How I Made a Custom DC Comics Bicycle Wheel of The Flash

As a teen in the 1980s, I collected comic books for a few years, primarily DC Comics. The Flash was my favorite superhero, and I collected the second volume of the series when it started publication in 1987. I loved the artwork, color scheme, and the conflicts that Wally West had to solve. During that same year, I fell in love with cycling. As the years went by, my involvement in cycling grew while comics quickly became a former hobby. Many years later, the superhero universe became prolific, and a new Flash show debuted in 2014. The Flash continued to make increased appearances in films, such as the Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and then the various Superman, Batman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League films.

At the same time The Flash came back onto the scene, I made a transition from strictly road riding to adding in rails-to-trails mileage. A work colleague gave me an old Diamondback Approach that was sitting in his garage unused when he heard I wanted to start trail riding. It was a bit in rough shape, but I was able to swap out some components to get it trail-worthy. Over the course of a three-year period, I amassed literally thousands of miles on it riding various trails throughout Western Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. The rear wheel started breaking spokes even after replacing a few, so it was time to get a new one as it was clearly weakened due to its age and use. The old cassette went onto the new wheel hub, but I kept the old wheel as I figured I could upcycle it somehow in the future. Eventually, I completely wore out the drivetrain in 2017 the year after I moved to Lancaster, PA. I removed the worn cassette and reintroduced it back on the original wheel that I kept and decided to upcycle it using The Flash motif.

I cleaned the various parts with a mild degreaser and then let it dry. I purchased a can of primer paint and a can each of red and yellow spray paint. I first sprayed the cassette with primer and, after drying, put on the coat of red paint. I made sure to put painter’s tape on the threads of the cassette lock ring prior to spraying it so that it would be able to easily thread back onto the freehub body.

I masked off the spoke nipples and then sprayed the rim closely. After the rim thoroughly dried, I masked up the rim, including the freehub body and its splines, and sprayed the spokes and hub.

I decided to simply spray it this way and reuse all of the original parts rather than purchasing yellow spokes and spoke nipples and rebuilding the wheel completely. It was simply more economical and quicker. The only new items that I needed to purchase were a 700c yellow tire and a corresponding innertube.

My good friend Bob Knerr told me that he recently purchased a Creality Ender 3D printer. So I asked him if he would be able to print me a Flash logo for the project I was working on. He agreed to it and started to figure out how to design it. He used, a resource for STL files used for 3D printing, and found The Flash logo from designer Chris Footner.

Bob used Tinkercad to design an integrated, threaded bushing. He was able to combine both files to get the final product. By doing this, I could simply screw the logo onto the drive side end of the skewer rather than having to glue or epoxy the plastic directly to the end of the axle.

The final logo was absolutely amazing! Bob stated that it took about 12 hours for the 3D printing, used 86g of gold PLA filament, and only cost approximately $1.50 to produce. It actually cost more to mail it to me! He told me that with having more experience now, he could probably cut down on the time and materials if he did it again.

The finished product was really spectacular and eye catching! I didn’t have to sand or paint the logo. I was able to display it in my office with some of my other Flash collectibles that my awesome colleagues and my children gave to me as birthday and Christmas presents over the past few years. Special thanks to my friend Bob for helping me to put together an awesome Flash-themed bicycle wheel!

The Flash and I at the Steel City Con in Pittsburgh, PA in 2016.

Published by Scott M. Helfrich, Ed.D.

My name is Scott M. Helfrich, and I a full-time university administrator and part-time bicycle mechanic. I am the owner operator of Helfrich Bicycles, LLC that is located in Lancaster County, PA.

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