In preparation for cyclocross season, I took it upon myself to sell my previous motley crew of CX wheels, and order up a whole new quiver. Brandon at http://www.Bikehubstore.com was very responsive to my questions, and ultimately let me qualify for the $1000+ 10% discount, although my order wasn't quite there. He and I had a virtual conversation regarding spoke lengths, resulting in the ERD for the rims being updated online (measured at 593.5). I am very particular about spoke lengths, and always build a digital model to double check the spokecalc spreadsheet results. But every combination is different, and even similar sized nipples from different companies can make a 1-2 mm difference, which may be the extra 1 turn you need but can't get. So, trust but verify every component of the build. His shipping was blazing fast and cheap, next-day delivery of components for 2.5 wheelsets at $20 = Wow!
The rims. TB415w. Beautiful. Great 23mm wide profile, with a perfect cx-specific glue bed. Weights were between 417 and 422 depending on the hole count. The Clements I mounted fit like they were designed as a package. The sleeve is very nicely done for the joining, but on the 28 hole, a spoke hole does occur on the sleeve which adds maybe 1-2 mm of spoke length needed just at that one hole. If your spokes are short, you could be screwed. I was fine. The blunted curve profile at the nipple bed made tensioning the hexhead nipples from the back side easy, as the tool fits down into the rim with no problems. Just remember to grease the nipples when lacing, and spoke prep the threads. The brake track machining looks very nice, although it does wander just a tiny bit, which can be seen when spinning in the truing stand. I mean tiny. Comparing these rims to Velocity a23s I've built in the past.... well, there is no comparison. The joint is better, the rim is rounder and truer out of the box, the spoke holes are better deburred. Overall, the rim is a winner!
The Build. In my case, I ordered the SL210 and SLF85w hubset. I used standard aluminum 14mm sapim nipples for one wheelset, and Hexhead aluminum 14mm sapim nipples for the other two. (These versions of the same length nipple build up slightly differently, with the hex heads bottoming out about 1mm before the standards... so if you're spokes are long, you could be screwed. I was perfect I laced 24 sapim lasers radial for the fronts, one of which I did heads-in, the other two were heads out. For the rears, I used sapim cx-rays 2x on the DS and lasers 2x on the NDS. I built the fronts to 100-105 kgf, and the rears to DS max of 110-115 kgf. I would recommend heads out on the front, as the hub flanges are so wide to require some pretty aggressive bending of the spoke head neck when built heads in. Should be ok either way, but heads out leaves the spokes curved exactly as they come and is plenty wide, imho.
The Hubs. I'm a bit torn on this hubset. They are amazingly affordable, look great, build up strong wheels, barely nudge the scale (exactly at spec), and are 10/11 speed compatible. However, I have had bearing issues even in my limited amount of time riding them, and as of yet, I'm not sure how to resolve the issues. One of my front hubs has excessive preload and hence resists a free spin, while the other two spin perfectly. This is a pretty minor niggle that may settle in with some more miles. On the rears, I have raced once and trained once, both in dry conditions, and my freehub bearings already feel grungy. There is a very slight side-to-side play in the wheel.
I disassembled the hub completely, and can confirm it is the freehub, not the hubshell bearings that are grungy, but I cannot identify the source of the side to side play. All the bearings in this hubset are Enduro abec5, and the rear hub is a very basic captured design. The two end caps screw onto the axle ends and capture the inner races between a spacer sleeve in the freehub and internal ridges machined onto the axle that set the main hubshell bearing distance. The axle is a one piece 15mm alloy unit, and the internal ridges make it impossible to remove without tapping one of the bearings out with it. The captured bearing design should be foolproof as the end caps have about 2mm of threads left once they are snugged down, meaning neither is bottoming out and there should be no play due to looseness. So, I'm at a loss. Yet the development of the play, and the grungy state of the freehub bearings after just 2 hours or riding in pristine conditions leads me to believe that there is some small tolerance issue at work. I will certainly update this review as I (or Brandon) identify and rectify the issue.
Wrap up. That said, the hubset built up wonderfully, into light wheels of even tension that have lateral stiffness beyond my similar a23 clincher setup. (keep in mind I'm 135lbs running 24/28.) They came out at 623 + 770 + 1393. While I could perhaps get away with a 20/24 build, which would be 50-60 grams lighter, I personally prefer to have my tires do the flexing, and therefore try to run stiff wheels. The added benefit of solidly built wheels is I shouldn't have to tweak the build, baring some kind of racing incident.
So there you go. Please ask any questions or add to the discussion however you find useful.
I think they are good value for money but I wouldn't choose them for winter, or cross for that matter. The bearings aren't particularly large (which hurts durability) and the seals aren't sophisticated enough for harsh conditions. For budget WW summer builds they are good though.
I would agree that these hubs aren't ideal for extreme conditions. On the rear, the drive pawls are protected by a beefy rubber seal on the freehub which settles into a little lip machined in the hub shell. The DS freehub bearings get a rubber cover seal that is attached to the end cap. The NDS has no additional seal. Basically, the hub relies on the bearing seals. However, they are very easy to break down, and bearings are cheap, so for the weight and money, the extra wrenching may very well be worth it. As long as the rear axle holds up to the rigors of CX, I definitely vote yes.
A note on the bearings... they are not super cheapos (Enduro speccd), and are fairly good sized. They use the LLB seals, which are two rubber lips, light contact in the groove. For the rear hub, the freehub uses Abec 3, a 6902 and a 6802, 434 and 219 static capacity respectively. The hub shell bearings are upgraded to Abec 5, the bigger 61902 on the DS and 61802 on the NDS, with the same LLB seals and static capacity. I'm not sure if the front hub are abec5 or 3, but they are the bigger 6900 series with a static capacity of 303. So, in general, big bearings where possible, and quality all around, though lightly sealed.
Before I start knocking bearings out and such, I'd like to clarify the initial post, which I will also edit for accuracy. The axle is definitely one piece. There are ridges machined into it that set the main hubshell bearing distances and make it impossible to remove without tapping one bearing out with it. Without removing the axle, I looked down inside of it and saw what I thought was a seam... It is actually just a machining mark. They probably bore the axle out one half at a time, meeting in the middle and leaving a little lip.
Check it out.
and because Weight Weenies
6900 should be ok for on the front given your weight even for CX.
Enduro bearings and CX? I would advise coating the bearings seals in a nice water resistant grease, and cleaning them up after a muddy ride/race.
JN2Wheels wrote:One of my front hubs has excessive preload and hence resists a free spin, while the other two spin perfectly. This is a pretty minor niggle that may settle in with some more miles. On the rears, I have raced once and trained once, both in dry conditions, and my freehub bearings already feel grungy. There is a very slight side-to-side play in the wheel.
Hi... I got a set of these from Brandon to check out, but I haven't disassembled them.
Does your freehub have a spacer inside that rides on the inner races? If so you could remove that and adjust the cap on that side to give you a hair of play. Make sure you use loctite. Then the lateral force on the freehub bearings would be nil.
This sort of design works great if you get all the tolerances *perfect*... but if you don't the bearings get preloaded and wear out very fast. They need to run smooth and free when clamped with a QR, and will usually have a touch of resistance when not.
Did figure out the play issue? Axle a little loose in the bearings maybe?
I'm not a big fan of the "captured bearing" design, where all the inner races are pressed on both sides. Even expensive hub makers have trouble getting the tolerances just right... Powertap and Zipp come to mind. I think they've all abandoned it.
Leaving the spacer out of the freehub and adjusting for a little lateral play should fix that issue. The only lateral forces the freehub bearings will then see are those caused by lateral chain forces (small). The other weak point would be the NDS bearing. It would be nice if that was also a 6902 and the axle remade so it slides freely on the DS hub bearing but still captures the NDS inner race. Then there would be no preload issues and lateral tolerances could be lax.
EDIT: If the spacer isn't pressing against the inner races with enough force to cause a preload, there is no reason to remove it. Just adjust for a little play.
The axle does not move at all that I can tell in the hubshell bearings. With the freehub off and out of the way, I can't seem to feel the same tiny click of play... So, I've basically given up on it.
Lastly, in my CX-eyed state yesterday at MAC Charm City Cross, My 135 lbs managed to bottom out 27 psi in the rear on a curb. Didn't feel too bad, and I finished the race no prob. But I may have discovered that these rims are a bit soft (and/or that my handling suffers when delirious). I managed to dent the rim just enough that one bit of the right brake track bumped out and now catches during breaking. The wheel is still perfectly true, spoke tensions all around are perfect, and I believe it is still spot on radial as well. There are no visible cracks, and no visible impact dent even in the tire bead area, just the little brake track bump. My first reaction was, trashed, need to rebuild. My second reaction, after checking spoke tensions and discovering the integrity of the wheel seems spot on, is to maybe use a clamp and squeeze it back in. Even writing that is difficult and makes my insides squirm... But really, I raced half the race on it and the wheel seems fine. Anyone have an opinion??
JN2Wheels wrote:use a clamp and squeeze it back in
I've done this on an XR-300 that was flared on both sides from hitting a huge rock. I left it in a vice for a few days and then used some body work hammers to even it up a bit more. It may not be the right thing to do, but I put several thousand more trouble free miles on that rim.
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