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The Wheel Builder: Ben Sharp

Becoming a master wheel builder and starting Sharp Precision Wheels wasn’t just about making things round. Cycling means something different to all of us, but as your connection to the road or trail, the right pair of hand built wheels will help you find whatever you’re searching for out there. Your wheels have a direct impact on how it feels to ride, so as a low volume craftsman striving for excellence in every pair, it’s hard not to feel a deeper connection to everything that leaves the Sussex workshop.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way: until my twenties I didn’t even ride, but when you find something you love, contributing to that industry can help to keep it close.

Mountains

I started life as an archaeologist, and more often than not you’d be able to find me with a trowel in my hand on a muddy building site in the UK, or in the desert sands of Jordan, Qatar, Iraq and Abu Dhabi. During this time, it was always the focus on training for Full and Half Ironman triathlon that motivated me. Working a physical job made it hard to enjoy exercise but the goal was always to push my physical limits across 3 disciplines.

Then it all happened at once. One too many cold winters spent out in the mud encouraged me to hang up my trowel before losing the love of digging, and persistent running injuries pushed me closer and closer to the bike, before that inevitable first trip to the French Alps.

When I’m no longer on this earth, I’m pretty sure I’ll be riding my bike in the mountains. To say that Alpine riding was a revelation doesn’t do it justice. It was never a case of conquering something difficult: plenty of things which are enjoyable in life are hard. It was all about simplicity.

There is a brutal simplicity to riding up a relentless gradient. Your legs burn, the air is cold, and all you can hear are the repetitive noises of man and machine, lost in the vast landscape around you. It is all consuming, and the best way I can find relaxation and freedom from doubt in a complicated world.

I’ll always make time for riding in the French Alps. Long days in the mountains suit my diesel-engine riding style, and nothing feels like a fast descent on an open road.

I got stuck in to the cycle trade, carrying out an apprenticeship at the UK’s biggest hand built wheel specialist. Over a period of 5 years, and in excess of 10,000 hours, I honed my skills and progressed to Master Wheel Builder and Workshop Manager.

That experience made me the wheel builder I am today. It was a unique and intensive way to learn, away from the distractions of a bike shop, focussing purely on high performance wheels for a huge variety of riders. It provided me with a skill set and understanding of wheel building which is unique in the cycling industry, and rare even among experienced wheel builders.

I’ve built hundreds, if not thousands of wheels for riders just starting out, right through to Olympic medallists and Tour de France winners. Each pair is built with the same precision and attention to detail and stems from an in-depth technical understanding of what it takes to build a good wheel.

I started Sharp Precision Wheels in 2018 so that I could I keep the classic benefits of a hand built wheel but deliver them differently. Every pair of wheels is both an example of measurable precision and good old-fashioned hard work.

I invest heavily in the industries finest precision tools to ensure that your wheels can be built to the tightest tolerances and reach their full potential. Being able to measure these tolerances is critical to building a wheel which is durable and is fundamental to providing an understanding of how different components interact.

From the unique Birth Certificate detailing the finished tolerances of your wheelset, which is hand stamped upon completion, to the full care instructions and freehub body grease included in every box, each detail has been considered to ensure that your purchase from Sharp Precision Wheels feels unique. Approaching a skilled wheel builder and working together to produce a pair of wheels is a special experience, a world apart from most purchases we make these days. My brand and identity are important to me, and I hope you’ll be proud to be a part of it.

There is no such thing as a question that isn’t worth asking, and it is my pleasure to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to help educate consumers: if you ever want something explained, just say the word. Behind every decision is a well-reasoned trail of thought which stems from extensive experience.

The workshop in Billingshurst, West Sussex is always open if you want to chat face to face and relax on the sofa. There is always good coffee or local beer on tap to help the conversation flow and start the process of designing your next pair of Sharp Precision Wheels. Some of Sussex greatest climbs are within reach, bring a bike if you’re feeling brave.

Ben Sharp

I take pride in being a 100% UK based wheel builder. Everything is built and serviced right here in Sussex, with shipping available throughout the world.

Head to the Wheel Building Process page to learn more about the stages involved in producing a hand built wheel, and the benefits they offer, or use the Contact page to get in touch immediately.

Looking for inspiration? Visit the Case Studies page to see the latest builds.

As a rider myself, I know how important time on the bike is to every client. My goal as a wheel builder is to make it even better by producing something which truly reflects your individual needs.