Often times "the way we have always done it" is not the best way...
White Industries definitely took a big risk by trying to make a big change in a world that seems to go out of their way to do things the same way for years on end. White Industries really put a lot of thought into how to make the track cog/hub interface much better and despite a few minor disadvantages, I really feel like they knocked it out of the park on these.
Their big change was removing the threaded cog/hub interface and replaced it with splines. The problem with threaded cogs is you can strip the threads after enough abuse. I have seen it with all brands of track hubs although some definitely hold up better than others. When you switch to splines, that just isn't going to be an issue and it is far less prone from damage from operator error. Especially when you are trashed and prone to making mistakes such as not tightening a cog on all the way before a standing start.
I have been doing my best to trash these hubs over the past 2 years as a wanna-be track sprinter. I am usually pretty hard on hubs as I weigh around 220lbs and push around 2,000 watts when I am on form. I also tend to be paranoid about wheel slips so tend to tighten axle nuts way more than needed. Thankfully these hubs have handled everything I could give them without even flinching despite my abusive ways.
Axles are a very common failure point in the track sprint world which is totally different from every other type of bike riding/racing. When you think about it though, a proper sprint session can easily mean 3-4 gear changes per day. Multiply that by 3-4 sessions a week and you area really stressing a commonly overlooked part. White Industries definitely picked the right grade of stainless here as my axle still threads as smooth as when I bought them. Beyond just picking a great grade of stainless for their axle, they actually took the time to machine their own bronze axle nuts which are as beautiful as they are strong.
Riding the velodrome is pretty easy on bearings so these bearings are still spinning super smooth. One area with bearings that track bikes can struggle with though is some hubs have a tendency to tighten down the bearing adjustment after multiple gear changes. The hubs seem to hold their adjustment well though. I had to adjust them once after a couple month break in and they have held their adjustment since.
Their proprietary cogs are also works of art and also some of the smoothest running cogs I have ever run. I ran Dura-Ace cogs on my race wheels and those felt and sounded very rough compared to my WI cogs. It was so much rougher than I thought my chain might have just been worn and I replaced that and things still felt rough. It eventually hit me that they nailed the tooth profile on these so they run as smooth and quiet as anything I have tried on the track.
On to aesthetics, these hubs are beautiful, both the polishing and machine work they have done on them are top notch. They have very big flanges which makes for a super stiff wheel build as well which is nice when sprinting into the banking at 40+ mph.
No product is perfect though and as much as I love these hubs, there are a few things I wish would be changed on them.
While I feel their splined cogs are brilliant, they do have their issues. The first being, you can not go smaller than a 13t on the rear. Thankfully bigger chain rings are finally becoming somewhat common so this is easy to work around. When I first started sprinting, it was hard to find anything bigger than a 54/55 so the 13 was a bit limiting.
The other downside to their splined cogs is unless you are using a HED VOLO as your disc/race wheel, you will end up having to buy 2 sets of cogs. One threaded and one set of WI. That is not the end of the world but definitely something to consider.
If I could have it my way, WI would make a traditionally threaded track hub as well or even a track hub with their splined system on one side and traditional threads on the other. Their hubs are so good that I would love to be able to offer them to people that need a good hub but can not be convinced to buy a second set of cogs.
If you are willing to spend the money to get a second set of cogs, I think any trackie out there would love the way these hubs hold up and ride. This is especially true for stronger riders and track tandem riders as their splined system and axles are up for anything you can throw at them.
I love White Industries willingness to take the time and hit to total sales to offer a product that works better than current options although I do wish they would make a hub for people who want to stick to their traditionally threaded cogs.
If you are interested in your own set, shoot me an email HERE and we can discuss options to get you your own set. If you are ever at the Colorado Springs track, let me know and I am happy to let you give my personal set a go and see for yourself.
You can see more specifics from White Industries by clicking HERE
I am going to be real honest here, there is a lot of personal bias in my thoughts on this bike. I worked with Adam, one of the Why Cycles owners years ago and he has turned into a great friend along with being a former co-worker. With that being said, having worked with him during the start up at his first bike company, I was able to witness first hand how he designs bikes and I was able to see what drives him which is what had me intrigued by his newest company making all ti bikes. Adam simply builds the bikes he wants to ride personally and because he truly loves this sport like many of us, he is able to get other people stoked on his bikes pretty easily. I personally have never been a carbon guy and always had a soft spot for both ti, and even more so, hardtails that lean more toward the "send it" category than the XC racer category which is where I really feel this bike delivers. Despite my personal bias, I did pay for this frame, it was not a freebie to try and butter me up for a good review.
Trust but verify. Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of most of Velocity's products but even so, when they make a claim saying they have a new rim that is not only wider and stiffer but also 50g lighter than their previous model it is enough to make you raise an eyebrow. Going off the old trust but verify motto I decided to order a set of Quills to replace my tried and true A23 rims for my cross bike to test things out. To be fair this review is only for initial impressions of the rim as I have not had them long enough to really test the durability of things like the brake track and spoke bed but I do have enough time on them to provide some insight as to how they built for me and how they rode relative to my A23's.
Pretty uneventful here really. The weight came in around as advertised at 410g. They built like you would expect any high end rim to build, nice and round, no weirdness to correct at the seam, etc. I was able to get both of mine dialed in to around 5% spoke tension variance which is about all you can ask for so no complaints at all here.
My first ride on the Quill was during the Pedal 50 gravel grinder put on by Pedal of Littleton (who run a fantastic event by the way). It is 55 miles and 4,600ft of elevation gain exploring the back roads near Monument, CO. For those who have not ridden Colorado's dirt roads, there is lots of sandy sections, pretty constant, sometimes super steep rollers and rough, rough washboard sections. Did I mention the roads are rough??
I was completely expecting these rims to feel at least a little bit flexy compared to the A23 but even when standing to crank up roller after roller I could not notice any more flex than my previous rims. To be fair I could not tell that they felt any stiffer either so as far as lateral stiffness goes these felt on par with many other high end, similar style rims I have ridden such as the HED Belgium. One thing I did notice in the first rough section was the little extra width the rim has, it is almost 2mm wider than the A23 and that was nice and took a little more of the edge off the endless washboard.
After beating these wheels and myself up, flying through nasty braking bumps at 30+mph and mild single track I am pretty happy to see they are still holding true under my 200+lbs. I will continue to try and put as much time as possible on them to see how they hold up over the long run and report back as necessary but currently I am pretty optimistic since I was told it is modeled off a combination of the Blunt SS and Aileron, both of which I have seen hold up very well. This could be a nice, only slightly heavier alternative to the somewhat fragile Iron Cross, especially for someone who wants the ability to run road pressures or rim brakes.
***2 Year Update***
I have had these wheels for a couple years now and wanted to update things a bit. In short, these wheels are still holding great although to be honest, I have not put a massive amount of miles on them. Maybe 2k or so since the initial post. For a little over a year I have been pretty hooked on racing at the Velodrome so my track bike has seen the buik of my ride time. The cross bike mostly comes out for recovery rides and times that I just need to remind myself how to turn right... I would absolutely continue to recommend these though and have built a handful of wheelsets with them and everything seems to be rolling happy with the rim.
***Note: I paid for these rims completely out of pocket to test how they will hold up before recommending them to customers and was in no way paid or compensated for this review***
About a year ago, Panaracer released the 32c Gravelking which raised a lot of eyebrows, a 32c tire labeled as the king of gravel? While the tread pattern and size tire may be great on smooth dirt roads and actually fit into many of today's "all road" bikes but the gravelking? What caused people to question the name is most tires that really were king of the gravel grinder scene were closer to the 40c size and understandably so. When it comes to big miles on chunky gravel, volume is the real king for me. Not only does it help take some of the beating off of a long day but when it comes to stability on loose gravel and sandy roads size really does matter. About a year later it looks like Panaracer listened and decided to show us how they plan to back the claim of "Gravelking" with a 40mm wide version of the Gravelking. Not only did they keep the very fast rolling tread pattern but also made it officially tubeless ready.
In full disclosure I have been begging Panaracer to make this tire for a while now so when I finally got word this tire was in the works and was going to be tubeless compatible I got very excited. I have always been a fan of high volume yet minimal and fast rolling tread tires and I can say this one did not disappoint.
The two tires I received weighed in at 484 and 497 grams and when set up tubeless on Velocity A23's they initially measured 41.7mm but after a couple days of riding they stretched and settled on 42.3mm wide. Initial tubeless set up went as easy as one could hope for, on my A23's I used two layers of Velocity's Velo Tape and valves. Once I mounted everything up they snapped into place very easily with an air compressor, I did not try using a pump. When seating there was a nice confidence inspiring "snap" as the bead seated into place. The tires held their pressure as well as any tubed set up from the first day.
In my eyes this tire really shines in the gravel grinder scene. This is not the most versatile 40c tire on the market but if you want a tire that is really good at going fast on dirt and gravel roads I do not think you could do much better than this. This is the fastest rolling 40c gravel I have tried to date, it seems to roll slightly faster that my previous favorite gravel tire, the Clement Xplor. It also seems to have a more supple ride as well. I am not sure if that is having a little more volume, if it is the fact that it is tubeless or something in the casing, all I know is I really love the way it rides.
One thing I was very skeptical of was the pretty minimalist cornering knobs but in a typical gravel road ride it was never really an issue. On gravel you do not gain cornering stability through cornering knobs but rather volume. One nice surprise from the minimalist cornering knobs was the amount of stability you get cornering hard on firm surfaces such as packed dirt or pavement was some of the best I have ever felt.
The tubeless performance was all you could really ask for. They installed great, held air from the beginning with no initial loss of sealant, no flats yet and no burping even at lower pressures over washboard roads so rough I could barely hold onto the bars.
Overall this is my favorite gravel tire I have tried to date but it is not the most versatile 40c tire on the market. If you are willing to sacrifice some rolling resistance in exchange for climbing or cornering traction on loose singletrack you may want to look at other tires like the Panaracer Comet, WTB Nano, Kenda Happy Medium, etc.
Panaracer Gravelking 40c Specs:
Weight: Actual: 484/497 grams
Width: Actual: 42.3mm after settling.
Casing: Tubeless Compatible
Availability: These should be available through your local shop around December 2015.
More Info: Panaracer.com
**While I was provided these tires at no charge, Panaracer did not offer any compensation for this review**
There is something especially satisfying about building the same set of wheels you own (other than color) for a customer!
White Industries T11 hubs paired with Velocity A23 rims is of my favorite do it all road/gravel/cross/commuter sets of wheels you can make. I have had this same combo for a couple years and have done everything from fast (to my standards) road rides to mountain biking and even some horribly slushy commutes that I was sure were going to give the hubs trouble but sure enough they still spin just as smooth as new.
Obsession, or passion? Who am I to judge? Either way I simply love building wheels for those who appreciate quality!