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Introducing November Nimbus Ti hubs, manufactured by White Industries. Industry leading performance, unprecedented value. Complete wheelsets starting at $555.

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Monday
May112015

Brown Bag Wheels

A lot of people have asked if we are going to sell Nimbus Ti hubs as a standalone parts, which we have no plans to do. There are a bunch of reasons behind this, among them:

1. They have a longer lead time than any other hubs we work with, even Tunes, and we don't want to put ourselves in the position of not being able to sell wheels because we sold too many hubs.

2. This has already proven to be a great move for us, and we don't want for it to turn bad for any of the relevant players. Our aim is to offer an exceptional product and value that helps us to continue to grow our wheel business. The plan has never been to disrupt the hub market in that manner, as we feel it would be counterproductive to do so. 

3. Without anyone ever having mentioned a price target for a would-be standalone hub, my instinct is that people would expect it to be lower-priced than it would be. 

4. We are able to offer a great range of rim and build options that give riders the ability to select and tailor something that will suit their exact needs, yet allows us to manage production efficiently. A great deal of the value in the wheels comes from exactly that - the job board is WAY simplified compared to what it looked like in the very recent past.  

We also have a mousetrap which allows people who want to use a rim that we don't offer, or who have a set of rims that need new hubs, to get precisely what they want: BYO rims. Send us your rims in the appropriate drillings (20/24/28 front, 24/28/32 rear) and we will build them with a set of Nimbus Ti hubs and black Sapim Lasers for you, for $500. If you must have CX Rays, those are $80 more. This includes the material cost of the hubs/spokes/nipples/skewers, plus the labor to build them. Return shipping is $35, as with all wheels. Turnaround time is roughly 10 days from receipt of rims. There are of course limitations - rims need to be in good shape, need to be from a reputable source (contact us to be sure), and hell hath no fury like a wheelbuilder who gets a set of nasty dirty rims or tubular rims with glue from one end to the other - but it's a tremendously consumer-centric program that we feel is unltimately a much better all around solution thanselling loose joints hubs.

Of course Rail rims are their own compelling argument, the new Pacenti SL23 v2 rim is taking off like a shot and is a beautiful rim to build, look at, and ride, and the Stan's rims are excellent as ever.

Questions, comments? Fire away. 

Sunday
May032015

Our New Hubs, Really This Time

If you've been paying attention, we've been teasing a new set of hubs. For as long as we can remember, we've recognized that there's a large and multi-faceted gulf between Asian-produced OEM hubs and premium hubs like Chris King, Tune, DT Swiss, and - let's just say it - our favorite, the White Industries T11. For some further insight into those particulars, you can read this blog from last week.  The long and the short of it is that there's a big jump in product (performance, durability, reliability) and price between the two groups, and we've wracked our brains trying to figure out how to address it. 

So let's get right to it. The new hubs are called Nimbus Ti. They are made by White Industries. Their most important features are shared directly with the T11: bearings, axles, cassette body, geometry, weight - all the same. Nimbus Ti hubs are available in front 20, 24, and 28 front drillings, and 24, 28, and 32 rear drillings. They come in the titanium grey/silver color as pictured here. 

As excited as we are about being able to offer Nimbus Ti Rails for $1385, hand built with a hub that's every bit the equal of anything on the market, we're perhaps even more so about the alloy builds. Take your pick of the rims we offer (including the new Pacenti SL23 Mk2), have us hand build them with black Sapim Lasers and Nimbus Ti hubs, and you're at $585. $585. There's quite simply no better deal in an alloy build anywhere on the market.   

This being cycling, and people being right to exercise skepticism when something like this comes out, let's talk about what compromises were made to bring the pricepoint to where it is:

1. Nimbus Ti are only available in one color

2. Nimbus Ti have a hub shell that is a simpler shape that's easier to manufacture

3. Nimbus Ti forego the machined logos of the T11 in favor of laser etching

4. November takes a lower margin on Nimbus Ti. We are able to do this through the efficiency of operations that standardized builds afford us. Purchasing and stocking is simpler. Build planning is way more efficient. The "oh crap he wanted blue nipples" scenario never happens. One decal color allows us to batch apply them. Marginal gains galore. 

5. Since this is our own hub in our own builds, all superfluous distribution costs are minimized or outright eliminated. Farm to table hubs, if you will. 

Plenty of wheels have been promoted as having "DT Swiss inners" in the hubs, so people ought to at least be a bit familiar with that concept. Nimbus Ti is a similar thing, only they have T11 inners. What do we mean by T11 inners?

Same non-drive bearing and placement

Same drive ring, drive side bearing, and placement

Same cassette body, axle, and pawlsIn the interest of full disclosure, the Nimbus Ti rear does weigh 3 grams more than a T11 rear, and the front is 4 grams heavier than a T11 front. We know weight is a big concern, but those 7 grams are the equal, weight wise, of 2 pennies. A bigger concern might be what to do with the weight of the tens of thousands of pennies you'll save. 

$1385

You can order your own set of hand built Nimbus wheels right here, right now. We get the first shipment of Nimbus Ti toward the end of the week and will build for received orders and for stock beginning immediately. 

The disc version is already well in the works, and will be ready in plenty of time for cross season. 

November remains resolutely committed to putting customers - riders -  first. Yes, we think that the Nimbus Ti project will improve our business, absolutely. But at a time when too much of cycling is asking you to pay more and more for the same and same, Nimbus Ti is so much more, for less. 

Friday
May012015

Our New Hubs!!!

Sort of an ante-climactic (yes, ante-) post here, since we got this notice from UPS:

WE'VE INCORRECTLY SORTED THE PACKAGE AT OUR FACILITY. THIS MAY CAUSE AT LEAST ONE BUSINESS DAY DELAY

So instead of building up the first sets with our actual honest-to-God fully live versions of the new hubs, we're dealing with our insurance policy and writing this blog. 

You thought the sign Mike got for outside was cool...

You've still got all weekend to get a set of Rails for $50 off by using your secret decoder ring to input "speedweek" at checkout (actually no ring of any sort is needed - just put the code in). The new hubs won't affect anything on that front. And the women are smashing it at Speed Week, and loving their Rails. We're getting to be quite the big deal, apparently. 

This has been a busy place this springMy keen wit probably cost us a sale when I told a guy "when people see what goes on with our new hubs and alloy builds, anyone who's dumb enough to buy anything else, I just can't help." I am indeed just like a box of chocolate. 

Bleached black has a HUGE lead over the chase group

So, back to insurance and building wheels that don't have our new hubs in them. Which is unfortunate, since I'm doing a 6 hour mtb race on Sunday and what exactly that's going to do to my Monday, no one can say. Actually I can, and what it will do is make me pretty useless. 


Thursday
Apr302015

Another Post About Hubs

Occasionally, we get a "could you please do a post about..." that's actually a topic that's near the top of the hopper. Today was one of those times. 

Today's question was about thru axles versus quick releases as a general topic, and switching from rim brakes to disc. Let me do this in bullet point format.

1. Rim brake hubs are rim brake hubs and disc brake hubs are disc brake hubs. You could use a disc brake hub set on a rim brake bike so long as the dropout spacing matches. On the front, you have a pretty good chance with this. On the rear, not so much. Also, your dreams of 20 spoke front wheels are dashed (DASHED!!) since 24 is the minimum anyone you want to talk to is going to put in a disc build.

2. "Thru-axle" is no longer, if it ever was, a catch-all description. You need to know the axle diameter (generally between 9 and 20mm), and the axle length (100 or now 110 for front; 130, 135, or 142 for rear). There are also different attachment mechanisms, but so far as I know, they are all bike-specific. By that I mean that any 15x100mm hub will fit on any bike that takes a 15x100mm hub.

3. Rotor attachment methods are a separate deal, the rotors you get will have to match to the hub's attachment format, which is either 6 bolt or center lock. You can adapt a center bolt hub to use a 6 bolt rotors are reasonably cheap and they are wear items. We WAY prefer center lock for a number of reasons, but that's a separate story. Your hubs do not care how big your rotors are, but your bike does. 

4. Thru-axles mean that there is no inherent connection between the hub and the bike - there is no angle at which the hub will ever nest into the bike's dropouts. The bike HAS no dropouts - it has holes. There IS radial/shear force on the axle of a thru-axle setup. The axle, which is also the attachment mechanism, bears the load. This is what a thru-axle hub looks like (in a laced but not-yet-tensioned wheel).

the ends of the hub axle butt up to the fork or frame in a thru-axle setup5. By contrast, a quick release hub (pictured below) does have a mechanical connection to the bike. It is an incomplete one, as without a skewer the wheel will fall out if you lift the bike up, but it is one nonetheless. The hub's end caps capture all of the radial load, and the skewers, which are the clamping mechanism, take none of the radial load. They are purely a clamp. 

the nubs on the endcaps lock the hub into the bike, and the knurls help prevent it from slipping6. The possibility or ease of converting from a quick-release format to a thru-axle format, or vice-versa, is totally dependent on the hub. On some, you just switch endcaps. On some, you switch out bearings and maybe axles. Conversion ease is not necessarily a universal benefit. It can often mean that compromises were made to the hub's performance purely to make it easy to convert. The hubs shown here can all be converted back and forth - much more involved than just trading endcaps, but you don't need to be a high paid bike mechanic to be able to do it. It's straightforward. 

7. The benefits of thru-axles several. It is a more secure and precise interface between bike and hub, which means if nothing else that your rotors are going to be positioned more exactly every time you use the bike. Especially on suspension forks, it can make the steering much less sloppy. There is no stress riser created where the axle transitions to end caps. All in all, thru-axles are pretty nice. In my rapidly-becoming-extensive experience with road disc, I have QR and thru-axle would be fine and dandy but unnecessary. On the other had, they would be nice on my cx bike and I really kind of wish my mountain bike had them.

8. MOST IMPORTANTLY, thru-axles mean I have to use one of these in order to build your wheels. Fortunately, Abbey Tools makes such a nice tool for the purpose.

Great tool. Not cheapThis is far from comprehensive but it's a good primer. We're way over the word limit. 

Tuesday
Apr282015

A Post About Hubs

We don't post on forums lately as much as we have at times in the past, but I recently noticed a thread where we are somewhat uniquely qualified to comment. By the time I'd finished my response, a fully formed blog post was on my hands. The original forum thread is here.

I can only speak at great knowledge with regard to T11s versus Novatec F482SB, but there are several meaningful differences.

First, the titanium cassette body as many have mentioned. I've seen 3 year old ti cassette bodies that were less chewed up than 3 ride old aluminum cassette bodies. This sacrifices a few grams and adds significant cost. The grams are meaningless in my opinion but the dollars are real. 

White Industries T11 top, Novatec F482SB bottom

The T11 uses a steel axle as opposed to an aluminum axle on most other hubs and certainly the majority of lightweight OEM hubs. This costs a few grams again, but is an area where we have seen a meaningful difference in longevity. We've seen a number of bent Novatec axles. Far from an epidemic or something that's going to happen to everyone, but I wouldn't recommend them for cross use, or heavier riders, or people who like to take road bikes where road bikes aren't necessarily meant to go. A lot of times people with lightweight hubs wonder why the hub won't hold a bearing after a while, and a bent axle is usually the culprit. 

Both use steel pawls and drive rings, but the T11 drive ring gives some points of engagement back in order to have deeper engagement. You very occasionally hear about skipping engagement with Novatecs but in some other hubs it's more of a thing. In my opinion, unless you are Hans "No Way" Rey, speed of engagement is something you will never notice in a million years but a skipped engagement could have an acute bad outcome. 

Overall bearing spread on the T11 is quite a bit wider than on any lightweight OEM hub I've seen. The T11's hub shell bearing width is maximized, and same with the bearings inside the cassette body. We have bench tested stiffness of various builds with various hubs, and the T11 always comes out at the head of the class. The stiffness difference between a wheel built with a T11 rear and an F482 rear is usually on the order of one spoke group (i.e. a 24h wheel with T11 is stiffness equivalent to a 28h wheel with an F482). How much of that is down to bearing spread versus axle differences or other factors I have no way of isolating and thus I can't say.

The bearings on F482s and most OEM hubs are open spec, meaning that different places will be selling "the same" hub with different bearings. We always used EZO ABEC 5 bearings in the Novatecs we sold. I've heard of Novatecs gaining a reputation as being a dry weather hub, but that hasn't necessarily been our experience. I'm inclined to say that there are hubs out there with lesser bearings causing that impression. In any case, all T11s come with Enduro-made ABEC 5 bearings. 

Tension balance on either is about as good as you can do with 11 speed hubs without going to a radial drive side (and that didn't work out so hot), and in our deep experience this is a non-issue. 

On the front hubs, T11 front flange and bearing spacing is much wider than a Novatec A291's. An A291's flanges nest inside of a T11 front hub's flanges, and the T11 has higher flanges. The stiffness increase between otherwise equivalent builds is noticeable there. 

T11 vs A291, plus a hex to stop them from rolling

As far as ease of service goes, both are dead simple but the T11 is actually easier. Undo three 2mm set screws and you can take the thing all the way apart. An F482 is hardly complex, but requires two 5mm and one 10mm hex. T11 front requires undoing the same 2mm set screws, while the A291 front requires two 5mm hexes. Both are WELL within the capability of anyone with greater mechanical aptitude than my brother (which is about 99.6% of all people over the age of 4). 

Cost differences are significant, and that can't be ignored. 

For full disclosure, we have built and sold many hundred (I don't know exactly how many of each without doing a research project) of each hub I describe. We currently sell T11s but do not currently sell Novatec or any other OEM hubs. Fairwheel had a stake in the SL23 project and in my opinion treated the Kinlin/SL23 comparison fairly. Wheelbuilder.org was created by Zen Wheels and, so far as I could ever tell, he was the sole contributor and not very transparent about it (the royal "we" being just one example of that). November is imminently launching a hub produced by White Industries that is very closely based on the T11, which is undeniably related to our good opinion of White Industries and their products, but our good opinion of White Industries and their products is what led us to seek this cooperation with them in the first place. This hub set will address the cost difference between T11s and OEM hubs.