Which Hubs, Spokes & Nipples: Our Guide
ALL OUR SPOKES AND HUBS AND NIPPLES ARE BLACK UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED
With so many spoke and hub options it can get a bit confusing! So, we’ve summarised all the key features and options here. Also, there is now a handy link to this page - on every single product page. Enjoy - and we're always here to assist! We like to give a clear honest appraisal of the key strengths of each bit of equipment ..
We say: "choose the right parts based on what you really need. Lightest equipment for lighter riders and summer usage & more robust kit if you're a heavier rider or plan to use the wheels all year round ".
This might seem an odd place to start! But we think it kind of speaks volumes about how we work, our values and what we prize!
Most brands actually spend nothing on spoke nipples. Literally zero. This is because all spoke manufacturers include basic nipples bundled with their spokes. They are usually pretty decent - But as they are such a critical party of each wheels longevity and performance... the first thing we do when they arrive is donate them to our local bike project!
And instead we purchase the best nipples that money can buy for every single wheel-build we do. We use either Alpina Bontrager Hex Head Blu Power self-locking nipples in brass or alloy. And Pillar Taper Groove TG Hex head nipples - again in alloy and brass.
You've only got to look at these up against ordinary nipples and you can see the scale of the difference: Bigger, fatter, more resilient, with a lifetime up to 10-times longer.... and also much lighter too...
Now these nipples are not cheap. The Alpina's are up to £1 each!! See Here, Ok so that's only £1. But we use 50 nipples per average wheelset and about 100 thousand every year. So I guess the point is that we spend out 100 grand extra, every year, that we don't strictly need to - on tiny components which are largely hidden from view.
Just because they help us make the best wheels possible. No one would notice for the first few years of owning our wheels if we used the free bundled "alright" nipples - And saved all that cash and took it as profit!
But after several years of UK/EU roads if we used lesser nipples you're wheels would start to degrade. Lose true and in the case of alloy nipples, begin to fracture. We have never had a single nipple fracture.
And perhaps the key bit; We don't add anything to the price you pay when we use these nipples. All we ask is that if you're considering buying from us and you've other brands on your shortlist... perhaps just ask them what nipples they use!
The funny thing is we've probably shelled out well over £1 Million on nipples over the past 20 years - and yet we've only just thought of mentioning all this to our customers. The main thing is always to build right... And bragging about it comes a distant second!
If you want to see more - click image above: All our nipples are BLACK
Hub choice is all about: weight/engineering/durability/price/drag/bearing quality. We use only high quality hubs of course as they do a heavy use job. Especially in the UK & Ireland with our wonderfully 'challenging' roads and weather.
You'll notice immediately that we don't use unbranded or our 'own brand' hubs. Many wheel brands cut their costs enormously by 'badging up' unbranded low-cost hubs from the far east. (Most of these hubs are ok quality wise - from the sorts of brands you will see selling hard on ebay like Powerway for example)
But it does mean that in a few years time you may find it tricky to get spares/service for your wheels. We've seen so many hundreds of decent wheels discarded over the years just for want of a freehub body that's no longer made!
That's why we only use high quality branded hubs from very reputable companies - All European/Taiwanese - and all of whom have been building hubs for over 25 years. Their knowledge, quality and customer service mean we can better serve our customers - now and throughout the life of your wheels.
ALL HUBS WE BUILD WITH ARE SEALED CARTRIDGE TYPE WITH ALL PARTS BEING SERVICEABLE!
Miche Primato Hubs (rim brake)
For the price, we view Miche as the best value economy hubs available. They have some fantastic credentials that make them stand out from the crowd. Italian made. Loved by mechanics everywhere for fantastic build quality, ease of servicing and superb bearing life - even in enduring harsh weather.
Interestingly some recent UK tests (by Hambini) have shown that the Primato’s have the lowest drag of any popular hub - irrespective of cost. For a mid-priced hub this is pretty amazing too. (His test Primato's happened to have NTN brand bearings in. Not by design by the look of it! We supply our hubs with standard Miche bearings in and have not found any difference in performance. We can supply with NTN bearings fitted if you really want them. Not sure they would last as long as Miche's pretty fab bearings though.
Not only do they have the best drag figures but there's more. Power transfer: Miche Primato hubs feature an incredibly strong/stiff steel axle that just does not flex under even heavy rider load. Most road hub axles are alloy! This makes for the best power transmission for all riders - and that goes double for heavier riders.
And there's more, unlike almost every hub in popular use the Primato's also feature a fully replaceable ratchet gear ring - something that is a massive benefit all-round ( and especially for heavier riders again). If ever you where out the hub teeth .. we can simply replace them. Clever, clever tech and massively insightful 'real-world' relevance!
They are not super-light hubs of course. That's entirely because of the above characteristics. But what they are is tough, fluid, fast, durable. Excellent for riders who want an everyday/all-condition hubset.
They are also a pretty quiet hub in terms of clicky-noises! Some like quiet hubs some like machine-gun clickiness. No accounting for taste!
Miche Hubs (Disc brake)
These are excellent all-round/all-season road hubs that can comfortably handle light use in non-tarmac conditions. With Miche's quality bearings and attention to detail. Not the lightest hubs and so we use them mainly on our standard rather than higher-end builds. They are also only available for 12mm Thru-Axle fitting (not QR or 15mm). Likewise they can only run with Centerlock rotors (not 6-bolt).
For all our mid/higher end builds we use Bitex and DT Swiss disc hubs - all of which are available in QR/12mm/15mm and in Centerlock/6-Bolt. (Details below).
Ambrosio Hubs (rim brake)
These are the standard entry-level hubs on most of our builds. We love them. Italian made. Nice and light and they are mechanics favourites as they are so easy to maintain and service, and very reliable. Spares are easy to come by and they have decent bearing life. Alloy axles and freehub bodies make them pretty light too - but you need to make sure cassette is done up nice and tight to avoid 'cutting-in'. Medium-loud hub sound.
Bitex Hubs (rim brake)
Our Favourite lightweight high quality performance hubsets. We always think that these hubs should cost twice the price! I should say that quietly or Bitex will hear! Taiwanese made and incredibly reliable. All hubs have high end features like 6-drive hubs and anti-bite guard. We use these on builds for all but the heaviest of riders! We'd say they are medium in terms of clicky-hub noise.
We employ 2 different Bitex hubsets on our rim brake builds:
SUPERAEROLIGHT: Balancing high performance, lightness with 'all season' durability. This is our go-to racing/training build version
SUPERAEROLIGHT++ : Our Bitex SL rim brake hubs use Bitex lightest technologies - including a new proprietary Superlight freehub body . Hubset weights are as low as 250-280 grams. These weights are pretty astonishing compared to what was possible only a few years ago. Combine these credentials with great bearings and fast engagement (and cxray spokes) and you have our fastest ever setup!
To be clear: We love these hubs - and we sell more Bitex hubs than any other hubs!
If you are a competitive athlete looking to get 100% full-on performance - It makes sense to change the bearings every 3 years or so. We can do this for you as can any good bike shop.
Our Bitex BX207 tough hubs for heavy riders and tourers (aimed at rider/kit loads of over 125kg) use very large bearings and super-tough axles. They will add weight but they will carry heavier loads for longer. There's always a trade off!!
Bitex Hubs (disc brake)
Our Bitex Lite Disc brake hubs are both light and strong for tarmac usage. They use bigger bearings and axles but employ higher grade alloys to keep weight down and durability and strength up. This balance is needed for the rigours of disc braking - which is far more demanding of components than is rim braking.
For heavy riders/loads and off-road and all-season usage we employ the supertough BX207 bitex disc hubs rated to well over 150kg!
DTSwiss Hubs (rim and disc)
The pinnacle of hub choice options in our opinion. Swiss precision engineering at its finest and with a uniquely engineered approach. They are endlessly durable and reliable.
The 350 is not the lightest hubset (on a par with our Miche hubs and heavier than Bitex. Its the Swiss precision engineering and hence longevity that carries the price tag.
The DT Swiss 240 hubs (both in rim brake and disc brake versions) are the top of the food chain. Light, fantastically engineered, and go on for countless years.
Being Swiss you could say they are literally like a Rolex for your wheels - though priced a little more kindly.
Formula Hubs (rim and disc)
Disc Brake Hubs: Formula is a Taiwanese factory/brand who have been making hubs for many big name brands for decades. Now offering their wares under their own name. We use Formula's lightest/toughest road disc hubset on our multi-surface disc wheels. The CL-712/ TXC-142 'Blackjack' hubset offers excellent build quality and the type of 'Toolfree' construction/maintenance found more often on very expensive hubs such as DT Swiss.
Rim Brake Hubs: Double sealed, and used specifically and only with our super aero 3.2mm bladed spokes these are a reliable and fast rolling hubset from Taiwanese brand Formula. Not the lightest with their super strong steel freehub - we use these on wheel builds that are aero first and foremost where weight is less of a consideration.
All our spokes are either Belgian made (Sapim) or Taiwanese made (PSR AERO 1432, PSR AERO, PSR AERO SL and the K1 Bladed spoke).
The best spoke in the world full stop. The pro's choice: Superbly light at 4.5 gram, It’s also the most aerodynamic bladed spoke available. And there’s more. It also is unique in strength and elastic responsiveness. Not cheap of course but a sound investment if you can afford it. If you can make this upgrade you really will see where your money is going! Ideal for both Rim brake and Disc wheels http://www.sapim.be/spokes/aero/cx-ray
PSR Aero and Aero SL
The PSR Aero spokes are our 'go-to' performance spokes.
The PSR AERO is very aero at 2.2 x 0.9mm and very light at 5.5 grams. Or you can upgrade to our PSR AERO SL (Superlight) option. At 4.9 grams and great aerodynamics It is an affordable economic equivalent of the SAPIM CXRAY spoke.
K1 3mm Aero BLADE
This is our own full aero spoke - which is now supplied as an option on some of our carbon and alloy wheelsets. At 3mm across and 1mm thick it’s aero credentials and of course its looks are something we’ve been very proud to achieve. In fact there are now very few brands who take the trouble to develop and supply full aero spokes - as it requires complex and custom machining of the hubs. We do like to go the extra mile -especially when the benefits are so clear. Because of the hub machining requirements we only offer these spokes on our basic hubs (Ambrosio and Formula) which have the right parameters for extra drilling.)
This is the standard ‘go-to’ high quality spoke known for its strength and rigidity of build. Not the lightest but ideal for even the heaviest of riders - and the mechanics favourite to work with. Ideal for both Rim brake and Disc wheels: http://www.sapim.be/spokes/butted/race
We use this more bladed version of the 1422 spoke on some builds where weight saving is not an issue. They are ideal bladed spokes for heavier riders. Due to their special characteristics they must be used only with certain hubs.