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Posts by Madcow

New EE Brake for 2015

July 17th, 2014

Madcow

New EE Brake for 2015 also in direct mount version.

 

New EE Brake for 2015 also in direct mount version.

New EE Brake for 2015 also in direct mount version.

 

The EE brake has long been our favorite light weight brake.  We’d be willing to take that comment a step further and say it’s simply our favorite brake in any weight class.   The newest version sees a lot of changes, more changes than any previous update.   We had to wonder how do you make dramatic improvements to what we’d consider to already be the best brake on the market.  So let’s take a look at the changes individually.

The first thing we noticed was that the flanges from the pivot bushings are no longer visible.  While this may not be a performance increase, it does indeed improve on the refined look of the brake.  However the flanges of the pivots are not the only changes.  The bushings themselves are thinner which adds more overall stiffness to the brake meaning more power and better modulation.

Looking at the whole brake we can see that it is still forged, giving it more strength and durability than if it were machined like the earliest versions, but we can also see that the shape of the arm has changed.   We’re told the new arm shape again adds more stiffness which improves on power and modulation even further.

It would be hard to not notice that the logo placement has changed.  Previously it was etched on the solid front plate of the bridge but now it’s on a plastic plug which we’re told will be available in different colors.   At first glance this looks to just be an aesthetic change, but it’s not.  The logo placement was changed because the mounting system has changed.  The eccentric mounting bolt is no longer used which means a single bolt passes through the brake, this plug covers the bolt not only hiding it, but helping to keep it clean.

On previous versions the eccentric bolt was what facilitated reach adjustment as well as brake centering.  It was a clever mechanism but did add time to the installation process.  They’ve dealt with reach adjustment in a very standard way, by lengthening the pad adjustment slot to a more traditional length.  The centering has been replaced with an adjuster that no longer needs a tool for adjustment.  Just turn the wire adjuster with your fingers.   The “Link” system ensures that both pads move equally and consistently.

The new brake now accommodates even wider rims.  It is equally capable of working with an 18mm wide rim as it is all the way up to a 28mm rim.  The quick release opens the brake wide enough for a 28c tire to easily pass through.

Weight and pad holders are unchanged.  The weight remains at 168 grams per set including pad holders.  The pad holders are unchanged and are still our favorite retention mechanism.  The EE pad holder allows for the fastest pad changes of any brake we’ve worked on and it does not require any tools to change pads.

The leverage ratio has been tweaked slightly giving it slightly more power through it’s entire cycle while remaining neutral in lever compatibility.  That is to say while it works great with newer Shimano levers it still works well with Sram and Campagnolo levers as well as older Shimano levers.

We do expect to see a price change with this, but nothing major.  We’re expecting to see the price go up about $15 per pair but are waiting on confirmation of that.

Perhaps the biggest change of all is that the brake will be available in Direct mount version with our without a carbon aero shield on the front.    More info on that will be coming shortly.

 

Expected availability of the new version is sometime in August.

 

 

2014 Stem Review

February 21st, 2014

Madcow

We’ve designated 2014 as the year of testing here at Fair Wheel. This year we have several tests planned and we’re going to kick them off with the first of the series, stems. The stem testing includes both road and mtb.

We’ve also once again brought back our favorite engineer, Jason Krantz. Jason’s a mechanical engineer whose graduate work focused on the intersection of composite materials and finite element analysis. Jason has worked for several companies in the bicycle industry and never fails to amaze me with the depth of his cycling related knowledge. He adds real value to all of the tests we perform.

Disclaimer: A lot of typing and numbers have gone into this article and we apologize in advance for any typos, but would warn that the possibility of mistakes is present.

Some Initial Notes on Testing

Testing Method: During preliminary testing we determined that the first run of each stem in the fixture produced results that varied significantly from tests 2 and 3 (which produced consistent results each time). We attribute this to a settling of pieces in the fixture. Each stem was mounted in the fixture and the testing performed 3 times. The first test was tossed out and tests 2 and 3 we’re recorded and then averaged. All stems tested were 11cm with the exception of a few which are not available in those lengths. Each stem was mounted with it’s recommend torque specs and preloaded with 20 pounds of force applied 10 inches from the stem (about half way between a road bar and mtb bar) Once preloaded the equipment was zeroed and another 100 pounds of force was added and a measurement recorded. The measurement was taken at the point of load, again 10 inches from the stem.

Loads Tested: While the actual load doesn’t matter because the response of the structure is linear. [That is, a stem with a s stiffness of 150-foot pounds per degree will deflect one degree with a torque of 150 foot-pounds and two degrees with a torque of 300 foot-pounds.] Jason selected a load of 100 pounds because it’s a nice round number, and pretty realistic to what some riders may experience. For a sprinting rider, let’s say he is pushing on the left pedal with 300 lbf (in other words, he can squat 600 lbs). The pedal is about half as far from the frame centerline as the handlebar is, so it would take a reaction force of 150 lbs at the right-hand bar to counteract the pedaling force. This is the same as applying 75 lbf up on the one side of the bar and 75 lbf down on the other; the moment at the stem is the same.

Normalizing for Stem Length: In theory, it’s possible to measure a particular stem of one length and extrapolate its results to longer or shorter versions of the same stem model. In technical terms, this is “normalizing for stem length.” We can do this because torsional displacement is directly proportional to length for a tube of a given cross section. It’s true that a good engineer will use thinner walls on shorter stems (which see lower stresses) and thicker walls on longer stems (which see higher stresses). Still, normalizing to length within a single stem make and model is valid to a first approximation, at least with metal stems. A composite stems is a different beast, because layups (AKA laminate schedules) can vary significantly with length.

While torsional displacement is directly proportional to stem length, bending displacement is proportional to the cube of the length. Our first pass at a stem test setup measures combined bending and torsional displacement, so it would not be valid to extrapolate to longer or shorter stems, even within the same model, at least if you’re looking for absolute values.

If you’re interested in relative values–for example, if you want to know whether stem A is stiffer than stem B–then these results should be quite useful regardless of the actual length you intend to use.

For this test we used 11cm stems in every case except 2 (Pro Vibe Sprint Carbon and Syntace F119) which are both 10.5cm. The stems were similar enough in length that we did not normalize any stems in this test, but in the future we may test some stems that need to be normalized for a fair comparison.

Stiffness to Weight Ratio: This was calculated using =((1/avg. defl) / weight) * 1000

Bolt Material: One question we wanted to answer was if there was a noticeable difference between stems with titanium and steel bolts. We selected a few random stems and tested them both with titanium and steel bolts and found no meaningful difference in deflection in stems with one material over the other.

Mounting Direction: We also wanted to see if mounting a stem with a rise vs a drop made a difference in the deflection. While we were able to measure a difference, less than 0.1 mm at 100 pounds, it was not enough to say that there is a meaningful difference, and was likely within margin of error of the testing.

Notes about Stem Angles. One other item we wanted to test was the difference in like stems with different angles. We tested a couple of stems that are available in both 7 and 17 degree angles and found that 17 degree stems deflected an average of 7% less. The tested stems vary from 5 to 10 degrees which should result in deflection variations of up to about 3%, so keep that in mind when comparing two stems of different angles.

Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum: — Carbon fiber stems don’t offer the weight savings that, say, carbon fiber rims do. There’s a reason for this: stems are regularly stressed in three ways: bending, torsion and shear. In other words, the stresses in a stem are nearly isotropic (uniform in all directions). Carbon fiber is highly anisotropic (stiffer/stronger in one direction than in the others). When you try to lay up anisotropic carbon to deal with isotropic stresses, you end up with what engineers refer to as “black aluminum,” or pseudoisotropic carbon–and a weight that’s very close to an aluminum stem.

There may be other advantages to a carbon stem; vibration damping is one that is often put to the forefront of the debate. It’s true that composite structures generally damp vibration better than metallic ones, and there may be real-world damping benefits to a carbon stem. One way to test stem damping would be to wire an accelerometer to the stem and then strike it gently with a hammer, reading the accelerometer data to see how quickly the vibrations dissipated. This ring-down test may be on the Fairwheel menu for a future article, but is outside the scope of this test.

Mixed materials. Hybrid stems, a carbon overlay on an alloy stem. We tested only a couple of these but neither did well, we’ll do more testing on others in the future to develop out thoughts on this medium further.

We tested two similar stems one in full alloy (7s) and one in hybrid (vibe carbon) to see if there was an advantage to the hybrid stems. Both are the same weight and same dimensions with the same puzzle lock clamp. The difference being that the Carbon has thinner alloy, reinforced with carbon. Deflection was noticeably different, the full alloy was significantly stiffer than alloy/carbon.

To speculate on why tests put carbon/aluminum stems on the flexible end of the spectrum, one might consider two competing design constraints. First is galvanic corrosion. When aluminum and carbon touch each other, they’ve made a weak battery. The electron-swapping that goes on will cause an aluminum/carbon part to fail in short order. To avoid this, manufacturers use a layer of insulating material. This layer is often a fiberglass/epoxy composite but could be plain epoxy. Neither material is as stiff as aluminum, so you’re taking a stiffness loss right away.

Secondly, the market won’t tolerate a carbon-wrapped aluminum stem that is both more expensive and heavier than its plain-aluminum counterpart. So manufacturers are forced to use thinner-walled aluminum forgings for their carbon-wrapped stems than they do for their straight-up aluminum stems. Effectively, they’re replacing relatively stiff aluminum with relatively compliant fiberglass and/or epoxy.

Making matters worse, some carbon-wrapped aluminum stems use a 0°/90° weave for aesthetic reasons. This weave’s stiffness reflects the dreaded pseudoisotropy referred to earlier, and is particularly compliant in shear–which, in a stem, determines torsional stiffness.

The net result is a carbon-look stem that has adequate strength but more compliance (and possibly better vibration damping) than a “pure” aluminum stem.

To be clear, the above is what engineers call a SWAG: a Scientific Wild-Ass Guess. It’s a reasonable first pass, but there may be other factors at play that we haven’t considered and which will be further explored in future tests.

Now on to the results

Manufactorer Model Stack Height (mm) Average Deflection (mm) Weight (g) Stifness to Weight Material Bolt Material Angle (degrees)
3T Arx Team 40 3.8 129.4 2.033 7075 Titanium 6
ENVE Carbon 41 4 120.1 2.07 Carbon Fibre Titanium 6
Extralite OC Road 40 5.06 87.7 2.25 7075 Titanium 8
Far and Near S1 38 3.92 144 1.77 6061 Steel 6
KCNC Arrow 38 4.28 138.6 1.68 7050 Titanium 7
KCNC Flyride 38 4.55 127.3 1.72 6061 Steel 5
New Ultimate Evo 40 5.3 110.8 1.7 7050 Titanium 6
Pro Vibe 7S 44 4.06 137.3 1.79 7075 Steel 10
Pro Vibe Carbon 39 5.24 138.4 1.38 Alloy/Carbon Titanium 10
Pro Vibe Sprint Carbon* 39 2.69 199.4 1.87 Carbon Fibre Steel 10
Pro Vibe Track Carbon 40 2.73 186.9 1.96 Carbon Fibre Steel 10
Pro XCR 39 5.38 117.6 1.58 7075 Steel 5
Race Face Turbine 39 4.38 144 1.59 7075 Steel 6
Ritchey 260 42 4.81 113.5 1.83 7075 Steel 6
Ritchey 4-Axis Carbon 42 5.73 120.2 1.45 Alloy/Carbon Titanium 6
Syntace F119* 40 4.55 132.2 1.66 7075 Steel 6
Thomson X2 36 4.2 146.8 1.62 7000 Steel 10
Thomson X4 41 3.41 168.2 1.74 7000 Steel 10
Tune 4 39 4.47 109.4 2.04 7075 Titanium 8
* Stems measured at 10.5cm vs the standard 11cm effecting stiffness results.

Thoughts on Each Stem

3t Arx Team Stem

3t Arx Team Stem

3T Arx Team

The 3T arx did quite well in testing making it one of the most well rounded stems we tested. Minimal deflection with a good weight gave this a high stiffness to weight ratio. Available in a couple of finishes and a full range of sizes. It includes ti bolts for a near $100 price tag which make it a top choice for all around performance value.

  • Manufacturer: 3t
  • Model: Arx Team
  • Stack Height: 40mm
  • Avg: Def: 3.8
  • Weight: 129.4 gr.
  • SxW: 2.033
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $110
Enve Carbon Stem

Enve Carbon Stem

ENVE Carbon

Full carbon stem which had the 2nd highest stiffness to weight ratio of all tested stems. Good looking and available in a full range of sizes. Full carbon construction should provide additional vibration damping over alloy stems. Textured face plate adds to it’s ability to hold a bar in place with lower torque which reduces the chance of damaging a lightweight carbon bar. Includes ti bolts but is a bit more expensive than alloy counterparts.

  • Manufacturer: Enve
  • Model: Carbon
  • Stack Height: 41mm
  • Avg: Def: 4 mm
  • Weight: 120.1 gr.
  • SxW: 2.07
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $265

Extralite Road OC Stem

Extralite Road OC Stem

Extralite OC Road

The lightest (by a significant margin) stem that we tested. In spite of being near the bottom in terms of deflection it still has the highest stiffness to weight ratio thanks to it’s super light weight. Extralite lists the stem as being reversible but logos printed in only one direction make us think nobody would run it in a rise position. It’s more expensive than all the other alloy stems in the test, but it is exquisitely made and has very nice attention to detail with items such as the custom torx head titanium bolts. We would like to see some sort of gnurling on the inside of the face plate to help with bar slippage issues that have occasionally been reported.

  • Manufacturer: Extralite
  • Model: OC Road
  • Stack Height: 40mm
  • Avg: Def: 5.06
  • Weight: 87.7 gr.
  • SxW: 2.25
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 8 degree
  • Price: $230
Far and Near S1 Stem

Far and Near S1 Stem

Far and Near Sl

This stem was a surprise to us. Scoring 5th in deflection gives it a well balanced stiffness to weight ratio, which could be improved upon with the addition of some titanium bolts. It is available in a full range of lengths in both white or black with a range of colored faceplates.

  • Manufacturer: Far and Near
  • Model: S1
  • Stack Height: 38mm
  • Avg: Def: 3.92
  • Weight: 144.0 gr.
  • SxW: 1.77
  • Material: 6061
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $85
Kcnc Arrow Stem

Kcnc Arrow Stem

KCNC Arrow

Available in both 7 and 17 degree this stem offers more choices in fit than most stems in the test. The small titanium bolts do tend to strip in the head fairly easy. It falls right into the middle of the spectrum in terms of deflection making it a pretty good all around stem.

  • Manufacturer: Kcnc
  • Model: Arrow
  • Stack Height: 38mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.28
  • Weight: 138.6 gr.
  • SxW: 1.68
  • Material: 7050
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 7 degree
  • Price: $90
Kcnc Flyride Stem

Kcnc Flyride Stem

KCNC Flyride

The Flyride is the least expensive stem we tested in this round. It’s available in several clamp sizes for different road and mtb handlebars. Even with it’s steel bolts it’s on the lighter side of the stems in the test and falls right in the middle of stiffness to weight ratios.

  • Manufacturer: Kcnc
  • Model: Flyride
  • Stack Height: 38mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.55
  • Weight: 127.3gr
  • SxW: 1.72
  • Material: 6061
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 5 degree
  • Price: $45
New Ultimate Evo Stem

New Ultimate Evo Stem

New Ultimate Evo

The New Ultimate Evo is on the lighter end of stems in the test, 3rd lightest tested. Deflection is higher than most stems which puts it just short of middle position in terms of stiffness to weight ratios. The New Ultimate does however have a 90kgs rider weight limit. It includes titanium bolts and has a unique face plate attachment method that is claimed to significantly reduce stress on a carbon bar. Available in a full range of sizes from 7cm to 13cm and in both black and white.

  • Manufacturer: New Ultimate
  • Model: Evo
  • Stack Height: 40mm
  • Avg: Def: 5.3
  • >Weight: 110.8gr
  • SxW: 1.70
  • Material: 7050
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $115
Pro Vibe 7s Stem

Pro Vibe 7s Stem

Pro Vibe 7s

Most of the Pro stems tested fell to one extreme or the other, the 7s is definitely the most well balanced of all of them. Falling right in the middle in terms of weight and deflection it ends up a little better than middle (8th out of 19) in terms of stiffness to weight ratio making it one of the most well rounded stems in the test. Has a unique puzzle lock faceplate attachment method and is available in a full range of sizes in both black and white.

  • Manufacturer: Pro
  • Model: Vibe 7S
  • Stack Height: 44mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.06
  • Weight: 137.3gr
  • SxW: 1.79
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 10 degree
  • Price: $100
Pro Vibe Carbon Stem

Pro Vibe Carbon Stem

Pro Vibe Carbon

As far as we can tell the Vibe carbon is a 7s with some material removed and replaced with carbon, which does not seem to work in it’s favor. In terms of weight it’s almost identical to the 7s but in terms of deflection it scores on the low side, being 4th from bottom. That drags it’s stiffness to weight ratio down to the bottom position in the test. Available in full range of sizes from 8cm to 14cm.

  • Manufacturer: Pro
  • Model: Vibe Carbon
  • Stack Height: 39mm
  • Avg: Def: 5.24
  • Weight: 138.4gr
  • SxW: 1.38
  • Material: Alloy/Carbon
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 10 degree
  • Price: $180
Pro Vibe Sprint Stem

Pro Vibe Sprint Stem

Pro Vibe Sprint Carbon

This was the stiffest stem tested by a large margin. (not considering the very similar Pro Vibe Track) This was the 2nd heaviest stem in the test though, beating only the Pro Vibe Track. It should be noted that this stem was a 10.5 when almost all others in the test were 11cm. Obviously this stem wasn’t built for the rider concerned with weight, only the one concerned with absolute stiffness, and still it managed to snag 6th spot in terms of stiffness to weight.. Available only in a few sizes.

  • Manufacturer: Pro
  • Model: Vibe Sprint Carbon* (10.5cm)
  • >Stack Height: 39mm
  • Avg: Def: 2.69
  • Weight: 199.4gr
  • SxW: 1.87
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 10 degree
  • Price: $270
Pro Vibe Track Stem

Pro Vibe Track Stem

Pro Vibe Track Carbon

This stem is not a current model but being so similar to the Vibe Sprint Carbon we wanted to see how they compared. The two tested very similarly in every aspect with the track being a couple grams heavier and the Spring being slightly more stiff. (though to be fair if both were 11cm instead of the sprint being a 10.5 we expect they’d be almost identical. Overall this stem was extremely stiff and being slightly lighter than the Spring it bettered it by one spot in terms of stiffness to weight sitting in the 5th spot.

  • Manufacturer: Pro
  • Model: Vibe Track Carbon
  • Stack Height: 40mm
  • Avg: Def: 2.73
  • Weight: 186.9gr
  • SxW: 1.96
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 10 degree
  • Price: $280
Pro Xcr Stem

Pro Xcr Stem

Pro XCR

The Pro XCR was the 2nd from the bottom in terms of deflection of all the stems tested. It is one of the lighter stems, being the 5th lightest in the test, but the poor deflection test pushed it’s stiffness to weight ratio down to 3rd from the bottom. Being that it’s not that different from the 7s We have to wonder if the a big part of that was caused by the difference in the upper attachment point for the face plate. Available in a full range of sizes.

  • Manufacturer: Pro
  • Model: XCR
  • Stack Height: 39mm
  • Avg: Def: 5.38
  • Weight: 117.6gr
  • SxW: 1.58
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 5 degree
  • Price: $100
Race Face Turbine Stem

Race Face Turbine Stem

Race Face Turbine

The Race Face Turbine posted average deflections, right in the middle of the field. However it was a little bit heavier than average which dragged down it’s stiffness to weight ratio to 4th from bottom.

  • Manufacturer: Race Face
  • Model: Turbine
  • Stack Height: 39mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.38
  • Weight: 144.0gr
  • SxW: 1.59
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $95
Ritchey 260 Stem

Ritchey 260 Stem

Ritchey 260

The clamp on the 260 looks different than most, and is said to dramatically reduce stress on the bar. The drawback to the clamp is that it does make bar changes a little bit more difficult, though certainly not unmanageable. The 260 was the 4th lightest stem in the test and just a couple spots below middle in terms of deflection which balance it’s stiffness to weight ratio quite nicely, 7th out of 19 makes it a couple spots better than middle. Available in full range of sizes, not only in length but rise as well as finish.

  • Manufacturer: Ritchey
  • Model: 260
  • Stack Height: 42mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.81
  • Weight: 113.5gr
  • SxW: 1.83
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $130
Ritchey 4-Axis Carbon Stem

Ritchey 4-Axis Carbon Stem

Ritchey 4-Axis Carbon

Unlike the 260, the Ritchey 4Axis carbon did not test well. This was the highest deflecting stem of all tested stems. Combined with it’s near average weight and the stiffness to weight ratio was the 2nd worst in the test. This is an older design by Ritchey and seems to be on it’s way out with the 260 looking like the logical replacement.

  • Manufacturer: Ritchey
  • Model: 4axis carbon
  • Stack Height: 42mm
  • Avg: Def: 5.73
  • Weight: 120.2
  • SxW: 1.45
  • Material: Alloy/Carbon
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $100
Syntace F119 Stem

Syntace F119 Stem

Syntace F119

Like some of the other tested stems, the Syntace has a unique feature which is said to reduce stress on the bar. The front opening is less than 180 degrees which should give more support to the bar. In terms of weight it hit the middle of the pack. Deflection was just below the middle of the pack which when combined pushed it’s stiffness to weight ratio down to 5th from bottom. The Syntace does have a very clean and underlogo’d look which appeals to many and is available in a near full range of sizes (though 11cm is not one of them so a 10.5 was used in this test.)

  • Manufacturer: Syntace
  • Model: F119* (10.5cm)
  • Stack Height: 40mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.55
  • Weight: 132.2
  • SxW: 1.66
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 6 degree
  • Price: $110
Thomson X2 stem

Thomson X2 stem

Thomson X2

Thomson has long been thought to be a top contender by many for one of the stiffest stems. The x4 definitely hit that mark, but the lighter x2 should not be expected to finish the same. 4th heaviest in terms of weight but with a good, slightly better than middle deflection, it has a stiffness to weight ratio of 5th from bottom. Available in a wide range of sizes including 10 and 17 degree and two finishes so there are a lot of fit options.

  • Manufacturer: Thomson
  • Model: X2
  • Stack Height: 36mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.2
  • Weight: 146.8gr
  • SxW: 1.62
  • Material: 7000 Series
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 10 degree
  • Price: $100
Thomson X2 stem

Thomson X2 stem

Thomson X4

The x4 has long been talked about as stiffest stem available, if not for the Pro Vibe sprint and track, this would have been the stiffest stem in the test but ended up being 3rd overall and the first stiffest of the alloy stems. However when looking at the numbers that should have been expected since only the Pro Vibe sprint and track are heavier than this stem and only those stems are stiffer. Stiffness to weight came in mid pack, 10th out of 19. So that does indeed make this a well rounded super stiff stem, but at a weight penalty. Available in a full range of sizes, both 0 and 10 degree.

  • Manufacturer: Thomson
  • Model: X4
  • Stack Height: 41mm
  • Avg: Def: 3.41
  • Weight: 168.2gr
  • SxW: 1.74
  • Material: 7000 series
  • Bolt Material: Steel
  • Angle: 10 degree
  • Price: $100
Tune 4.0 stem

Tune 4.0 stem

Tune 4.0

Like the Extralite the Tune is one of the most expensive alloy stems in the test, but also features fine attention to detail. It’s also one of the lightest with only the Extralite beating it in terms of weight. It finished mid-field in terms of deflection putting it into 3rd for overall stiffness to weight ratio. The biggest draw for this stem is perhaps the number of options. It’s available in 8 and 17 degree with 3 bar clamp diameters and with more colors than you can shake a stick at, 10 to be exact.

  • Manufacturer: Tune
  • Model: 4.0
  • Stack Height: 39mm
  • Avg: Def: 4.47
  • Weight: 109.4gr
  • SxW: 2.04
  • Material: 7075
  • Bolt Material: Titanium
  • Angle: 8 degree
  • Price: $230

A Few Graphs

Stem Weight

Stem Weight

Stem Deflection

Stem Deflection

Stem Stiffness to Weight

Stem Stiffness to Weight

Closing Thoughts

That’s as far as we go with the first instalment of our stem testing. We do have future installments planned with more models being tested as well as other variations such as different lengths and materials. We’ll also be posting handlebar tests for both road and mtb as well as some other tests we’ve devised.

Bedford Stainless w/ Sequential Di2

January 17th, 2014

Madcow

Here is our final Interbike project from September 2013, based around
a frameset built by Kelly Bedford.

Bedford stainless KVA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
More than any of our other bikes, this one had already received a lot
of exposure before going on display in Las Vegas. It was destined to
be in the public eye since the the owner, Charles Manantan writes and
shoots photos for Pez news. So the build was very well documented, and
with no existing genre to fit into it was the subject of a lot of
lively discussion online.

To present the short version for those just tuning in: here was the
debut of a tremendously challenging method of fabricating custom lugs
from scratch. This was akin to building a large diameter frame and
then cutting it apart, and then brazing modern KVA stainless tubing
into these custom-joined substructures. Kelly Bedford broke new ground
here, and few builders in the world could dream of pulling this off.

Going with this radically custom design allowed 1-of-a-kind specs such
as an ISP-type seattube, our sequential Di2 system (with internal
“brain”, wiring and battery) and prototype EE cranks (with a PF30
bottom bracket for the oversized spindle). This was admittedly way out
on a limb for us, as a build for a friend of ours, just to show what
was possible and to try for a result that was completely unique.

Finishing this one was extra satisfying — it’s a bit hard to put in
words how much work went into making just a simple button to upshift
and a button to downshift. Although we have done other sequential Di2
builds, this was the first bike built around these hacks, with success
anything but guaranteed. We did have some glitches (understatement
here) that were sorted out, and we are delighted to hear that Charles
has put

lots of happy miles on this bike.

Sub 9 Pound Crumpton

January 8th, 2014

Madcow

Continuing our posts about the Interbike builds from last September’s show, here is our 8.8lb (4040g) Crumpton SL road bike.

This was our effort to show the cutting edge in light road bikes today. For us, after living with these heavily-dieted bikes for a while, our notion of cutting edge includes reliability and an adequate safety margin for regular use. Our intention was to make a bike ready for all the demands of racing: the weight limits on the parts are all over 75kg, with the frame, fork, cranks, and wheels much higher. If anything, it was the other Crumpton, the BMX bike, that went on a no holds barred program for lowering mass with all its 1-off and modified parts.

Speaking of which, besides reliability we wanted to address one of the most frustrating shortcomings of our World Record bike: availability. We still get asked where you can source pieces from that build, and frankly they are unreplaceable even to us and at any price. So no classified Formula 1 carbon from a friend of a friend, and also no taking the Dremel out for this one.

The Crumpton consists of all parts off the shelf with no tuning on the SRAM Red levers and derailleurs, or elsewhere. The exception might be the 1-piece Schmolke bar and ENVE stem conversion, but these are readily available if you supply the parts to Craig Calfee in California. We have put together quite a few similar bikes and that has been with some fairly tight deadlines.

A few more details about the build. Setting this up as a ‘race day’ build we opted for race-worthy Vittoria Crono tires and a Recon alloy cassette, which might not be considered daily driver components. Swapping out for sturdier tires and perhaps a titanium cassette like the KCNC, this is a daily driver at under 10 pounds with pedals. And we didn’t have to settle for anything less than a stiff and sharp handling bike, with powerful THM brakes and crisp shifting. We’ve watched stock parts shedding grams to the point where the SRAM Red weights are impressive as is, while many incremental improvements in the last couple years (KCNC ti cables, Bungarus housing, the DLC coating on the KMC chain) all come together and make a big step forward in performance.

Perhaps the most exciting feature about it was the debut of the new Tune Skyline wheels. These arrive early 2014 and will fill a void we’ve seen in uber-light exotic wheels. It makes us excited to know all the carbon construction is being done in Germany in Tune’s carbon facility. We can’t wait to ride them and post more about these.

Last but not least, we never take for granted the privilege of working with a master like Nick Crumpton. And when the project is based around a handmade sub-700g prototype frame, that’s as good as it gets. We love being able to offer custom sizing on people’s dream bikes. Of course we did say “readily available” a few paragraphs ago, and Nick promises the next-generation SL’s frame weights to come down even further when they hit the market.

Complete Bike Weight 8.9 pounds, w/o pedals.

Frame: Crumpton Custom UL
Headset: Kcnc M1
Top Cap: FWB Shootout
Spacers: Parts of Passion
Fork Thm Scapula F
Cranks: Thm Clavicula
BB Extralite cups
BB bearings Full ceramic
Chainrings: Tune 34/50
Chainring bolts: Kcnc SL
Front Derailleur: Sram Red Yaw
Rear Derailleur: Sram Aero Glide
Clamp adapter:  Mcfk
Chain Kmc X11SL
Cassette: Recon black alloy
Wheels: Tune Skyline
Skewers: Tune U20
Brake Calipers: Thm Fibula
Brake Pads: Corima Cork
Shift levers: Sram Red Ergo
Bars Custom bar/stem combo (Schmolke TLO bar, Enve Stem)
Bar tape: Lizard skin
Bar end plugs: Fair Wheel Carbon
Saddle: Mcfk
Seatpost: Schmolke TLO
Seat collar: Mcfk
Brake cables: Kcnc Titanium
Brake housing: Aican
Tires: Vittoria Crono

2014 Road Hub Review

January 3rd, 2014

Madcow

Welcome to the 4th edition of the Fair Wheel Hub review.  In the previous review we brought Ron Ruff from White Mountain Wheels on board to give his thoughts as well.  We figured having different points of view would be advantageous, so we’ve once again brought Ron back for the latest version.  Ron, like us, really seems to enjoy the geekier side of wheel building and is one of the custom builders we most respect.   We should also mention that while some of this review is taken directly from the original two we’ve changed much of it as well as added to it as hubs have changed quite a bit over the years that we’ve been doing this review.  So don’t skip a paragraph thinking that you read it in the last one, just because part of it is the same doesn’t mean that all of it is.

Mistakes: The specs were compiled by us here at Fair Wheel and Ron at White Mountain Wheels, and while we did do our best to be careful there were an awful lot of numbers and calculations thrown around over those days. So with that in mind I’d like to put out the disclaimer that it isn’t impossible that we might have transcribed, written or recorded a number incorrectly. So please forgive any typos or mistakes. We’ve already corrected a ton and now like to think that most things should be correct, but with the scale of this thing it’s still possible that one will find a mistake.

Considerations when choosing a hubset: It’s important to understand that there is no one perfect hub.  Each hub has its own unique strengths and weaknesses.  That’s where a good custom wheel builder comes into play, helping you decide what best fits your needs.  So a hub that is right for one person may not be the right hub for another.  Anyone that tells you there is one ideal hub should be considered suspect. We’ve never found one hub that fits all needs ideally.  With the combination of those of us writing this review, we estimate we’ve built 20,000 pairs of wheels, so it’s safe to say we’ve had a fair amount of experience.  There are certainly hubs that could be used by any rider, but that doesn’t necessarily make them ideal for everyone.  Just like being under-built, a wheel can also be over-built for a rider and their needs.  We consider all the hubs in this review to be “good” hubs. That means they have a good design, quality control, reliability, service, etc… and each is capable of being a top choice in a particular application. But every design is a collection of optimizations and compromises, and every rider has different priorities. Things like price, weight, resistance, durability, ease of service, branding, and looks, are all considerations… along with the spokes and rim selection and the intended purpose of the wheelset.  The idea is to balance the characteristics that are most important to one given rider and more importantly to balance the hub selection in harmony with the rim and spoke selection.  Hopefully this review will help to point you in the direction of the hubs that will work best for you.

Durability is one important aspect, and also the most difficult to nail down. A hubset might be lighter than another due to better design and materials, but there can also be tradeoffs like smaller bearings, and simply thinner or weaker parts. Ultimately long term experience is the best indicator, but that isn’t a lot of help when a new or altered design comes on the market. To further complicate matters, the QC can be variable, so even an old design that was previously solid can have random issues. Even determining the kind of forces a rider might put on their wheels is complicated. Some 240 lb riders would have no issues with a hubset that some 120 lb riders would destroy. Rider weight is one important aspect, but so is riding style, so the rider’s previous experience with equipment needs to be considered.  Also, a rider might be fine with durability compromises on their 12 lb climbing bike, but have a completely different set of requirements on a regular bike that is ridden in all sorts of weather.

Bearing material: this is what comes stock in the base model. Some hubs have upgrades available from the factory.

Bearing size: moving from left to right in the hub shell and then in the hub body.

Static load: Combined static load for the hub shell and again for the freehub body.  Static load rating is the maximum amount of load a bearing can take without excessive deformation that would degrade the bearing performance.

Notes on Bearings and drag: Since ceramic bearings became the rage a several years ago, bearing drag has been a hot topic among cyclists. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much public information on just how much of a loss the wheel bearing drag contributes. According to Bicycle Science the drag of clean, lubricated, properly aligned and adjusted ball bearings is very small. The friction coefficient is ~.0015… which is the ratio of resistive force generated in the bearing divided by the load it is carrying. If you are familiar with tire rolling resistance coefficients, this functions in the same way… except that you need to multiply this force by the bearing/wheel radius to get a comparable factor. So lets say we have a hub with 15mm axle, and the bearings are on a radius of ~12mm. The wheel’s radius is ~335mm, so 12/335 *.0015 gives us an equivalent rolling resistance coefficient of .000054. To give you an idea of how small this is, typical tire rolling resistance coefficient is about .005… so the bearing resistance is ~100 times smaller. Another way to look at it is that a 200lb rider+bike traveling at 25mph will lose ~0.5W from the bearing rolling resistance. And these are not fancy bearings we are talking about… just decent steel ones.

There is another major component to bearing drag though, and that is the resistance of the seals. John Swanson did some interesting coast-down tests of wheels shown here: http://www.bikephysics.com/rails/wheel/list Aerodynamic drag was part of it, but his instrumentation was sophisticated enough to back out the bearing drag alone. Ron did the calculations on the bearing coefficients he obtained, and got an average power consumption of 0.25W for front hubs and 0.40W for the rear hubs at 25mph… or 0.65W for both wheels. Note that there was a lot of variation, but even the worst set of wheels was only ~1.3W. Since the only load in his tests was the weight of the wheel we’d consider these values additive to the 0.5W determined above… so typical losses are about 1.2W total. Though the losses in this test would capture any effects of misalignment or preload in the unloaded state, we should point out that under typical loads these factors can result in additional friction.

Does this mean that bearings don’t matter? We wouldn’t say that. Instead we’d emphasize that the most important factors are cleanliness, adequate lubrication, alignment, and adjustment. If any of these are off, then the drag can be much higher. Even though smaller bearings might have lower resistance in an ideal world, larger bearings (higher load rating) will be more tolerant of un-ideal situations, probably resulting in a lower practical resistance in addition to a longer life span. If your typical hub set in good condition is only consuming ~1W then be realistic about how much improvement is possible. The added expense of ceramic bearings and the added hassle of having light seals and grease (which probably will result in quicker bearing contamination and more frequent replacement) may not be worth it.

Axle diameter: Larger axles will typically produce stiffer wheels. It’s also important to note that a couple of axles are in different ways, butted or reinforced at the freehub body in the rear to help prevent cantilevering under acceleration.

Price: This is the msrp as it applies in the USA.

Flange diameters: Left / Right. As measured by us from center of spoke hole to center of spoke hole. A note or two on flange diameter. The biggest effect of flange diameter comes particularly from the drive side and in the form of torque transfer and a wheel’s ability to resist wind up during acceleration. Typically a larger flange will produce a better result in this category.

Center to flange: As measured by us. It’s been noticed that many of our numbers don’t match what is claimed by manufacturers. Our measurements are taken from center of flange to locknut. Some manufacturers provide outside of flange to center, while others provide numbers for both inside and outside but nothing center. Also some manufacturers may assume a 130 oln when their axle is not exactly 130. We use the actual oln measurement for our calculations. After the flange to center number is calculated it is rounded to 0.5mm.

Bracing angle: Based on a build using Kinlin XR300, 2x. Of course not all of these hubs would be recommended to be laced 2x, and with some it isn’t even possible. This was just a way to create an equalizer to show the differences in the hubs on a level playing field. Actual bracing angles and tension differences will vary based on the build.

Notes on Bracing angle: Bracing angle (or flange offset) is one of the most important factors affecting the lateral stiffness and stability of the wheel. The lateral stiffness imparted by the spokes goes up with the *square* of the bracing angles, while using more or heavier spokes only results in a linear increase in stiffness… and an increase in weight.

As Dave Walker mentioned last year, rim stiffness has a great affect on the wheel stiffness as well, but since this is a hub review, we’ll focus on how the hub contributes to stiffness.

On a front wheel it isn’t difficult to get adequate offsets and stiffness. The limit is having clearance for the fork, and offsets of up to 40mm are usually fine… the wider the better the lateral stiffness will be. There has been some speculation that narrower spacings are more aerodynamic. It is also possible that a very flexible rim might experience a lateral wave if the combination of high tension and bracing angle and low spoke count were severe enough.

Bracing presents a conundrum on the rear wheel though, since the position of the DS flange is dictated by the 130mm dropout spacing, the wide cassette, and providing clearance for the derailleur. Because of this the spacing from the center of the wheel (and rim) is “stuck” being only ~16-19mm from the DS flange with a 130mm dropout width. Campy and Shimano/SRAM 11 spd hubs are generally in the 16-17mm range due to their wider cassettes, and 10 spd Shimano/SRAM specific hubs *can* be in the 18-19mm range. 11 spd hubs are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to making a stiff wheel.

The spacing on the NDS can be whatever the hub manufacturer wants. If it is same as the DS, then both sides will have the same tension… but lateral stiffness and overall stability will be very low. If it is twice as large… say 36mm… the NDS tension will be *half* as great as the DS, but lateral stiffness will be ok. The dilemma here is that a high bracing angle is good for lateral strength and stability, but lower tension on the NDS could cause these spokes to go slack when subjected to high radial loads. When spokes go slack the stiffness of the wheel goes way down and bad things can happen… from spokes coming loose due to nipples unwinding, to “taco”, wheel failure, etc.

So as you can see, the trick here is to find the best compromise. Now that nearly every hub offered is 11 spd compatible, we’ve seen some convergence of hub geometry. Most manufacturers are now “cheating” a little by making the axle 131mm long rather than 130mm long. I think Alchemy was the first to do this several years ago. This 1mm increase gives you an extra 0.5mm of DS offset capability. The maximum possible DS offset is now 18mm and most hubs are around 17mm.

Triplet lacing:  Another approach to solving the issue of bracing angle and spoke tension on rear wheels is one that we think will become more prevalent as Shimano 11 speed with its Campag like dimensions takes hold in the market in coming years.  The triplet or 2:1 lacing pattern on a rear wheel features 2 drive spokes for every 1 non-drive spoke. Because the non-drive side spoke head sits further out from the centerline of the hub it has lower spoke tension — typical non-drive side spokes may have only 45-50% of the tension of the drive side. On a  24h triplet rear wheel. You have 16 drive spokes and 8 non drive spokes. When you take away half of the non drive spokes the ones that are left have to pull twice as hard against the drive side spokes — effectively doubling the tension on the non-drive side. So if the non-drive was only 45% of the drive side and the triplet pattern doubles the tension on the non drive it is now only a 10% difference. Another benefit of the triplet pattern is that the drive side spokes are tangent which makes for the most efficient power transfer.

Like with all things compromises come with tradeoffs. One is that because you take away half of the spokes on one side of the wheel you lose lateral stiffness. To compensate for this you need a hub that has a wide flange spacing, ideally designed for triplet use.  Another is that the rim needs to be stiff and center-drilled (holes not offset towards the flanges), which can limit rim choice. Also, if one of the NDS spokes happens to break, the rim could warp in an extreme way. None of the hubs in this review were specifically designed for triplet lacing.

The case for lighter spokes: There is an alternative to triplet lacing that can also address this issue; using heavier spokes on the DS and lighter (less stiff) spokes on the NDS, along with a higher NDS offset. Using lighter spokes increases their static “stretch” with a given amount of tension, and a small increase in the NDS offset can get back the lateral stiffness that would ordinarily be lost due to using lighter spokes.

There are now viable options in extra light stainless steel aero spokes (Sapim CX Super, and Pillar Mega Lite SS), plus a titanium spoke that is lighter still (Pillar Xtra Lite Ti). The stainless spokes are about 82% of the weight and stiffness of a CX-Ray while the Ti is about 60%.

Ordinarily we’d pick an NDS/DS bracing angle ratio of ~2.0 as being the best compromise for wheel strength and integrity. If we assume that the DS offset is 17mm for C11 and S11 hubs, then this is ~34mm. But if you used spokes that are 82% as stiff on the NDS, this would be increased to 2.2 (37.5mm) to retain the same lateral stiffness. For NDS spokes with 60% stiffness it would be 2.6 (44mm). In both of these cases you could increase the DS offset a bit more (and have improved lateral stiffness) and still have improved resistance to spokes going slack.

Hub shell material: Even though not every manufacturer will state the alloy they use, most manufacturers use a very high strength alloy (usually 7000 series), and at first glance this seems like a good idea. Stronger is better, right? In some applications though, we believe that 6061 might be a better choice. The reason is that 6061 has higher corrosion resistance, and more importantly resistance to something called “stress corrosion cracking”. The spokes exert concentrated and variable forces at the holes in the hub flanges, and high strength is a less important factor than ductility and corrosion resistance. Another advantage is that the softer alloy will deform more readily providing better support for the spoke in the flange. If you live and ride in a particularly corrosive area, anodized 6061 hubshells would likely last the longest. As far as we know, only White Industries and Alchemy use this alloy.  Chris King won’t divulge the series of alloy they use for their hubshells stating only that it is proprietary.

Shimano 11 speed: The new Dura Ace 11 speed cassettes are wider by 1.85mm. This breaks with their tradition of keeping the cassette width about the same as they went from 8 speed, to 9, and then 10. The wider cassette will reduce the DS offset a similar amount, all else being equal.  All the hubs in this review use the newer Shimano 11 dimensions.

Captured bearing vs free axle: These are two popular methods of hub design. Captured bearing means that the inner race of the bearings have a solid lateral support between them, either via shoulders on the axle or spacers that slide on the axle and join adjacent bearings together. The outer race is constrained in all cases by a press-fit inside the hubshell or freehub. In this design, the outer caps typically slide on and press directly on the inner race of the outer bearings, and no adjustment is necessary.

In the free axle design there are no lateral constraints on the inner races except for the external axle caps, one of which will be adjustable. If the adjustable end is removed, the axle can be slid out the other side. The adjustment is accomplished with either a threaded collar, a sliding collar with set screw, the cap itself threads onto the axle, or shims are used.

Either method can work well. With captured bearings the tolerances must be nearly perfect, else there will be a lateral preload on some or all of the bearings that will increase drag and wear. This is the biggest drawback. Some manufacturers have had more success with this than others.

With a free axle the lateral tolerances between bearings are not important, but the hub must be precisely adjusted, else there will be either a preload or excessive play. Also the outer bearings in this design are required to take all lateral loads (including preload if there is any). It is better to adjust these hubs with a little extra play rather than too tight. Either a threaded or sliding collar that allows for adjustment while the QR is installed, is a good feature to have with this type of hub… otherwise you must adjust with a little extra play to allow for QR compression.

Note that other aspects of hub design can also have substantial affects on wheel stiffness. Axle and shell stiffness, bearing size, tolerance, and arrangement, bearing to axle interface stiffness, and axle to dropout interface stiffness, are all important factors. Unfortunately, quantifying these is beyond the scope of this review

Note on Specs:  All specs for this review are based on Shimano 11 speed versions of the hubs.

Note on brakes: All hubs in this review are for standard caliper brakes, we have not included any road disc brakes.   Personally I’m not a fan of disc brakes on a road bike as I feel the disadvantages of them far outweigh any advantages they currently offer.  However if they continue to gain popularity we will consider adding them to the next hub review.

A note on tools:  When we talk about tools we will be talking about special tools. It will be assumed that a bearing puller and press is part of a standard tool kit. For the bearing press, we highly recommend the Wizard from Wheels Manufacturing, but designed by Jeremy from Alchemy. This is truly the most versatile press ever and with details such as an internally threaded shaft it’s uses go far beyond being a standard bearing press. We use it to pull axles, install axles, bearings, freehub bodies etc…

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Now let’s get things started. Since many people mix front and rear hub brands we are going to look at them separately. So, on to the hubs…..

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Alchemy Elf   

Alchemy Elf

Alchemy Elf

Manufacturer: Alchemy

Model: ELF

Notes: Radial lacing is allowed.

Weight: 66 gr

Available drillings:16/18/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size: 6900

Combined Bearing static load: 606

Axle diameter: 10mm

Available colors: Black, Red, Silver

Price in USD: $180

Flange diameters: 32mm

Center to flange: 39mm

Bracing angle: 7.9

FWB Opinion: At 66 grams the fits nicely into the mid-lightweight hubs. The Elf axle has been changed from a captured bearing design with a 12mm axle to a 10mm adjustable and sliding axle. The large bearings static capacity is high, and the flange spacing is the widest of just about anything we’ve seen. The bearing placement is about as far outboard as a front hub can tolerate and still have room to clear the fork. That extra bearing width should contribute to an even stiffer front wheel. Combine all of those factors with allowed radial lacing and you have the hub that is likely to produce the laterally stiffest wheel available. The hub has also recently had the flange OD increased by 1 mm to add even more strength and better resist flange failure.  Price isn’t too high for a hub of such quality. Drilling options are plentiful. The previous complaint I had of this hub was that it lacked preload adjustment has been addressed with the new hub having a threaded axle for preload adjustment.  Getting the preload just right does take a bit of practice and a good feel for the hub. I guess the only remaining complaint would be that it’s only available in 3 colors. Customer service from Alchemy has been absolutely top notch, but unfortunately Alchemy has been closed for the last couple of months and will continue to be so until early in 2014.

Ron’s perspective: I still really like this hub. It’s an excellent example of a light front hub that isn’t delving into “crazy light” territory. Very good durability and stiffness. The 6900 bearings are a perfect choice… high capacity and low resistance. I thought the axle change would negatively affect stiffness, but still seems very good. I guess having bearings right near the dropouts and the wide flange offset are more important factors relating to stiffness. Adjustment is by a threaded axle cap with threadlock so it takes a little trial and error to get it perfect. I have this hub on my personal wheels and often marvel at how long the wheel will rock back and forth if it gets bumped.

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Chris King R45

Chris King R45

Chris King R45

Manufacturer: Chris King

Model: R45

Notes: Radial lacing allowed.

Weight: 103 gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless (ceramic version available)

Bearing size: non standard, 17.5x27x7

Combined Bearing static load: est. 630

Axle diameter: 17mm

Available colors: Black, Blue, Brown, Gold, Green, Orange, Pewter, Pink, Red, Silver

Price in USD: $199

Flange diameters: 40mm

Center to flange: 35mm

Bracing angle: 7.1

FWB Opinion: At 103 grams the R45 is one of the heaviest front hubs in the review, but the weight is reflected in the quality. However I’d still prefer they made it lighter.  The made in house angular contact, proprietary bearings have one of the highest load capacities of all tested hubs, they also carry a 5-year warranty.  On the other side the bearings are proprietary and not readily available at most shops.  It’s also one of the few hubs that features a 17mm axle in the front. However the R45 has the narrowest flange placement in the test meaning the lowest bracing angle.  King has approved these hubs for radial lacing, which is a departure from their other hubs and they make them in drillings now down to 16h. The price was raised to $199 this year, but is not out of line for a hub of this quality.  Color choices are more than plentiful, I can’t think of anyone that offers more. The preload on the hub is probably one of the best designs of all the hubs  and works great. Skewers can be clamped as tight as desired without creating any additional drag on the bearings. Besides the weight the thing that bothers me most about these hubs is that they don’t match as well with the rears as I wish.  The rear has a nice mid size flange with cutouts giving it a bit of a retro look.  The front uses a lower flange with no cutouts and a bit more of modern styling.

Ron’s perspective: This a good solid hub… as you would expect from Chris King. One of the real standout features is the finish and overall visual appeal. This is a very pretty and finely crafted hub. The external collar makes precise adjustments easy. It’s overbuilt if you are weight conscious, and the large axle diameter and angular contact bearings tend to cause a little more drag. They are now available with a ceramic bearing option.

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DT180

DT Swiss 180

DT Swiss 180

Manufacturer: DT

Model: 180

Notes: Radial lacing is allowed.

Weight: 101gr

Available drillings:16/18/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Ceramic

Bearing size: 6803

Combined Bearing static load: 552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Available colors: White

Price in USD: $430

Flange diameters: 39mm

Center to flange: 37.5mm

Bracing angle: 7.6

FWB Opinion:  The 180/190 series of DT hubs have never been my favorite with very small differences from the 240 other than the price.  However the latest version has seen a decrease in the price making it more appealing but still a halo product.  The 180 does feel fantastic when spinning it in your hand, but the smaller bearing doesn’t hold up as well.

Ron’s perspective: I guess this is a good hub for those who want the best and most expensive DT hub. If you like the DT180 rear, then this is the front hub that matches it.

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DT 240

DT Swiss 240

DT Swiss 240

Manufacturer:DT

Model: 240

Notes: Radial lacing version.

Weight: 106 gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size: 6803

Combined Bearing static load: 552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Available colors: Black (white in 28h)

Price in USD: $193

Flange diameters: 39mm

Center to flange: 37.5mm

Bracing angle: 7.6

FWB Opinion: In past reviews I’ve not had a lot of good or bad things to say about the 240, it’s a very well balanced all around hub.  It has solid dimensions and most importantly a trouble free design that makes this a great choice for a daily rider.

Ron’s perspective: I don’t think I’ve used one of these since the last review. It’s a common hub that does the job. Many people have a lot of miles on these with no issues.

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Extralite SX

Extralite Ultrafront SX

Extralite Ultrafront SX

Manufacturer: Extralite

Model: Ultrafront SX

Notes: Radial lacing is allowed heads out only with DB spokes with a central section equivalent to 1.5mm. Self aligning flanges.

Weight: 49 gr

Available drillings: 16/18/20/24

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless w/ceramic upgrade

Bearing size: 6801

Combined Bearing static load: 376

Axle diameter: 14mm

Available colors: Black

Price in USD: $210

Flange diameters: 29mm

Center to flange: 38mm

Bracing angle: 7.6

FWB Opinion: Made in Italy the SX front is one of the lightest front hubs in the review at 49 grams.  But with all things this comes as a tradeoff.  To get the weight down a mid sized bearing and axle are used which does reduce the durability and stiffness of the hub a bit.  The SX has a simple external preload adjustment, but that is also the source of some of its problems.  The SX definitely requires more frequent adjustment than the more robust hubs we’re looking at.  It is really important that the adjuster be run on the left side of the bike so that it does not loosen during use, but when run on the left side, the laser etched logo on the hub shell is facing the wrong way.  The other unfortunate thing about the SX front is max tension is restricted to 70 kgf.  On the upside serviceability of the hub is very easy and customer service from Extralite is quite stellar.  In my opinion this hub is meant more for special use and not as a daily rider as I had mentioned in the original review as the weight savings definitely comes with a tradeoff.

Ron’s perspective: IMO it crosses the line into the light weight territory where compromises are made. But then, this is intended to be mated to the very light SLX rear hub, so that makes sense.

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Extralite SL2

Extralite Ultrafront SL2

Extralite Ultrafront SL2

Manufacturer: Extralite

Model: Ultrafront SL2

Notes: Radial lacing is allowed heads out only with DB spokes with a central section equivalent to 1.5mm. Self aligning flanges.

Weight: 62gr

Available drillings: 16/18/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless w/ceramic upgrade

Bearing size: 6803

Combined Bearing static load:  552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Available colors: Black

Price in USD: $180

Flange diameters: 34mm

Center to flange: 35mm

Bracing angle: 7.1

FWB Opinion: Since the SX definitely approaches a special use hub, Extralite reintroduced the original SL with some new upgrades and called it the SL2.  At only a 13 gram weight increase this hub makes much more sense to me as a daily rider.  Full size 6803 bearings with a 17mm axle.  Self aligning flanges.  Larger more robust micro tuner that doesn’t have the same tendency to back off as the SX.  The bracing angle is reduced slightly as compared to the SX but still ample.  Like the SX, serviceability is very easy.  My opinion is that this is about as light of a daily rider hub with easy maintenance as you can get.

Ron’s perspective: Probably worth the 13g weight increase over the SX for most people. Compared to the Alchemy Elf, I like the adjustment on the SL2, but prefer the bearing choice, smaller diameter, and the bearing and flange placement of the ELF.

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Tune Mig45

Tune Mig45

Tune Mig45

Manufacturer:Tune

Model: Mig45

Notes: straight pull radial only. Carbon fiber axle.

Weight: 47gr

Available drillings:16/18/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size: 6803

Bearing static load: 552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Available colors: Black, Blue, Gold, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Silver, White

Price in USD: $300

Flange diameters: 26mm

Center to flange: 36.5mm

Bracing angle: 7.3

FWB Opinion: The Mig45 is the lightest hub in the review.  The Mig45 balances performance characteristics quite well.  For this latest version, Tune has increased the axle diameter from 15mm to 17mm increasing lateral stiffness.  It also has fairly wide flange spacing using straight pull spokes.  Overall the hub builds into a lightweight, stiff, smooth rolling wheel. The straight pull spokes should be less prone to breaking than a j-bend, but at the same time can be more of a hassle to deal with if they do break. Finding the proper straight pull spoke at your LBS may not be the easiest option. The main drawback to this hub is serviceability.  Replacing a spoke requires removal of the end caps and axle which is best done with special tools although in a pinch can be done without. I think this is certainly one of the best looking hubs available with its aluminum shell and carbon reinforced ends. There is no preload adjuster other than micro shims but it doesn’t seem to suffer much from tightening of the skewers.  It’s unusual in that the hub is the lightest in the review but doesn’t suffer from some of the durability issues of other light hubs.

Ron’s perspective: This is a good hub for an exotic build. It is visually striking with carbon reinforcements on the shell. The bearings have an excellent load rating for such a light hub.

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Tune Mig70

Tune Mig70

Tune Mig70

Manufacturer: Tune

Model: Mig70

Notes: Radial lacing allowed heads out up to 28h.

Weight: 72 gr

Available drillings: 12/16/18/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size: 6803

Bearing static load: 552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Available colors: Black, Blue, Gold, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Silver, White

Price in USD: $185

Flange diameters: 37.5mm

Center to flange: 35mm

Bracing angle: 7.1

FWB Opinion: The Mig70 is Tunes mainstay front hub and for this year gets larger bearings, larger axle (17mm in place of the previous 15mm) and the adjustment uses micro-shims instead of a threaded cap. It is one of my favorite front hubs due to its balance of characteristics. Good weight, good price, good bearing size, good bearings, good flange spacing, good drilling selection, good color choice, and good axle size. The preload is basic but is accomplished through the use of micro shims.. Self aligning flanges are a nice addition to its already well balanced design. This hub fits right into the middle weight range with the Alchemy, however where it saves weight is that it’s matched rear is significantly lighter than others in its class. Very rarely have there been reported problems with these hubs and when there are typically it’s related to improper lacing. Radial lacing is recommended only on lower drillings. This is one of my go to recommendations for someone that wants a do it all hub but with an eye on weight and performance.

Ron’s perspective: This is a good hub at a decent weight and a fair price. The larger bearings give it a higher load capacity than the previous model, and better stiffness. I would have liked to see a little weight loss to put it more on par with the light Mag170.

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White Industries T11

White Industries T11

White Industries T11

Manufacturer: White Industries

Model: T11

Weight: 95 gr

Available drillings: 16/18/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size: 6901

Bearing static load: 636

Axle diameter: 12mm

Available colors: Black, Silver

Price in USD: $134

Flange diameters: 35mm

Center to flange: 36mm

Bracing angle: 7.2

FWB Opinion: At almost 100 grams it’s in the realm of standard weight hubs such as the King R45. It has a very high load capacity on its’ bearings, a good axle size and a good flange spacing. It is certainly a durable hub and can handle all sorts of different lacing options including heads in radial. The price makes this an appealing yet durable budget hub. While I’m not a big fan of the set screw preload adjuster, it is functional and resists compression from the skewer in all but extreme cases. Drilling options are plenty, but color options are limited. The hub seems to weigh more than it needs to, but I suppose that’s partly responsible for its durability.  Its biggest appeal to me is the price and more so it’s appearance.  The T11 is one of the prettiest hubs in the review and as a bonus it works well with a great price.

Ron’s perspective: I like this hub. The bearings are a good size, it’s pretty, and it spins very smooth. I kind of like the collar with set screw… it makes it easy to take up the clearance without the chance of preloading. They could surely drop a little weight but compared to the T11 rear it makes sense.

 

REAR HUBS:

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Alchemy ORC-UL

Alchemy Orc-UL

Alchemy Orc-UL

Manufacturer: Alchemy

Model: ORC UL

Drive Mechanism: 3 steel pawls, steel drive ring

Weight: 198gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32/36

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless with Ceramic upgrade option (except large outer bearing)

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6901

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6901

Combined hub shell Static load: 974

Bearing size, freehub body: mr1728 17x28x6

Combined freehub body Static load: 650

Axle diameter: 12mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: Black, Red, Silver

Price in USD: $440

Flange diameters, L/R: 40/57

Center to flange: 39/18

Bracing angle: 8/3.8

Tension differential: 47%

FWB Opinion: The original Orc was a very popular hub and featured the best bracing angle of all hubs available.  The UL version continues on with that same trend having still the best bracing angle of the hubs in the review, but with the forced reduction in spacing for 11 speed the differences from some of the others have become much smaller.  The UL has dropped two of the five bearings from it’s previous design and moved to a smaller which results in a lower static capacity but results in a hub which is much easier to service and is lighter.  The UL also reduces it’s axle from 17mm down to 12mm.  The other big change for the UL is the elimination of a Campagnolo version, though a shim kit is available that adapts a Shimano cassette to run on a Campag drivetrain.  The new UL was a much anticipated design, but unfortunately due to delays in manufacturing as well as a shutdown by Alchemy, for restructuring, has resulted in not many hubs being released this year so even though the hub has been out for almost a year very little real world experience has been reported back.  Alchemy plans to re-open at the beginning of 2014 and we hope with their new focus being entirely on their own products that availability will improve.  Traditionally Alchemy has been one of the top companies when it comes to customer service.

Ron’s perspective: The Orc-UL is a major redesign that bears no resemblance internally to the previous Orc. It is also unique, although it does have some similarities to the Mavic hubs and the ancient Maillard Helicomatic. The main feature is that the body of the hub has a bolted connection that extends almost to the DS dropout. This eliminates the long cantilever from the DS hub bearing to the dropout which must be supported by the axle and contributes to flex. Of course since the DS hub bearing is *inside* the freehub where space is very limited, the bearing and axle must be small also. In the Orc-UL 6901 bearings are used, but they do have a static capacity that is about the same as the 6803 bearings common in other light rear hubs. Instead of the more common 17mm axle a 12mm axle is used, but since the cantilever has been eliminated this is adequate. Alchemy claims that the stiffness of the hub structure is higher than the previous Orc. The design means that only these two bearings are rotating against the axle when under power, significantly reducing losses compared to the typical arrangement which has the friction of the hub bearings as well as the freehub bearings riding on the axle.

The freehub has an outer bearing and an inner plastic bushing. When under power there is no relative movement, and when freewheeling the friction is very light if there is contact at all. Alchemy expects the bushing to last a long time, and at any rate it is easy to replace.

The old Orc required a special tool kit and a fairly involved procedure for bearing replacement. The Orc-UL is much simpler in this respect. In addition to a standard bearing press you will need a 7/16” hex wrench for the unbolting the extension, plus an inexpensive expanding collet for pushing out the DS hub bearing. Removing the freehub requires that you first remove this bearing. Then the hex wrench can be used to remove the bolted extension and the freehub.

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Chris King R45

Chris King R45

Chris King R45

Manufacturer: Chris King

Model: R45

Drive Mechanism: Ring Drive 45T.

Weight: 223gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size, hub shell left: non standard, 17.5x27x7

Bearing size, hub shell right: non standard, 27x37x7

Combined hub shell Static load: 767

Bearing size, freehub body: non standard, 17.5x27x7 / 19x30x6

Combined freehub body static load: 859

Axle diameter: 17mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: Black, Blue, Brown, Gold, Green, Orange, Pewter, Pink, Red, Silver

Price in USD: $399

Flange diameters, L/R: 51/51

Center to flange: 34/17

Bracing angle: 7/3.5

Tension differential: 50%

FWB Opinion: The latest version of the R45 hasn’t seen too many changes from the original.  They have added some lower spoke count drilling options and have reduced the flange spacing to accommodate for 11 speed Shimano as well as released a Campagnolo version.  The R45 has a good track record for durability though falling short of the classic King hubs.  King has a very high quality proprietary bearing which is great for durability.  King has in my opinion the best preload adjuster design of all the tested hubs.  Basic servicing of the Kings is really easy to do, but unfortunately bearing replacement and full servicing requires special bearings and tools which many shops do not have on hand.  The Kings biggest draw for me is it’s great looks and wide range of available colors.

Ron’s perspective: It’s proven to be a very good hub. Reliable and strong with high capacity bearings all around and a decent weight. Unlike the MTB hubs it is fairly quiet when coasting. The flange placement pays attention to maximising the DS offset in both models and the NDS flange spacing is about right. I’m not thrilled with the large diameter NDS flange, but it is a very attractive looking hub with an excellent finish. It is also available in huge variety of colors. The threaded adjustment collar is a nice feature. I echo what Jason said about servicing. If your shop has the tools then it isn’t a big deal, but the tools are expensive and necessary.

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DT 180

DT Swiss 180

DT Swiss 180

Manufacturer: DT

Model: 180

Drive Mechanism: Star Ratchet, 18t spring operated

Weight: 187 gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Ceramic

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6802

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6902

Combined hub shell Static load: 653

Bearing size, freehub body: 6702 (pair)

Combined freehub body Static load: 198

Axle diameter: 15mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: White

Price in USD: $770

Flange diameters, L/R: 41/45

Center to flange: 33/17

Bracing angle: 6.8/3.5

Tension differential: 52%

FWB Opinion: Like the front 180 this hub is also one that I don’t fully grasp.  Sure it’s lighter than some in the review, and comes stock with ceramic bearings, but while there was a price decrease this year, the price is still a bit out of where we would like to see it.   Compared to the 240 most of the weight savings in this hub is due to a reduction in the size of the bearings which comes with a reduction in its durability.  This drop in durability is also reduced through the use of ceramics which tend to wear at a faster rate than stainless.  The hub does use the tried and true star ratchet giving it the typical DT reliability in the drive mechanism and I have to admit the smaller bearings spin with some of the least drag of any hub in the review.  For less money I think a better choice is buy a DT240 and install ceramic bearings.  You won’t get something quite as light as the 180, but you’ll get something better.  If you’re after the 180 for weight savings alone the Tune 170 gives you a much better hub for half the price.

Ron’s perspective: I don’t have much personal experience with this hub, but the small bearing sizes…especially in the freehub… do not give me confidence in its durability. And then there is the price, for a hub that is not that light. The flange spacing makes for a wheel with poor stiffness. Strictly for DT fans.

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DT 240

DT Swiss 240

DT Swiss 240

Manufacturer: DT

Model: 240

Drive Mechanism: Star Ratchet, 18t spring operated

Weight: 214 gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6902

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6902

Combined hub shell Static load: 868

Bearing size, freehub body: 6802 (pair)

Combined freehub body Static load: 438

Axle diameter: 15mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: Black (white in 28h)

Price in USD: $400

Flange diameters, L/R: 45/45

Center to flange: 33/17

Bracing angle: 6.8/3.5

Tension differential: 52%

FWB Opinion: In reviews of the past the 240 has been a hub that didn’t stand out.  It hit mid-field in just about every category making it a fairly well balanced hub.  However with the new 11 speed dimensions this hubs position in the review has changed.  Bracing angle is now very respectable and tension balance is one of the best in the review.  The DT uses a star ratchet over the traditional pawl system which gives it a simple and reliable drive system.  Over the years the 240 has shown itself to be ultra reliable and the fact that parts and service can be had at virtually any shop in the world means the DT240 has become one of my favorite go-to hubs for a daily rider.  They also offer a star ratchet upgrade which doubles the amount of teeth cutting the amount of movement prior to engagement by about half and shaving another 10 grams of weight from the hub.  In my opinion this upgrade should be a standard feature in the hub.

Ron’s perspective: Definitely a decent reliable hub and at a good weight as well. The bearings are large enough and they rarely need overhauling. Lubing the freehub mechanism is a very easy job, but an expensive special tool kit is required for bearing replacement. They are common enough that most shops will have these tools, though. The flange offsets are more mainstream now that all hubs are 11 spd. The price keeps creeping up, but DT sells these pretty cheap for OEM applications, which reduces their value for customs in my opinion.

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Extralite SLX

Extralite SLX

Extralite SLX

Manufacturer: Extralite

Model: SLX

Drive Mechanism: 2 Pawl with O-ring spring. Titanium drive ring 30T.

Weight: 139 gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6803

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6803

Combined hub shell Static load: 552

Bearing size, freehub body: 6903

Combined freehub body Static load: 477

Axle diameter: 17mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: Black

Price in USD: $480

Flange diameters, L/R: 35/50

Center to flange: 37/17

Bracing angle: 7.6/3.5

Tension differential: 47%

FWB Opinion: The previous review featured the SX, a combination straight pull/flanged hub.  For this year we selected to drop that and review the fully flanged SLX version.  The SLX is the definitive weight weenie flanged hub.    In my opinion there is nothing else on the market in this weight range that approaches the use-ability of this hub.  Being so much lighter than the other hubs in the review one would expect this hub to be very limited in use like the matching SX front.  However over the last couple years the rear has turned out to be surprisingly durable.  That’s not to say it’s in the same league as heavier hubs but that it can be a viable option for a superlight rear hub, though not my first choice as a daily rider.   A 17mm axle with good sized bearings and a decent load capacity.  One drawback is the use of a bushing in place of a large shell bearing at the freehub body interface.  The use of a bushing means that more frequent servicing is required to keep the system spinning freely.  Servicing the hub is very simple and quick to do though.  Extralite does recommend only using their own in house Alugrease for servicing.

Ron’s perspective: I agree. Extralite has done well to make a super light rear hub with acceptable durability. It doesn’t even use exotic materials, or have an exotic price. Of course it would add a little weight, but I’d prefer to see a cartridge bearing rather than a bushing at the inner freehub. The Campy version (and surely the new S11) has a very high NDS offset, making it a good candidate for lighter spokes on that side.

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Tune Mag150

Tune Mag150

Tune Mag150

Manufacturer: Tune

Model: Mag150

Drive Mechanism: 3 titanium pawls, titanium drive ring.

Weight: 161 gr

Available drillings: 16/20/24/28/32

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6803

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6903

Combined hub shell Static load: 753

Bearing size, freehub body: 6803 (Pair)

Combined freehub body Static load: 552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: Black, blue, gold, green, orange, pink, purple, red, silver, white

Price in USD: $775

Flange diameters, L/R: 28/54.5

Center to flange: 35/17

Bracing angle: 7.2/3.5

Tension differential: 49%

FWB Opinion: Tunes current flagship hub, 161 grams makes it lighter than everything except the Extralite. For a hub at this weight it has plenty of large bearings and a high static capacity thanks to larger axle and bearings than previous models.  Tune also removed the proprietary XoT bearing from the hub and replaced it with two individual 6903/6803 bearings.  Overall the hub works really well, but the price and the serviceability hold it back a bit in my opinion.  Spoke replacement of NDS spokes requires removal of the axle.  Also new since 2012 is a larger shell, larger freehub body, and larger drive ring.  These changes have removed the tendency that previous models had to make a creaking sound under load.  Overall a very nice hub, but hard to justify the decrease in serviceability and increase in price when compared to the 10 gram heavier 170.

Ron’s perspective: An exotic light hub with good sized bearings, a carbon axle and shell reinforcements, and a Ti drive ring. Maybe not so practical, but still a viable choice for “exotic” wheelsets.

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Tune Mag170

Tune Mag170

Tune Mag170

Manufacturer: Tune

Model: Mag170

Drive Mechanism: 3 titanium pawls.  Titanium drive ring.

Weight, 172 gr

Available drillings: 16/20/24/28/32/36

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6803

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6903

Combined hub shell Static load: 753

Bearing size, freehub body: 6803 (Pair)

Combined freehub body Static load: 552

Axle diameter: 17mm

Freehub body material: Al.

Available colors: Black, blue, gold, green, orange, pink, purple, red, silver, white

Price in USD: $410

Flange diameters, L/R: 41/55

Center to flange: 36/17

Bracing angle: 7.3/3.5

Tension differential: 49%

FWB Opinion: The Mag170 has had a major overhaul in 2012 and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite weight oriented hubs.  Having been available for 2 years now with no real reports of creaking issues that the older 180 suffered from we feel pretty confident in the robustness and durability of the 170.  The hub shell got larger as did the freehub body and titanium drive ring.  This addressed the previous versions tendency to make noise.  The axle went from 15mm to 17mm as the bearings also got larger which improved the stiffness.  The XoT bearing was removed in favor of a pair of traditional bearings. Which while it does reduce its ability to resist cantilevering it also makes for a quieter, easier to service hub. The adjustment now uses micro shims rather than a threaded cap.  The left flange has been moved inward a little to address tension balancing issues as well. The hub is light, works well, comes in a variety of colors and is priced well.  Overall a hard hub to beat for a daily rider looking for something lighter or more unique than the mainstays.

Ron’s perspective: The design looks very good. They’ve taken care of some issues with the Mag180 and dropped the weight at the same time. If it proves reliable, this is an excellent choice for a light hub that is also reasonably priced. The price, weight, and features put this hub in the sweet spot for a lot of weight conscious riders.

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White Industries T11

White Industries T11

White Industries T11

Manufacturer: White Industries

Model: T11

Drive Mechanism: 24t steel drive ring, 3 steel pawls

Weight: 255 gr

Available drillings: 20/24/28/32/36

Bearing material and other bearing notes: Stainless

Bearing size, hub shell left: 6902

Bearing size, hub shell right: 6902

Combined hub shell Static load: 868

Bearing size, freehub body: Campag Custom 15x24x10 double row x2

Combined freehub body Static load: 876

Axle diameter: 15mm

Freehub body material: Ti

Available colors: Black, blue, gold, pink, purple, red, silver.

Price in USD: $273

Flange diameters, L/R: 40.5/55

Center to flange: 35/18

Bracing angle: 7.2/3.8

Tension differential: 52%

FWB Opinion:  At around 255 grams, the T11 is one of the heaviest hubs in the review but also one of the most durable.  Made in the U.S. the T11 has one of the highest static load capacities of any hub on the market.   It has large bearings that spin smoothly, and an easy to use preload adjustment, though not my favorite preload design. It also has a nice outward position of the left bearing. At $273 it is a very reasonably priced rear hub. In some cases it seems almost over built, such as having 3 or 4 bearings in the freehub body. One thing that makes it heavier is also the thing I like most about it, that is that it is the only rear hub in the review to have a ti freehub body. This is great for riders running Shimano who are tired of the alloy bodies being grooved by cogs. The 6000 series alloy polishes better than most of the other hubs, so this is one of the most brilliant hubs in silver.  It’s also now available in a wide range of colors.  White industries is easy to get a hold of and customer service from them has been very. The T11 is the only hub in the test that uses steel for the rear axle making it very good for very large riders and daily use wheelsets.

Ron’s perspective: The T11 is the same basic design as the H3, with changes being mostly cosmetic. It’s a very pretty hub and for an additional charge is now available in a wide range of colors. This is really a fine US made hub for riders who aren’t so focused on low weight. It’s strong, has a large bearing capacity, it looks nice, has a Ti freehub, and the price is good. The design is simple too, and it’s easy to service. One bonus of the collar-with-set-screw method of adjustment, is that it is near impossible to make the preload too high. I think it’s the only hub in this review that has a steel axle. It’s easy to build solid wheelsets with the T11 that are in the 1350-1500g range, which makes them lighter than comparable factory wheels that are much more expensive.

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We realize that this review was quite long, and unfortunately it only touches on a lot of the subjects.  There is much, much more that goes into component selection and design for a custom wheel.  However in the interest of keeping this review to a moderate length we decided to just cover the basics of hub selection.  An alloy rim review can be found here:  http://fairwheelbikes.com/c/forums/topic/2013-rim-roundup/  In the coming months we hope to write more on the subject including reviews on spokes and lacing patterns but for now we do hope that you found this an interesting read and have a better idea of what hubs may or may not be ideal for you.

 

Up Close with the New Campagnolo Over Torque Ultra

December 18th, 2013

Madcow

Campagnolo Over Torque Ultra Crankset
Campagnolo Over Torque Ultra Crankset

Campagnolo Over Torque Ultra Crankset

Recently Campagnolo announced a new crank called the Over Torque coming in Jan/Feb of 2014.  So far we’re told only one of these cranks has come to North America, and today we got to spend some time playing with it and installing it on a bike to see how it works.

The crank comes in two versions the Comp One and the higher end Comp Ultra.  Neither crank will be branded with a group label and will instead be a stand alone product.  I was told that currently there are no plans to add them to an existing group in the next few years, but what does that really mean?   Well not too much in most ways, but there is one key factor about branding is the available options, in this particular case the bearings.   Being that this won’t be branded as Super Record, Campagnolo’s famous Cult bearings won’t be available for it.  Instead the Ultra will use their USB bearing which is between their standard bearing and the Cult.  For comparison sake I was told about bearing testing that they do in house and was told that under the same conditions the USB bearing will continue to spin on it’s own twice as long as the standard will.  For comparison the Cult is more than four times the standard bearing.

The crank is different from the Ultra torque mostly in it’s bb/spindle design.  It still uses the same hollow carbon arms, though with a slightly different shape, spiders, bcd etc…  However the Hirth joint is gone in favor of a one piece spindle design.  The spindle increases from 24mm to 30mm.  However it has been mentioned several times that the new crank uses an aluminum spindle, which turns out to not be the case.  It’s a thin wall steel.

For the bottom bracket options it was said that it would be available only for BB30, PF30 and BB386, and that BSA would not be an option.  This also turns out to be incorrect.  It is correct that it will be available for BB30, PF30, and BB386, however it WILL also be available for BSA.  What won’t be available is Italian threaded and bb86/90.

The crank does require a few special tools as we would expect from Campagnolo, and having a chance to use them, they are, as we would expect, very nice to use.

Campagnolo wants to fit the PF30/386 bb options in a semi-permanent way using a primer and sleever retainer compound.  There was also mention of using a plastic epoxy for a permanent mounting solution.  The bearings are removable from the cups so bearing replacement would not be affected, however if mounted in a permanent solution removing it to change to a different crank at a later time could be a problem.   Mounting of the bottom bracket however is very nice, it’s a very snug press fit and while Campagnolo will likely not recommend it, my feeling is that it would probably be fine to mount it using a simple carbon assembly compound.

Weight.  Campag noted that this is the lightest production crank on the market.  And as far as most people are concerned it’s probably true.  It’s definitely true when comparing it to the main manufacturers like Shimano, FSA, Sram etc… But not quite true when looking at some of the smaller boutique brands.  The complete crankset with BB30 bottom bracket, spacers, rings, arms etc… was 620 grams.  Pretty respectable when comparing to Sram at 650grams and Shimano Dura Ace at 722grams.  Just for comparison the lightest crank on the market the Thm Clavicula with Praxis rings and Kcnc chainring bolts is 550 grams and the Cannondale SISL is generally around 570 grams complete.

Installation and adjustment.  The crank was a breeze to install and I have to say the preload adjustment done via a small ring between the left arm and bb was just brilliant.  The crank comes with sealed bearings, but then also includes a secondary set of external seals.  In my opinion and in our dry conditions the external seals could be left off to reduce friction even further, but I’m sure Campagnolo would not recommend doing so.

Overall I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with this crank.  Campag claims that it tests stiffer than their ultra-torque versions and with the larger spindle, I have no doubt that is the case.  The Ultra Torque crank was one of the stiffest cranks we’ve tested to date and depending on how much of an improvement has been made in that department, it could end up moving into the top slot for the stiffest available crank.   Overall the new Over torque Ultra crank looks to be a fantastic option for most frames.  I think Campagnolo has really done something pretty special with this crank.  I hope they continue to develop this crank further.  I’d love to see it with an aluminum spindle to reduce the weight even further and the addition of Cult bearings.

 

 

Astute Italian Saddles

November 5th, 2013

Madcow

We are proud to announce that Fair Wheel will now be offering Astute saddles.

Handmade entirely in Italy, Astute claims the saddle will set a new standard, and with our limited exposure so far we’re inclined to believe them.

The saddles will be available in 2 shapes with 3 different models (levels) for each shape and a few color variations.

Saddles will be either SR or VT.  Both have the same shape but VT has a cut away center.  Both versions will be available in 3 levels, Skyline, Skylite and Skycarbon.  All saddles have the same shape and dimensions with a 275mm length and 135mm width.   Saddles are padded with a tri-density memory foam.

Skyline comes in at 200 grams and should be around $160.   Two base layers, a carbon-reinforced nylon inner with a nylon outer and titanium rails.

Skylite comes in at 165 grams and should be around $260.  It takes the Skyline and adds a SPAS suspension system and carbon rails.

Skycarbon comes in at $145 grams and should be around $450.  It changes both of the shells to full carbon and keeps all the features of the other models.

Saddles will be available in white or black.

We’ll put up a full review with a lot more details and ride impressions once we’ve put more time on the saddle.  We will also have several demo saddles available for test rides.

Tune Fat King / Fat Kong hubs

October 31st, 2013

Madcow

Tune will be releasing new offset mtb hubs next year specifically for fat bikes.

The front is the Fat King.  Available in a 152 quick release or 15mm version with a weight of 130 grams.

The rear is the Fat Kong.  Available in a 170mm quick release or 177mm 12mm thru axle with a weight of 240 grams.

Single speed freehub body conversions should also be possible, though we still have to confirm this.

Designed with flange placement equidistant from center the hubs can allow for a wheel to be built with equalized left/right tension.  The flanges have also been canted inwards to create a straighter and stronger spoke path.  Aluminum freehub body and available in the entire range of Tune colors (black, gold, red, silver, orange, forest green, froggy green, blue, purple, pink and white).   More details when we get them.

Crumpton BMX, Worlds Lightest PROXL.

October 21st, 2013

Madcow

I imagine that quite a few people reading this have already seen this project we did for Interbike, but we figured this was a good time to complete the details on it.   Complete finished weight of the bike was just under 5.4kg, (11.89 pounds)

The frame is a custom handbuilt by Nick Crumpton of Crumpton Cycles.  The frame came in at 957.2 grams.  Being almost the same weight as a superlight 29er frame which is twice the size, this one could certainly have been lighter, however the goal was not to have just the lightest but something that could truly be race worthy.

The bar/stem combo is a Bombshell handlebar and Enve stem with bonding by Calfee.

Hubs are custom made by Tune.  The rear started as a Mag150 and had a new axle and end caps machined as well as the alloy freehub body replaced with a titanium single speed version.

Rims were custom from Velocity based on the tried and true A23 extrusion.

Spokes were custom Pillar Titanium.  Bladed profile with beefed up 13g ends matched to custom 13g alloy nipples.

Complete build list below gallery.

Complete Build List:

Frame: Crumpton Custom, 957.2gr

Headset: Kcnc Radiant R1, 46.7gr

Fork Expander: Tune GumGum  8.7gr

Top Cap / Bolt: Fair Wheel 5.9gr

Headset Spacers: Parts of Passion 2.8gr

Fork: Sinz Carbon (175 lbs weight limit.) 462.2gr

Crank Arms: Tune Smartfoot 508.2gr

Bottom Bracket Cups: Extralite PF30 22.3gr

Bottom Bracket Bearings: HSC Full Ceramic, 33.4gr

Chainring: Absolute Black, 36t, 51.4gr

Chainring Bolts: Kcnc SL 4.6gr

Chain: KMC X9SL 194.8gr

Cog: Recon Titanium 13t, 21.1gr (includes all spacers)

Cog Lockring: Far and Near, 5.1gr

Front Wheel: Tune Mig45 Custom front hub, Velocity Custom A23 rim, Pillar Custom Titanium spokes.  438.5gr

Rear Wheel: Tune Mag150 Custom Rear hub, Velocity Custon A23 rim, Pillar Custom Titanium spokes. 544.4gr.

Rim Tape: Rox Superdute 8.1gr.

Pedals: Bebop Titanium, 146.9gr

Brake Caliper: Kcnc V-brake, 84.9gr

Brake Lever: Kcnc Brake Lever, 23.4gr

HandleBar/Stem: Bombshell Carbon bar / Enve Carbon stem, 407.9gr

Handlebar Grips: Kcnc w/plugs, 19.6gr

Saddle: Tune KomVor, 92.1gr

Seatpost: Tune Carbon, 101.1gr

Brake Cable: Kcnc Titanium, 7.3gr

Brake Housing: Aican Bungarus, 12.1 gr

Tire, Front: Tioga Powerband Kevlar 1.85.  267.6gr

Tire, Rear: Tioga Powerblock Kevlar 1.75.  301.7gr

Chain Tensioner: Custom, 14.6gr

Tubes: Eclipse, front 40.7gr, rear 41.1r.

 

 

 

 

Interbike 2014 Sneak Peek Thread

August 27th, 2013

Madcow

So this post will run up until Interbike and we’ll regularly update it with sneak peeks at projects we’ve done for the show.