two friends going this year. Smitty and Jeffy. Definitely on my list for 2018. So many gravel rides popping up and so little time. Does your family ride much Neil? Wife or your girls? Family rides? Or do you hide from cycling a little when at home to take a break? My oldest can tackle a few hills but the loose gravel on downhills makes her nervous. My youngest is 7 and rolls downhill like a runaway train. Screaming and smiling the whole way. I love watching her but I know one of these days a Fall will happen and I’m hoping she’ll get back up and go again. NEIL:  My wife doesn’t ride, and I think that’s maybe why we’ve had 17 wonderful years together She runs and that’s her thing, which is fantastic–we’re able to keep the sporting objectives separate while supporting each other in our goals. My two girls on the other hand, they are 9 and 5 and want to race me all the time. We recently took the training wheels off the youngest ones bike and I think she’ll be a ripper. My older daughter wants to beat everyone on the bike path until she sees a cool leaf or something else on the ground, then we have to stop and inspect it. Those rides are priceless. FIVE QUICK SHOTS Love it bud! Okay we’ll see you in a few days in Emporia Kansas for 2017 Dirty Kanza. Let’s wrap this up with 5 quick questions. 1. How many times have you watched the movie Frozen? NEIL:  Too many times to count, seriously. And then if I add in the hours I’ve spent listening to “Let it go”, well, let’s just say if I had a nickel for every hour I’d be a very rich man. 2. Four star hotels or roadside Bates style motels on cycling trips? NEIL:  I’m not entirely sure what a 4-star hotel would even be. Probably like a Super 8? Motel 6 is my go-to resort. 3. Favorite after ride craving if the food truck menu was your choice? NEIL:  Mexican food is really tough to beat. When I lived in San Diego there was a Sun Taco next to my house that would always fix me up after a big training day. A carne asada burrito with a horchata to wash it down is the bees knees. 4. Sprint to the City Limit sign…you, Dan Hughes or Yuri? NEIL:  Well, I’ve seen the destruction that Dan can do (to himself) in a city limits sprint, so I’d say once safely navigating around that I would use my wheel sucking roadie prowess to execute a perfectly timed bike throw to beat Yuri on the line. 5. Family vaca bucket list. Theme parks or national parks? NEIL:  I hear Disney is making a National Park theme park. That should be amazing. But as much as I do love cotton candy and corn dogs, I’d say we’re more the National Park types. After Crusher in the Tushar last year we spent two days hiking in Zion, and this August we’re going to Yellowstone for a week. Can’t wait for that trip! Neil thanks again for taking the time to chat with me.  Always great seeing you in Emporia for the Dirty Kanza.  Can’t wait! Please read other Casual Conversations Casual Conversations – John Wilmeth – Cantu Cycling Wheels […]

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