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Boulder Bicycle Lugged

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Schmidt wide body - or not!


We've been getting lots of questions the past week or so from our Boulder Bicycle customers regarding the new Schmidt wide body hub. So we thought we'd put our thoughts out there on this. We will be getting this hub in the near future, and are happy to sell it. And there are certainly instances where this hub makes sense. But in many ways, this hub for most of our rando customers is a solution in search of a problem. And there are some downsides - albeit minor, that go with it.

First and most important (this was brought to light by other shop's comments to us). The bracing angle which is what is really important, is more than sufficient on the regular SONdeluxe. Think about it, wheel trouble is typically always on the rear. We never ever have had a problem with a front wheel. But on a high dish wheel, such as Campagnolo 10sp, the rear drive side flange can be less than 18mm from the flange center - it is actually approaching 16mm if I recall correctly. So the 25mm on the front wheel is way beyond that. It is 50% farther out from the flange center than a modern Campy drive side rear!

And remember too - classic road hubs may be 70mm wide at the flanges, but many are small flange. The higher flange diameter of the SONdeluxe serves to increase bracing angle. All this adds up to why we don't see problems with folks using this hub!

Now for heavy riders on a loaded bike riding off road, we can see why the higher bracing angle of the wide body hub can help in theory. But we've never had a customer report a problem on a front wheel. So we are bit skeptical.

Now the downsides. The first is cost. Not much, just $20 extra. But then there is a weight penalty of the hub itself. Then the spokes are all longer by a smidge, so that adds weight. Finally, there is the likelihood that there is some aero drag. A significant amount of wind resistance comes from the spokes cutting through the air. Now I'm not sure, but I'd guess that there is some effect on speed at the margin.

So for the typical rider, and for my own bike for example, I'll be reaching for the regular SONdeluxe. If I'm building a bike for a heavier rider, or one riding off road extensively and especially if loaded, this hub is a great new addition to the Schmidt line up. But as I look over our roster of bike builds at the shop at this very moment I don't see any where the wide hub seems to be a better option. Now I do know of a couple coming up later on where this hub might make sense. But those are more the exception.



Mike Kone - Boulder CO USA

6 comments:

  1. Mike, Would you please convince Schmidt to make a connectorless SL version of the wide-body SONdelux? Thanks.

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  2. You don't mention one reason I like the wide-body hub: It looks better. Putting a hub with flanges that are 20 mm narrower than standard in a fork with 100 mm dropout spacing looks odd. If you want narrower flanges, why not make the fork narrower as well? Then you'd really improve aerodynamics!

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  3. I second the call for a wider connectorless SL. I currently see my wheel flex and experience fender rub whenever I stand out of the saddle. Its not often but annoying for sure. I even changed to straight guage spokes without improvement. I think the bracing angle is a problem.

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  4. First - I don't think the fender rub is from wheel flex - its most likely from fork flex! Try riding with a front rack for reference but with no fender - its striking watching the tire move close to the rack as you ride.

    Second - function shouldn't follow form. You can't make forks narower as that would gobble up precious clearance for fenders and for tires-clearing-brakes room. So within the other limitations of the system, we ask what provides the best performance? If only the wide body hub existed for many years, and the regular SONdeluxe was introduced, I think folks would be very excited about it for the performance reasons I cited.

    Now another issue - not a biggie, for for some it can matter. The wider the SON hub, the harder I find it for me to get my fingers around the backside of the terminal. Its easier with the narrower hub. For this reason, the argument for the wireless SON widebody hub makes a lot of sense!

    So if looks or heavier loads are what drives the decision, there is the widebody. For maximum performance for most riders, the skinny version makes the most sense.

    You really can choose the body you like!

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  5. Wasn't this hub initially commissioned by Idworx(Germany)? It was exclusive to them for a while at least. Where's a 15mm or 20mm hub? 12V? Let's concentrate less on aesthetics as they're already beautiful. It would be great if there was a generator hub to mount in ANY fork.

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  6. Hi! One thing I'd like to see is a 36-spoke disc version of the SONdeluxe. Very strange only offering it as a 32 hole version - do you have any suggestion of why?

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