26 May, 2011

Fixed and High-Low Hubs Arrive

 The Grand Cru fixed gear hubs have high quality Japanese sealed bearings. The axles are chrome plated for durability and hollow to save a little weight. Proper track nuts are included. The rear hubs are "fixed" threaded on both sides. You can use a cog and lock ring or a freewheel on either or both sides. The rear hubs come spaced at 120mm, but include spacers to make them 126mm, 130mm, or 136mm. The front hubs are spaced at the standard 100mm.
The Velo Orange high/low rear hub is a four bearing design with the same quality of Japanese bearings as the Grand Cru hubs. I just can't see how saving $20 by using cheap hub bearings makes any sense. The alloy cassette body has three large pawls and is well sealed. As with the Grand Cru high flange touring hubs, they can be disassembled without tools for cleaning or service. VO internal-cam quick releases are included. This is a great hub for those who want a lighter and slightly less expensive hub than the Grand Cru Touring hub, yet with bearings typically speced in hubs that cost twice as much. they would be great on a fast rando build, classic race bike, or pass hunter.
The Velo Orange low flange front hub is a good match for the high/low. It also has Japanese bearings and includes a VO internal-cam quick release.
The VO hubs are also available as a set, which saves you a few dollars.

The Grand Cru high flange touring hubs have been delayed by a few days, but will be here soon.

We'll be building wheels based on these hubs and our rims soon. Are there any particular combinations you'd like to see?


Anonymous said...

Love the orange bands on the VO hubs. Will look great on the new green PV.

Eric said...

Won't having an aluminum body on the freehub cause problems like this?


Alec said...


You probably won't have trouble with aluminum freehub bodies - sheldon's post is a few years old, and since then, aluminum bodies have become the new standard. Meanwhile, cassettes have kept up with this development - almost all cassettes for sale these days are pinned together to prevent damaging aluminum freehub bodies.

Customized, homemade cassettes, are the few modern cassettes that cause problems with aluminum bodies. For these cassettes, use our soon-to-be released touring hubs with stainless steel bodies.

We think folks will prefer the lighter-weight aluminum bodies in many cases.

Nate Knutson said...

The high-low hub looks really great, especially from a cost:weight perspective. On that note, considering that you're effectively putting a horse in the race for a budget high-quality lightweight road hub, I think offering 28h like other makers of such hubs would make a lot of sense, even though it's not a very "VO" thing to do necessarily. (And even so, under a light rider and particularly if an aero rim is also involved, 28h can make plenty of sense for rando/century type use).

One question I always have with new drivering-based hubs: what's your prescribed ideal lube type and schedule to hopefully never have to deal with incurring wear on the drivering (the thing in the shell that the pawls engage), and what are the options for riders/shops if it does ever get messed up?

All in all though, very impressive, and I really look forward to trying one out.


What the Sheldon article doesn't really discuss is that notching of aluminum freehubs is a problem largely tied to using non-spidered cassettes on them. Most cassettes in the world, essentially from approximately the midrange downwards on the price spectrum, consist of steel cogs that each extend all the way down to the freehub, generally bolted or riveted together with plastic spacers in between most of them (the spacer is usually one piece with one or two of the smallest cogs). All lower-end Shimano and SRAM cassettes for example are like this. This design is the cheaper, slightly heavier way of putting a cassette together and works fine with steel freehubs. It does, however, very often cause problems with notching al freehubs, especially if the lockring is undertightened. Good manufacturers of hubs with aluminum freehubs (King for example) tell you not to mix the two. Generally it's a good idea to just never mix the two, but this isn't necessarily widespread the rule of thumb it should be seen as.

The more expensive, light, al-freehub-friendly design is the spidered cassette, where you've got a large, continuous, lightweight plastic or aluminum career with more heavily skeletonized cogs riveted on to it further up. Google XTR cassette or PG-990, etc. The material contacting the freehub, there's more contact area, and there are fewer gaps, and on a good quality al freehub with a properly tightened lockring there's generally no problem with notching, although it can still happen a little bit, and the smallest cogs are still usually unspidered. Such cassettes are currently pretty common on performance-oriented bikes (Shimano used them on 105 and up for their road cassettes, for example), since their cost:weight savings numbers are really pretty good once one is already in gram-counting land, but they're far from ubiquitous, particularly as a downspec OEM move since it's the exact kind of thing few consumers think about or look for.

Nate Knutson said...

Also, PLEASSSEE make a 135 version of the High-Low, even if it's just the exact same hub with a different left endcap (not a sleaze move since it gives even less tension disparity, and the decrease in left-side lateral strength never seems to matter when one adds 5mm to the left of Shimano road hubs).

Sean said...

In general do all VO hubs use cartridge bearings?

For the most part I've been riding loose ball shimano hubs for the past 20 years, and simply keep bulk quantity of grade 25 ball bearings and Phil Wood grease on hand.

Love the looks of your hubs.

Anonymous said...

What is the ETA for wheelsets based around the Grand Cru trackhubs?
Which VO rim would be the natural choice for these?

dwainedibbly said...

Nice hubs!

Is there any way to space the high/low to 126mm? I have a vintage frame that I can't spread to 130mm.

Anonymous said...

Does VO intend to offer built wheelsets ? I'm personally interested in a fixed gear wheelset with any VO rim. If so, any anticipated timing on availability ?

web said...

I'll play the part of vocal minority here...
I'd love to see the hi/lo hubset offered in 28 or even 24 (gasp) hole drilling. They are very competitive on the weight/cost front compared to what's out there and they are better looking than just about all of em'!
A 24 front/28 rear built up with some silver Sapim CX-Ray spokes and a light, good quality rim would make a strong, affordable and lovely go-fast wheelset!

Also, I'd love to hear some feedback on the blog from folks who pick these up regarding freewheeling noise level. I love a quiet hub and I'd be curious how these stack up to say an ultegra hub in terms of noise.

Nice work VO!

Sjb said...

Very nice hubs. Will there be Campy version available?
I agree with others, a 28 hole drilling would be nice to have.


Velo Orange said...

We are definitely going to have wheels built, but have not yet decided if we'll use our previous wheel building company or a new one that has just sent us samples. There is also a factory in Taiwan that builds excellent wheels for some very expensive brands, and we have talked with them as well. So there is no ETA until we test the samples, analyze quality and cost, and finally decide.

I think we'll have a Campy version of both of our cassette hubs this fall. It depends partially on how the existing ones sell.

If the hubs prove popular we may offer a 28h drilling.

The touring hubs will be offered in 130mm and 135mm spacing; the high-low in 130mm only.

jaytee said...

Is there any specific advantage to having one side high flange and the other low flange? It seems like you'd just have to buy twice as many spoke lengths...

(I'm seriously asking, not trying to troll)

Alec said...


you will need different length spokes with almost any modern rear wheel, except with certain mixed lacing patterns, gear hubs, single speeds, or dramatically differential flange sizing.

the reason for the high-low combination is to change the angle of the spokes to compensate for the offset drive-side flange, improving the tension differential.

Anonymous said...

These hubs look fantastic!

Are all of the hubs rebrands of a popular manufacturer or were they independently produced in The States?

Anonymous said...

Great looking hub. Would you consider selling front and rear separately? I suspect I'm not the only one with front hubs/wheels that keep on keeping on, and rear hubs/wheels that need more frequent replacing? It would also allow folks to upgrade from freewheel to cassette while continuing with a high quality front wheel. Thanks, Zach

Anonymous said...

It would be wonderful to have a Campy Freehub version. Also Novatec is releasing a product to protect Shimano freehubs. Anti Bite Guards or ABT. Slips over the splines. Of course Campy Freehubs don't need these, even with single cogs.

Noah said...

I'd love to see a free/fixed wheel set in a 36 hole pattern using the PBP rims.

Kai Hilbertz said...

I am an engineer. The claim that "aluminum bodies have become the new standard" is incorrect. Sheldon's article is old, but his assertions remain basically true. Shimano originated today's cassette standard, they designed it. Shimano does not, as of today's date, sell a single hub (not wheelset) with an aluminum cassette body. All of their hubs use steel or titanium freehub bodies. Is that because Shimano is too dense to manufacture aluminum bodies? Hardly.

As opposed to the newer Campagnolo design, the Shimano design utilizes a relatively small surface area for cog retention. It was never designed for aluminum, so using aluminum, even with spidered cassettes, will always be a compromise. Spidered cassettes generally have the last few cassette rings loose, i.e. in a non-spidered configuration, and, depending on your riding style, these rings can still, and sometimes do, notch an aluminum freehub body.

Aluminum freehub bodies are lighter, and they can be anodized in funky colors. Thus many companies offer them. But if you want reliability, steel or titanium is the only way to go. That's why companies like Hope or Chris King offer steel freehub bodies as an (expensive) upgrade. And that's why companies like Shimano or White Industries make freehub bodies only in steel or titanium.



Tom said...

Please, please, please make these hubs with 28 h drilling, rims too. That would be fantastico.

Vince said...

Another vote for 28 drilling on the hubs!


Terry said...

Is the freehub body easily replaceable, and are replacements available?

Velo Orange said...

Look at the video a few posts down to see how easy it us to replace the freehub body. Replacements will be available in alloy and in steel and in with Campy splines.

Anonymous said...

in line with Kai's observations . . . I've experienced very significant notching of alloy freehub bodies, especially with uber-expensive DT freehubs, most often used with Shimano Ultegra 10 speed cassettes. The notching is a real pain when you're trying to change the cassette have to pry off cogs individually with a screwdriver. I've also had notching with my Dura ace 7800 alloy freehub. I now always look for steel bodies, as used in most Shimano freebubs and with many aftermarket wheels, such as Velomax/Easton. I personally would not purchase an alloy freehub body again, but each to his own.

Velo Orange said...

The splined freehub alloy shell that we use is an off-the-shelf part that has been used by a dozen high-end manufacturers for many years. They are very well proven.

If you want a steel freehub body, just get a Grand Cru touring hub.

We will have alloy, steel, and Campy replacement freehub bodies in stock soon.

Pappas Family said...

28 Hole Drilled rims please, impossible to find in classic rims.