27 January 2010

bikefix Initial Review: Chub Single & Thru Axle hubs

Chub hubs are the brainchildren of a cool bunch of guys in California known as The Hive. The group's other claim to mountain bike market fame is the new Fifteen G cranks. So far, everything they make is a little different but well thought out. I bought a pair Chub hubs with a 20mm front thru-axle in an attempt to create as stiff a single speed 29er mountain bike wheel as I could- but still at a fairly low weight. The reason I felt they would help in this regard is they have a large diameter body (hence the name) which puts the spoke holes even further out than on a high-flange hub, with a carbon shell bonded just below the spoke holes to create a large, stiff drum-looking hub. The hub's flange itself is actually shorter than on most hubs. So, not only is the entire structure of the hub stiff as hell, but the short flange can resist bending from spoke tensions better too. The tall flanges also increase the angle at which the spokes meet the rim, making them laterally stiffer. I had my local wheelsmith lace the Chubs to a pair of Edge XC 29er carbon rims which I reviewed separately not long ago. The Single rear hub is a singlespeed only hub, and is currently the only offering from Chub for this end of the bike, but a couple of cassette hubs should be available early next summer.

If you read my review of Edge Composite's carbon rims, a lot of what I said there can also be attributed to these hubs. The wheels are truly stiff as all-get-out! There might be stiffer hubs out there but I doubt anything comes close in this weight category. While the Chubs aren’t the lightest hubs you can get by any means, they are squarely in the lightweight category. Coming in at 215 grams in front and 292 grams in the back puts them slightly behind DT Swiss 240’s at 165grams (20mm) and 267grams respectively. The carbon rims they are laced to help of course, but I am convinced you could make any hand-built wheel stiffer by using these hubs.

The rear hub is a thread-on freewheel type setup. This adds the weight of the freewheel, so keep that in mind, but there are some nice buttery-smooth freewheels out there. This is a bummer for those of us watching every gram, but Chub should have a singlespeed version of their cassette rear hub not long after they bring their XC and DH cassette hubs to the market.

On the trail the Chubs are smooth and rigid. I still can’t believe how nice this set of wheels built up. It is most certainly the sum of the parts but the Chubs’ are one of the parts. I’m a big boy though at 195 lbs. naked and 220 lbs. with my hydration pack on. I can truly feel wheels and components that are flexy underneath me and although it rarely causes me any problems, I vastly prefer a stiff wheel. I have probably 500 miles on the Chubs over the last 7 months and I haven’t had a single problem- not even a peep. Not that that is epic mileage, but I push pretty hard on my singlespeed- I am a moosecake after all.

Those of you who come in on the lighter side might not be as much of a candidate for these hubs, but I will point out something that still might make you buy them (especially for your training wheels)- they look damn cool! At least I think they do. There is no arguing that they are unique look though, and that might be worth it right there. These are cool hubs. They retail for a reasonable, although not cheap, $155.00 for the front and $250.00 for the rear. Chub also make versions available for track wheelsets.

charlie

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