Posts tagged #Hubs

XD Hub Rebuild

Tis The Season To Show Your Hubs Some Love.

We are seeing a good many mountain bikes in the workshop at the moment. Lets face it, this is still a great time to be out in the dirt. As much fun as it is to be out in the snow, mud and slop it does also mean your trusty steed needs a bit more love. So, with that in mind I thought it would be a good time to look at hubs, more specifically XD hubs, I will cover the more standard hubs another time but, for now, as the XD drive is becoming much more common, I will concentrate on them. Also, they are all I have seen for the past week…

The XD Drive is not new, it has been around for a while now and was developed by SRAM with a lot and I mean A LOT of help from DT Swiss. There is nothing wrong with that, if you are going to get a partner to help with designing a hub it might as well be the “Grand Pooh Baas” of the wheel world. The XD hubs main purpose is to be able to run a smaller cog on the front of the cassette. All standard MTB hubs can only go as low as 11t for the high gear, with the XD you can drop down to 10t. It is a completely different design from the standard, so there is no swapping of cassettes between the two, strangely the same cassette tool works for both styles. I only mention this because the bicycle industry is not usually pusillanimous when it comes to introducing new tools, which is why we have 10 tool chests in the workshop, however I digress.

The Design of the XD looks very different on the outside but once inside there is no doubting the DT influence. It is basically a DT Swiss Star Ratchet System. This hub is actually quite simple to service. The end caps pull off and once the drive side cap is removed the free-hub body slides free along with the two cone springs and the two ratchet plates. The bearings can be driven out with the appropriate bushings and everything can be cleaned. Simple. The shape of the hub and the relative ease with witch it is assembled does seem to let in a little more of the elements than a traditional design. This is just my opinion based on the many hubs of all designs that I see during the course of the year, I am not even calling it a flaw in the design, it is just “so”. Like all high quality components they do not take neglect and a little regular routine service keeps it all running smoothly.


The images below and to the right show a traditional Shimano spline cassette and lock-ring.


Image to the right shows inside the XD hub after the end caps and the free-hub body has been removed. You can see that a lot of moisture had found its way inside and brought along dirt and grit as well. All that contamination will create an abrasive past and really accelerate the wear. The orange seal visible at the back is one of the two cartridge bearings in the hub body, another two smaller ones live in the free-hub. All of the bearings can be replaced if they are worn.


In the pictures to left and above you can see the difference in the design of these hubs, no real lock-ring on the front of the cassette, just the almost hidden standard spline arrangement. A very short tab interface to the rear and the threads also at the back of the hub. The whole of the inner sleeve turns. You can see that there is more openness and moving parts over a traditional cassette.


The full horrors of the inside exposed. All the goo is a combination of old grease, water and grit, basically the trifecta of death for any hub. All of this crud needs to be cleaned out and all the parts carefully inspected for damage and wear.


Apply a liberal amount of the grease, which actually looks and smells a little like bubblegum, to all the parts and re-fit the free-hub back together and slide back over the through shaft. Do not force it together it should just slide back and flush with minimal effort. If it locks up just twist it slightly and it should all fit together nicely.


After some wiping and buffing you should end up with some nice shiny bits and pieces. DT Swiss being the company they are produce a grease for use in their star ratchet systems. We are made aware of the need to apply this grease by the use of the word “Special” on the can… All other lube and grease manufacturers will put very technical names to their lubes, not DT their grease is special. I am a big fan of this type of labeling, I really don’t need to know whats in the stuff but tell me it’s special and I’m in. If I had a grease company my pots would be labelled “Magic Grease”. Anyway The DT stuff is good and works well in these hubs.


There we are, job done. Just re-install the cassette and you are ready to roll.

Performing these kind of maintenance chores regularly really does help with wear and tear and prolongs significantly the service life of the components. Also it works better and rolls smoother, which is why you bought it in the first place…

Posted on January 4, 2019 .

A Freewheel Tool Is Finally Replaced

People are constantly surprised when they look around our workshop at all of the bicycle specific tools that they see. They are even more amazed when we tell them that rarely a month goes by without us buying more. Every time some manufacturer designs something new invariably there is the need for a new tool to service it. Also things wear out over time and just need replacing, I recently needed a new DT Swiss hub lockring nut removal tool to replaced a worn out one, the sucker cost me 40 bucks too! Sometimes however a tool needs replacing for a different reason. About 8 years ago I lent someone my Maillard freewheel removal tool. This is a splined widget that fits the matching splines on the inside of an old French freewheel that was quite popular in the 70s. Well long story short that tool never came home, now apart from pissing me off slightly, I did not make a big deal out of it and figured I would replace it down the line. Not so easy, every time I tried to source that thing nobody had one, they are rarer than hens teeth. Now, as I said it is not a common freewhel but about 5 or 6 times a year one will come through the door and I would wish a fresh curse on the swine that relieved me of the tool. No more though, a shiny new Var tool has been delivered. I bet now that I have it I will never see a Maillard freewheel again, Oh well it will make  a fine paper weight...
Var Freewheel Remover For Maillard Helicomatic And Super Plus Freewheels


Posted on April 27, 2014 .

Custom Made Wooden Rims.

Over the last year we have been working on a couple of unusual projects. We have mentioned before the Bamboo bike frame that was completed recently, which we will feature here before too long, as a follow on to the frame project however we have a set of wooden rimed wheels.

These things are beautiful, we have dealt before with an Italian rim manufacturer, Ghisallo, but these new rims that a good friend of ours has had custom made are head and shoulders better. Our friend Tom, who has been the driving force behind the bamboo frame build, went in search of a craftsman to make these hoops and boy did he find one. They are made of white oak and have been stained and finished in a lovely medium brown that shows the grain.
The unfinished rim
The rim after being stained and laced up.

We used the Velo Orange Grand Cru front hub.Just visible are the DT Swiss brass spoke washers that we use.
The finished wheel.
The wheels will end up on the bamboo bike frame, at the moment though, they are hanging up in the workshop and have become quite the conversation starter...

Pantour Suspension Hubs

           It is time for a clean out here at the store, an early Spring clean if you will. First up is a set of wheels with a matching front and rear Pantour suspension hub. These hubs were originally built, by me, as a set of demo wheels for the road recumbents we sold at the time. They have been hanging up and need to find a new home. They are built around a Velocity Aerohead rear offset rim and a Alex road 20inch front. The front could easily be laced to a matching 700c Aerohead if required for the ultimate road setup.
          If you have never seen these hubs before take a look at them at they are very impressive. We can get new ones of course but take a look at the ebay listing for these ones and if they fit the bill you could save a few bucks.

Pantour website at
Ebay listing at
Posted on February 24, 2013 .

Sturmey Archer 3 Speed Hubs

Have been working on a renovation project this week, a Raleigh 20 folding bike. The bike was complete and looked to be in pretty good condition, apart from renewing the usual tires, tubes and cables, everything else has cleaned up nicely and gone back together without replacement of any internal parts. Back in the day they built things to last.

The Beast Laid Bare
                 As is often the case with bikes like this, I am the first person to see the inside of them since they were put together, this bike was no different and when it came time to open up the 3 speed Sturmey hub I was not sure what to expect. The hub was still working, albeit a little clunky in the changes, nevertheless I took that as a good sign. As is usual with the big hubs all the grease that had been originally packed in there had long since turned to a wood like consistency but, once all that had been chipped out of there, the parts showed very little sign of wear. These hubs never fail to disappoint, I have lost count of how many of them that I have rebuilt over the years but I have never had to scrap one.
The Gear System. 2nd gear is direct drive, 1st gear is a decrease of 25% and 3rd gear is an increase of 33% over direct. Clever stuff.

Posted on October 19, 2012 .

Choosing a Powermeter

First things first, what does a power-meter actually do and why do you need one? Traditionally cycling performance has been measured by using a basic sensor fitted to the bike which tracks and monitors speed, distance and, more recently, cadence. Within those features we also have average speeds, max speeds attained, etc. Whilst this information is good and for most people who just want to keep a general record of miles ridden and average speeds probably all that is necessary, however the data and feedback does not take into account ride conditions such as headwind, tailwind, altitude or gradients. More importantly there is no measure of effort from you, the rider.
                 Lots of riders nowadays use some form of cardiac feedback, usually in the form of a band with a sensor worn about the chest and, though this data is useful, it still has large gaps and omissions plus it is wildly inaccurate at times. Again, outside factors of terrain and climate, altitude, whether you had a late night or two shots of espresso before you started all have effects on your base line. There is also a significant lag between pedaling output and your hearts increased beat rate.
                 So this is where a power meter takes over. It really is the only accurate way to gauge and compare performance. Power-meters measure power output in wattage and, more importantly, remove all the variables from the data. As an example; you completed a ride last week in fair weather and kept up a steady output of 285 watts for two, twenty minute training intervals. Today you did the same ride, this time in driving rain and a headwind but still completed two, twenty minute intervals, your distance covered was much shorter but your power output was 288 watts. You did better, but your ordinary computer would show that as a bad day. With the power meter this is accurate usable data, no need to discount the day or make notes to allow for bad weather. Watts are an accurate measurement of your performance regardless of all the changing forces acting against you. The end result is a phenomenal training tool and record of improvement.
                 During racing and endurance events it is a great source of feedback for maintaining calorie intake to match output and also keeping a comfortable pace for a long endurance event.
So, now that we have covered what a power meter can do for you we shall take a quick look at your main choices.  The benchmark device is probably the SRM range of crank mounted power meters. Very reliable, accurate and the company has been producing meters for many years. Sadly though, what limits their popularity is the price. While any of these devices are not cheap, setting up a bike with an SRM unit is going to run around 3 grand. Ouch. 
Next in the line-up is Ergomo, these guys produce a solid, bottom bracket device which you can install with a crank-set of your choice. Accurate and the company produce the usual range of data analysis software. Ergomo is cheaper than the SRM meters but still a little more expensive for a full system setup than the third choice.
 Power-Tap from CycleOps is about the cheapest option for a reliable power meter system and, for that reason, it is this system I shall concentrate on here. Still not cheap but they do have an option below a $1000 which is considerably less than the SRM. Even the top of the line G3 ceramic is less than the next player in the market and for that reason alone Power tap has become a very popular choice.
I shall start at the top with the G3 ceramic. This hub is the world’s lightest power meter and the complete hubs weigh in at a mere 315g. Next we have the standard G3, basically the same hub but without the ceramic bearings. The weight is still excellent at 325g and you can always upgrade to a ceramic bearing at a later date if you feel the need. The G3 series hubs are a complete makeover from the original power tap hubs. They have a significantly reworked body and allow for much easier servicing. One of the main differences and to my mind the most important one is the increased gap between the flanges. This dimension is very important and affects greatly the final strength of the wheel. The G3 series hubs increase the gap by 5.6mm over the original models and this makes it possible to build a very stiff and strong wheel, the dimensions are much the same as any road race hub in fact.
The original design is still available; it is called the Power-Tap Pro. With a sticker price of less than 900 a hub it is by far the cheapest meter option out there. Each year it gets a basic makeover to keep the internals up to date but shape and external dimensions have changed little. The pro is a fine piece of equipment and has accuracy the same as the G series, all the hubs have great accuracy, to within +/- 1.5%, and the company produces a great range of analytical software, it is quite a bit heavier than the G3s but it is also a lot cheaper. Over the years we have built a lot of them up and I always recommend getting one with a higher spoke count. With the closeness of the flanges on this hub we need to get as much strength as we can from the spoke number. You are not going to be making massive weight savings opting for the 24 spoke, not when the hub itself is 450g, so do yourself a favor and opt for the 32. With a 2x pattern and maybe an offset rim or a deep V at least, it can be built up quite strong and stiff.
When used for training purposes and accurate performance recording the standard Power-Tap Pro is a fine choice however, if like many you are looking for a wheel to race with I would suggest opting for the G3 series. These hubs are much the same as any of the many race hubs that we use and with the extra flange width I can build a super race wheel that gives you feedback as well.
A final thought on some other options. Recently there have been some forays into the power meter market by a few well known players. Over the past few months I have read some interesting press releases with regard to pedal devices. On the face of it a pedal option sounds a good idea, easy to transfer from bike to bike for one. But some of the price points that I have seen are ludicrous and I would like to see them in action first with some good field testing and data collection behind them. Some of the accuracy reports I have seen are a little disappointing, but it is early days. For the moment I suggest the Power-Tap , for best accuracy and bang for the buck.
Posted on September 12, 2012 .

Wheel of the Week

A customer with very good taste and a lot of patience finally received his reward today. The new Chris King R45 road hub with the Campy freehub body hit the store, after a long wait, last week and was coupled with a Velocity' Fusion' rim, DT Competition spokes in black and DT brass nipples. The fire red hub added the required splash of color. The newborn hit the scales at a very respectable 918grams and is this particular customer’s third one of my hand- built wheels.
Posted on September 7, 2012 .

Velocity Rims and Hubs

I have been building wheels for many years now and over those years I have used rims, spokes and hubs from every manufacturer that has produced them, from Mavic to Zipp, Wheelsmith to Sapim and Chris King to DT.Swiss. Some of these companies have remained favorites, others, not so much and some have just plain priced themselves out of the market.       
One company though has remained a constant favorite here at Cycle Depot, Velocity. This little Australian company has never disappointed, offering a superb product, whether it be hub or rim, at a good price. I use more Deep V rims from Velocity per year than all the other brands combined and, out of all the wheels I build, close to 80% of them have a Velocity Hub or rim. Now there is more good news. Apparently I am not alone in my affection for all things Velocity. It seems a good many wheel builders feel the same way, so much so that America has become the largest market for their product and, to meet that demand in a more timely fashion, Velocity has just recently brought their manufacturing facility to the U.S., Florida to be precise.
So instead of the 'made in Australia' stickers they will now sport ‘made in the U.S.A.’ This will also help with the price, as shipping from the land down under is not cheap. While I do not expect the products to go down in price, I do not expect them to go up either.
Check them out at;
Posted on August 21, 2012 .

Great Hub For That Classic Look

VeloOrange "Grand Cru" Front Hub.
A company that we are becoming more impressed with each time we use their products is Velo Orange. The picture above is one of their high flange hubs. Superbly made and looks beautiful too. We have used them a few times now and they build up very well, they also come with quality bearings as standard, you would not believe how many hubs that we use needing a bearing  upgrade before sending them out, these however feel slick and have good seals on them. Velo Orange also produces some headsets, a range of handlebars and lots of other nicely machined parts, all with the same quality build and style. There are a small range of leather saddles too that look and feel every bit as good as a Brooks. I know it is sacrilege for a Brit to say such a thing... Check out their website at or let us know what you are interested in.
Posted on July 24, 2012 .