Wheelsmith was started by brothers Jon and Eric Hjertberg in 1975. It began as a small retail shop operating out of a garage in downtown Palo Alto, California. Although the local cyclists came to rely on Wheelsmith for expert advice and wheel repairs, it was the Hjertbergs’ emphasis on building the highest quality custom wheels that quickly earned the shop a nationwide reputation for its dedication to the search for perfection. In 1980, in order to focus on producing high quality, lightweight wheels, the Hjertberg brothers, along with David Long, founded a separate company, Wheelsmith Fabrications, Inc. Starting with robot assisted wheelbuilding in a warehouse in Menlo, Park California, Wheelsmith Fabrications, Inc. expanded with its comprehensive line of Wheelsmith spokes and a growing range of other wheel-related products.
In 1995, congested roadways and the high cost of living in the Bay Area triggered the relocation of Wheelsmith Fabrications, Inc. to Big Sky Country. The company moved into a building newly constructed for Wheelsmith in the town of Big Timber, Montana. Big Timber is a picturesque community located off Interstate 90, about half way between Bozeman and Billings, and is home to 1600 people—no traffic lights. The town is nestled between the Boulder and Yellowstone Rivers with dramatic views of the Crazy Mountains to the north and the Absaroka Mountain range to the south, which includes Granite Peak, Montana’s highest at 12,799 feet.
In 1996, the square footage of the Wheelsmith Fabrications facility was significantly increased to house the spoke manufacturing equipment it purchased from its Japanese partner, Asahi Spoke Manufacturing Company. After extensive training in Japan on the use, trouble-shooting, maintenance and repair of this equipment, Wheelsmith Fabrications, Inc. became the only U.S. owned and operated bicycle spoke manufacturer.
The latest chapter in Wheelsmith’s history began in 2007 when the Hayes Bicycle Group acquired the company and moved it to a 110,000 square foot facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All of Wheelsmith’s machinery, including spoke manufacturing and wheelbuilding machines, was brought over from the Montana facility. At the same time, the remainder of Asahi’s machinery was purchased and transported from Japan to Milwaukee. As a result, every Wheelsmith spoke is now made in the US.
September 17, 2007, marked the 27th anniversary of Wheelsmith Fabrications, Inc. We are still in the business of manufacturing bicycle spokes, building bicycle wheels and producing wheel-related products. As always, Wheelsmith Fabrications continues to support cyclists who demand wheels “built with the best”.