Coming up with a great idea is one thing. Taking that idea from the drawing board to the factory floor is an entirely different proposition. That's why Rus Kappius is looking for a little help from the cycling world.
The engineer turned cycling component inventor has developed what he believes is a best-in-class cycling hub. Now he just needs the financial backing to start building the new Kappius KH2 hub in large quantities.
Enter the Kappius Kickstarter campaign. In an effort to solicit $75,000 in start-up money, Kappius is offering everything from T-shirts and stickers, to fully built bikes equipped with Kappius hubs to anyone willing to drop a few proverbial nickels in the tip jar.
Pledge $10 or more and you'll receive a package of Kappius Components stickers and a personal thank you card from Rus himself. Up the ante to $250 and he'll throw in a first-generation KH1 road or mountain bike front hub. And if you're feeling particularly benevolent - and need a new bike - write a check for $8000 and you'll walk away with a brand new Cannondale Scalpel 29er Carbon 1 mountain bike outfitted, of course, with a set of Kappius wheels that feature the new KH2 hub.
There are also lots of other donation levels, including the mack-daddy $10,000 buy-in, which includes a Kappius wheelset built on ENVE carbon rims, and the chance to ride those swanky wheels in Moab, Utah, with Rus and his business partner/son/bike racer, Brady Kappius.
The oversized drive is compatible with any cog set.
As of Friday morning, Kappius had raised a tad over $11,000. The campaign ends May 10, meaning there are 13 days left to go. If the needed funds are raised, Kappius expects product fulfillment to start in July or August at the latest.
So what's all the hubbub about these hubs? In short, Kappius claims they are more durable than traditional hubs, easier to maintain, and have faster engagement, which essentially means it will make you faster.
Here's Rus himself explaining all the features of both the KH1 and new KH2 hubs during the recently wrapped up Sea Otter Classic.
The genesis for development of these hubs occurred in the spring of 2009 when Rus was out on the trail with some buddies. One of those buddies suffered a catastrophic hub failure and had to walk out - a long way. Kappius decided there and then that there had to be a better way, and when he got back home he started sketching ideas.
"What I saw at the time was an industry that was building small drive system hubs that had inferior technologies," explained Kappius. "So I drew up what I thought to be the optimal hub design, checked to see if it would violate any patents, and then started building prototypes."
That led to the KH1, Kappius' first generation hub, which he still makes today. But that hub requires significant buy-in to the Kappius system, because they actually have to machine away portions of your cassette in order for it to interface with the KH1 hub (Price: $300 front, $700 rear + $350-$400 for modified cogset).
The obvious next step was a more user-friendly offering, which led to development of the KH2. The new hub takes the benefits of the KH1, but allows for a standard cogset interface via a simple slip-fit system where it's easy to remove cassette from hub body via a screw-on end cap on the axle. Once the cassette is off, the wheel bearings are immediately visible, making periodic maintenance easy.
But the real selling point is performance. Utilizing 240 points of engagement, both Kappius hubs claim to drastically reduce the lag time between pedal stroke and forward momentum.
"It really changes the way you ride," said Kappius, himself a top-level masters mountain bike racer. "You realize you can back or forward pedal with minimal delay."
The hubs also have wide bearing placement, which is intended to create a stiffer wheel. And of course Kappius hangs his hat on the hub's reliability. "Bike parts shouldn't be disposable," he said. "Kappius Components is here to change the status quo by delivering simple, high quality, reliable bike parts."
To make that delivery possible, though, he needs to raise some cash. And that is where he's hoping the greater cycling world will come in. Kappius' ongoing Kickstarter campaign has the goal of funding the first round of manufacturing of the KH2. If and when they reach their goal, the plan is to send the money straight to their overseas manufacturer to get the first round of KH2 hubs produced.
"This will be crucial to getting the ball rolling for Kappius Components as a whole," said Kappius. "We want to get the KH2 into as many hands as possible."
The good news for Kappius is that it already has a reliable manufacturer in place. That process started in December 2012, when the KH2 was conceptualized as a modification to its existing hub system. By the end of December, CAD assemblies were completed. Design modification continued through February, and a limited production run was commenced soon after.
The new KH2 hubs arrived at Kappius HQ in suburban Denver, Colorado, on April 8, and the product has undergone a successful round of on-trail and on-road testing. Some slight design revisions remain, but production commitments from the supplier have been made with 22-working-day lead times. That means if the Kickstarter campaign hits its target, fulfillment will commence by mid-summer.
Right now the only hurdle is $64,000 and 13 days.