In the last century some great hub makers have come and gone in Britain. Some notable names come to mind like Bayliss Wiley, Harden and Airlite. These hubs had to compete with makers from the continent and they did rise to the occasion. Indeed the competition was daunting but the Brits did not disappoint. In Europe we had French makers like Maxi Car and Italian hub makers like FB who eventually were making hubs for a new kid on the block named Tullio Campagnolo. All the while top British riders were winning gold medals and breaking time trial records on British made Airlite hubs pre and post war. Eventually the European makers like Campagnolo garnered respect from top continental pros and the peloton was largely riding hubs from Vincenza, home of the swiftly growing Campagnolo factory. This seemed to bring to an end the prominence of British hubs.
Some time would elapse before another talented designer would surface. Fast forward to 1980 and we see a new company with the name Royce. I remember when I started seeing these beautiful hubs and cranks and other assorted bike parts coming out of the UK. They had an impressive finish that told you right away that these parts were indeed special. And they were.
A few years ago at the London Hand Made Bicycle Show I got the chance to finally meet Cliff Polton who is the man that put Royce on the map. I took the opportunity to pick his brain on all things Royce. Cliff was more than keen to share his insights on the perfect hub design. I was all ears.
As a wheel builder I was fascinated to learn what made them tick and why they are made in the way that Royce engineers have chosen to build them.
Riders who own Royce hubs are usually fiercely loyal to the brand and probably wouldn't ride anything else. A closer look at any model of Royce hub will quickly tell you why. They exude quality and good design sense with a perfect finish. The freehubs are made from titanium for ultra durability and some weight savings over steel. The hubs run on top quality sealed bearings that spin quietly and smoothly for tons of worry free miles.
For those willing to shell out the big bucks there is an option for hubs with titanium flanges and a ground lacquered carbon fibre shell. If that is not enough then there's an upgrade to have the titanium flanges plated with a gold coloured titanium nitride finish. You have to see these hubs in person to see what this level of quality is all about.
So it's no surprise that world class cyclists like Chris Boardman chose Royce to supply key parts for their world record breaking bikes. Boardman's Hour Record machine had Royce hubs.
Royce's top hub is their "Venus". Available for Shimano or Campagnolo cassettes in either a straight up road hub or a disc friendly version. Axle widths are available from 135mm to 160mm for both hub's.
Their track hubs are gorgeous with the option of titanium cogs should you demand the best. A special titanium cog with the option of a titanium nitride finish will be hard to beat by any manufacturer.
Custom ideas will be considered by Cliff and his small team of in house engineers should you fancy something out of the ordinary. Keep in mind that custom orders can have a several month waiting time.
Cognoscenti Cycles would love to build you a pair of wheels with some superb Royce hubs. We hope 2017 will see some adventurous souls investing in a pair of wheels that will be the envy of the peloton.