Rad People Who Ride: Jude Kirstein and Sugar Wheel Works

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Wheel building, the last mythical art of bicycle mechanics that still seems to elicit the highest level of respect, regarded by many as the zenith of mastery.  You don’t take your sweet hoops, hubs, and spokes to just anyone to throw them together.  You really have to trust your wheel builder, know that care and thought is put into the turn of each spoke while tensioning to perfection.  Jude Kirstein understands this.  In fact, she understands it so well that she founded Epic Wheel Works in Portland in 2009 to celebrate the art and beauty of wheel building through a custom operation.  Now under the tasty name of Sugar Wheel Works and in a more adequately sized shop, Jude runs an amazing operation that hosts wheel building classes, hub overhaul clinics, hands-on teaching, and mastery know-how at 3808 N Williams Ave. in Portland, Oregon.  And she still does amazing custom wheels to order.  Don’t feel like traveling to the most bicycle-centric city you may or may not be aware of?  Fear not, get enough of your buddies together and an instructor can fly to you or your shop for a little education in your neck of the woods.  With a strong emphasis on sustainability and creating a positive impact on the local community, Jude Kirstein and Sugar Wheel Works set a positive trend for our sport.  Oh, and yeah, Jude rides.  Like, a lot.  You can check out a link to Sugar’s website at the end of Jude’s fun responses and awesome photos.  Enjoy!

Name:  Jude Kirstein

Home Shop and City:  Sugar Wheel Works, Portland Oregon---well just for wheels :)

Favorite WTB or Freedom product:  WTB Frequency i23


Favorite Ride:  Up Saltzman….anything up Saltzman!  Rain or shine I’ll take that little ride through the forest.

Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?

My dad got me into riding.  He challenged me to go farther and keep a good pace—I really just think he wanted to get some good riding in.  But I was happy to go along!

Tube or Tubeless, why?

Mountain bike definitely tubeless…I like the grip and not getting pinch flats.


3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?

Banana, chocolate chip cookie, and arm warmers—I get cold and hungry.

Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?

Great question.  O man, I wish I had something cool to say.  One of my favorite things I’ve seen on a bike is a group of three fellas travelling in the middle of Argentina (in the wildest parts!) who were on the equivalent of department store bikes riding with guitars.  We were so focused on our “gear” but they had beater bikes and guitars!

Left my wallet in… (fill it in): 

Where haven’t I?  I’ve seriously lost my wallet in so many places…and always gotten it back!

Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog? 

If you love riding be an advocate in your city—donate time or resources to making your city or your favorite trails. 


Sugar Wheel Works:




Custom Wheels Epic Wheel Works Frequency Frequency Team i23 Oregon PDX Portland Sugar Wheel Works TCS Tubeless Wheel building

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