State Wheels

5 Questions With State Wheels, Joseph LaFico

Breaking into the over-saturated wheel business is a tricky, tricky thing. Somehow, you’ve got to make yourself known. You’ve got to separate yourself from the hundreds of wheel vendors buying premade products from overseas and simply plastering their logo on. There’s a lot of white noise down at the bottom. Innovation has been forsaken, and always on sale products are the new normal. As cyclists and retailers, that terrifies us.

Hitting 55mph down that big hill on Hwy. 337 in Leakey, TX. Slamming into tree roots you didn’t quite see during a cyclo-cross race. Getting a blowout during a commute home and having to ride the rim to the safety of a sidewalk. Trusting the products you ride is an integral part of enjoying cycling, and a lot of the shockingly inexpensive carbon wheels floating around the internet are, in our opinion, not to be trusted.

On the other hand, there are the behemoth bike companies that sponsor pro-tour teams and seem to have a full page ad in every cycling magazine you pick up. The really do make nice wheels. Unfortunately, the normal for them is a wheelset that costs more than your entire bike, and quite possibly your first car. Full page ads aren’t free, after all.

Austin, TX based State Wheels is one of those select few wheel manufacturers that exist in between the two extremes. They offer innovative, quality wheels with a lot less hype. In fact, we carry State Wheels in all seven of our locations, and do quite well with them. It’s a product we believe in, and a great option for any cyclist looking for performance, but bored to tears of seeing the same wheels at every group ride.

Using quality, American made products, like White Industries hubsets, and building every wheel by hand helps to define the quality of State Wheels. And you’ve probably seen the State Wheels sprinter van providing neutral support for bike races and triathlons all over Texas. In fact, they were just at Ironman Galveston 70.3 a couple weeks ago.

We recently caught up with State Wheels founder, Joseph LaFico, and asked him five quick questions.

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1. What was the driving factor in starting State Wheels?

Having been a triathlete and cyclist I had ridden all the major wheel brands and didn't feel there was a lot of value in the wheel market when we started. You could get really expensive wheels that rode decently, but had some deficiencies, or you could get an inexpensive set that was really bad. Value was the driving factor. We wanted to make a great wheel for a price that was obtainable for more people. Our sales the first couple years proved we were on the right track with our product and pricing and we've continued on this path.

2. When did you start the company?

The company was launched June 2010. We had been working on the project, perfecting our first generation wheels long before then. We wanted to come out of the gates blazing with great wheels. We're really glad we took our time during this process. That time and effort laid the foundation for our success over the years.

3. What technologies separate State Wheels from the competition?

We utilize USA resins in our carbon clincher. That was extremely important to us, ensuring safety and great braking. Our hubs are made in California as we only use White Industries due to their titanium driver and chromoly axle. Durability and strength are the pillars of what we believe make great wheels.

5. Any new wheels on the horizon?

We've got some off road wheels we are working on. Folks should see these in the fall, but mums the word;) We've been working with some professional riders for several months during our R&D process. Working on new wheelsets is always an exciting process and we love launching new wheels for new riding purposes.

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If you’re interested in the idea of riding a Texas based, high quality wheelset that’s hand built, give these guys a try. The quality and durability is on par with anything on the market today.

Joseph tells us that State Wheels is also happy to customize wheelsets to match dream bikes, or accommodate customer’s requests when possible. If nothing else, give him, or his team a wave at your next event. They’ll probably be out there, supporting the Texas cycling community.

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