wheelbuilding with arup

Who am I?

Current news (June 2017)

Who is Arup?

My name is Arup Sen (pronounced aaroop) and I live in Sydenham, SE London. I work part-time building wheels at Racer Rosa bicycles in Walthamstow. I also teach yoga and build websites the rest of the week. I ride audax and volunteer for Samaritans. Here is a photo of me in Sweden rebuilding my Henry Gregson bike having taken it on the plane.

The other one just so you can see what I look like. If you want to know more about me then take a look at my blog. There are a few fixed gear articles in there, the wheel log but mostly other topics.

Some of my previous clients will have noticed that as of May 2017 my home address has changed and that my base is no longer Sydenham but at Racer Rosa bicycles in Walthamstow E17. For all those who are local that doesn't mean that you now have to travel North of the river, you can still leave parts with me at 75B Byne Road, Sydenham, SE26 5JG but I will work on the wheels in E17. For a full account of what happened and why, you can read by blog post here. Otherwise business as usual, more or less.

I know, the photos are a bit old.

Out at my cottage in SwedenOut in the country in Kent

At my holiday home in Sweden (left)

Out in the countryside in Kent (right)

How I started building wheels

In March 2004 I built my first fixed gear bicycle. For 2 years prior to that I had been reading about it. I had never actually tried it because I did not have access to such a bike not being a member of a club nor knowing any friends that had a fixed gear. The only way to try was to either buy one or make one. Having read so much over those 2 years, mainly online, I was quite sold on the idea. But how would it really feel?

I had all the basic skills to put a bike together, except building a wheel. Everything I read called it “the dark art”. I still haven’t figured out why they called it that. I guess everyone was just quoting everyone else.

Learning Process

There are plenty of resources online, especially Sheldon Brown’s site, which has step by step diagrams which I cross referenced with a book I have. It took me ages! I looked at the wheel, then the screen, then back at the wheel. All in my front room of course, which was gradually becoming a workshop, and a mess. But I loved it and wanted to make more of them. So I put an ad in ebay stating my very basic experience and I got a few orders. You can’t live off selling a couple of wheels a month, but they are good fun.

Along with building wheels from scratch, I also did some repairs and rebuilds. And it was the rebuilding of a wheel that helped me to develop my pre-cross method. I was replacing a rim and tied up all the crossed spokes with wire bag ties. It gave me another perspective on the wheel building process and I realised that I could build a new wheel in the same way.


Since mid-2015 I have been volunteering for Samaritans, a charity that emotionally supports those in distress. My main role is as a listener which involves taking phonecalls, responding to emails and SMS messages and also taking face to face callers. The callers are not all necessarily suicidal but at varying degrees of distress. Each volunteer at my local branch, Croydon, makes a commitment to six duties within an 8 week period, one of which has to be a weekend and one an overnight.

Feel free to contact me if you want information on how to get involved as a listening volunteer. Plenty of information on the main Samaritans website here https://www.samaritans.org/volunteer-us. You can also give your time as a non-listener at your local branch.

If you would like to contribute financially to our branch which runs entirely on donations and needs about £50.00 a day to run, you can give a regular donation or a one-off donation via our Just Giving page here https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/samaritans/croydonandsutton.

You can also use a service called Easy Fundraising. Once you have signed up set your 'cause' to Samaritans Croydon. This won't cost you anything. The next time you shop online, especially for bike parts, just visit the Easy Fundraising website first and go from there to Wiggle or Chain Reaction or other store that is eligible with Easy Fundraising. 1.5% of your purchase price will go to our branch just by you taking this very simple extra step.

If you need emotional support, then the number to call is 116 123 whenever you need, anytime of day or night, there will always be someone to listen to whatever you're going through without judgement and in total confidence. To email it's jo@samaritans.org or via SMS 07725 909090. I am personally not able to provide emotional support outside of my duties.