Tag Wheels Interview

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Tell us about Tag Wheels and where the idea came from?
We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to talk with Mike Thomas of Tag Wheels and shoot the breeze about their uber cool wheels.

tag wheels

Read the interview below!

Tell us about Tag Wheels and where the idea came from?

We had access to this protected advanced molding technology that allowed us to mold wheels like no one else in the world. That is one-piece hollow with internal supports and an integrated tire bead. Other manufacturers either bond a metal rim to the composite wheel or mold the wheel solid (not hollow), or make it A or H framed (flexy), or make a
wheel without a bead, or hand make it. We had the perfect technology and it was proven, and very repeatable.

There in lies the name TAG (Technically Advanced Geometry) It has been a 3+ year project to date. In 2005 we researched the market and noted that riders were getting more
ballsy and extreme and that manufacturers were making bikes and aftermarket parts more “Bombproof” to accommodate the new riders demands. In 2005 we went to Crankworx with a prototype TAG Wheel and showed it around to the Bike Park and realized that bikes, bike parts, wheels, and riders were getting broken too often and the costs were
huge. We learned the costs associated to buying wheels, replacement wheels, maintaining wheels, and the constant requirement to keep them trued or else was a serious issue. We were quickly introduced to Dangerous Dan Cowan and the Flowriders and saw them in action doing their stunts. We looked over their many bikes and wheels and had discussions with each of their riders about their day to day issues. We soon realized the serious commitment required to maintain wheels to keep them trued especially when your safety is at risk with such stunts.

We asked them and many others if we could make wheels absolutely truly bombproof with no or little maintenance if that would appeal to them.The answer was obvious, and they really liked the 5 offset spoke design MAG look as well. That led us to develop the FRX5 wheel.

What kind of riding are Tag Wheels meant for? XC, DH, FR, and 4x?

We learned quickly that the utility or application of our wheels was much greater than expected. It was not a surprise when you consider we have made the toughest bicycle wheel ever with basically no maintenance required.

We’re very clear in our positioning and our value proposition, as per our website and 4 Reasons to Buy. We don’t really compare ourselves to traditional spoked wheels as they usually focus on wheel weight, aerodynamics etc. We were asked by some of our dealers where they should merchandise the wheels in their store. They were thinking in between the freeride and downhill wheels. We said why don’t you put them beside all the other traditional wheels. Its not so much about comparing our wheels to traditional wheels as it is about offering an alternative solution. If a rider simply bends and breaks wheels and is fed up with constant maintenance of wheels and wants to ride more and save money in
the long run then our wheels may be right for him.

Keep in mind we have the unique chain binding prevention feature which ensures your chain will not bind if it comes off the cassette. The rear derailleur actually pops the chain back onto the cog in a second or two. With all that said our wheels are being tested by 10 of the biggest and best bike parks across the US and Canada for months now and we have not had one single problem occur. Our wheels utility and application is Downhill,Freeride, Urban, All Mountain, Bike Park Rental Bikes, Heavy weight riders, Riders that like to train with heavier wheels to optimize their training. As I mentioned earlier you can see the market is telling us the utility is much wider.

tag wheels

At Sea Otter 2007, we saw quite a bit of riders racing or performing in Tag Wheels. I even asked one of the guys at the Flow Riders Show if how he liked his wheels, he talked about how great they are and how he never has to worry about messing up a wheel. With that in mind, what kind of stress testing does Tag put these wheels through? Does Yanni Antonakos do some crazy drops with them?

When you look at our website we are straight up with our viewers about our wheels. We explain for example the making of a TAG Wheel, and details of the technology. We have videos showing 4 HUGE impacts so you can see what 90 lbs of weight attached to our wheels does when impacting on a 4 degree angular pipe showing side impact. Our wheels will withstand over 10000 lbs static load before permanent deformation. That is unheard of. As well you can see Yanni put the wheels through some serious real life testing on these videos. Our gallery shows 11″ downhill travel bikes to urban to dirt jump bikes.

We just got back from Whistler Crankworx and Yanni is now at Claworx offering demo bikes and selling wheels. Soon we will put up many more pics from Crankworx.
Whistler, rental shops, dealers, customers, mashers are all over the mountain so for the past year a lot of field testing has been done. Like I say no one has broken a TAG wheel. I’ve seen some big drops! Were not worried.

tag wheels

Why did you go with DT Swiss hubs? Would another brand been able to
work with the Tag Wheels?

We met up with DT Swiss in 2005 at Crankworx and we realized quickly that their FR440 disk hubs were proven reliable, proven to be low maintenance with the star ratchet system and proven to be seriously tough with those 2 opposing ratchets with 18 hardened steel teeth. Such a very simple and effective long lasting engagement system. Their reputation is second to none, and their warranty program is excellent.

We have 2 other hub manufactures that we have worked with and we have already proven out the compatibility and application of lower cost hubs for the FRX5 when the time is right to market.

You know much of our discussions with Bike Parks rental fleets and OEM’s or even large dealers follow this kind of proposition. Our proposition is offer a system sale where we partner in this case for example with a bike park. After the initial complete wheel purchase we then sell them blank wheels without hubs. We provide them with the proprietary tool to unlock the locking ring and pop out the hub. If a problem occurs with a TAG Wheel the mechanic simple pops out the hub and puts the used hub into a brand new wheel blank. It takes 15 minutes to build a brand new wheel and it always remains true. This is similar to what we do with our current wheel exchange program offered on the website for $200 for a brand new wheel.

tag wheels

With the wheels weighing up to 4lbs a piece, what do you say to nay-sayers that are weight weinnies that think these wheels are just too heavy? Will you be offering lighter wheels?

Were not shy and very upfront about our value proposition (4 Reasons to Own) We’ve learned as well as any wheel manufacturer that to get something you’ve got to give something else up. In this case we have the toughest and lowest maintenance wheel and for that you give up weight. Bottom line is if you’re after weight we don’t try and sell you.

You cant be all things to everyone and that’s straight up.We can make wheels lighter and in many shapes and sizes with 3,4,6,7 20 spokes etc. We can make it with Carbon fiber, Nylons, and other materials. We can make it more aerodynamic etc. We are now in
discussions with OEM’s and soon we will identify some OEM wheel projects with them that will facilitate their needs. At a later date we can discuss more detail.

Will you be coming out with a 29er wheel, if so when?

29 er’s not on the drawing board yet.

Can Tag Wheels be custom made into different colors?

We can make solid colors, and patterns like camo, or skeletons etc.

When you first introduced Tag Wheels to the market, did you get alot of resistance from people, what about the media and forums?

It took people time to get our value proposition. Its just so different and never been done before so we understand that. One problem we had at the start was we missed our target launch date. This pissed people off, and I can appreciate that. We could have launched the product on time but we decided not to because we knew we could make it better and so we did.

We use whats called FEA Analysis to design the wheels. (Check out the making of a TAG Wheel on the site) This tool allows us to design and change the geometry of the wheel and from the learning’s here we then moved to cut metal on the mold. We needed to adjust some radiuses to improve side impact of the wheel.

Our technology represents state of the art in composite wheel technology in the world today. Dupont a major corporation is using our wheels throughout the world to showcase their toughening technology in the Nylon and the unique patented technology by showing our wheels around the world. They have press releases on TAG Wheels throughout the world as well. There are so many scams and unfair practices out there these days that people need to be skeptical. They need to see the wheels being ridden, touch them and read reviews about them. That’s possible now with all the dealers and customers throughout the country. What is strange is all the fake reviews out there from a year ago and more where people just wanted to say things that were not real… like they bought them or they rode them, or they compared them to other wheels that had bonded rims or made of carbon fiber. Even these days guys talking about how the hubs cant be serviced? Or the price was $1100? Vs $949 or how they broke them, or how there is not a wheel exchange program. Bottom line is you get that stuff from people that just don’t want to understand or learn more about the industry progression.

tag wheels

What happens if some guy happens to break or damages these wheels, is there some sort of warranty or replacement program?

The wheel exchange program on the website allows original owner to replace a wheel for $200. he simply calls us gets a RA# and sends it to us. We then pop out the hub and put it into a new wheel and send it off.

Besides its durability and great looks (I think these wheels are
hot!) What other strengths do the wheels posses?

They save you money. If you get 3-10 years out of a set with low maintenance and much more riding and less downtime that is good value. Its tough coming up with $949 up front but think about all the money you spent on rims the past 3 years.

As I mentioned earlier, there were allot of riders on Tag Wheels
at Sea Otter, can you name some of the Pro riders on your roster?

Dangerous Dan Cowan
Dharma Fontaine
Kyle Johnson
Andrew Baker
Endo Romero

Last question, where can people buy Tag Wheels?

Check out contact us on the web page, and there is an order form on the home page as well. We can sell direct to you or through a dealer of your choice the price will be the same. Call us at 1-800-887-5070

Decline have been testing the wheels for months. Soon they will put out an article on TAG Wheels. I’ll send some new pics from Whistler Crankworx. But that will be in a week for now a few pics today.

Thanks RL
Nice job supporting our industry and your viewers!

We’d like to thank Mike “Mr. T” Thomas (T for Tag!) for taking the time to talk with us. So show some love by checking out Tag Wheels!

RL Policar

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of MtnBikeRiders.com and BikeCommuters.com. Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).


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