A year we’ll never forget—far too much loss and suffering and yet amongst the chaos rare lessons are being offered. Do you also feel a sense of deep change? It will take years to process the significance of this period. For cycling, it’s been a riding and business boom—a reminder how essential bicycles have become. At Wheel Fanatyk, it’s been super busy—thanks for all your trust and support.
Today, let’s think about the role of hubs. Historically, I focus on spokes, tension, and rims. Hubs are an afterthought. I used to claim that hubs have just 2 jobs—provide a rotating center for the wheel structure and NOT FAIL. Hubs with wonderful beauty and technical novelty that don’t rotate smoothly are not much value.
Here are a few that help me better appreciate the potential for hubs to do more than just anchor wheels. These transform wheels and generate new dimensions for riding.
Nothing quite beats visual simplicity. In a high tech world, complexity so often comes with progress. This Ridley Kanzo Fast Classified is a standout example.
Disk brakes make a clean look and this bike amplifies that with no front derailleur, visible headset, or exposed wires or cables. For me the Kanzo’s best trick is hidden in a hub—an electronic internal 2 speed cassette hub by Classified.
This bike has 22 speeds despite only a cassette and single chainring to be seen, thanks to this clever hub. Benefits:
• Electronic shifting.
• Trim hub harvests the internal volume under a cassette for its mechanism.
• The gearing benefits of a front derailleur without maintenance.
• Shift under heavy load (1000W).
Granted, the Kanzo is an elite machine but the elevated concept inspires and we hope to see more bikes where a hub makes a big difference. Check James Huang’s recent review in CyclingTips.
In an era of widespread disk brake use, can the disk rotor do more than stop? What if a rotor engages an electric motor that rides piggy backs on the disk caliper? This is the mission of an ex-Tesla engineer and team—Bimotal. Their Elevate electric motor system does just that.
Imagine these benefits:
• No added wear to the drive train.
• Motor can be removed in 20 sec and switched to another bike.
• 750W for 28mph with estimated range of 30-60km.
• System with battery, weighs 2.7kg, there’s none lighter.
• Nil friction when not powered up.
• Introduction in 2021.
Well, of course we’ll have to wait and see but the elevated concept inspires and I expect to see more of this clever idea.
The internal gear system of Sturmey Archer for bicycles was humanity’s first variable speed transmission. In pursuit of low weight and high efficiency cycling favors external transmissions with derailleurs. Still, internal gearing has huge maintenance advantages. Rohloff’s 14spd hubs and Sachs and Shimano geared hubs continue the geared hub option today. Lately however, the Kindernay hub from Norway advances internal gearing yet further.
• 14 speeds with the widest range available.
• The lightest hub of its type.
• Hydraulic shifting.
• Gearbox can be moved from wheel to wheel
• Adjusted for life.
• Belt drive friendly.
• Through axle compatible.
Check CyclingTips definitive review.
Do you know a cool hub that transforms the bike? Please share!
Cargo and E-bike Spoke Gauges are Hot
Growing popularity of thicker spokes—13G (2.3mm) and 12G (2.6mm)—is no surprise as cargo and e-bikes are fast expanding categories. This trend is easy for wheelbuilders:
• Straight gauge and brass nipples prevail for strength and economy.
• Tension is less important, spokes succeed more from mass than tension.
• Wheels build faster without the elasticity of thinner spokes.
• Less design challenge = less need for the subtleties of lightweight wheels.
Check Adrian Emilson of Melody Wheels describe the bold way he is addressing this opportunity.
Next post: Spoke Threading for the Masses!