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Being completely new to this...how different are different hubs? Performance? Maintenance? Reliability?

I just purchased an old steel Trek bike to make into a fixie. After doing some research, I think I'm sold on building a new rear wheel instead of using the existing one. I would like to have a flip-flop hub with both a free wheel and fixed. I've heard people say Phil Wood hubs are among the best...but what makes them better than others?

I agree they look awesome and the fact that I can get them in 126mm spacing for my frame is attractive. But do I need them? Any other suggestions?

-Marc
 

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differences in hubs

There are huge differences between hubs on the market for fixed gear and track riding. Phil Wood is an excellent choice. I think that the hubs I make are better, but not because of a lack of quality, just because of design.

Lets look at a high end hub like Phil Wood, Chub, or Level Components.

#1. Compare the manufacturing tolorances of these types of hubs with a Surly, Performance, or Suzue hub.

Threads, The threads on a Phil or Chub hub are never flat on top, the other guys have threads that are not so clean.

Bearings, Phil, Chub, and Level, use ABEC 3 grade bearings with removeable seals. The other guys do not. Some people like the needle type bearings used in some lower end hubs claming that they can pack them with new grease easier. I know that our hub can be totally rebuilt with just your multi tool in less then 5 min. This includes popping in new bearings.

Flanges, A higher flange builds a stiffer stronger wheel. Chub, Phil, and Level build with the highest flange heights in the industry.

Small Batch building: A quality hub is not built by the millions, this cuts in on quality control, I am holding a striped Suzue hub that might have been stripped becuase of builder error, or because the assembly line process never caught the slight cross threaded section between the lockring threads and the cog threads.

There are lots of other things like customer support. Level components will send you upgraded parts for free, having delt with Phil Wood for years I have learned the they will replace a part under warrenty very easily. I have not had such luck with anyone else. Better materials inside and out, inovative design ideas, helpfull staff, longer life, and made in the USA, all tend to be things that drew me to Phil Wood products. You could say that it is what drives me to make my own track, fixed-gear, and single speed parts.
 

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Phil Wood hub works for me....

built a wheel w/ a Phil Wod fixed/fixed hub and am very happy with it, would recommend this hub over a fixed/ free as you can still run a freewheel on one side if you wish, but also have the option of running two fixed cogs, very handy if you try track riding someday. Another nice feature is that it is easy (but not cheap) to change the hub spacing with new endcaps ($38/pair) if you change frames in the future. I used the wheel building chapter in Zinn's road bike maintenance book for guidance and the wheel came out fine, for my purposes a dozen pages on wheel building was better than an entire book would be...and fixed wheels are relatively easy to build since there is no dish.


mzbinden said:
Being completely new to this...how different are different hubs? Performance? Maintenance? Reliability?

I just purchased an old steel Trek bike to make into a fixie. After doing some research, I think I'm sold on building a new rear wheel instead of using the existing one. I would like to have a flip-flop hub with both a free wheel and fixed. I've heard people say Phil Wood hubs are among the best...but what makes them better than others?

I agree they look awesome and the fact that I can get them in 126mm spacing for my frame is attractive. But do I need them? Any other suggestions?

-Marc
 

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Cheaper - Suze Pro Max aka the disco hub

One of the cheaper hubs that is definitely worth the money are Suzue Pro Max (known as discos due to the shiny almost hologram like label on them). Run about 70 bucks for a rear and I've never had a problem with mine.

Nice sealed bearings that seem to last. Only real problem is that you just have to watch out for some of them getting a little loose (same with any hub) over time. About the only other drawback is that like most cartridge bearing hubs they need a special tool to replace the bearings (Level seems to be the exception to this).

I've been thrashing one on my work wheel for a few years and its been problem free.

Sheldon Brown has a pretty good list of most of the available hubs at:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/fixed-hubs.html

Should give you some idea of quality vs price (they should also have level components hubs). I would say its worth investing money in your hub.
 

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FixedPip said:
One of the cheaper hubs that is definitely worth the money are Suzue Pro Max (known as discos due to the shiny almost hologram like label on them). Run about 70 bucks for a rear and I've never had a problem with mine.

Nice sealed bearings that seem to last. Only real problem is that you just have to watch out for some of them getting a little loose (same with any hub) over time. About the only other drawback is that like most cartridge bearing hubs they need a special tool to replace the bearings (Level seems to be the exception to this).

I've been thrashing one on my work wheel for a few years and its been problem free.

Sheldon Brown has a pretty good list of most of the available hubs at:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/fixed-hubs.html

Should give you some idea of quality vs price (they should also have level components hubs). I would say its worth investing money in your hub.

Also, check out businesscycles.com and bikecult.com (bikeworksNYC). Sheldon's shop has insanely high prices. As far the hubs, you cannot go wrong with Suzue's (just stay away from the really low end model).
 

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girishji said:
Also, check out businesscycles.com and bikecult.com (bikeworksNYC). Sheldon's shop has insanely high prices. As far the hubs, you cannot go wrong with Suzue's (just stay away from the really low end model).
About the Suzue Jrs... I've been pretty happy with mine. Me-built, 36 hole, laced 4-cross to Alex DR-13 rims. The only beef I (and the senior wrench at my shop) have with them is that they come bone-dry and too tight. A rebuild is definitely in order before riding, but I've had no problems since. I used a bit of touch-up paint as a thread-locker (on the advice of the same wrench), and have had no problems. Blue loctite would be even better, but we were out of it.

FWIW, I use the wheels with confidence off-road. Yeah, they're cheap, but not bad for all that. The Alex rims are pretty good for the money, at least the aftermarket ones. Eyelets, and only 15 grams heavier than an Open Pro. And they built up nice and straight.

As to Harris' prices, well, they've got overhead to meet, and I belt Sheldon makes a decent living. It would be worth it to me to support them, and all of the information they make available, even if it meant spending a few extra bucks.

--Shannon
 

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Anything with a threaded lock ring and threaded cog is flawed

Ladies and Gentlmen, and lurkers of all ages. Gather round Gather round, its the greatest show in town. Watch as we free the world from threaded lock rings, and threaded cogs. It is easy, it is simple, and you can do it all in less time then it takes you to change a tube. Yes, this morning I set a personal best record for cog changes. 1min. and 43 sec. It is still slower then Scott, but what the hell. Whe I used to ride that other hub I had problems changing cogs. I needed a chain whip, and a lock ring tool.


Some day people will think of those as the archaic tools that they are. Already the track racers are begining to understand that it works. The I n I cog system will also allow for drive line adjustment. A straight chainline gives you the confidence to wonder about anything else. Built out of 6061 AL in CapeCod The Level components hub will really change your fixed gear ride. Removable 1 piece axle spacers allow you to run 120 and 135 out of tbe box. 126.5 and 130 available by order. Cog sizes from 14-20. Just let us know what you need.


Soon to come: Freewheel. (mounts to each side of the hub, a true flipflop design).
Disk Brake adaptor (Yeah I know that some people use those brake things
Stash Box (uh yeah you put your patches in it?)

www.levelcomponents.com
 

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Not wanting to get off topic - my nagging concern with Level Hubs

The beauty of the current system is that a ton of people make cogs, rings and hubs that all work (more or less) so its easy to get a new cog etc. Sure you have to be careful of installation etc but changing cogs is not something you generally need to do in a hurry unless you're competing in a number of events simultaneously at the track. Suzue make a lovely fixed/fixed NJS hub which also mitigates this problem. Chainline, granted, can be a problem to get right, but once its set you're pretty much sorted.

While I applaud the the inovation of the Level hubs, my biggest worry is that right now only Level are making the cogs for these hubs. Hopefully the hub (and the company) will be a roaring sucess but what if Level goes the way of some of the other inovaters in hubs such as Chub and the people who made the two speed fixie hub?

Level need to get other manufactures on board to make this work, which hopefully it will. But right now I like the fact I can walk into a number of bike stores and walk out with the parts I need to get rolling again.
 

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The problem with Harris is, if you order a Suzue Jr hub for a common roadbike dropout spacing, they'll sell you a longer axle and tracknuts that ain't worth a s_h_i_t.
 
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