With the delivery of the first Hope Mono RS hubs we've been able to take a look at how they have changed from the Pro3 Mono and look at the compatibility issues.
What is a PowerTap hub?
SImply, a PowerTap hub works out the power you're producing to propel your bike along. It measures the torque being applied to the hub (how hard you're pressing on the pedals) and how fast the wheel's going round, and sends the data to your bike computer which can work out how much power you're producing. Power is what makes you go up hills.
Ceramic bearings in the Chris King R45 hubs complete this no-compromises wheelset, and the customer was kind enough to send us a photo of them fitted to his bike (with some very nice Campag Super Record components).
The first ride report was brief but to the point,
"Just took the wheels on a test run. love them! Very smooth and feel fast...Will tell all my friends what a great job you've done",
just what we'd hope for with wheels like this.
The Enve 3.4 SES (Smart Enve System) rims come as a front and pair with differing characteristics. The front has a rim depth of 35mm, while the rear is 45mm, and the widths vary too; a deep 26mm wide for the front, and 24mm for the rear. In this tubular incarnation they weigh in at 340g front, 380g rear.
Sram XX1 is trickling out to a few lucky riders and we are regularly asked what hubs are compatible, or indeed which are upgradeable at a later date if you decide to splash out, or wait until Sram 11-speed trickles down to cheaper groupsets.
The good news is that as far as we know, pretty much every rear cassette hub will be upgradeable with a freehub body change and a drive-side spacer - so no need for new wheels, unless you want to of course. As of mid-December 2012 when I wrote this, XD-driver (the official name for the freehubs) conversion kits are available now or in the near future for these hubs:
American Classic Disk 225 (available now)
Hope Pro 2 Evo (available now)
DT Swiss 240 and 350 (available now)
Industry Nine (available now)
Stan's NoTubes ZTR 3.30 hubs (end of March 2013)
At the time of writing, the latest unofficial word from Chris King is that they may make one in future but are too busy at the moment.
We don't yet have them all listed on the website so if you need a wheel with an XD driver, or a conversion kit, please contact us and we'll get you one.
11 speed is here! Well actually it's been around for a while, but we've only just started to see hubs come through in 11-speed compatible guise. First to arrive was the Shimano Dura-Ace, followed shortly after by the DT Swiss 240s road hubs.
There's not a lot of difference in the hubs; all that's needed for Shimano 11 speed compatibility is a slightly longer freehub body. All 11-speed hubs so far come with a spacer to adapt them to 9 or 10 speed.
DT Swiss hubs are certainly upgradeable with a new freehub body and drive-side spacer, the 11-speed versions come laser engraved with "11 speed road" on both freehub body and spacer. This means that both 240 and 350 road hubs will convert between 10 and 11 speed since the parts are interchangeable. We're not sure if older Shimano hubs are convertible to 11 speed yet, probably not but we will try it at some point.
What's next? Well, Sram XX1 (using the "XD" style freehubs) will be the next 11-speed hubs to arrive. We are expecting conversion kits for DT Swiss hubs to arrive into stock around the beginning of December. These consist of a freehub body and end cap, available in QR, 135x10mm or 142x12mm versions. The Sram XD freehubs look completely different to Shimano or Campag 11-speed freehubs and are not currently compatible with anything else.
Presumably more manufacturers will follow suit soon with 11-speed Shimano compatibility.
A couple of long-awaited treats turned up just in time for Bespoked, the UK handmade bicycle show in Bristol last weekend (23rd-25th March 2012).
We've been very impressed with Kirk Pacenti's TL28 rims so have been wanting to get our hands on the next rim from his lineup, the DL31. Weighing in at just over 500g for a 650b model (I think it was 505g but forgot to write it down and now we've built it up), it's got the same tubeless profile as its lightweight little brother and is impressively wide at 31mm. It's aimed at the hard-to-define AM - Enduro - light DH category and while I'm trying to avoid the comparison, it's probably a eyeletted, wider alternative to Stan's ZTR Flow.
Just to make a really special wheel we laced the DL31 up to a DT Swiss 240 Lefty hub which we've been waiting months for. The hub is made to the usual DT Swiss standards, weighing in about 15g lighter than the standard Cannondale Lefty Si when you include the custom aluminium Lefty bolt. At £150 it's 4 times the price of the Cannondale hub but the bearings should be better and it will match up if you want a 240s on the rear.
You wait years for a new Chris King product and then two of them come along at once. Campagnolo 11-speed freehub body and ceramic bearings come together in the latest incarnation of the light, bright and fast R45 road hub; is this the best road hub on the market? Probably...at a price (about £480, since you asked).
We built a pair of these mini masterpieces up with Enve 65 rims and de-rigeur Sapim CX-Rays for an all-black, no excuses wheelset. The front wheel had to settle for standard stainless steel bearings but the rear is fully kitted out with the new ceramic option and it shows, give it a spin and watch it go, you could brew a pot of tea before it stops.
One thing which nearly caught us out is the cassette lockring. The R45 Campag-compatible hubs include a beautiful shiny aluminium lockring (check it out in the gallery photos below) but you need to choose which size smallest sprocket you're going to run, and at the moment they are only shipping with 11T-fitting lockrings. If you try to fit a 12T cassette, the lockring won't do any locking (it fits inside the 12T). And the standard Campag lockring supplied with 11sp cassettes won't work either; the threads aren't long enough. So for the moment you'd better break out the strong legs and stick an 11T on there. Not that that's a problem with 10 other gears to get you out of trouble. It might all work fine with the shorter cog stack of 10-sp Campag and a normal lockring, but we haven't got any around to try.
A brief word on the availability of all these options. 12T lockrings are likely to be available in 2 weeks, maybe longer, the latest news is that Chris King have just made them. The ceramic bearings are also available as an option on the "traditional" Shimano 8/9/10 speed compatible hubs. And finally, Campagnolo cassette bodies are interchangeable with Shimano ones in case you make the switch one way or the other.