Saturday, April 20, 2024

Daniel Cain – the Engineer behind Scottish wheel maker ‘Streamline Cycling’

"Streamline wheels at least match up to the claims of the big wheel manufacturers."

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HomeInterviewsDaniel Cain - the Engineer behind Scottish wheel maker 'Streamline Cycling'

Composite wheels – when we consider them we think of names like HED and Zipp from the USA, Mavic from France, FFWD from The Netherlands, Shimano from Japan and mighty Campagnolo from Italy.

But there are innovative and fast composite wheels being made right here in Scotland.

Daniel Cain is a rider with GTR Return to Life with his wheel business, ‘Streamline Cycling’ providing the ‘p/b’ in the team’s name; the 27 years-old is also an Aero-Mechanical Engineer who has been designing and building his own composite wheels which have been used to good effect by quick GTR riders like Chris Smart.

His firm’s website states; ‘Streamline Cycling offers a wheel system that allows users to alter the depth of their wheelset from the 32mm base rim all the way to a full disc at a fraction of the cost of buying multiple comparable wheelsets.’

The 32mm rim can be deepened to 64mm or converted to a full disc in minutes with the addition of Streamline’s carbon ‘add-ons.’

We thought it would interesting to chat to a man who’s trying hard to bring Scotland to the forefront of cycling engineering and technology.

Daniel Cain. Photo©supplied

The background first please, Daniel.

“I’m 27 years-old, from Edinburgh but studied at Strathclyde University, aero-mechanical engineering.

“My ‘day job’ is the manufacture of small medical devices.

“When I was at university I took up cycling, Billy Bilsland Cycles used to help me out by lending me wheels.

“It occurred to me that you needed to invest so much money in different wheels sets to suit the different conditions you encounter in time trials – shallow rims if it’s hilly and/or windy, deep front rims if it’s flat and fast, and of course, rear discs.

“I felt that there should be a better, cheaper, more flexible option.”

So your solution provides that flexibility?

“The base rim is 32mm but you can take that up to 64mm – I’m thinking about a 90mm option too – or full disc by way of simple clip-ons.”

Daniel Cain
Photo©supplied

And most of the components are made here in Scotland?

“The 32mm base rim is made in China, it’s a big investment to tool up to make them but eventually it’s something I’d like to do.

“But the 64mm and full disc covers are made here in Scotland, just 10 minutes from my house.”

Let’s start with the hubs?

“I offer two options, the well-known DT Swiss but also the Taiwanese Bitex hub which isn’t so well known but is cheaper and in my opinion every bit as good as the DT – I just like to give folks the choice.”

Spokes?

“I use the well-known Belgian, Sapim spokes who produce some of the best spokes in the world with the wheels laced and built for me by specialist builders, DCR wheels from Lewes in East Sussex.”

Daniel Cain
Photo©supplied

Tubular or clincher – and what’s your take on tubeless?

“The wheels are all clincher at the moment with a 21mm internal rim width.

“Tubeless is best in terms of rolling resistance but it can get messy – you can run my rims with inner tubes but I think that due to the weight and rolling resistance issues tubeless is the future.

“I recommend a 25mm front tyre and 28mm rear for optimal performance.”

I’ve heard that your wheels come out well in performance tests?

“I built my own small wind tunnel and I have a 3D printer so I’m able to produce and test rim shapes, measuring the drag for each profile.

“I travelled down to Silverstone with Chris Smart to test the wheels in a full sized wind tunnel and was very encouraged by the fact that the findings there closely matched those I’d recorded in my own tests.

“The wheels at least match up to the claims of the big wheel manufacturers.”

Daniel Cain
Photo©supplied

Rim or disc brakes?

“I’m swaying towards discs, they already dominate the cross country, gravel and road market places – but braking isn’t so important for time trials.

“They’re certainly superior in the wet where carbon rims with rim brakes aren’t as effective as discs.”

Who’s on your wheels?

“GTR riders, Scottish time trial championship winner, Chris Smart has been riding them and his team mate, Marc Anderson who recently won the Scottish CTT ‘Olympic’ time trial on The Meldons course rides them too.

“Their team mate, Dougie Watson who’s notoriously ‘picky’ about his equipment is getting a disc time trial bike and will be riding my wheels on it – that’s quite an endorsement.

“The GTR guys have been great, very supportive and giving me feedback on all aspects of the wheels.”  

Chris Smart using the wheels made by Daniel Cain. Photo©Martin Williamson

Are track wheels on your ‘to do’ list?

“It’s something I want to get into, the 32mm and 64mm rims could be used for training and bunch racing and for the track there’s the option of front as well as rear discs. 

“My markets at the moment are time trials and triathlon but when you get into the track you have to consider UCI regulations, however that’s something I hope to overcome in the future.”

Tell us about your association with the German Schwalbe tyre company.

“I’ve been speaking to tyre companies, Schwalbe have been very interested and helpful, about my wind tunnel testing – the shape and tread patterns of tyres have a big influence on drag and there’s the aspect of ‘roughness’ to the side walls and the influence of that on the boundary layers.”

Danile Cain
Photo©supplied

The future?

“I have to think about where I go from here, how I scale up, get the word out – I have very little brand recognition at the moment.

“I’d like eventually to make my own 32mm base rims and as I said earlier, a 90mm option.

“Frames are an area I’d like to get into too, in the future.” 

Great to see a Scottish enterprise well to the fore in the world of exotic wheels, have a look at their website at https://streamlinecycling.co.uk.

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