I'm currently brainstorming directions to take with the wheels.
From the beginning, I've envisioned the Night Heron to have drum brakes. Both to simplify the look of the bike and to add a bit more weather proofing to the system. I'm planning on using this bike as a year-round commuter in the city, so adding the capability of stopping in the rain is appealing. Following my friend Darrell's example, I've decided on Sturmey Archer hubs.
Let's take a look at Darrell's bike, Blackadder, once again:
Darrell's Blackadder has a Sturmey Archer X-FDD in the front, which contains both a power generator and drum brakes. The generator hub will provide power for a stylish lamp, but I'm not sure that bike powered lamps get bright enough to illuminate parts of my commute through Golden Gate park at night. I might need to suppliment any classy but not-quite-bright-enough lights with something like the Cygolite, which I have on my current commuter bike (I've heard complaint from oncomers that it's *too* bright (and they currently have brighter models), even on the low setting, but any dimmer and I can't see the pothole-ridden roads of San Francisco).
In the rear, Blackadder's got a Sturmey Archer X-RD3 which is a 3-Speed with the classic 177% gear ratio and drum brakes. The X-RD3 is the same hub found on the Pashley Guv'nor. I'm considering getting the 5-speed version of that hub:
The X-RD3 has a wider gear ratio of 256%, one step down from the lowest gear on the 3-Speed, and one step higher, with third gear as direct drive. Those two extra gear steps will definitely be useful on the hills of San Francisco.
At first I was considering getting the rims powder coated to match the frame (of which I'm considering a dark blue, preferably with some sparkle), but the more I think about it, the more I think that'll just cause more expense down the road if the wheels ever get damaged. I like the way that black rims look with cream tires on the Pashley Guv'nor, but I'm not sure how those will look on the blue frame. I definitely have some digital prototyping to do.
On Darrell's suggestion, I'm considering black non-machined sidewall Velocity Dyad rims. I like the deeper rim profile, and I think it'll also provide a bit more rigidity over a boxy-profiled rim.