Improve US Track Cycling w/Grass Roots Development
US track cycling is an absolute mess outside of Women's Pursuit and we firmly believe that issue goes all the way back to USA Cycling not showing any interest in developing a strong grassroots program for the track. To build a tall tower you must first have a strong base.
The more people you have at the grass roots level of the sport, the better your chances of finding talent that is capable and interested in pursuing the sport at its highest levels.
This video is directed specifically towards the track but it can be applied to any disciple of the sport.
Hope you are listening USA Cycling....
Today, I want to show you the differences among a lot of the more common high-end hubs on the market, these are no specific order other than just by cost, they're all really good quality hubs, and you can't really go wrong with any of them, although there are definitely slight differences between the different versions and obviously drastic price differences.
First off, let's start with the Spank Hex hubs, these are relatively new, it looks like a really promising budget hub. First, thanks to Gorilla Gravity, they sent me this cut out hub so we can really get a good idea on what the drive system looks like on the inside of these hubs, how it works, and conveniently enough, this pawl system function similar to a lot of the other hubs on this list so seeing how this one works, it will give you a good mental picture on how a lot of the others will work as well, but this hub has 12 teeth, drive ring, six pawls, and it gives you a total of 35 degrees engagement of very fast engaging hub for not a whole lot of money. The Hub comes in black only and weighs 491 grams for Boost 6 boot, and the suggested retail on this hub is $298. It’s super promising, but it is new enough that it’s too early to know if it holds up in the real world, but it definitely looks very promising. I expect to build a fair bit of these in the future.
- 102T, 6-Pawl 3.5 degree Engagement
- Black only
- 491 grams for boost
- $298 Suggested retail
Next up is the DT-350. it's a tried and true workhorse. There are countless thousands of these hubs out there, they just simply work, nothing flashy, but just super reliable, priced well, easy to get ahold of, but the d350 comes with an 18 tooth star ratchet, but you can upgrade it to 54 tooth. The 18 is admittedly fairly slow engaging, so there's a lot of play in the cranks before you feel it engage, that's kind of a bummer, but it is a reliable hub, and depending on your writing style, you may or may not notice that the 54 gets a fair bit better engagement, still not world class engagement, but definitely good enough to not be annoying, the only down side when you go up to the 52 tooth star ratchet is they do seem to be a little bit more sensitive to issues, if you don't maintain them well and you get some dirt in there. The DT-350 comes in black only and the hub weighs about 474 grams for boost 6 bolt, and the suggested retail on this hub set is $357.
- Comes with 18t star ratchet but can be upgraded to 54t
- Black only
- 474 grams
- $357 suggested retail
So next up is a super popular one, that is the Hope Pro 4, these are super popular, but for good reason, it's priced well, holds up well, the engagements decent and it comes in a lot of color options. The Hope Pro 4 has a four pawl ratchet system, the 44 tooth driver in to get you 8 degrees of engagement, so again, not lightning fast, but fast enough to not be bothered. You can get this hub in black, silver, red, blue, purple, and orange. The weight on the hub set is about 499 grams for 6 bolt. These hubs are made in the UK in retail for $365 for the pair.
- 4 Pawl ratchet system with 44 tooth engagement (8.2 deg)
- Available Black, Silver, Red, Blue, Purple and Orange
- 499 grams for boost
- Made in the UK
- $365 suggested retail
Industry Nine 1/1:
So next up is the I9 1/1 hubs. These are relatively new to the market and knocked it out of the park with this one. It's a fantastic hub and budget priced to I9 standards. I really, really like this hub, it's got 90 points of engagement, which translates to about four degrees worth of engagement through a six-pawl driver and only available in black. That's one of the ways they drop the cost down, the hubs set 460 grams for 6 bolt and it's made in the USA with a suggested retail of $425. Industry Nine did a great job with it, almost so good that I feel like it's going to hurt their hydra hub sales because this thing functions fantastic, so it's pretty hard to go wrong.
- 90 POE and 4° engagement by way of a six pawl driver and 45 tooth drive ring
- Black only
- 460 grams
- Made in the USA
- $425 suggested retail
Next up is Hadley, so Hadley is kind of a cool but weird company but they make fantastic hubs. You can tell they put a lot of care to what they're doing, the downside of Hadley is they're a little trickier to find, we can get them for you, but they're not as readily available as some others. Hadley for some reason still doesn't have a website, no idea why they don’t but it's a great hub nonetheless. It definitely is on par with any of these high-end hubs from bigger brands, so it's definitely worth looking at. This hub has 72 points of engagement with a titanium driver, so your cassette is not going to dig into the freehub like some of the aluminum ones will and it still maintains a fairly low weight. You can get Hadley in black, gold, red, silver or blue. The hub set weighs about 567 grams for the pair and it is made in the USA with the suggested retail of $485.
- 72 points of engagement with titanium driver
- black, gold, red, silver, blue
- 567 grams
- Made in USA
- $485 suggested retail
White Industries XMR / CLD:
Next up is one of my favorites, the White Industries XMR or CLD hub set.
The only difference between the two hubs is the way they attach the brake rotor, so the CLD is their center lock version, the XMR is their six Bolt. I really like White Industries as a company and they make a fantastic product. These have a three pawl driver with 48 points of engagement so they are relatively quick engaging. They use a titanium driver, so they are super durable, and you don't have to worry about your cassette digging into it like with some of the aluminum stuff. Another bonus point for White Industries is you can swap their drivers between all of their hubs. It makes servicing things and stocking parts significantly easier than a lot of other companies. You can get these in a bunch of different colors, silver black, red, blue, gold, pink or purple, And, the hub set weighs about 489 grams for 6 bolt, they're made in California with a suggested retail of $523.
- 3 pawl/48 point engagement with titanium driver
- polished silver, black, red, blue, gold, pink, or purple anodized
- 489 grams
- Made in USA
- $523 suggested retail
So next up is another smaller brand that still hold its own with some of the big players really well, Project 321. These guys have been around for a while and only recently started really crushing it with their hub game, they started off just using the I9 torch drivers and then developed their own that uses magnets in the pawls instead of springs so servicing them is super easy and it also cuts down on a little bit of the drag when coasting. So with that driver system, they've got 216 points of engagement, they also have a 108 option. So pretty much instant engagement, another cool thing you can do with Project 321 is switch between loud or quiet pawls.
So if you like a quiet hub, you can select the quiet pawls or if you prefer loud, pick the loud pawls. They do that by just changing the amount of mass on the pawl so it snaps harder when it engages so it changes the tone a little bit, but it is a really cool, really well thought out design that runs super smooth. You can get these in just about any color out there. It weighs 451 grams for the boost hubset.
These are made in Bend, Oregon, and have a suggested retail 600, this is probably one of my favorite high-end hubs.
- 216 points of engagement
- Just about any color out there
- 451 grams
- Made in USA
- $600 suggested retail
Industry Nine Hydra:
Next up is the I-9 hydra hubs. They are really good hubs backed by great people.
These have 690 points of engagement or just a half a degree of movement before it engages so insanely fast. They work really well and hold up pretty well. You can get them in pretty much any color out there, the hub set weighs 451 grams for boost 6 bolt. These are made in North Carolina with a suggested retail of $650.
- 690 points of engagement or just half a degree
- Just about any color you can imagine
- 451 grams
- Made in USA
- $650 suggested retail
So next up is Onyx, these guys are really big in the BMX world, but also starting to get really popular in the mountain bike world as well. They are a little different than a lot of the others. They don't use pawls like a lot of the other brands, they use a sprag clutch for engagement instead, they coast super smooth, there's literally no noise when coasting, cause there's no pawls snapping in and out of place. It is truly instant engagement with the sprag clutch. The downside is they're heavier than a lot of the other stuff on the market, and they're kind of spendy. You can get them in just about any color. These weigh in at 680 grams, so definitely the heaviest on the list, these are made in the US as well, with a suggested retail of $675.
- Instantaneous yet silent sprag clutch
- Any color imaginable
- 680 grams
- Made in USA
- $675 suggested retail
Next up is Chris king, they've always been near the top of the list for high-end boutique hubs, but they use a Ring Drive system where like the DTs, you've got full 360 degrees of engagement whenever it's engaged, not just a few points around the hubs, so it's super strong set up fairly quick at 72 points of engagement.
It's definitely one of the more complex drive mechanisms out there but it does work really well, it is a little more sensitive to maintenance compared to some of the other systems out there, but it still is a pretty resilient set up. King also makes just about any color you can think of, they even do some really cool matte finishes and then they do your standard anodized stuff too, but chances are, if you can think of the color, they've got it available. This hubset weighs about 543 grams for the set in 6 bolt. These are made in Portland with a suggested retail of $700. It’s a great hub if you want something that looks gorgeous.
- 72pt ring drive
- Any color you can imagine
- 543 grams
- Made in USA
- $700 suggested retail
So next we have the DT 240s. This is their older style 240, it has remained unchanged for a long time but for good reason. It worked really, really well and they're definitely the lightest in the test and probably one of the more durable. They're all really durable hubs, but these things seem to last forever. They ship with a 36 tooth star ratchet and can upgrade to 52 tooth if you want a little bit faster engagement. These are only available in black with the suggested retail of $712. You'll start seeing these phase out a little bit in favor of their EXP hubs, but they're still around, I figured I'd throw them in the list and I had one around the shop anyways.
- Ships with 36 tooth star ratchet Upgradable to 54 tooth star ratchet
- 366 grams
- $712 suggested retail
DT 240 EXP:
So next up is the 240 EXP. They're the new version of the DT 240 hub. This hub can either be shipped with a 36 or 52th ratchet ring. The engagement is the same as the old hubs. They weigh 364 grams for the hubset with a suggested retail of $749 with The 52 tooth ratchet. You can get the 36 tooth slightly cheaper.
They basically just got rid of some moving parts by holding the inner drive ring and made only the outer floating. Less parts moving generally means more reliable and DTs are already really reliable, so I imagine these things will hold up really, really well.
- 36 or 54 tooth ratchet ring
- 364 grams
- $749 suggested retail with 54 tooth ratchet ring
You really can’t go wrong with any of these hubs in this test, just let personal preferences dictate which direction you head.
Thanks for reading!
Are mobile bike shop franchises a good idea?
The need for quality bike mechanics is on the rise, along with entrepreneur culture so I thought it would be helpful to make a video giving my thoughts on starting with a mobile franchise like Velofix.
Anyone that knows me, knows I am a huge believer in mobile bike repair but when you run the numbers, going with a franchise simply does not make sense. You will easily spend $100,000 or more to open a franchise instead of starting your own, independent brand. Beyond the initial start up costs, these franchises take 10% or more of your gross which makes this tight margin industry even more difficult to be successful in.
Check out the video above to get more of my thoughts on the subject.
Dear Bike Industry,
I love you, but it's time we had a talk... Have we already forgotten how young we are as a sport, let alone as an actual industry? Have we forgotten where we came from even? It really wasn't that long ago the pioneers of this sport were still building things that no one but a select few understood in their garages while the rest of the world looked on like we were nuts, and like this sport will never catch on. We used to embrace the underdogs, the people willing to take a risk and build something just because it has the potential to be a lot of fun and then figure out how to sell it later, the people everyone else would write off as crazy. Now we have been infiltrated by your typical bottom feeder corporate types who only care about moving product, no matter how well it actually works as long as it turns a profit and they are willing to throw those of us who have dedicated our lives to making this sport just a little bit better under the bus to do it.
There is so much to address that I can't even begin to think of hitting it all but there are painfully obvious things like Specialized launching their 2019 model in the SPRING of 2018?!?! Hey marketing teams, think about all the dealers that are now getting hit up with calls expecting discounts on "last years model" that has only been on the floor a few months.
How about your hypocrisy in constantly assuming small shops will violate MAP policies all the while allowing your big online retailers to sell stuff at close to wholesale?
Before I get off on a tangent, this frustration has been building quite a bit since starting my own business, but doing so like most of this sports pioneers, with very little start up cash and busting my ass in the garage all day and night until I can afford a proper shop space. Back in my days in a traditional shop, reps would come by practically begging me to carry their goods, place orders through them and all the other usual rep stuff. Now a lot of those same exact reps that I worked with in a typical shop want absolutely nothing to do with me now that I am on my own working as a mobile mechanic and building loads of wheels from home. Nothing with me personally has changed, my business is 100% legal and registered, I still regularly do work for a number of local bike and component manufacturers, pro's, national team riders, current and past Olympians and Paralympians yet for some reason I am now seen as a "fly by night" and "un-credentialed" business by a few reps/companies because I do not have a fancy building or Sprinter van???
Just know, WE WILL remember who supported us when we needed it most as a new business as things continue to grow and you start to want our business again.
The times are a changin Bike Industry, we are seeing a resurgence in "no budget entrepreneurs" again and we are not going away. It is time to take mobile businesses as serious as brick and mortar and look at actual credentials of the people running these businesses before writing them off as "fly by night" simply because they don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars for start up.
So Bike Industry, we are in this together, and it is time to remember where you came from and instead of just bragging about "supporting small shops", you should actually start supporting small shops by giving us the same respect as the rich dude who bought a B&M bike shop as a "hobby".
A no budget entrepreneur
Considering a set of new Project 321 hubs but not sure if you want loud or quiet pawls? Here is a video showing just how quiet the quiet version is. I will be sure to get a comparison video of the loud option next time I build a set.
If you are curious about the details and "why" behind the magnetic pawl system, Project 321 has a great info page detailing everything. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE
If you know you are ready for your own set of 321 hubs, check out our Store page HERE or send us a message via our Contact page HERE!
Obsession, or passion? Who am I to judge? Either way I simply love building wheels for those who appreciate quality!