Admit it, those photos of the early 1950s Gino Bartali with the wood rims had the wheels turning (!) in your head, "I have to have a pair of those."
Where do you get them? From an Italian company, of course. Cerchi Ghisallo "has been operating with success in the wooden bicycle rims business for well on three generations now. Founded in the 1940s together with Antonio Cermenati and strengthened by the cooperation with the D’Alessandro company (renown for their tubular rim production), affirmation both in our homeland and abroad was quick to come. In 1976 the business was taken over by the founder’s son Giovanni, who went on to operate a major breakthrough with the leading technological company MOMO DESIGN, by securing the supply of wooden rims for an exclusive custom designed bicycle. From then onwards a great deal of articles featured in both specialised and non-specialised magazine editions describe the production processes and implementation of wooden rims, further to film documentary production both in Italy and abroad describing how resilient and strong wooden rims are. Not only do they equal those in metal, but they feature a much greater elasticity over the rougher and particularly longer routes, with the added benefit that on downhill stretches the infamous inconveniencies of overheating due to brake friction pads are avoided, thereby guaranteeing optimised braking performance at all times. Our catalogue proudly quotes the following comment by Fiorenzo Magni: ”Not only has my good friend Giovanni continued a wonderful tradition, but he has managed to give his rims that special touch that is the absolute best that a cyclist can find. By the way, I won the Tour of Flanders three times running, using these wooden rims”. In 2003, the business was taken over by Giovanni’s son, Antonio: the third generation devoted to continuing the “CERCHI GHISALLO” wooden rims traditions. Production craftsmanship processes are entirely hand controlled, from the actual woodblocks to the end of the various work process cycles."
See http://www.cerchiinlegnoghisallo.com/homeeng.php for more details and contact information.
Addendum, April 5, 2008:
Here is a photograph (from the Aldo Ross collection) of Magni riding in the Tour of Flanders in 1951.