July 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm #93468
A couple of years ago we introduced our first full blown hub review which was an experimental joint review. We’ve realized that the review is now old and out of date so have decided to update it. 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 new review. Ron, like us, really seems to enjoy the geekier side of wheel building and is one of the custom builders we most respect. For sake of clarity we’d like to disclose who else is writing this article. Offering the FWB perspective is our master wheel builder Troy Watson as well as Jason Woznick aka Madcow. We should also mention that while some of this review is taken directly from the original we’ve changed much of it as well as added to it. 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.
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. 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. 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 the most important factor effecting 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.
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 hubs are generally in the 16-17mm range due to their wider cassettes, and Shimano/SRAM specific hubs *can* be in the 18-19mm range. Yes, Campy hubs (and the new Shimano 11 hubs) are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to making a stiff wheel. You would always like to get the DS offset as great as possible, with the practical limit being a minimal clearance between the spokes and derailleur.
The spacing on the NDS can be whatever the hub manufacturer wants. If it the 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. The hub manufacturers have different ideas about what is best, with the NDS offsets of the conventional hubs in this review ranging from 32.5 to 42mm. The DT’s geometry is inherently the least stiff with only ~16mm on the DS and 32.5mm on the NDS. Compare this to the Alchemy hub in Shimano 10 configuration with a DS offset of 19.5mm and NDS offset of 37mm. My back of the envelope calculation gives the Alchemy hub ~25% improvement in lateral wheel stiffness compared to the DT. The Alchemy hub also has a higher tension ratio, so there is no downside. In the DT’s favor the freehub is easily swappable between Campy and Shimano without re-dishing, which is why it has a poor DS spacing for an S hub (because it actually uses Campag spacing). Other hubs like the Campy versions of the White Industries H3, and Extralite have large NDS offsets, so the stiffness is good… but tension ratios in the 42% range can leave the NDS tension lower than ideal, and is especially troublesome if the rim will not allow high tension on the DS. If the hub allows radial lacing though, lacing the NDS heads-out will improve the tension ratio.
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 will be 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.
At this point we don’t see any reason why you would not be able to upgrade your existing S10 hubs to S11 with an appropriate kit that includes new axle spacers and freehub, provided that your hub manufacturer makes this kit available. The likely parts and changes that will be needed, starting with your current hub configuration, are:
-If your S10 hub was designed to optimize dish (ie it could *not* be easily switched between C and S with a simple freehub swap) then a redish will also be necessary.
-If your S10 hub *can* be easily swapped between C and S, then installing an S11 freehub should not require a redish.
-Switching from C11 to S11 will of course require a new freehub, but may not require different spacers, and should not require a redish.
S11 freehubs will also accept S8, S9, and S10 cassettes with a spacer installed before the cassette.
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. In this review DT, Soul-Kozak, and Powertap use this method.
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 effects 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
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…
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…..
Alchemy Elf Spec Table Manufacturer Alchemy Model ELF Notes New 2012 version. Radial lacing is allowed. Weight 66gr 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 66grams 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 1mm 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. Geez, that really isn’t much of a complaint, so let me try again. How about this, there still isn’t yet a matching sub 200 gram rear option. A front hub in this weight range really deserves a matching lightweight rear. Customer service from Alchemy has been absolutely top notch.
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.
Chris King R45
Chris King R45 Spec Table Manufacturer Chris King Model R45 Notes Radial lacing allowed. Weight 103gr 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 $179 Flange diameters 40mm Center to flange 35mm Bracing angle 7.1
FWB Opinion: Chris King has long been considered one of the best hubs amongst mountain bikers. Their road hub does not fall short of this reputation either. At 103 grams it’s 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. The 17mm axle is the largest of anything in the test. The R45 has the 2nd narrowest flange placement in the test just behind the Soul-Kozak Aero front hub. King has approved these hubs for radial lacing, which is a departure from their other hubs and they make them in drillings down to 20h. The price is quite reasonable for a Chris King product in my opinion. Color choices are more than plentiful, I can’t think of anyone that offers more. The preload on the hub is probably the best of all hubs and works stellar as one would expect from such an iconic company, skewers can be clamped at 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.
DT180 Spec Table Manufacturer DT Swiss Model 180 Notes Radial lacing is allowed. Weight 102gr 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 $450 Flange diameters 39mm Center to flange 37.5mm Bracing angle 7.6
FWB Opinion: This is one of the hubs in this review that I just don’t quite get. The 180 has a carbon barrel in place of the alloy. That and the bearings are the only weight savings for this hub vs the 240 front hub. So for more than double the price of the 240 hub you get a 8 gram weight savings and ceramic bearings. But you also can’t get it in black.
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.
DT240 Spec Table Manufacturer DT Swiss Model 240 Notes Radial lacing version. Weight 109gr 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 $210 Flange diameters 39mm Center to flange 37.5mm Bracing angle 7.6
FWB Opinion: I’m not sure what to say about the DT hub. It’s one of those hubs that isn’t many things, those things being both good and bad. The one thing it is though is a bolt-it and forget-it hub. The DT hub falls into the middle of just about every category, which makes it a nice hub for a wide range of people, and is where it owes a lot of it’s OE success to. While it seems I’m having a hard time thinking of good things to say about these I’m also finding it hard to say anything bad. So let’s call it a nicely balanced hub, nothing special in any direction but also without any serious negatives in any direction. Customer service has been pretty good with DT over the last couple years.
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.
Extralite SX Spec Table Manufacturer Extralite Model SX Notes Radial lacing is allowed heads out only with DB spokes with a central section equivalent to 1.5mm. Weight 42gr Available drillings 16/18/20/24 Bearing material and other bearing notes Stainless w/ ceramic option 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.
Extralite SL2 Spec Table 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.
Soul-Kozak Aero Front
Soul-Kozak Aero Front Spec Table Manufacturer Soul-Kozak Model Aero Road Weight 73gr Available drillings 18/20/24 Bearing material and other bearing notes Stainless Bearing size 6803 Combined Bearing static load 552 Axle diameter 17mm Available colors Black Price in USD $95 Flange diameters 36mm Center to flange 28mm Bracing angle 5.7
FWB Opinion: This is the only aero specific hub in the review so maybe it’s not a totally fair comparison. However the hub is robust and stiff enough that it can be used as a daily rider depending on the rider and the component selection. The flange placement is narrow which reduces the lateral stiffness of the front wheel, however that’s really the point, it moves the spokes inward and improves the airflow of the front wheel. Being an aero hub it really wants to be paired with deeper more aero rims, which are in many cases stiffer than lower profile rims. The combination of a deeper rim and the aero hub makes a wheel that has enough lateral stiffness for most riders in most situations.
Ron’s perspective: Not much to add. I’m sure this hub works fine, but I’m not buying the line that a narrow spacing is more aero. The large diameter axle means more bearing seal drag and a rather fat hub body. The part about deep rims not needing or wanting a wide flange spacing is certainly true though, making this a viable choice for deep carbon rims.
Tune Mig45 Spec Table 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 year 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.
Tune Mig70 Spec Table 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.
White Industries H2
White Industries H2 Spec Table Manufacturer White Industries Model H2 Weight 95gr 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 $130 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 H2 is one of the prettiest hubs in the review and as a bonus it works well with weight being its only real shortcoming.
Side note on the weight: White Industries used to make the H1 front hub which weighed 75g. When they came out with the H2 we asked why they made it so much heavier. Their reply was that the H1 bearings were only lasting on average 9 to 10k miles and that was unacceptable. When they make a product they want it to last for many, many years. So for them to make a hub that needs bearing every couple years was not something they were interested in, that philosophy applies to everything they make.
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 H3 rear it makes sense.
White Industries H2 Spec Table Manufacturer Alchemy Model ORC Drive Mechanism 3 steel pawls, steel drive ring Weight, Shimano 222gr Weight, Campag 220gr 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 6903 Bearing size, hub shell right 6804 Combined hub shell Static load 915 Bearing size, freehub body 6803 (pair) Combined freehub body Static load 552 Notes 5th bearing on outside of freehub body 6707 Static load 278 Axle diameter 17/20mm Freehub body material Al. Available colors Black, Red, Silver Price in USD $420 Flange diameters, L/R 42/58 Center to flange, Shimano 37/19.5 Center to flange, Campag 38.5/18 Bracing angle, Shimano 7.6/4.1 Bracing angle, Campag 7.8/3.7 Tension differential Shimano 54% Tension differential Campag 47%
FWB Opinion: The Orc is one of the most recommended hubs by independent wheel builders. It has one of the highest overall static load capacities of any hub in the test partly because of its 5th bearing. The 5th bearing, which is fitted over the outside of the free hub body between the splines and the pawls, press fits into the hub shell and helps keep the body concentric under heavy load. This 5th bearing is also unfortunately the one that is most commonly worn and hardest to replace in the Orc. The Orc also features a sleeved axle. The sleeve increases the axles’ diameter from 17mm to 20mm at the point where a freehub body could cantilever a little under hard acceleration. The Orc also has the widest drive side flange placements which is partially enabled in the Campag version by pushing the actual width from 130 out to 131.6mm. this however brings an inability to change wheels without adjusting gears. The hub will undoubtedly build one of the stiffest rear wheels possible, but this does also come at a weight penalty over some. Not that 222 grams is too heavy for a rear hub, but it certainly isn’t too light. This hub has been built with a large, strong rider in mind and is likely overbuilt for some riders. Being a small rider I look forward to seeing what they do with a lighter version. Future compatibility with S11 and the current Orc may be an issue as they’ve not yet decided if they will offer a new S11 body for the current Orc. Mentioning freehub bodies there have been some reports of failing Campag bodies in recent months. Customer service with Alchemy is absolutely top notch, parts are readily available but in order to overhaul the hub correctly, special tools are needed. Alchemy has free loaner versions ready to ship should anyone need them, but they will require a deposit. Personally I love an excuse to buy new tools so this just doesn’t bother me.
Ron’s perspective: I’m still very fond of the Orc, and it is a hub I have a lot of experience with. It has proven to be a solid hub with good attention to detail and close tolerances. One if it’s best features is that it squeezes out every last tenth of a mm of driveside offset in both Campy and S versions. As described earlier this allows optimization of both the lateral stiffness and tension ratio. The bearing arrangement is pretty standard except for the addition of a large diameter bearing at the hub/freehub interface. This effectively takes chain loads off the axle at this point and puts them into the hub instead. It also stiffens the whole structure. The axle also has an external reinforcing sleeve at the inner hubshell bearing to further improve stiffness. Visually it’s pretty utilitarian, which will appeal to some and not others. Because of the bearing layout, servicing is a bit more involved than with some other hubs, but Alchemy provides a comprehensive set of tools (to buy or loan) and a series of videos that clearly explain the process. A few negatives: Compared to the front hub it is pretty heavy. The threaded cap with threadlock means that it takes a little back and forth to set the play/preload perfectly. The freehub seems to get chewed up fairly easily; even more than most other aluminum ones. The outer freehub bearing has a small load capacity compared to the others in the hub, and since it is on the outside of the hub and can also be subjected to lateral loads, it doesn’t last as long as the others.
Chris King R45
Chris King R45 Spec Table Manufacturer Chris King Model R45 Drive Mechanism Ring Drive 45T. Weight Shimano 223gr Weight Campag 225gr Available drillings 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 $379 Flange diameters, L/R Shimano/Campag 51/51 Center to flange, Shimano 34.5/19 Center to flange, Campag 36/17 Bracing angle, Shimano 7.1/3.9 Bracing angle, Campag 7.3/3.5 Tension differential Shimano 55% Tension differential Campag 48%
FWB Opinion: Chris King has a reputation for making great hubs and it’s well deserved. This hub is almost the same as when it was released, the only change that I’m aware of is that the ring drive which was titanium in the original has been changed to steel, making for a more reliable hub that is 10 grams heavier than the original. Plenty of large bearings with more than enough load capacity. Seals have lower drag and make the hubs feel smoother in your hands. A really stellar preload adjustment resists clamping forces well and makes adjustment a snap. Also the needle/roller bearing that is present at the freehub body in the classic has become a cartridge in the R45. While not the lightest hub, it is light for a Chris King hub. It’s available in 10 colors including some that are really unique such as root beer. Parts are easily available and it is one of the easiest hubs to service. The tool kit for the classic unfortunately does not work with the R45. This hub is significantly quieter than the classic version thanks to its lower number of engagement points. The reduced number of engagements means that it does have more degrees of free movement before the pedals engage compared to the almost instant engagement on the classic. Not the widest range of spoke drillings, but an adequate number down to 24h. A significantly rightward placed DS flange with a good diameter, large axle and bearings should produce the ability to build a laterally stiff wheel and one that resists windup and cantilevering of the freehub body well. At 55% tension left to right this is about as far as we’d consider adequate, but certainly not across the line of reasonable. I love the cutout in the mid sized nds flange giving it a bit of an old school look and its overall function. King has unfortunately been quiet about a Shimano 11 body for the future.
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. Recently available with a Campy freehub. 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.
DT 180 Spec Table Manufacturer DT Model 180 Drive Mechanism Star Ratchet, 18t spring operated Weight, Shimano 187gr Weight, Campag 192gr 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 $850 Flange diameters, L/R 41/45 Center to flange, Shimano/Campag 32.5/16 Bracing angle, Shimano/Campag 6.6/3.3 Tension differential Shimano/Campag 50%
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 to me the price is just out of line. 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. However the hub will also build the least laterally stiff wheel 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.
DT 240 Spec Table Manufacturer DT Model 240 Drive Mechanism Star Ratchet, 18t spring operated Weight, Shimano 220 Weight, Campag 222gr 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 $445 Flange diameters, L/R 45/45 Center to flange, Shimano/Campag 32.5/16 Bracing angle, Shimano/Campag 6.7/3.3 Tension differential Shimano/Campag 49%
FWB Opinion: There have been no real changes to this hub in years which is understandable with its success in the market. Like the front hub the DT focuses on balancing traits, and does it well. The DT is competitively priced falling right in the middle and has a very middle of the road static load capacity. It has the smallest DS bracing angle of all the hubs tested, including other interchangeable bodied hubs but on the other hand this provides a decent tension difference of 49%. It also means that switching from Campag to Shimano and back is the simplest of all the hubs. The DT uses a star ratchet drive instead of a standard pawl system, and the ratchet system has a fantastic track record for reliability and function. The hub is very easy to overhaul and needs special tools only to remove the splined half of the ratchet system and inner hubshell bearing in the body. Perhaps the biggest draw to this hub is the way it’s become completely widespread in the industry. This is good for anyone who needs service or parts. You can walk into your local shop and there’s a good chance they’ll have whatever parts and knowledge are needed to maintain it. Customer service with DT has been very good over the last couple years. For 2013 a Shimano 11 body will be available using 131mm axle width. The flange spacing is not changing on the 2013 hubs, they have just added 1mm to the non drive side end of the axle. I’d like to see the 36T ratchet stock in these hubs saving 10 grams and giving quicker engagement.
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. The biggest negative is the less than optimum flange offset on both sides. Plus the price has been creeping up. DT sells these pretty cheap for OEM applications, which reduces their value for customs in my opinion. I frankly never recommend these anymore, since I believe there are better options for any application.
DT 240 Spec Table Manufacturer Extralite Model SLX Drive Mechanism 2 Pawl with O-ring spring. Titanium drive ring 30T. Weight 139gr 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 32.5/50 Center to flange, Shimano 37.5/18 Center to flange, Campag 39/16.5 Bracing angle, Shimano 7.6/3.7 Bracing angle, Campag 7.9/3.4 Tension differential Shimano 49% Tension differential Campag 43%
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 SLX a fully flanged version and the SPM a full straight pull 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 is a viable option for rear hub. While not my first choice as a daily rider, it is capable of filling that role. 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.
Extralite SPX Spec Table Manufacturer Extralite Model SLX Drive Mechanism 2 Pawl with O-ring spring. Titanium drive ring 30T. Weight 134gr 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 $550 Flange diameters, L/R 48/31 Center to flange, Shimano 42/18.2 Bracing angle, Shimano 8.5/3.7 Tension differential Shimano 43%
FWB Opinion: Basically this hub is the same as the SLX above, but with the use of straight pull spokes in place of standard J-Bend. The use of straight pull spokes does increase the bracing angle as well as allow the use of increased spoke tension but at the same time does push the tension difference to the extreme. The weight drops just a couple of grams and the price goes up a bit. Again this hub has turned out to be a surprise. Far more reliable than we had expected and approaching the realm of a daily use hub though still not as trouble free as heavier hubs.
Ron’s perspective: A good hub for riders wanting super light weight and straight pull spokes. The flange spacing essentially requires the use of lighter spokes on the NDS… which isn’t necessarily a negative anymore.
Soul-Kozak Magnetic Rear
Soul-Kozak Magnetic Rear Spec Table Manufacturer Soul-Kozak Model Magnetic Road Drive Mechanism Magnetic driven ratchet Weight, Shimano 212gr Weight, Campag 194gr Available drillings 24/28/32 Bearing material and other bearing notes Stainless Bearing size, hub shell left 6903 Bearing size, hub shell right 6903 Combined hub shell Static load 954 Bearing size, freehub body Shimano 6903 (pair) Combined hub shell Static load Shimano 954 Bearing size, freehub body Campag 6803 (pair) Campag 552 Axle diameter 17mm Freehub body material Steel. Available colors Black Price in USD $305 Flange diameters, L/R 39/47 Center to flange, Shimano/Campag 34.5/17.5 Bracing angle, Shimano/Campag 7/3.6 Tension differential Shimano/Campag 51%
FWB Opinion: The big difference is the move from a 3 pawl drive system to a magnetic mechanical diode system that Soul Kozak first used on theirmtb hub. The system is very similar to DT Swiss’ star ratchet but with a few differences. The drive ring’s teeth are machined vertically into the side of the freehub body and are one piece not separate. The other half of the drive ring is a machined steel piece that is floating in the hub shell. The floating drive ring and teeth machined into the side of the freehub body are forced together by opposing magnetic forces. The freehub body is steel not aluminum but the hub is still only 212g. So it is slightly lighter weight than the DT Swiss 240 hub which uses an alloy freehub body and smaller bearings and axle. Also the Soul Kozak uses very large 6903 size bearings. There are a few hubs that are using the 6903 size but usually only one or two. The Shimano hub uses a total of four 6903 bearings, two non-drive side and two in the freehub body. The Campagnolo version uses two 6903 bearings on the non-drive side and and two 6803 in the freehub body to accommodate the smaller diameter freehub body. Since steel is stronger than aluminum they were able to machine the walls of the freehub body thinner and squeeze the large outside diameter of the 6903 bearing into the freehub body. The downside to this is that a standard lockring does not fit so the hub includes its own proprietary alloy lockring. At right around $300 this has to be one of the best value hubs in the review, it is also the loudest.
Ron’s perspective: No experience with this hub, but the specs are impressive. I thought the 6903 freehub bearings were a misprint, but it’s true. Steel freehub body also, and yet a good weight. No longer a weight weenie hub, but looks promising for someone in the market for an innovative hub with a good price and weight.
Tune Mag150 Spec Table Manufacturer Tune Model Mag150 Drive Mechanism 3 titanium pawls, titanium drive ring. Weight, Shimano 153gr 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 Shimano 49%
FWB Opinion: Tunes current flagship hub, 153grams 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 for 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 17 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.
Tune Mag170 Spec Table Manufacturer Tune Model Mag170 Drive Mechanism 3 titanium pawls. Titanium drive ring Weight 172gr 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 41/54 Center to flange Shimano/Campag 36/18 Bracing angle shimano/Campag 7.3/3.7 Tension differential Shimano/Campag 51%
FWB Opinion: The Mag170 has had a major overhaul for 2012 and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite weight oriented hubs. 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 riders.
White Industries H3
White Industries H3 Spec Table Manufacturer White Industries Model H3 Drive Mechanism 24t steel drive ring, 3 steel pawls Weight, Shimano 248gr Weight, Campag 265gr 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 Bearing size, freehub body Shimano Custom 15x24x10 double row, 6902 (single) Combined freehub body Static load campag 876 Combined freehub body Static load campag 872 Axle diameter 15mm Freehub body material Ti Available colors Black, silver. Price in USD $265 Flange diameters, L/R 40.5/55 Center to flange Shimano 36/18 Center to flange Campag 38/16 Bracing angle shimano 7.4/3.8 Bracing angle campag 7.8/3.3 Tension differential Shimano 50% Tension differential Campag 42%
FWB Opinion: The H3 has not been changed in several years with the exception of a bearing adjustment moving to a custom double row bearing in the freehub. Made in the U.S. the H3 has one of the highest static capacities of the test, but should be expected from a hub in this weight class. At 264grams for the Campag version it’s the heaviest hub we reviewed. It has large bearings that spin smoothly, and an easy to use preload adjustment, though not my favorite design. It also has a nice outward position of the left bearing. At $265 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. I also love the look of this hub in silver, this is one of the best looking silver hubs I’ve ever seen, yet at the same time, the black version just doesn’t look as good to me. White industries is easy to get a hold of and customer service from them has been good. The H3 is the only hub in the test that uses steel for the rear axle making it very good for very large riders.
Ron’s perspective: 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 H3 that are in the 1350-1500g range, which makes them lighter than comparable factory wheels that are much more expensive.
Saris Powertap G3
Saris Powertap G3 Manufacturer Saris Model G3 Drive Mechanism 24t steel drive ring, 3 steel pawls Weight, Shimano 337gr Weight, Campag 339gr Available drillings 20/24/28/32/ Bearing material and other bearing notes Stainless Bearing size, hub shell left 6802 Bearing size, hub shell right 6902 Combined hub shell Static load 653 Bearing size, freehub body Campag 6802 x2 Bearing size, freehub body Shimano 6802, 6902 Combined freehub body Static load campag 438 Combined freehub body Static load Shimano 653 Axle diameter 15mm Freehub body material Aluminum Available colors Black Price in USD $1299 Flange diameters, L/R 56/56 Center to flange Shimano 38/17.5 Center to flange Campag 38/17.5 Bracing angle shimano 7.9/3.7 Bracing angle campag 7.9/3.7 Tension differential Shimano 46% Tension differential Campag 46%
FWB Opinion: The G3 was a major step forward for this hub. The weight dropped substantially compared to the previous SL+ hub, 337g G3 vs 430g SL+. With the drop in weight the flange width has also increased, this was a good thing because Powertap wheels were known for being flexy. The increase in flange width did make the wheel stiffer but it actually did nothing for tension balance with both the old and new hubs having a 47% tension balance. Because of the large diameter flanges and semi narrow drive side flange spacing these hubs greatly benefit from lacing the drive side 1x with the elbows on the outside of the flange. When doing this the bracing angle goes up almost 2 degrees, which is great for lateral stiffness.
Ron’s perspective: The large weight reduction is a big plus for the G3. Now it is arguably the lightest way to add a powermeter to your bike. The smaller hubshell makes it more visually appealing. Another bonus is the easily removable transmitter electronics. I like that they increased the DS spacing, but IMO they went a little too far on the NDS… unless you use lighter spokes on that side. At any rate the spacing is better than it was on the old hub. The NDS axle cap was also changed and should result in greater longevity for that bearing, though it is still a small 6802. Since Saris recommends sending the hub to them for bearing replacement, I’d much prefer a more durable 6902 in that spot.
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 leave out some information. In the coming months we hope to write more on the subject including reviews on rims as well as 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.July 20, 2012 at 2:05 am #93469Participant
just noticed that for the extralite front sx hub, the stats are for the dt 180.
this is the most thorough and complete hub review/analysis ever. thanks.July 20, 2012 at 2:31 am #93470KD
Cup and cone for life! Not a single one of these hubs is better than a Dura-Ace hub.July 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm #93471
Greg, Thanks for pointing that out, it’s been corrected now.July 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm #93472
KD…Then perhaps you missed the point. I do think the DA hub is a nice hub in some situations, but like all the others it has its strengths and it’s weaknesses, including some unique to that hub.July 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm #93473Participant
You didn’t include the extralite SPM hub? Has it been discontinued?July 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm #93474
Zak, at first it was an oversight. However we decided not to go back and add it in since it is a hub that Extralite normally won’t sell on it’s own and is usually only available in a complete wheelset.July 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm #93475Participant
The DA and Record hubs are fine… though relatively heavy. It’s too bad that Shimano and Campy have no interest in selling their hubs for modern customs.July 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm #93476Participant
Haha lucky for me Jason your not extralite..
I use mine as a daily rider.. Other than the adjustment tool I had my friend spin up rapid proto style, it’s been drama free gota love the 42.5mm Center to flange.July 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm #93477td
what happened to c-4?July 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm #93478SL06
very good review.
After reading the blog, I check the bearing size in my hub, axle diameter and flange spacing.
I have 2 6900 bearing at the front – 10 mm axle , 4 6802 bearing at rear 15 mm axle.
Weighting 154 lbs – 70 kg
I guess that we exceed several time the bearing spec that in general size dont matter that much, but I really would like to ear more on bearing size and axle diameter, in relation to weight, application and wheel performance.
SLJuly 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm #93479Dwight
Don’t understand rruff’s statement about Shimano and Campy not interested in selling their hubs for modern customs.July 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm #93480Zandr
I would like to see your take on the Hope Pro III hubs. I believe they are in the same general league when it comes to weight as the CK and WI hubs.July 31, 2012 at 4:20 am #93481Brad
Great reviews. I must concur with your views, for the most part. In particular, the DT180. I just don’t understand this hub for anyone. price is silly for what you get. I don’t understand why DT hasn’t bothered to attempt to improve the geometry of these otherwise bombproof hubs. The are too oem for customs, but have a massive following. The one criticism you missed about Alchemy is Jeremy’s lack of marketing. I would sell a tonne more of Alchemy ELF and Orc if people knew about them. I feel like I have to sell the virtues. No logo, no brand, IMO. Might as well be oem. Don’t get me wrong, I love Alchemy hubs. I just wish they could sell themselves like Chris King and Tune can. The new Tune 170 is my favorite weight conscious rear hub. I’ve more of these this year than the Orc. Have you looked at Dash? I have built one set of Dash Nikki/Monica and not without incident. I am waiting for the Nikki G2 to ship. This should address the design flaws of the Nikki G1. Otherwise they hold promise for a lightweight design.
ThanksAugust 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm #93482Mike
Great unbiased reviews, thanks guys.
I would be very interested in seeing added to the mix some of the low cost 66 and 77g hubs coming from Taiwan; Circus Monkey, bikehubstore, ebay, etc. They seem to be paying attention to some key factors (flange spacing, 6900 bearings in some cases). But what am I missing?