Titanium

Appearing on the periodic table of elements at number 22 is the metal titanium. Discovered in 1791 by the Reverend Walter Gregor, it's name came from Martin Heinrich Klaproth who chose it from the Titan's of Greek mythology. Titanium is truly an amazing metal that is used in both airplanes, aerospace technology as well as special medical tools and of course the bicycle world. 

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My first introduction to titanium in the world of bicycles goes back to the early 70's. In 1973 two companies almost simultaneously came out with frames made of titanium. One from the USA, the Teledyne Titan and one from the UK, Speedwell, from the Speedwell Gear Case Company in Birmingham. At the time I happened to be working at a bike shop who had hired a fellow from England who did the initial testing on the Speedwell titanium frames. That season Luis Ocana rode several stages of the Tour de France on a Speedwell titanium frame. This was the very beginning of titanium in the pro peloton. A few years passed before other frame builders began to exploit the amazing properties of titanium in racing frames. Today we see many titanium frame makers and a real pronounced resurgence of interest in titanium for gravel bikes. 

Frames are not the only area where titanium shows up. Numerous components are made from titanium. I'd like to highlight the area's where titanium crops up in the world of wheels. 

Hub makers have for some time used titanium successfully in several areas. Titanium axles have been used by Shimano in some of their Dura Ace hubs. They are lighter than steel yet super strong. Shimano has also used titanium for their Dura Ace free hubs. In my opinion there is no better material for a freehub. Hadley hubs from California offers a Ti freehub. Titanium has an ideal strength to weight ratio and will not rust or corrode. 

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A Shimano Dura Ace titanium freehub. 

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Lightweight titanium quick release skewers.

Some of my favourite hub manufacturers have also chosen titanium as their material of choice for both their free hubs as well as other parts. Titanium quick release skewers are very popular and are both very strong and reliable. Companies like Royce in the UK and Gokiso in Japan have made hub models from titanium billets. These hubs are quite expensive but they are incredible. 

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Gokiso titanium hubs from Japan. Made from solid billets of aero space grade Ti.  Undoubtedly the most expensive hubs on the planet. 

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Royce titanium hubs with a carbon fibre centre. 

Spoke manufacturers have not ignored titanium but their success's have remained somewhat elusive. DT Swiss made a titanium spoke which is now discontinued. Today companies like Pillar of Taiwan are producing 3 titanium models at very light weights. Their use is best left to very light riders who are looking to keep their wheel weights at an absolute minimum. 

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Pillar's X-TRA Lite Ti bladed spoke.  A 260mm spoke weighs an incredible 2.6 grams!

Cognoscenti Cycles has a new titanium spoke nipple that takes advantage of all the unique properties that titanium offers. Weighing less than a standard brass nipple and almost as light as an aluminium one, our Ti nipple is perfect for racing wheels and for those who demand the absolute best material for their custom wheels.

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Titanium 14 gauge spoke nipples. These utilise a standard 3.2mm square interface on one end and a dedicated tool that turns the other end. At 0.4 grams each, they are light!

Spoke calculators

The correct spoke length is absolutely essential for a properly built set of wheels. You would think this would go without saying, but I am never really surprised when I see expensive factory built wheels that don't have the correct spoke length. Either too short or too long, they are missing the mark of high quality workmanship. You would think that a factory which may be building thousands of the same model would get that right, but not always. This failure can lead to premature spoke breakage. 

                                                        A good quality stainless steel spoke ruler will enable you to measure to within a half millimetre. 

                                                        A good quality stainless steel spoke ruler will enable you to measure to within a half millimetre. 

So, how does a wheel builder arrive at the most ideal spoke length? Years ago before the era of handy online spoke calculators it was a much more challenging job. I used to have a little black book that recorded every wheel that I built with the hub model, rim model, lacing pattern and what the corresponding best spoke length for those parts was. We also had at our disposal the Sutherland Handbook for mechanics which had suggested spoke lengths. It generally was quite helpful but it didn't have every answer among its pages. 

Fast forward a few decades and companies like DT Swiss started to develop their own online spoke calculators. In many ways these were a God send for mechanics and wheel builders everywhere. Today there are several reliable online spoke calculators. 

How do they work? Initially someone had to develop some pretty sophisticated software to number crunch an infinite array of measurements to bring these to life.  For those actually using them, it's really just a matter of plugging in the correct numbers on hub dimensions and rim ERD and the program does all the hard math for you and spits out it's suggested spoke lengths. 

Are those suggested spoke lengths absolutely reliable? In most cases they are, but now and again I get a suggested length that isn't exactly ideal. Not a world away but a slightly different  length would have been better. I always keep my print outs and make notes for future builds. 

To ensure predictable accuracy its wise to take your own ERD measurements before beginning.  By the way, ERD stands for the "effective rim diameter" . These numbers are often supplied by rim manufactures but they are sometimes not accurate. This mistake can lead to the wrong spoke length being recommended. An investment in a pair of WheelSmith rim rods will give you a proper ERD measurement. 

A word or two on taking the hub measurements. Invest in a decent quality digital vernier calliper. It will pay for itself eventually. Hub measurements are often supplied by the manufacturer but double check that they haven't made an error in what they have published. It might save you having to get new spokes cut.

There are a number of online spoke calculators I'd like to mention. I have had reliable results from DT Swiss, prowheelbuilder.com and wheelpro.co.uk . 

                                          DT Swiss is a great online calculator, especially if you are building with their products. 

                                          DT Swiss is a great online calculator, especially if you are building with their products. 

 

I often will use more than one online calculator to check to see how close a recommendation they make. Sometimes they are almost identical and other times there may be a difference of a half millimetre or so. If there is a notable difference in recommendations I'll invoke the opinion of a third calculator. As you investigate various online calculators you'll become familiar with their strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.

My new favourite calculator is an app that's on my Iphone. It was developed by Douglas Pepelko and it can be procured through the Itunes App store. It's called Quick Spoke and it's simply amazing! I would highly recommend this very handy spoke calculating app. It has a long list of hubs with all the measurements already there for you. It also has a comprehensive list of rims with their ERD's. There are also other features like the information relating to bracing angle of the spokes as well as the percentage of tension on each side of the wheel. It also enables you to save your calculations for future reference. For the wheel builder on the go, this is the best app out there. At $1.99 you can hardly go wrong. 

       Quick Spoke already supplies you with all your hub measurements. Handy!  

       Quick Spoke already supplies you with all your hub measurements. Handy!  

Quick Spoke is very straight forward, and even a newbie will be comfortable with it. 

Quick Spoke is very straight forward, and even a newbie will be comfortable with it. 

There are several other online spoke calculating websites that are out there. I have had the best results with the ones I have mentioned. That's not to say you won't find a different one that's ideal for you. Whichever one you decide upon keep in mind that you are a thousand miles ahead of the days when nothing like this even existed. Keep a record of your various wheel builds so that you can reference them one day in the future. Most important, try to have some fun building those wheels!

Tools of the trade

Periodically I am asked what my favourite wheel building tools are. Sometimes by new aspiring builders and sometimes by very seasoned ones. Being a self confessed tool junkie I have accumulated a noteworthy collection of job specific tools for most every type of wheel work. 

                                                                            All the various tools needed to turn all the numerous nipple types available today. 

                                                                            All the various tools needed to turn all the numerous nipple types available today. 

As the years have passed I've had to keep pace with all the new tools needed to do my job.   For instance, with all the hubs currently available its no wonder that a sizeable collection of dedicated tools are required if you want to be able to service them all. Companies like Chris King make their own in house tools to service their hubs as well as several other manufacturers. The same could be said for the plethora of spoke wrenches and similar tools needed to just turn nipples, especially with the growing number of nipple interfaces available today.

     A 5.5mm Hex head spoke nipple driver, made in California by Bicycle Research. Also the "Mulfinger' made by Efficient Velo Tools. An invaluable tool for lacing up wheels. 

     A 5.5mm Hex head spoke nipple driver, made in California by Bicycle Research. Also the "Mulfinger' made by Efficient Velo Tools. An invaluable tool for lacing up wheels. 

Though a more significant investment in quality tools is needed for the modern wheel builder, it will definitely make the job easier. When I first started out building wheels I had only a handful of tools. A single VAR chrome vanadium spoke key, a 1950's Campagnolo wheel dishing tool and a cast iron Hozan wheel truing stand that had acquired a patena that made it look like it had been dredged up from the ocean floor off the Titanic. Though I started with just a few wheel building tools I managed to master the art with some time and dedication. I worked with what I had. That was over 4 decades ago and things have changed! These days my work bench is cluttered with too many tools to count. New ones seem to arrive every month and the cycle continues.

           A DT Swiss Tensio 2.  One of a few spoke tension meters that I employ to measure spoke tension and to evaluate the overall evenness of a wheels final tension.

           A DT Swiss Tensio 2.  One of a few spoke tension meters that I employ to measure spoke tension and to evaluate the overall evenness of a wheels final tension.

Spoke Tension

In the last few years builders have been paying more attention to a wheels precise spoke tension.  As tension meters have increased in accuracy and sensitivity its enabled us to evaluate our wheels more closely. At first I was definitely reluctant to embrace spoke tension meters, but eventually I began to explore their use. In the last few years I have completely embraced them in my workflow. I have come to realise how they can be exploited in the initial stages of the building process, not just as an afterthought to determine the final finished tension of a wheel. This has fundamentally changed the way that I now build wheels. That's been a huge change in methodology for me, but a welcome one. 

Recently I have been working with a friend to produce a high end spoke tension meter for Cognoscenti Cycles. Below is a photo of the prototype that has undergone extensive testing. 

This is the prototype of the new Cognoscenti Cycles spoke tension meter for 2018. It comes with a Swiss made Atorn dial indicator, a 7075 CNC made alloy body and a unique roller bearing that enhances the accuracy and sensitivity of the meter. 

This is the prototype of the new Cognoscenti Cycles spoke tension meter for 2018. It comes with a Swiss made Atorn dial indicator, a 7075 CNC made alloy body and a unique roller bearing that enhances the accuracy and sensitivity of the meter. 

 The Truing stand

Certainly one of the most important tools for any wheel builder is their truing stand. There are several stands on the market these days and prices vary greatly as well as features. Since the late 1970's I have used a Park stand. It really hasn't changed that dramatically over the years. Yes, there have been a few notable additions but essentially the design remains much the same as the early days. As much as I have been tempted by a few new truing stands I have always returned to that Park stand. It basically does everything one needs and I guess that's all that matters. I briefly owned a DT Swiss truing stand. I quickly realised that even though it was incredibly well made, that old Park stand worked better for my work flow. I sent the DT Swiss stand back for a refund and re-embraced my Park stand. I went through a similar experience with the German made P&K Lie stand. For some builders this stand may be the ultimate, but not for me. There is a deep lesson to be learned here. You must use the tools that work well for YOU! In the end, you have to be both comfortable and confident with those tools. They shouldn't limit you in any way, but as long as you are able to turn out top quality wheels your tool choices are fine.  

                     A DT Swiss spoke key and their bladed spoke holder. Designed to work perfectly together, these are my fave tools for building with bladed spokes. 

                     A DT Swiss spoke key and their bladed spoke holder. Designed to work perfectly together, these are my fave tools for building with bladed spokes. 

            The Campagnolo dishing tool made it's debut in 1952. I have used this tool since day one, and I still use it every day. Perfection is hard to improve upon. 

            The Campagnolo dishing tool made it's debut in 1952. I have used this tool since day one, and I still use it every day. Perfection is hard to improve upon. 

I certainly haven't delved into every tool that one could possibly use while working on wheels. There are so many that if I did this article would turn into a small book. Suffice to say that there is a good tool for every task and investing in the best quality ones is wise. Knowing how to use them properly is of course the most important thing. There is no substitute for experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

DT Swiss hubs.

I first became aware of DT Swiss in the middle 1970's and started to use their high end spokes on a regular basis in the late 1970's. As the years ticked by I became aware that they made much more than just top quality Sandvik steel spokes. 

Today DT Swiss makes some of the most versatile and innovative hubs on the market. They look fairly simple but all their best kept secrets are just under the hood. 

Their flagship road hub is the 180 Carbon Ceramic. A very light hubset with top end ceramic bearings provided by Sinc Ceramic. Their Japanese made silicon nitride bearings (Si3N4) roll within steel cages to form a hybrid bearing. These proprietary bearings are made especially for the 180 hub to perform at the highest level. 

Sinc Ceramic hybrid bearings keep the rolling resistance to a minimum on the DT Swiss 180 hub. Tour de France tested by top talent. 

Sinc Ceramic hybrid bearings keep the rolling resistance to a minimum on the DT Swiss 180 hub. Tour de France tested by top talent. 

  At only a 100 grams DT Swiss has kept the weight quite low as well as the rolling resistance. 

  At only a 100 grams DT Swiss has kept the weight quite low as well as the rolling resistance. 

Part of the weight savings is not immediately apparent, as this hub uses a carbon fibre centre shell to shave precious grams, mated with alloy flanges. 

Tipping the scales at a mere 183 grams this hub certainly is one of the lightest hubs available. 

Tipping the scales at a mere 183 grams this hub certainly is one of the lightest hubs available. 

The 180 hub is also available with centre lock for disc brake users and ships with a 6 point adaptor in case you are using a 6 bolt rotor. 

 

Probably DT Swiss's most popular hub is the 240. A small step down from the 180 but certainly a hub that would please most any cyclist. The real difference is the lack of ceramic bearings and the absence of a carbon fibre shell. If you can live without those two exotic features you'll be more than happy with the 240. It has DT's famous star ratchet driven freehub and their easily convertible end caps. All the things that make a DT Swiss hub special. The 240 shows up as often on the road as it does on MTB bikes. They are durable and are relatively easy to service. 

A thru axle version with a centre lock system for disc brakes. At 126 grams it's still a very light weight option. Available in 20, 24 and 28 hole options. 

A thru axle version with a centre lock system for disc brakes. At 126 grams it's still a very light weight option. Available in 20, 24 and 28 hole options. 

         If your preference is for a standard 6 bolt disc interface DT Swiss has you covered. 

         If your preference is for a standard 6 bolt disc interface DT Swiss has you covered. 

A 142 X 12 thru axle rear 240 hub with a centre lock disc brake interface. Available in a lustrous black anodised finish.  

A 142 X 12 thru axle rear 240 hub with a centre lock disc brake interface. Available in a lustrous black anodised finish.  

The last hub worth looking at is DT Swiss's answer to a more affordable model with most of the features that make DT a choice for so many riders. In steps the 350. Made off shore to keep the price down, but you'd never know it by looking at it. It still has the fit and finish of it's more expensive older brother the 240. 

The 350 is perfect for a set of affordable training wheels or for some decent MTB wheels or even something that could grace your cyclocross/gravel grinder machine. 

         The 350 front hub weighs in at 149 grams. Its available in 20,28 and 32 spoke holes.

         The 350 front hub weighs in at 149 grams. Its available in 20,28 and 32 spoke holes.

A glimpse inside a DT Swiss hub. This exploded view shows both the simplicity of design and easy serviceability of these fine hubs. 

A glimpse inside a DT Swiss hub. This exploded view shows both the simplicity of design and easy serviceability of these fine hubs. 

One of the unique features of DT Swiss hubs is the fact that they can be serviced to a large degree without tools. If you require a bearing change you will need some dedicated DT Swiss tools, but you can still remove the end caps and the freehub by hand. So a re-greasing of the star ratchet will require no tools whatsoever. Many YouTube videos will take you step by step through the process. It's a good idea to use DT's grease as it's the exact consistency for the job. Swapping out the end caps enables you to set the hub up for a different axle type or length.  

Cognoscenti Cycles is proudly carrying the entire line of DT Swiss hubs. If you feel that a pair of DT Swiss hubs might be an ideal choice for a custom wheel build I'd love to help you realise that dream. 

                                                                          

                                                                          

Gravel grinding wheels

So, you own a sweet road bike, a nice MTB bike, a cyclocross bike and you just popped for a Fat bike. What's next for your cycle stable? Well it seems we've rediscovered long forgotten rail trails and old farm roads and the new cool roads are not paved with gold but with gravel. Terms like "hard pack" have entered our road vocabulary. The new do all machines for these funky roads are affectionately known as a gravel grinders. 

Seven Cycles offers up an ideal gravel machine with their Evergreen SLX , sporting robust disc wheels that can go the distance on all manner of terrain. 

Seven Cycles offers up an ideal gravel machine with their Evergreen SLX , sporting robust disc wheels that can go the distance on all manner of terrain. 

 

So, what kind of wheels should you be thinking of building for your new gravel machine? I have been getting more enquires of late about wheels suited to rough road riding than any other cycling discipline. The other night I was out on my Tuesday night club ride and I shared an in-depth conversation with a club mate about his new gravel bike and what kind of wheels would best suit his new machine. That chat begat this blog entry. 

 I'll start by sharing a few important aspects of a well designed gravel wheel set. Most gravel bikes take advantage of thru axle set ups much like MTB's. 142X12 thru axle rear hubs are quite common as well as 100X15 front thru axle hubs. The other common feature will most likely be disc brakes and therefore will demand rims that are properly suited with no rim brake surface. 

Since you'll likely be on some challenging terrain a higher spoke count will be the order of the day. 32 hole front and rear wheels will stand up to pretty much anything you will come across. I would highly recommend a 3 cross lacing pattern for optimum strength and resilience. This is especially important for wheels coping with the inherent stresses of disc brakes.

What about spokes? I would steer clear of ultra light spokes. These wheels are not where you should be trying to shave off a few grams. For most of my off road wheel builds I usually recommend Sapim Force spokes. They are triple butted and build up to very strong wheels. Their profile is 2.18mm X 1.8mm X 2.0mm. The strength of the middle section of that particular spoke is 1400 N/mm2. That's impressive. Another ultra strong Sapim spoke worthy of consideration is the CX-Ray. The CX-Ray is a bladed spoke often regarded for it's aerodynamic profile, but that's not it's only positive attribute. It's a great spoke for any application where extra strength is needed. It's middle section strength is even greater than the triple butted Sapim Force at 1600 N/mm2. 

Nipples? Definitely brass. Alloy nipples are quite light and come in a boat load of eye popping colours, but can be prone to corrosion so they shouldn't end up on your all road wheel set. Personally I prefer brass nipples with a dual interface, like the Alpina ABS2 5.5mm HEX head. There is no stronger nipple made, with the exception of titanium at 5 times the price. 

The Alpina ABS 2  5.5mm HEX head spoke nipple in brass. 

The Alpina ABS 2  5.5mm HEX head spoke nipple in brass. 

 

Ok, so what hubs are major contenders for conquering gravel? Luckily there are a number of respectable choices. Your selection will be narrowed down to disc hubs with well sealed bearings and preferably a titanium or steel freehub for ultimate durability. An alloy freehub will save you a bit of weight but it can't match the bombproof nature of either steel or titanium.  Many of the hubs that are perennial favourites for the MTB crowd will work well for the gravel grinders out there. Some of my top recommendations would be Onyx, White Industries, Hope, Hadley, Project 321, Industry Nine, Trailmech, Syntace, Chris King and Stealth.  Admittedly that's quite a lot to choose from! All of these hubs unique features are dealt with in detail in my previous blog entries. 

The other consideration for any rear hub is it's engagement. The degree of hub engagement can very significantly and it's worth looking at each manufacturers specs. For instance Onyx hubs boast near instant engagement with their unique German made sprag clutch. 

An Onyx rear hub featuring a thru axle with a centre lock disc brake interface. Running silently with their unique sprag clutch. Made from 7075 alloy with ceramic hybrid bearings. Comes with a 5 year limited warranty. Freehub available in stainless steel or alloy. 

An Onyx rear hub featuring a thru axle with a centre lock disc brake interface. Running silently with their unique sprag clutch. Made from 7075 alloy with ceramic hybrid bearings. Comes with a 5 year limited warranty. Freehub available in stainless steel or alloy. 

Another thing to think about is noise. Do you want your hub to growl, purr, or run silently. On a quiet farm road maybe you're looking forward to silence and you don't want your hub to speak it's mind.  A dead quiet Onyx hub might be your cup of tea. On the other end of the spectrum is a bee buzzing Chris King hub that announces itself to the world in a very loud and proud way. Something to contemplate before buying. 

What about rims. Should you be thinking classic alloy or carbon fibre? To be honest you could go either way and be happy. Since these wheels might be exposed to a bit more of a beating than your fancy carbon road machine, you might be perfectly happy with a set of nice alloy rims that won't break the bank should they suffer some unintentional damage from traversing  gnarly roads. If you have some extra cash set aside and you want a pair of uber cool carbon wheels you could also go that route. The carbon rims will provide some desirable compliance that will help smooth out those aggressive road surfaces and your disc brakes will ensure confident braking. . If you are confused on which way to jump we can talk about the pros and cons of both types of rims in detail. Whichever rim material you decide upon you'll want to choose a model that exploits a wider internal dimension to take advantage of all the new wider tires that are now on the market. This is where the fun begins on your new gravel bike. Running wide tubeless tires at reduced pressures for a completely different feel. More rubber on the road for added confidence and improved cornering. It's all good! 

The all black disc version of the Pacenti Forza makes for a fine alloy rim. It has an asymmetrical spoke bed on the rear rim to help equalise tension between the drive side and non drive side spokes, further strengthening your wheel. 

The all black disc version of the Pacenti Forza makes for a fine alloy rim. It has an asymmetrical spoke bed on the rear rim to help equalise tension between the drive side and non drive side spokes, further strengthening your wheel. 

 

Tire choices are expanding all the time, and with the growing popularity of taking "the path less travelled", there will be even more in the future. Many of these new tires are tubeless friendly and that's likely the way you'll end up going. A myriad of widths and tread patterns abound so you are already spoiled for choice. Your gravel bike should have tire clearance for up to 44mm tires if you want the real deal experience.

                                                                 The Maxxis Re-Fuse is tubeless ready and is 40mm wide. Plenty of girth for the back roads. 

                                                                 The Maxxis Re-Fuse is tubeless ready and is 40mm wide. Plenty of girth for the back roads. 

Panaracer gives us the Gravel King. A 700 X 32 mm tire that has a solid tread pattern for puncture free miles. 

Panaracer gives us the Gravel King. A 700 X 32 mm tire that has a solid tread pattern for puncture free miles. 

Challenge tires offers up their Gravel Grinder, aptly named for haunting gnarly roads and lost paths. 700 X 36C wide and 260 threads per inch. 

Challenge tires offers up their Gravel Grinder, aptly named for haunting gnarly roads and lost paths. 700 X 36C wide and 260 threads per inch. 

 

The number of gravel grinding gran fondos and similar style events is growing exponentially. You might not be signing up for the Dirty Kanza 200 anytime soon, but gravel is the new frontier so dig in, get a little dirty and enjoy. If you think you might want a pair of hand built gravel wheels I'd be more than happy to design and build you something special. Give me a ring and we'll sweat the small details until you are proudly riding some killer gravel crushers. 

                 3 water bottles, snake anti-venom , compass, sun screen, fave tunes, spare tubes, CO2, last will and testament. 

                 3 water bottles, snake anti-venom , compass, sun screen, fave tunes, spare tubes, CO2, last will and testament. 

 

 

 

 

Wide is the new orange.

width |widTHwitTH| noun

the measurement or extent of something from side to side: the yard was about seven feet in width | the shoe comes in a variety of widths.• a piece of something at its full extent from side to side: a single width ofhardboard.• ORIGIN early 17th century: from wide + -th2, on the pattern of breadth (replacing wideness).

In the world of bicycles tires and rims things are definitely getting wider. There seems to be a growing awareness that wide is somehow better. It's really not a new concept but a return to some previously held wisdom from a bygone era. 

Advocates like Jan Heine, editor of Bicycle Quarterly have published their findings on the benefits of wider tires running lower pressures. And it's not just cycle tourists and gravel riders who are adopting this new mindset. 

It begs the question as to when we might see wider tires in the pro peloton. For a long time now 25mm tires have been pretty much standard fair among pro road riders. But this may change in the near future as riders fears about going slower on comfy wide tries gets assuaged with the current testing that shows just the opposite. 

There has simultaneously been a trend among rim designers to go wider as well. These new designs compliment wider tire profiles perfectly and they also have the benefit of being stronger stiffer rims.  

This combination makes for a slightly stiffer wheel with enhanced comfort and only a tiny weight penalty that's offset by improved rolling resistance. This new thinking will challenge the obsession with both weight and aerodynamics as being the all important considerations. There are other factors at play that must be balanced to produce the fastest wheels out there. Stiffness, bearing friction and rolling resistance start to be equal concerns.  Maximising all these variables will eventually provide us with the fastest set of wheels known today. 

Wider tires have proven to decrease rolling resistance, making them a faster option. With a little less tire pressure they move over rough terrain much better and don't cause the bike to be bouncing excessively. Races like Paris Roubaix come to mind when contemplating the best wheel design to get you over big cobblestones with the greatest speed and comfort. 

All of this has made perfect sense to mountain bike riders for years now. Their varied terrain demanded wider tires with a much more forgiving and enjoyable ride. It's the realisation that road riders can now enjoy a more plush ride without paying a speed penalty, and scientific testing has confirmed this to be true. Frame designers will have to catch up to provide more room for wider rims and wider tires. 

All in all I see this as a great move forward that has been too long in coming. If I never see another 700X23mm tire again I'll be a happy man. 

                                                  For a super plush ride the Compass Snoqualmie tire. Measures 700 X 44mm!

                                                  For a super plush ride the Compass Snoqualmie tire. Measures 700 X 44mm!

                                                                   Compass tires has the Barlow Pass to keep things nice and comfortable. Measuring 700 X 38mm. 

                                                                   Compass tires has the Barlow Pass to keep things nice and comfortable. Measuring 700 X 38mm. 

 

 

 

Tandem wheels.

Tandems can be a lot of fun, especially if the two riders are quite compatible. But a tandem is a very specialised bike and it's subjected to significant and unique stresses. This demands a proper design and specific materials. Having worked in the past in a bike shop that hand made custom tandems, I am quite familiar with all this. It means a very special set of wheels are needed as well, especially if you plan to do extensive touring. Much higher spoke counts are required to keep those wheels true and capable of supporting the weight of two riders. The forces of hill climbing create very real demands on both wheels, and if the tandem has panniers loaded with lots of camping gear etc, then bomb proof wheels are a must!

The choice of rims, spokes and tires need to be made carefully to insure that they are up to the task. The hubs design must be made for tandem use and spacing. Disc brakes will probably be the order of the day for better braking, especially on long descents. 

What hub options are out there? At present there are a few excellent hub manufactures who have designed top end tandem hubs. From California, Phil Wood has a few different tandem hub options. They make a hub for standard disc brakes as well as one for the Aria drum brake. Zero dish can be obtained when using the 145mm or 160mm Arai brake. That offers much greater overall strength for the rear wheel. Spoke hole counts of 36, 40 and 48 hole are on offer. 135 and 145mm rear spacings are available with typical flange spacing and canting for tandem use. If you own a Santana tandem, Phil Wood has a special hub that enables the disc brake to engage properly. Santana, who have specialised in tandems for many years have enlisted the help of Hadley to make them a special tandem hub which uses a 160mm spacing. This unique spacing enables the wheel to be built up without any dish, therefore offering increased strength and reducing spoke fatigue dramatically. A great idea for a rear tandem wheel! This 160mm standard from Santana also provides plenty of space for 11 speeds and disc brakes. 

Phil Wood tandem hubs with plenty of spoke holes to provide the necessary strength. Available in silver, black, white, red, blue, green, purple, pink and orange. Stainless steel freehub is possible.

Phil Wood tandem hubs with plenty of spoke holes to provide the necessary strength. Available in silver, black, white, red, blue, green, purple, pink and orange. Stainless steel freehub is possible.

Another company that steps up to the plate in the tandem world is Chris King. Their rear tandem hub comes in 3 widths, 140mm, 145mm and 160mm. There is also an option for a stainless steel freehub which may be recommended for heavy tandem use. The maximum spoke count is only 36 holes which may come up short for loaded tandem use. 

         Available with a stainless freehub and Chris King's legendary stainless steel bearings, made especially in house. Comes in 9 lovely colours! 

         Available with a stainless freehub and Chris King's legendary stainless steel bearings, made especially in house. Comes in 9 lovely colours! 

Another USA made hub to consider would be from White Industries. Their tandem rear hub is made from 6061 alloy with a 15mm cro mo axle for added strength.  They offer typical spoke hole counts of 36, 40 and 48 holes. One of the things that I love about their hubs is their titanium freehub.  A single width of 145mm is on offer. 

                            A 6 bolt disc interface with either 3 pawl / 24 point engagement or a 3 pawl / 48 point engagement. Available in silver or black anodised finish. 

                            A 6 bolt disc interface with either 3 pawl / 24 point engagement or a 3 pawl / 48 point engagement. Available in silver or black anodised finish. 

Another hub that provides several solutions for typical problems on tandems is a Rohloff Speedhub 500.  14 evenly spaced gears with no overlaps. A perfectly straight chain line and everything tucked away inside the hub that requires little if any maintenance. The ability to shift effortlessly under load and disc brake friendly. Certainly something to consider if you are thinking of a new tandem. 

 The Rohloff Speedhub 500 with 14 evenly spaced gears and disc brakes! A wheel that can be built up with no dish, providing a dramatic increase in strength and reliability. A perfect solution for many tandem riders!

 The Rohloff Speedhub 500 with 14 evenly spaced gears and disc brakes! A wheel that can be built up with no dish, providing a dramatic increase in strength and reliability. A perfect solution for many tandem riders!

 

What about spokes? With tandem loads often exceeding 300 lbs minimum, a tandem friendly spoke gauge is absolutely necessary! There are a few triple butted spokes that will do the job nicely if the spoke count is high enough. DT Swiss has the Alpine III which has a profile of 2.34mm/ 1.8mm/2.0mm. This would be suitable for a 48 hole rear wheel with an average weight rider.  Sapim makes the Force spoke which is also triple butted with a profile of 2.18mm/1.8mm/2.0mm, which would be great for the front wheel as long as it had a minimum of 36 spokes. Some wheel builders have opted for even heavier gauge spokes like the DT Swiss Champion with a 2.34mm continuous profile. These choices are dependant on the weight of the two riders and their intended use for the tandem. A robust brass spoke nipple like the Alpina ABS HEX head would be ideal for tandem use. 

Rims also need to be considered for the weight demands of tandem use. More robust and heavier models with stainless steel eyelets would be preferred. Their external and internal widths must be compatible with tires suitable for a typical tandem load and of course they need to be spec'd for higher spoke counts like 36 to 48 holes! Rim manufacturers like Velocity, Alex, and Mavic make such rims. 

Alex have the DH19 which is a robust triple box section alloy rim with 48 holes. The sidewalls are machined and have a wear indicator. 48 hole rear wheels offer real piece of mind when cycle touring on a tandem, especially if you are in remote areas where obtaining tandem parts is impossible. 

The Alex DH19. A triple box section 48 hole alloy rim that should inspire confidence!

The Alex DH19. A triple box section 48 hole alloy rim that should inspire confidence!

Velocity offers the Chukker, which is available in 40 or 48 holes. It's 32mm deep and is 24mm wide. That deeper V shaped design increases its strength and durability. Available in a black or silver finish. 

      Velocity's Chukker.  40 or 48 hole disc rim. 

      Velocity's Chukker.  40 or 48 hole disc rim. 

 

 

Much can be said about the ultimate rear hub for a tandem but there are unique options for front hubs. Touring cyclists might consider a SON Dynamo front hub for the lighting options afforded by such a hub. The ability to charge other items like an Iphone are handy when on the road. 

SON offers two different hubs that could be a welcome addition to anyone's tandem. First off is their SON 28 Tandem front hub. It comes in either 40 or 48 hole versions which build up to an invincible front wheel! 

The SON 28 Tandem hub. 40 or 48 hole versions in black or silver finish. The flange diameter is 15mm larger, making for a stiffer front wheel. 

The SON 28 Tandem hub. 40 or 48 hole versions in black or silver finish. The flange diameter is 15mm larger, making for a stiffer front wheel. 

The other SON hub worthy of consideration would be the Standard SON 28. It offers a 6 bolt disc brake interface and comes in spoke hole counts from 32 to 48 holes. 

The Standard SON 28 with a 6 bolt disc brake interface. 

The Standard SON 28 with a 6 bolt disc brake interface. 

So, if you are planning to join the world of tandem riders you might be thinking of an appropriate set of wheels. As you can see there are more than a few options to consider. Give me a ring if you have some questions! 

                                                      A coin toss to see who ends up as the stoker. 

                                                      A coin toss to see who ends up as the stoker. 

 

 

 

"Born in the Black Forest, built to enjoy nature". You'll find this quote on the Tune website and it sums up their philosophy perfectly! In the small town of Buggingen Germany lies the Tune factory. So what are these guys up to that's so special? Well, it's obvious that they have a near fanatical commitment to building bomb proof and forward thinking components that will endure under the serious demands of off road riding. 

Though Tune is devoted to many different cycling products I'd like to concentrate on their wheel related ones, things like their amazing hubs and associated parts. 

With over 20 different hub models to choose from I think Tune has your back! I won't attempt to tackle each and every one as that would take quite a lot of time, but lets just say that a trip to their website will be a must do if you want to get hip to every last hub on offer. 

I'd like to talk about a few hubs that I think should be on your radar. First off is the "King", a MTB  hub that can be configured for QR, or 12/15mm thru axle. This hub is CNC milled from a solid billet of 7075 alloy for a tough as nails shell. The uber stiff 17mm axle accompanies very high quality double sealed bearings that keep the bad stuff out while on the trail. Comes with a standard 6 bolt interface for disc brakes.

The King has not left the building! Tipping the scales at a svelte 115 grams and coming in either 24, 28 or 32 hole spoke counts. Made from best quality 7075 alloy. Available in Tunes 8 different bright anodised colours. Also available in a boost model. 

The King has not left the building! Tipping the scales at a svelte 115 grams and coming in either 24, 28 or 32 hole spoke counts. Made from best quality 7075 alloy. Available in Tunes 8 different bright anodised colours. Also available in a boost model. 

The next hub I'd like to look at is the Mag 170. It also sports a robust 17mm axle mating up with Tune's specially made sealed bearings. This road hub is available in either 130mm or a 135mm rear axle length, making it ideal for the roadie, the cyclocross man, or just about anyone running calliper brakes!

The MAG 170, at a mere 178 grams of Tune goodness! Spoke counts of 16 holes all the way up to 36! In house made sealed bearings and 8 colours to ponder. 

The MAG 170, at a mere 178 grams of Tune goodness! Spoke counts of 16 holes all the way up to 36! In house made sealed bearings and 8 colours to ponder. 

A sneak peek inside the Tune Mag 170 rear hub. A 7075 alloy hub shell enshrouding their proprietary sealed bearings. 

A sneak peek inside the Tune Mag 170 rear hub. A 7075 alloy hub shell enshrouding their proprietary sealed bearings. 

With the growing popularity of Fat Bikes I thought we'd examine Tune's Fat Kong. This hub comes in a few different versions. There is a QR model that is for 170mm/ 190mm. There is also a 12mm thru axle version for 177mm/190mm. Those should cover all the bases. At 240 grams this alloy hub should be ideal for your new Fat machine. It's available in a 32 hole count only and it boasts a symmetric flange design enabling a very strong build, necessary for the type of workout that most Fat bikes will throw at it. In the freehub they employed titanium teeth and pawls to drive this hub. A very good plan in my opinion. It's also equipped with Tune's in house top quality sealed bearings for almost maintenance free riding. 

                                                                                                        Tune's Fat Kong. Where wide is the new orange!                                                                                           Build an ultra strong rear wheel with symmetrical flange spacing. 

                                                                                                        Tune's Fat Kong. Where wide is the new orange!

                                                                                          Build an ultra strong rear wheel with symmetrical flange spacing. 

                                                                                                    A detailed graphic of all the various Fat Kong options.

                                                                                                    A detailed graphic of all the various Fat Kong options.

                           8 colour options are available for all of the different hubs that Tune makes. 

                           8 colour options are available for all of the different hubs that Tune makes. 

If Tune looks like an interesting hub option for your next set of wheels I'd invite you to take some time and explore their website. There's a lot to look at! If you need help in picking out the best hub please contact me. I'd be happy to help in choosing a perfect Tune solution!

The all new Mavic Open Pro rim.

Mavic brought us the very first alloy bicycle rim in 1926. In the 1934 Tour de France cyclist Antonin Magne secretly entered the race on the newly developed duraluminum rim that was actually banned by then race rules. The rim had to be painted to resemble a wooden rim. Magne secured the much coveted Yellow Jersey on his svelte 750 gram duraluminum rims and history was made. Well, much has happened since those very early days of Mavic's foray into the world of lightweight rim technology. This year Mavic has brewed up a brand new shape with the new Open Pro. The old version was a stalwart training rim that was well liked for the better part of a decade. The newest iteration gives us a very cool new shape and some subtle changes in rim width and surface treatments. 

                 The re-invisioned Mavic Open Pro with an option for the Exalith treatment. 

                 The re-invisioned Mavic Open Pro with an option for the Exalith treatment. 

From the photo you can see that Mavic has given us a very new look and one that has already generated a buzz even before the rims are commercially available. I anticipate seeing these new beauties around June or July. There are three different versions on offer. First off is the 420 gram tubeless compatible rim for regular rim brake callipers. Next is the much more expensive "Exalith" treated version coming in 24, 28, and 32 spoke hole counts. Lastly is the disc specific version that has a rear asymmetric spoke bed for an improved drive side/non drive side spoke tension balance. I applaud Mavic for adding this feature! The disc version is available in either 28 or 32 holes. The rim sports a 19mm internal width with a 23mm external width. Not as wide as some new rims, but wider than the old Open Pro. It appears to have regular eyelets and Mavic says it has a S.U.P welded joint. 

I'll keep you posted as to when you might see these available for custom wheel builds.  Can't wait!

HED Cycling Products

HED is not an acronym, but the last name of founder Steve Hed, who began his journey into the world of light carbon wheels in the mid 80's. Steve was a creative and innovative designer. Not content with merely elaborating on what came before, Steve charted new waters for some ground breaking designs in carbon wheels. 

He coined the phrase "True Speed" to encapsulate his philosophy of what goes into the fastest carbon wheels on the planet. For Steve it was never just an issue of some aerodynamic goals realised in wind tunnel testing. His approach included all aspects of wheel performance. Issues like drive train efficiency, stability in crosswinds, lateral stiffness, comfort, quality control, weight,  and carbon fibre manipulation all come into play in a HED designed wheel.  In the early days HED brought solid carbon wheels to the masses at affordable prices and also introduced the concept of deep carbon front wheels that dealt with the problems of stiff crosswinds. These innovations are ubiquitous in our modern day, but many of these ideas sprung from the mind of Steve Hed. 

 

So what's happening at the HED factory these days? Not content to rest on their laurels the HED team has been busy bringing us some clever innovations in rim technology. HED has waded into the world of FAT bike rims and has an amazing 500 gram carbon rim thats a 100mm wide. Aptly called "The Big Fat Deal", this rim pushes the boundaries of what can be done with ultra wide and ultra light Fat carbon wheels. For those of you that may have a leaner budget for your Fat Bike wheels, HED gives us the "The Big Aluminum Deal". The alloy counterpart that still gets you out on the trails riding HED rims but for a whole lot less!

                        The HED "Big Fat Deal". The BFD is a 100mm ultra wide carbon rim that weighs in at 500 grams! Hit the trails with a massive rubber foot print!

                        The HED "Big Fat Deal". The BFD is a 100mm ultra wide carbon rim that weighs in at 500 grams! Hit the trails with a massive rubber foot print!

For those who are seeking a rock solid training wheel many have chosen a perennial favourite, the Belgium or Belgium Plus. Essentially the same rim with slightly different widths, these rims answer the call for a bomb proof alloy rim that weighs around 465 grams. Choose between 23 or 25mm widths and spoke hole counts of 20 through 32. 

The HED Belgium Plus employs a classic tear drop shape with a 24.5mm depth and a plush 25mm width for an improved tire profile and some additional comfort over those longs days in the saddle. 

The HED Belgium Plus employs a classic tear drop shape with a 24.5mm depth and a plush 25mm width for an improved tire profile and some additional comfort over those longs days in the saddle. 

Available in either a disc only version and one for classic rim brakes. The Belgium is a well made rim with ideal dimensions for improving the tire profile.  They smooth out your long training miles and are perfect on gnarly gravel strewn roads. Build up a set of killer cyclo cross wheels that require wider tires. There is also a disc rim for the tubular devotees. The Belgium's are what many wheel builders might call a "do all" rim. 

                                 A rim brake friendly version of the HED Belgium Plus rim. 465 grams. 

                                 A rim brake friendly version of the HED Belgium Plus rim. 465 grams. 

I haven't covered every last option so by all means take a peak at HED's website for all that they offer. Cognoscenti Cycles is very proud to be carrying HED's amazing products. We hope to be busy building up lots of wheels in 2017 equipped with HED rims. Give us a ring and we'll sort out a set of world class wheels for your next ride. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shutter Precision dynamo hubs.

Shutter Precision is a Taiwanese company that specialises in high quality dynamo hubs. They got their start in 2009 and promptly won an award for their hub at the Tapei Bicycle Show. With this auspicious start began their entry into the world market for light weight dynamo hubs. Through the years SP has refined their hubs and expanded their colour options as well. 

Their 8 Series Dynamo Hub offers numerous configurations. Spoke hole counts range from 20 up to standard 36 hole hubs. There are 3 versions depending on your braking choices. A hub for calliper brakes, and two different disc options, standard 6 bolt and centre lock. 

The 8 Series Dynamo with ISO 6 bolt disc brake option in blue anodised finish. 100 mm OLD.

The 8 Series Dynamo with ISO 6 bolt disc brake option in blue anodised finish. 100 mm OLD.

The next model is the 8X Series Dynamo and this hub invites the thru axle crowd, with a 15 mm thru axle configuration. It also gives one the option of either a 6 bolt disc brake interface or centre lock if you choose. Some changes in design were realised with the new thru axle version. Increased bearing diameters and a wider spacing of the flanges for an increased wheel strength resulted. 

The 8X Series Dynamo with a 15 mm thru axle. Available in either polished silver or black. 32 or 36 hole spoke counts only. 

The 8X Series Dynamo with a 15 mm thru axle. Available in either polished silver or black. 32 or 36 hole spoke counts only. 

Lastly in the Shutter Precision line is the 9 Series Dynamo hub. Its an Ultraslim version with the narrower 74 mm model weighing in at a mere 299 grams! Its available in spoke hole counts of 20 through 36 holes. Your colour choice are either black or polished silver alloy. 

Shutter Precision's 9 Series Dynamo hub in black. Available in V brake and centre lock. 

Shutter Precision's 9 Series Dynamo hub in black. Available in V brake and centre lock. 

It appears that SP has left no stone unturned in their efforts to make a top end front dynamo hub in several models that should answer the call for everything from touring bikes to commuters bikes to the MTB world. All braking options have been considered and numerous spoke hole counts are on offer. Within the 8 Series there are 7 colour ways to choose from. Cognoscenti Cycles could build you a wonderful dynamo hub wheel for your next grand tour or for your trusty city machine. Call us. 

 

 

 

Curtis Odom

One only needs to read the mission statement on Curtis Odom's website to get an insight into his intentions as a hub designer. Curtis states, " My mission is to create the most beautiful bicycle hubs ever made". Well, has he done it? I guess it all boils down to a matter of personal taste, but many have concluded that the work of Curtis Odom is utterly unique and without a doubt beautiful. 

To understand where Curtis is coming from one must step back in time a little.  If you are aware of the halcyon days of British and French hub design you will recognise names like Prior, Airlite, Maxi Car and Harden to name but a few. These now vintage hub designers reigned from the 1930's through to the 1960's. Hubs like Prior and Airlite often used very large flanges with many circular cut outs to trim the weight and to give them a unique look.  

I believe that Curtis told me once that he took inspiration from Airlite and one can immediately see that when looking at his lovely retro oversized flanges.  The "Pepper Pot" hub certainly draws much from the early French made Prior hubs. 

 The "Pepper Pot"  track hubs with too many holes to count! Borrowing heavily from vintage French Prior hubs but with some decidedly upgraded bearings for a long life. 

 The "Pepper Pot"  track hubs with too many holes to count! Borrowing heavily from vintage French Prior hubs but with some decidedly upgraded bearings for a long life. 

Another hub from Curtis that harkens back to the past is his "Bacon Slicer". These wonderful hubs are a nod to vintage Harden hubs from Britain. 

                                 Following in the footsteps of vintage Harden hubs, is the "Bacon Slicer". 

                                 Following in the footsteps of vintage Harden hubs, is the "Bacon Slicer". 

The "Holey" hub is definitely inspired from large flange Airlite models that graced many a track or road bike in Britain from the early 30's and still seen on bikes in the 50's and 60's. I have a Pinterest page dedicated to Airlite hubs if you'd like to see some photo's of these British classics. Click the Pinterest link at the bottom of this page to be directed there. 

Aptly named "Holey"! This type of drilling pattern was seen on Italian hubs by FB, early Campagnolo and of course Airlite. The drilled axle nuts are a gorgeous touch. 

Aptly named "Holey"! This type of drilling pattern was seen on Italian hubs by FB, early Campagnolo and of course Airlite. The drilled axle nuts are a gorgeous touch. 

Curtis has not forgotten the importance of a good quality bearing. Again with a gaze into the past he has incorporated a bearing type found on French Maxi Car hubs. For many years Maxi Car hubs were considered one of the smoothest rolling hubs on the market. They were the first choice of boutique bike builders like Alex Singer and Rene Herse in Paris. I built many wheels with these amazing hubs over the years. One of my all time favourites for sure! Curtis has chosen to use the same type of bearing and he calls it the "Magneto". 

                                                                   A close up of the The Magneto bearing.  An upgrade option. 

                                                                   A close up of the The Magneto bearing.  An upgrade option. 

Curtis has his hubs made in California not far from where he lives. His production is typical of a small one man boutique operation. Wait times can be lengthy depending on the work load of the company that does his machining work. So, if you have a desire to have a set of wheels built up with these incredible hubs I would plan in advance and be prepared to exercise some patience! Good things take time and are well worth waiting for. Presently I have a few sets of hubs in stock. Call me and we can discuss the many options that are available to you!

           Track nuts that take the cake!

           Track nuts that take the cake!

                                Road hubs are available with either Campagnolo or Shimano freehubs.

                                Road hubs are available with either Campagnolo or Shimano freehubs.

 

 

 

Syntace hubs

Syntace hubs are the end product of solid German engineering. Right off the bat I should mention that Syntace believes enough in their products that they are backed by a 10 year warranty to repair or replace at their discretion. How many other manufacturers are offering such a warranty? Not too many! So, what makes them so confident in their work? Lets take a look at the insides of a Synatce HiTorque MX rear hub to see how they are unique. First off, the hub shell is made from aeronautic certified high strength 7075 aluminium. The freehub transfers energy via a spur gear design which allows all the teeth to be engaged at the same time. This method means that no individual teeth are ever overloaded. The simultaneous engagement of their high strength tool steel makes for a bomb proof set up. Since 2011 their team riders have not experienced a single failure! Not bad!

Syntace works from their own mantra of "Strong, Light, Smart" and it certainly appears that these ideals have been realised in their hub designs. The HiTorque MX hub weighs 245 grams with a 32 hole spoke count and a 6 bolt disc brake interface. Its current heavily tested track record bears this out. I hope you are in love with the colour black because at this time it's your only choice. 

Their sealed bearings incorporate double seals for protection from the elements and also have some degree of micro adjustability of the lateral bearing play via the end caps ensuring greater longevity of the bearings. The freehub is both Shimano and SRAM 11 speed compatible. 

The Syntace HiTorque MX rear hub, also available in 148 x 12 boost model.

The Syntace HiTorque MX rear hub, also available in 148 x 12 boost model.

         The HiTorque front hub topping the scales at 175 grams.         Available in 15 x 100 mm or 20 X 100 mm axles.

         The HiTorque front hub topping the scales at 175 grams.         Available in 15 x 100 mm or 20 X 100 mm axles.

Syntace has a solution if you desire a quieter hub out on the trails. They supply a "silencer kit". This drops the volume by about 6 db and acts as a lubricant as well. An ideal solution if you would rather listen to mother nature than your rear hub!

                                             In just a few minutes you can instil the silencer kit to tame the sound of your rear hub.  

                                             In just a few minutes you can instil the silencer kit to tame the sound of your rear hub.  

For the roadies out there Syntace has the Hitorque Road hub that sports 24 holes and weighs in at just 191 grams. It's also made from 7075 aluminium. A light weight hub that would be ideal for a nice set of training or road racing wheels. 

The Hitorque road hub in basic black.  24 hole count only. 7075 alloy hub shell with their micro adjust bearing set up. 

The Hitorque road hub in basic black.  24 hole count only. 7075 alloy hub shell with their micro adjust bearing set up. 

Syntace has gone all out to give us hubs that will go the distance. Any company that freely hands out a 10 year warranty knows they have a fairly indestructible product. 

Cognoscenti Cycles is now carrying this bomb proof hub and I'd like to see more of these on the roads and trails here in Ontario. If you need more information don't hesitate to contact me!

Kappius Components has focused on total engagement. 240 points of engagement to be exact, with 8 pawls working overtime in their cassette. All those points of engagement add up to a very unique feel and one that can't be easily duplicated with other hubs. One might describe the feel as instant engagement, a rock solid feel when you tromp down on the pedals. I imagine that when you got used to this you might find other hubs to feel a little lethargic by comparison. 

 8 magnetically sprung hefty pawls with 240 points of engagement. A freehub body from the KH-2 rear hub.  Slam those pedals and go!

 8 magnetically sprung hefty pawls with 240 points of engagement. A freehub body from the KH-2 rear hub.  Slam those pedals and go!

Lets take a look at the Kappius KH-1.5 rear hub to see what makes it tick. It's a 28 hole hub that has 6061-T6 alloy flanges that are bonded to a carbon fibre centre. Not dissimilar to the approach taken by Royce hubs in the UK.  The KH-1.5 makes life easy with removable end caps that can be done by hand with no tools in a matter of a minute. These swappable end caps enable changing the hub from a 135mm QR to a 148mm boost thru axle in no time flat! Very handy. Both SRAM XD and Shimano 10 or 11 speed compatible. Disc brakes are taken care of with a 6 bolt standard interface. 

The Kappius KH-1.5 rear hub with a carbon centre. Easily removable end caps to change the OLD width. 

The Kappius KH-1.5 rear hub with a carbon centre. Easily removable end caps to change the OLD width. 

The KH-1.5 with J-bend spoke friendly flanges and a bright red freehub!          Weighing in at 305 grams. 

The KH-1.5 with J-bend spoke friendly flanges and a bright red freehub!          Weighing in at 305 grams. 

At $499 USD the KH-1.5 isn't cheap by any measure but if that unmistakeable feel of instant engagement is non negotiable then it's the one to buy. Kappius also has some carbon rims that would look pretty trick with this hub set. 

What about that matching front hub? A suitable mate with identical carbon centre and 6061-T6 alloy flanges and angular contact Enduro bearings complete the package. 4 different axle combos to choose from. 15mm thru axle, 12mm TA, 15mm TA with 110mm boost and quick release. 

The KH-1.5 front hub with Enduro angular contact bearings. A mere 115 grams!

The KH-1.5 front hub with Enduro angular contact bearings. A mere 115 grams!

Certainly any serious MTB rider would be pleased as punch to be flying down any track on a set of wheels with Kappius hubs, but I think those same wheels would be just as exciting to a cyclocross or all road rider.  So if your disc machine is in need of some instantly engaging hubs, then let Cognoscenti Cycles build you up some incredible wheels. We are now carrying the complete line up of Kappius hubs and all their other amazing components. 

Hadley Racing Products

Hadley Racing Products, producer of Hadley hubs are somewhat of an enigma to many riders. This company has eschewed the limelight by not making themselves known through social media like Facebook or even Instagram. Hadley doesn't even have a website as of yet so their reputation has by necessity been built over the years on word of mouth endorsements by its dedicated crowd of owners. Other than this peculiar aversion to standard marketing practises what can we conclude about their hubs? 

Hadley has provided the MTB world with some superb hubs that have garnered a fierce following. Their designs have enabled very straight forward and easy maintenance which is a big plus for many riders who aren't necessarily that mechanically inclined.  A handful of readily available wrenches like a 21mm and a Park SPA-2 spanner will enable you to do hub adjustments. Swapping out various axle options is also relatively easy. Hadley also has their own wrench's on offer in a deep rich anodised finish. Very cool!

What about engagement? Well, with 72 points of engagement and a 4 pawl set up, you get 5 degrees of play which is perfect for technical riders and overall pedalling efficiency. The noise of their freehub compares somewhat to that of a Chris King. A little loud and proud! If silence is golden then this may not be a marriage made in heaven. But if you want a sonic serenade on the trail then look no further. I should mention that there is an option for a titanium upgrade which in my opinion is definitely worth considering. Personally I love titanium freehubs. Only slightly heavier than alloy ones but longer lasting indeed. 

Another thing that I appreciate about Hadley hubs is the fact that they are made for traditional J-bend spokes. This enables wheel builders like myself to decide on what lacing pattern will suite a particular build and be free to use what is in our opinion the best option. I like that.

               As good as gold! A Hadley SDH 135 R10.0 rear hub. A thing of beauty!

               As good as gold! A Hadley SDH 135 R10.0 rear hub. A thing of beauty!

Hadley uses the common 6 bolt interface for disc brakes. I like the fact that both flanges on the rear hub are identical in size. It's something that you certainly don't see that often these days. Many hub designers opt for differing rear flange diameters and sometimes this can result in large tension variations between the drive and non-drive side. I won't go into a lengthy technical discussion of what is going on with this design but suffice to say that Hadley's time tested approach undoubtedly has it's merits.

           More gold! The model H600100 front disc hub in 32 or 36 hole configuration. 

           More gold! The model H600100 front disc hub in 32 or 36 hole configuration. 

So what are your colour options? Hadley offers silver, black, red, blue, and gold anodised finishes. Custom colour requests are possible for an up charge. They also have quick release skewers in 6AL-4V titanium in matching colours no less! If a ceramic bearing set up is a must, they also have this as an upgrade. Japanese Ezo bearings come standard on all their hubs. I heard quite recently that Hadley is redesigning their hub shells for a new look. I'll post some photo's as soon as they are available.

Cognoscenti Cycles is very proud to now be a dealer for such a fine hub company. These gorgeous hubs would build up to a fantastic set of gravel grinder wheels or some very happening cyclocross wheels. The MTB guys have already beaten the trails with these for several years now. Call me if you see these in your crystal ball. I will make it a reality!

        A perfectly polished silver Hadley rear hub with very cool domed allan key bolts. 

        A perfectly polished silver Hadley rear hub with very cool domed allan key bolts. 

 

 

 

 

Pacenti Cycle Design

Kirk Pacenti has spent the last two decades immersed in several areas of the bicycle industry. He's a keen rider and this experience informs his design work. His passion for all things cycling has caused him to focus on many diverse aspects of bicycle design. As a wheel builder I am always interested to see what trends are surfacing in the area of hub and rim design. As we know trends come and go. For instance many may have concluded that the straight pull spoke design is new, when in fact the idea was first seen over a 100 years ago! It obviously went out of vogue and has found its way back into the minds of hub designers. The same could be said for some aspects of rim design. A recent design direction is for a wider rim. The additional width enables the tire to form a different more pleasing shape with the added benefit of a smoother ride. Kirk Pacenti saw the benefits of wider rims and this has manifested itself in some of his rim models. One Pacenti rim that has been quite popular is the SL 25. This 450 gram 700c rim is made from heat treated 6061-T6 alloy. Its tubeless compatible with a welded joint and has no rider weight limit. A rim that could work well for road racers, cyclocross devotee's and off road enthusiasts. 

    The Pacenti SL25 is disc brake specific and comes in 24h, 28h and 32 hole spoke counts.    The external width is 24.5mm with a depth of 25mm and a subtle tear drop profile. 

    The Pacenti SL25 is disc brake specific and comes in 24h, 28h and 32 hole spoke counts.    The external width is 24.5mm with a depth of 25mm and a subtle tear drop profile. 

If we look at the other rims from Pacenti the other models continue to get wider. If you have sufficient frame clearance you could opt for the widest rim at 31mm, the DL31.  A rim with a shallow depth but a width that will enable some interesting off road tire choices. The DL31 was originally designed as an Enduro rim but has proven itself in Europe with several Pro teams including Joe Connell's win at the 2013 Scottish National DH title.

 

The Pacenti DL31 rim. 32 holes and 582 grams with stainless steel eyelets and a welded joint. Disc only. 

The Pacenti DL31 rim. 32 holes and 582 grams with stainless steel eyelets and a welded joint. Disc only. 

A recent development in the Pacenti line is their "Forza". The Forza rear rim uses an asymmetric design that shifts the spoke holes over a few millimetres to help equalise spoke tension between the drive side and the non drive side. The diagram below helps to illustrate how this is done and how it effects the shape of the rim. A very helpful innovation that has been used by several conscientious rim manufacturers over the years. The front Forza rim has a typical symmetrical design. The Forza has also increased the thickness of the spoke bed which makes for a more robust rim. The actual width of the rim is narrower by only 0.5mm but retains the 20mm internal width. All this makes for a rim which is about 20-30 grams heavier but with a much improved design in my opinion. This rim replaces the SL23 and is a welcome addition to the line. I recently built up a pair of wheels with the Pacenti Forza's and I was very impressed with their quality. As with any rim that is designed without eyelets, I always use Sapim HM stainless steel spoke nipple washers to spread the tension load to avoid any potential cracking around the spoke hole. It works wonders. I think most road and cyclocross riders will really appreciate this new rim.

Cognoscenti Cycles is happy to be building with Pacenti rims. If wide is your thing, and getting off the pavement is your new aspiration, then maybe we could build up something to suit your new terrain!

Ax-lightness "ax 25T" carbon rim. 195 grams of pure speed!

Ax-lightness is a German company that truly specialises in designing and manufacturing in carbon fibre. Their expertise runs along several lines and they are not limited to only bicycle components, but i'd like to concentrate on one item that they make that really grabbed me as a wheel builder.  These carbon fibre specialists have given the world of cycling some pretty incredible rims. It causes the mind to enquire, just how light can we safely go with a carbon rim? I am sure that very question was on the mind of the designers at Ax-lightness. Obviously not content with the status quo and possessing a willingness to push the envelope, Ax-lightness went to work. With their ax 25T they have a carbon rim that is an unbelievable 195 grams! If you are not familiar with rim weights let me tell you that this is incredibly light! Only a very experienced wheel builder should embark upon a build with components this light. In comparing various rim weights one can put this into perspective. Because different carbon rims have different shapes, depths and profiles their weights can vary quite a bit. Deep aero rims are obviously going to weigh significantly more than very shallow rims with narrow profiles. The ax 25T is certainly lighter because it has less material being a very shallow rim, but even with those considerations its still feather weight. The specs look like this. The ax 25T is 25mm deep, hence the name, and 22mm wide. The rider weight limit is 100kg and spoke hole counts are either 20 or 24 holes and it's built for conventional rim brakes. Of course these rims would be best suited for your "race day only" wheels. The ax 25T is for tubular tires, so these rims will want to see the absolute best silk tubs that money can buy. Paired with some ultra light hubs you are talking about some of the lightest wheels currently being produced by anybody. But weight and weight alone does not make a great wheel. It has to be strong enough to do the job well and it has to be reliable enough to fill a rider with confidence in a 90 km/hr decent down an alpine pass. Well, Ax-lightness has achieved that goal. Riders have ridden these rims in the most demanding European races including the Tour de France and all went as planned. It's this type of pro level testing and input that separates the good from the great. 

All of their products are produced by hand in their state of the art facility in Bavaria.

All of their products are produced by hand in their state of the art facility in Bavaria.

I approached ax-lightness about being able to purchase just their rims for some special custom wheel builds. Normally they sell complete wheel sets only that are built in their factory in Germany. After convincing them of my experience as a wheel builder they graciously offered to sell me just the rims. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have access to such special carbon rims! With this opportunity my mind began to consider all the interesting combinations that I could create for some unique ultralight wheels. I'd be happy to share any of those ideas with anyone looking to have a super light pair of wheels built up with one of the lightest rims that I am aware of. 

Hopetech hubs.

For over 25 years Hope have been making top end bicycle products at their factory in Barnoldswick in the United kingdom. From day one their philosophy has been to let the quality of their products do the talking instead of exaggerated marketing claims. I think that has worked for them quite nicely. The words been out for quite some time that Hope make very desirable components!

So what makes them tick? A little history will enlighten us. Going back to the late 80's Hope Technology was busy making tools and various fixtures for aerospace companies in the UK. We all know that when a company is creating products for aerospace purposes they are comfortable working at the highest level of quality and material tolerances. That type of background sets the stage for super high quality items that will follow. What began as a little bicycle related side project eventually blossomed into a full time going concern that concentrated exclusively on bicycle components. These days Hope employs over 100 skilled people and their state of the art factory turns out top flight parts 24 hours a day to over 40 countries. How things have grown!

So what hubs do they make? Lots! Everything from well designed MTB hubs to Fatbike specific, BMX, road and trials. 

Their MTB hubs are all for standard J bend spokes which I personally prefer. The disc brake interface is standard 6 bolt. The Pro 4 Series is available in boost widths and they have chosen German made high quality sealed bearings made by INA. Available in 6 different colours. 

  The Hope Pro 4 rear MTB hub with INA German made bearings. Available in 135mm and 142mm. Machined from forged 2014 T6 aluminium billet. It has a 4 pawl ratchet with 44 teeth of engagement. An approximate weight of 300 grams. Built with a standard 6 bolt disc interface. 

  The Hope Pro 4 rear MTB hub with INA German made bearings. Available in 135mm and 142mm. Machined from forged 2014 T6 aluminium billet. It has a 4 pawl ratchet with 44 teeth of engagement. An approximate weight of 300 grams. Built with a standard 6 bolt disc interface. 

Of course there are options for various different axle configurations. Below is a 110mm front boost hub for thru axle. 

                                 A boost width Pro4 front hub for thru axle. Beautiful in black!

                                 A boost width Pro4 front hub for thru axle. Beautiful in black!

For the BMX rider Hope has a very nice set of hubs. The choice of stainless steel high end German made bearings is a wise one, as BMX riding can really test a hubs durability. Available in 6 different colours and two different versions, one for street and one for racing. Spoke hole counts of either 32 or 36 and 80 points of engagement provides a solid feel. 

            The BMX rider has a few excellent options coming in 6 different lovely colours! 

            The BMX rider has a few excellent options coming in 6 different lovely colours! 

So how do the road riders make out with Hope's hubs? Quite well I'd say. The road selection is in either a standard J bend spoke configuration or straight pull. There is a centre lock option for disc brakes as well as a standard 6 bolt version and all common axle configurations. The same high end German sealed bearings made by INA complete the package.  

Many well known racers are riding Hope hubs and for good reason. Cognoscenti Cycles will be carrying all of the many options available. If you need to know a bit more about what they offer don't hesitate to give us a call. 

                           Hope's RS4 road hub with centre lock disc brake option. 

                           Hope's RS4 road hub with centre lock disc brake option. 

 

 

Extralite Racing Products. Made in Italy, 100%.

Things got going in 1995 for Extralite Racing Products. Proudly made in Italy with the renown and revered tradition of Italian bicycles components in their DNA. Extralite designs and makes numerous components but today we'll look at their special hubs. Any weight weenie worth his salt will have lusted after a pair of Extralite Cyber hubs. They seem to float above your digital scale and if you are thinking about shaving some weight then these are top contenders for an ultralite set of wheels. Pair these up with some Ax-Lightness carbon rims and things are getting crazy light. Maybe too light for certain riders, but for those with intentions of record breaking rides, a combo like this is up for consideration. 

A pair of the Cyber hubs weigh an almost unbelievable 182 grams in a J bend configuration! Yes, you read that correctly! The front hub weighs 48 grams and the rear is 134 grams. Are these for your daily training wheels? Hell no! These are for "race day only" and are never going to grace your gravel grinder or your cyclocross bike! 

                                                                                           48 grams. The Cyber front hub from Extralite.  

                                                                                           48 grams. The Cyber front hub from Extralite.  

      134 grams! The Cyber rear hub with standard J bend lacing options and Enduro bearings coming stock. It just doesn't get much lighter than this! 

      134 grams! The Cyber rear hub with standard J bend lacing options and Enduro bearings coming stock. It just doesn't get much lighter than this! 

                        If you are running a disc brake set up there's no need to worry. Extralite offers the Cyber hub set with disc options. Here's a photo of their Cyber SPD-2 hub. 

                                                                       The Extralite Cyber SPD-2 hub. The non disc side is for a radial only spoking pattern. 

                                                                       The Extralite Cyber SPD-2 hub. The non disc side is for a radial only spoking pattern. 

Extralite has a wide selection of various MTB and road hubs with straight pull spokes. I would suggest that you visit their website if straight pull is a must for you. They have a few MTB hubs with the traditional J bend spoke option that are worthy of your consideration. They also have Lefty front hubs. 

                                                               Extralite's HyperLefty 2 with straight pull on the disc side and radial straight pull only on the other side. 

                                                               Extralite's HyperLefty 2 with straight pull on the disc side and radial straight pull only on the other side. 

Extralite makes a very light quick release that is worthy of their ultralight Cyber hubs. Their Alien 4 is made from aerospace grade titanium and can withstand 1300 Kgf of force. The bushings are bronze and are self lubricating. The CNC machined alloy levers have a large cut out window. At 39 grams per set I couldn't imagine how they could make them any lighter!  

                                                  Extralite's Alien 4 QR's.  A feather weight set of titanium QR skewers that tip the scales at a mere 39 grams. 

                                                  Extralite's Alien 4 QR's.  A feather weight set of titanium QR skewers that tip the scales at a mere 39 grams. 

 

Cognoscenti Cycles would love to accept your challenge to build up the lightest wheels you have ever ridden. Give us a ring....

The Powertap G3 hub

Are you trying to sort out how best to maximise your training efforts and be able to quantify those hard miles in the saddle? Enter the Powertap G3 rear hub. Since 2005 Powertap has been steadily improving this hub and is currently on the 3rd generation. The G3 is a power meter with an impressive +/- 1.5% accuracy. It not only measures power but also tracks your cadence precisely. 

                                                                           The Powertap G3 hub weighing in at a mere 320 grams. Comes with a 2 year warranty.

                                                                           The Powertap G3 hub weighing in at a mere 320 grams. Comes with a 2 year warranty.

The new field serviceable electronics run on one CR2032 battery. It's compatible with ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart devices. The cassette accepts either Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM 11 speed set ups. Spoke hole options range from 20 holes up to 32 holes for a more stout training wheel. If you decide you'd like to have a matching set of wheels Powertap makes a front hub that shares the look of their rear one.  

                                                                    The matching Powertap G3 front hub. Available in standard J bend or a  20 hole only straight pull version.

                                                                    The matching Powertap G3 front hub. Available in standard J bend or a  20 hole only straight pull version.

 

If you'd like the fastest version of a Powertap rear hub you'd be after the Powertap G3C. Things just got faster and a wee bit lighter with an upgrade to CeramicSpeeds ceramic sealed bearings. Its visibly distinguishable by the bright orange axle ends. 

                                                                                                    5 grams lighter with Danish made CeramicSpeed bearings on-board.

                                                                                                    5 grams lighter with Danish made CeramicSpeed bearings on-board.

What to do if your bike is set up for disc breaks? Not to worry? Powertap also has models that will suit your machine perfectly. Available in 32 holes with either a 135mm Qr version or a 142 X 12mm thru axle configuration. Matching front disc hubs to boot! 160mm rotor is included in the deal. There's even a Powertap hub built just for track riders as well as a  collaboration with HED for a solid disc rear wheel that incorporates the Powertap G3 hub. It has an alloy rim with a carbon aero centre section. 

                                                        The Powertap disc friendly rear hub with a 160mm rotor included. The above model is a 142 X 12 thru axle. 

                                                        The Powertap disc friendly rear hub with a 160mm rotor included. The above model is a 142 X 12 thru axle. 

 

 

Cognoscenti Cycles is now carrying the line of Powertap hubs and other products. Maybe your next wheel set could do double duty, keeping you abreast of your power output and doing it on a rather nice looking pair of wheels!