I purchased a set of MTB disc hubs a few months ago. Since a few/many people dealt with C4 or were interrested in their road hubs, I thought I'd post in the road section to reach more people.
Here is a review of my C-4 bicycle components MTB disc hub as well as a few comments on my purchase process at C-4.
Have a pot of coffee handy, sit down comfortably, and read carefully.
The shopping: It all started when I wanted good lightweight MTB disc hub set without paying the price of Tune and the like. I contacted C-4 bicycle components for the MTB hubs they sold on their website and Mark at C-4 offered me a lighter, a bit more expensive option. In fact, he offered a 102g 15mm thru axle front hub (150$) and a 225g rear hub (250$) which were not featuring on the website but available for purchase. He attached a picture of some nice matte black MTB disc hubs. I was pleased, the price was good, the weight was awesome, why not give it a go? I bought.
The purchase: During the whole purchase process Mark was super fast at communicating. I paid on December 21st 2012 and waited for a tracking number. On January 20th, I had still not received my order, which is relatively normal given the order was being shipped from the US to Canada. But the tracking number Mark had given me wasn’t working, or rather was showing an order that had been shipped elsewhere. On January 24 Mark sent an email saying he hoped I had received his email with a tracking number. I had never received such an email, nowhere to be found. It looked like a strategy to gain time. I finally received my stuff on January 30 but had started a PayPal dispute in the meantime.
Receiving the goods: So as soon as I received my stuff (front hub, rear hub, 66 dt revolution spokes and some alloy nipples) I unpacked it and did what any WW would do, put the stuff on the scale. My first surprise was to receive some gloss black hubs. I actually wanted the matte black ones like on the picture as I was planning a matte black RM Vertex project, oh well. The front hub weighted in at 103g, nice weight! The rear weighted in at 244g, wrong. I thought something was wrong, I thought he sent the wrong hub, I emailed him and he replied that C-4 had to make a couple of changes that resulted in an increased weight. A few changes made within a few days while he told me the hub weighted 225g a few days before? No way, I don’t believe that. Too bad, I was a bit pissed but I could handle the 20g penalty.
Further inspection: after inspecting the hubs I realized there was a huge (5-7mm) play in the front axle. I tried to tighten the end caps but I couldn’t tighten them enough and there was always a 3-4mm play in the front axle. The hub wouldn’t even fit in my fork because the play made the axle too wide. Something was wrong. I emailed Mark and he agreed to send a replacement axle but only if I canceled my PayPal dispute, which I did. Everything was fine with the new axle. The rear hub didn’t fit quite well in the rear drop outs, I think it was caused by the black coating. After having fitted them in once, they would go without much hassle. During the whole axle fitting process, Mark NEVER mentioned anything about setting it up with Loctite.
The build: The wheel set was intended to be built on Stans Alpine rims, 32/32, dt rev and alloy nips. I was hoping for MAX 1320g wheel set. I sent my stuff to a fellow WW member who lives "near" me as he had offered to build the wheels for me (a real cool buddy BTW). I sent the stuff, he received it without problem and started building the wheels. First issue, the spokes wouldn’t sit properly into the flange holes and would leave a small gap between the flange and the spoke head, no good. So the WW mate had to manually enlarge the spoke holes very gently so the spoke would sit in properly. A huge piece of work IMO. Second issue, the nipples Mark had sent were not the right size, shite! Luckily the infamous WW builder had some alloy nipples at home and could build the wheels with these (I still owe you some $ for this DUDE!, or a good bottle-O-wine when you come home ). The wheels were finally built and of course, as a pure WW, I removed all stans and C-4 stickers and weighted the wheel set: 1305g, NICE, sub 1320g I thought, I was pleased with the weight!
The first ride: so I was excited and went on my first ride with my new wheel set. A 4h MTB ride, everything was good until the fourth hour. Some major rattling noise was coming from the rear hub when pedaling under load and the front hub started to make some scary noise. I stopped and checked the front hub as it was the most problematic. It turns out I had destroyed both bearings. My own fault, I did not knew I had to set up the front axle end caps with Loctite and set the bearing preload afterward when the Loctite would have cured. I contacted Mark and he explained how to do it. I ordered new bearings at Alchemy (great folks) and I did the exact same set up as he recommended with red Loctite on one end cap and blue on the other, let cure the whole thing and meanwhile I did some test with the rear hub noise. Dismounted the cassette body, degreased it, regreased it: same noise. Trying 2 other cassettes, same brand and one of which had the same dimensions (11-36), no noise. Put back the sram XX cassette: rattling noise. Trying with and without spacers: noise. Adjusting derailleur: noise. WTF? Bah, its only noise, I can deal with it.
As you can see, so far I had to “deal” with a lot of unexpected things.
The second ride: I installed the front wheel and set up the bearing preload quite well, the wheel was spinning OK when under QR tension but showed a small amount of drag (maybe because the bearings were new?). The bearings were installed by my mechanic. Anyways, I went for my second ride on the wheel set. Another 4h ride with intervals on gravel roads with a bit of singletrack riding. All good. Went back home, remove front wheel, test the front bearings smoothness to see if there was anything wrong: front bearing felt sketchy. No good once again.
The ending: I contacted Mark once again and he tried to explain how to set up the front adequately. For some reason, he always sent short emails with very little information and always asked odd questions before answering properly. Anyways, I had the front wheel checked by the mechanic at my LBS (the one and only guy who always work on my bike) and he said the hub was not super well built/thought out. The blue Loctite end cap had not enough thread left to unscrew the end cap and have adequate preload on the bearing, so I did the Loctite set up a second time, leaving more threads on the blue Loctite side. I let the whole set up cure and tried to install the wheel with proper preload again. Nothing to do, I couldn’t get the wheel to spin free when under QR tension. I took the wheel out and turned the axle and noticed one of the end cap was turning out of true. Went to remove the axle and SURPRISE!!! The axle broke in pieces, the axle threads remaining in the end cap. The thing was totally broken. WTF happened? I had NEVER forced anything, always manipulated the hub with care and that happened. I was almost laughing. I contacted Mark and he replied 5 days later (weird) that it was my fault, hard wrenching the thing, not setting it up properly, etc, etc, my fault, not his, blah blah.
What now?: I have now removed the tubeless tires from my wheels, removed the valves and tape and will soon dismount the whole wheel set and have them rebuilt around a well known company’s hub set. I did contact Mark once again regarding the axle breaking in pieces. He replied he would send a procedure on how to assemble the thing but it would take time. I sent an email cause I didn’t understand something, he replied saying he had already sent an email saying he was shipping a new axle. I replied saying I never received such an email, he then replied he would try to find the email. Since then, nothing. Shipping a new axle... yeah right
Have your own opinion, but this is a massive buyer beware, I had a very scary and unpleasant experience which cost my 400$ in the end, leaving me with a broken front hub and an overweight noisy rear hub. All dates included in the review are the exact dates, I scrolled through my email inbox to search for exact information. I have over 100 emails exchanged with Mark at C4 and kept them all. I expect Mark to pop out either in my email inbox or over here at WW in a few days saying im wrong, did it wrong, my fault, blah blah blah. But you shouldn’t have such a horrible experience when buying 400$ hub set, that’s my opinion. I have heard a few shitty stories related to C4 and Mark, especially from WW members. Jason at Fairwheel bike told me they dropped him because of his hot/cold customer service.
In the end, I regret having cancelled my PayPal dispute.
Mark asked me not to publish any pictures of the hub back in December when I bought them, claiming they would feature heavily on their new website. 8 months later, their website hasn’t changed at all, which leads me to think he sold me some kind of prototype hubs even though he told me they have been testing the hubs for over a year now.
Since this thread would be useless without pictures...
The hubs on scale
Axle end stuck in end cap
wassertreter wrote:Expect a PM from Mark. At least that's what happened to me when I warned people here how I had blown 500 bucks on C4, for goods never to show up. He kept me dangling long enough for the Paypal dispute deadline to pass, I'm starting to think there's a pattern.
yeah im expecting an email or PM... I dont care, this shouldnt be experienced when you buy $$$ hubs
A long time ago C4 seemed reputable. I remember reading some posts about premature bearing failures many many years ago... then the website got taken down and a crappy online shop replaced the original site.
devinci wrote:@ DIRT BOY
I did search but I knew some people who did have great experience with C4.
@ Phill P
I contacted Jason @ fairwheel bikes and he said they droped him because of his hot/cold customer service.
I am sure here and there you will get positives with C4 and Mark. My dealings were the same way, until things got bad.
I cannot and will not speak for FWB and Jason. But we have discussed mark many times.
Google Mark Hoskins, Erica Prima, Cherry valley Wheel Works, Royale Wheels, Spada-USA and other AKAmArk has used form other threads.
This board along with RoadBikeReview has gone on and one about this.
Google: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sa=X&ei=xo ... 20&bih=944
Phill P wrote:Any feed back as to why fairwheel was offering a lot of C-4 then stopped? Guess they don't want to get sued should their opinion be a negative one.
I'm typically not one to let lawyers get in the way of having an opinion.
When C-4 started they were using re-badged far East hubs with some U.S. made parts which had reasonable weights and worked quite well for the price. For those on a budget it offered a very sensible solution. It wasn't long before C-4 started producing their own hubs in Ca. At that point the new models and changes to existing models came too quickly for us. To me it seemed they lost the focus that we liked about them which was one of decent quality, inexpensive hubs to one of U.S. made, lighter hubs. Since the focus had shifted from what we had most liked about them, it seemed a good time to part ways. This is certainly nothing unusual for us, we've parted ways with lots of companies over the years, from some of the bigger and higher end bike manufacturers to some of the small most expensive manufacturers around. We have a vision of where we want to go and we partner with suppliers that compliment that vision, once someone strays from that it doesn't make sense for us to stay partnered with them.
As Ergott said, I don't think he's trying to rip anyone off, I think he just gets overwhelmed, or too far behind and isn't sure how to deal with that, but of course that's just my opinion.
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