Hubs for the Street,
by Will Meister
You track racers are a conservative lot. It took a couple of decades to wean you off inch-pitch chain, I seem to remember. Track aesthetics are precise and unforgiving, and there are very few component manufacturers whose gear passes muster.
In order to ride your track bike on the street, you may have to relax your standards a little. Track components aren't necessarily suited to the obstacle course presented by the modern city. Hubs are a case in point. Sheldon Brown has a story about a Campy high flange hub breakdown that'll make your hair curl.
Of course, you will quickly object that Sheldon's failed hub is a recent model, and that collector's items from the 70s are good for potholes, kerbs and staircases. I say it's important to be able to find new stuff that does the job.
Here is a listing of tough hubs. You may not like the looks of the modern offerings, but you can think of them as a necessary evil. They'll let you save your Campy wheels for Kissena.How much?
If you're riding a track bike, your rear hub is likely spaced to 120mm. (An older frame might have a 110mm spacing.) That puts you in a minority. The last 120mm road bikes were made when dinosaurs roamed the earth and five speed freewheels were proudly displayed in the front windows of cycle dealers. There aren't too many large-scale makers who will tool up to meet your needs.
But there are a couple. In the US, there's Surly, whose FG hub is 32h, sealed bearing, silver or black, and great value at $72. In the UK we have the lovely Goldtec, available in a range of drillings for just a little more.Searching high and low?
Of course, you might want more choice. In that case, niche companies will spring to your aid.
Low-flange fans should check out the $155 hub from Texan direct-seller Nimble. They have some good endorsees and will build your wheels for you.
If you're a high flanger, look out the rugged Campy Nuovo-inspired design from Paul. No price yet, but it's heartening to see an established firm chasing a new market.Suits You!
Of course, you might fancy something that looks... well, more classic.
Well, as cyclists have been saying for 30 years, there's always Phil--if you've got the money. Phil Wood make the lot: high and low flanges, your choice of widths and drillings, rugged 12mm axles and the best warranty in the business.
Then again, maybe polished aluminum doesn't rock your world. If so, look out the rugged Campy Nuovo-inspired hub from Paul at $144. (You'd better like matte black.)Exotica
Not techno enough for you? Have a look at Joe Graney's ChubHub, a big stiff hub that saves weight with a carbon shell. Or the Ti-axled beauties from Royce, one of the UK's best-kept component secrets.
But don't forget the low-tech solutions. In 2000, I bought my first FG hub. It was a 60s high-flange Maillard, much-used, alloy corroded to the colour of pewter. I've ridden it several thousands of miles, on city streets, flint tracks, forest paths and chalk hills. It's still going strong. (Editor's note: Maillard was bought by Sachs, which is now owned by SRAM.)
It cost the equivalent of $5-00.
© Will Meister, 2003Back to Index
Will Meister is a lifelong cyclist. He edits 63xc.com, the offroad fixed-gear site.