Latest news, product updates, technical how to's, bling builds and more from AVT Bike.

Archives for March, 2019

Industry Nine Hubs: Tech That Works.

A little background for those who might not know, Industry Nine got its name because it's the 9th business to come out of one machine shop in Ashville, N.C.  The owner, Clint Spiegel, started out in his dad's machine shop in his teens, and it's the evolution of that same shop that now produces Industry Nine products.  If you're interested in fancy machines, machining techniques, and just high-precision manufacturing, you'll get a kick out of this company, and we highly recommend reading up on them more!

Over the years, the company has moved through three distinct freehub design-eras: the first, what they call their Legacy Freehub, from 2006 to 2012; the second, their Torch Freehub, until this year (though it continues on road hubs); and finally the new Hydra and 101 freehubs, which just launched.

Torch Road disc and Road rim hubs. Photos courtesy of Industry Nine

The original freehub was a marvel of machining, with six pawls, engaging in two phases on a 60 tooth drive ring to give 120 points of engagement.  At the time, this was pretty much unheard-of, and the hubs immediately gained a following.  Their combination of fast-engagement, beautiful construction and colors, and their unique aluminum spokes made them really stand out.  We've heard people talk about the problems they had with those early freehubs, which just makes it clear how high I9 set their own bar, and it highlights one of the things we like about the company: constant improvement without forgetting about what they've done in the past.

Torch Road Centerlock Disc hub. Photo courtesy of Industry Nine

Industry Nine was working on improving their hubs during the six years of their legacy freehub, and when they released their Torch design, they ushered in a new era of reliability.  With their Torch Mountain freehub, they maintained the same 120 points of engagement, but modified just about everything else about the way freehub worked.  In essence, they refined the original Legacy freehub, fixing the issues it had, and building something that was really reliable and easier to work on.  I9 also launched their Torch Road freehub, which has 3 pawls, and 90 points of engagement for lower drag where high-engagement isn't important.  This family of hubs has proven itself to have some of the best hubs that use a traditional pawl-driven design.  With the Torch hubs, I9 also began making the hubs to work with a traditional j-bend spoke, which opened them up to many more applications.

Four of the 11 colors in which the new Hydra hubs are available. Photo courtesy of Industry Nine

Now Hydra takes freehub design to a place where it's never gone before.  The hydra freehub has a ridiculous 690 points of engagement, which means it engages every 0.52 degrees!  If you've ever ridden I9's Torch Mountain freehub, you know that its 3 degree engagement feels nearly instantaneous, but this is almost 6 times faster!  That's huge! 

The new design accomplishes this feat by putting the 6 pawls into 6 phases on a new 115 tooth drive ring.  That means that each pawl engages on its own, which might sound like it would make the mechanism weaker, but Industry Nine has clearly been taking a deep dive into how a freehub works because this one actually takes material flex into account to get those high-engagement numbers.  As you put pedaling force into it, first one, then more pawls engage as the system flexes ever so minutely.  The result, says Industry Nine, is a system that's stronger because it significantly reduces the possibility that only one pawl will be engaged under hard load, which would unevenly load both the freehub mechanism and the bearings.  So you get a hub that not only has insanely fast engagement, but it's also more durable, and because of the smaller teeth, lower drag.   

The new 6-bolt 101 hubset. Photo Courtesy of Industry Nine

As if this weren't enough, I9 also released their new 101 hubs at the same time as the Hydra.  101 hubs are currently only available in Boost spacing, black, 28 or 32 hole, with a centerlock or 6-bolt rotor configuration for j-bend spokes.  Basically, they're a great option for your modern mountain bike at the moment. 

The big news with 101 is that they're one of the most affordable hubs that's entirely designed, machined, anodized, and assembled in the US!  They use a new freehub design with 90 points of engagement using 6 pawls in 2 phases on a 45 tooth drive ring to deliver an engagement point every 4 degrees.  The use of larger teeth on the drive ring means they don't have to use their extremely expensive and slow EDM cutting process, which reduces cost significantly.  Beyond that, continual streamlining of their production process, a slightly simplified hub design, fewer options, and more automation in the machining process, results in a hub that's a really impressive value.  This hub allows us to offer custom wheelsets, built with the best parts on the market, for well under $800!

Both Hydra and 101 hubs are available with Sram XD, Shimano Micro Spline, and traditional Shimano HG freehub bodies.  Torch road hubs are available with Shimano HG 11-speed road, Sram XDR, and Campy freehub bodies, so you can rest-assured that your new hubs will be compatible with whatever system you have or want to have.

The new Industry Hydra freehub and 6-bolt mountain hub. Photo Courtesy of Industry Nine

We feel that these hubs offer a great value for riders who are looking for a truly exceptional hub, and we're really excited to be able to offer them!  With a every freehub covered, a wide range of bearing options, and just about every spacing available (road, fatbike, boost singlespeed, along with the various standard mountain spacings), these hubs have most uses covered.  The Hydra and Torch hubs are available in a huge range of colors, and as anyone who's seen it knows, Industry Nine's anodizing is second to none.  They brought their anodizing in-house early-on because they wanted to be able to control the quality and colors as precisely as the rest of their products, and it really shows.  Their colors are many, beautiful, and consistent. 

The new Hydra hub offers almost silly engagement numbers, and actually promises to bring a new level of function, durability, serviceability, and just quality to an already exceptional hub, while their 101 hubs make a very slightly pared-down version of their hubs available to a much wider range of riders with very little loss of performance.  We've got complete wheels built around these hubs available at a wide range of price points, so if you're interested in those, just check out our wheels page to get started.

From what we've seen the people behind Industry Nine know their stuff when it comes to designing and manufacturing a quality product, but beyond that they're also just great folks: their customer support is top-notch, and you can rest-assured that even as their hubs continue to evolve in the years to come, they will continue to support all of their products with friendly, helpful service, and in our book that's saying a lot.

Got questions?  We're here to help.  Check out our contact page to find the best way to get in touch!

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Starting a GIOS #RetroRebuild - Part 1

If you're a regular to the AVT Blog you'll know that we're big fans of a nice steel bike build, and when that's a classic retro one it's a bonus! One of the great things about the parts we specialize in is their ability to fit all sorts of old or unusual frames. The blend of old and new components is something that, if done right can look great and prolong the life of older, classic frames when paired with high quality parts from Chris King, White Industries or others that will go on for years themselves. 

Inspiration Part 1:

The idea for this build really all started a few weeks back with Astral doing a very limited edition run of sliver polished Radiant rims, reminiscent of the classic Campagnolo Shamal rims from the 90's. So that got us thinking, wouldn't it be an awesome retro rebuild to lace up a pair of these wheels on a classic looking frame from the past. The idea took hold in my mind and I started building up a mental picture of what I wanted, some classic Italian steel combined with modern parts that look retro but work great. No disrespect to some of the older parts from the 90's but bearing performance in particular has come a long, long way since then. The other modern rim that works great in this sort of application is the HPLUS SON TB14 which is a new box section rim that looks very similar to the classic Ambrosio Roubaix rim. 

Inspiration Part 2:

A quick search on eBay showed up a vintage GIOS frame that I recognized from at least 6 months earlier indicating it had been on the market a while, so sent the seller a speculative offer and was pleasantly surprised when it was accepted right away. I've always been a huge fan of these GIOS frames and remember racing against a guy who had one when I was an under-18. You know the type of guy.. the one who had ALL the gear at age 16, Delta brakes, Italian frame with lots of chrome.. I could only look on enviously as my paper round couldn't stretch to the level of bike bling back then! 

Anyway, back to the present day... The frame showed up and it looks great, functionally 100%, no dents or major scratches, but clearly some cosmetic wear and tear. After closer inspection I did consider whether to go for a full renovation and have the frame repainted, but honestly there's something I quite like about the older frame that shows some use. Bikes are meant to be ridden, not hung up on the wall and admired from afar, so a few bumps and scratches which give away the frames age are fine with me. I want to be able to ride this bike regularly.. in the summer at least!

Right now the plan is to clean up and polish the frame as best as possible, which will include removing some of the non-GIOS graphics on the seat stays. The build will start with a Chris King silver GripNut headset and some Chris King Silver R45 hubs laced to those shiny Astral Radiant rims. As for the rest, stayed tuned for more details on this build over the coming months. It's going to be a stunning mix of old and new that respects the retro heritage of this special frame!

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White Industries announces the G25A rim

Here at AVT, we're big fans of White Industries.  Not only do they make really high-quality and beautiful products, but they're constantly working to keep up with standards, and are doing so in ways that don't render their older designs obsolete.  This has led to their hubs being up-gradable to keep pace with current freehub standards, among other things.  

Today White Industries made a big announcement: a new gravel and lightweight mountain bike rim called the G25A. 

Like the rest of their parts, this rim is made in their facility in Petaluma, CA, and that just makes its specs all the more impressive:

  • 25mm internal / 29mm external width with a 20mm depth
  • Tubeless compatible with a hookless bead
  • Welded joint with full post-weld heat-treatment to restore the metal's full strength
  • Matte black anodized finish
  • Asymmetric rim profile for more even spoke tension
  • 24, 28, 32, and 36 hole drilling available
  • Disc only
  • Recommended tire widths of 40-54mm
  • Available in 700c and 650B sizes

Where to start with these? 

How about a welded seam, for one?  This is an area that is uncommon among US-Made rims, and while you can find arguments in favor of pinned seams as well, there are good ones to be made for a welded one–especially if the rim gets post-weld heat-treatment–so this strikes us as a big deal.  Welded rims tend to be straighter at the seam, lighter, and have slightly easier tubeless setup, so we're happy to see White Industries taking this approach with their rim.

Another feature that we really appreciate in these disc-specific rims is their asymmetric drilling.  Asymmetric, or off-center spoke hole drilling helps even-out spoke tension both on the front wheel's disc-side and the rear wheel's drive-side, resulting in a stronger wheelset.

The width is also great for gravel and all-road bikes, and the wide range of available spoke counts will help more riders get the right wheelbuilds for their riding, so you can bet we'll be keeping a close eye on the development of this rim.

Current ETA is August, so stay tuned for updates here, and follow and like our Instagram and Facebook feeds, because we'll let you know the moment we can get these for you!  

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Ride to Nahbs 2019

Bikepacking to NAHBS 2019 in Sacramento, CA

My buddy Nick put it best when he said that one of the great things about going to the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show is that it gives us the chance to just talk about bikes.  Events like it remind us that we’re not alone in our fascination with, and passion for these things—just look at all the work that the builders have put into the ones they've got on display!

A special event like that warrants a special introduction, and what better intro than a ride to the event?  I had seen Nick and another friend when they arrived in Sacramento after a similar ride the last time the event was held there, back in 2016, and had promised myself that I wouldn’t miss it were I given the opportunity to do the ride next time.

Nick setting out into the early morning from Santa Rosa
Early on the first climb

That’s where I stood when I got the word that he was putting together a ride to this year’s edition of NAHBS. It would leave from Santa Rosa, and ride the 110-or-so miles to Sacramento, where the event was held.  Getting to the start would be a trick, but I knew that missing it wasn't an option.

Shige and Nick high on the first climb.  It was steeper than it looks!

Where the first iteration had followed pavement all the way, this time Nick wanted to stay off the paved roads as much as possible because of how narrow and full of cars they were on that previous ride. The options for any kind of roads between Santa Rosa and Sacramento are pretty limited as you get closer to the Central Valley though, so it wasn’t simply a matter of choosing a different route and being done with it.  In the end, the route was a bit of an open question of whether we'd be able to make it, and that meant that it had all the makings of a great adventure.

Our little group consisted of  Shige and Rie from Sim Works; Nick, the master of ceremonies, Adam Sklar, builder of swoopy bicycles, Derek from Siskiyou Saddletramps, and our friend Eli.  We even got the royal treatment in the form of some old friends who rolled out on the first leg with us!  

Our crew plus a few who rode out with us on the first leg enjoying the view on the first summit
Our collection of bikes waiting while we ate in St. Helena

That ride ended up being a perfect example of bikepacking at its best (and most multi-surface), taking us up out of the Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valleys over a lung and leg-buster of a climb, before heading down a brake-burning descent into St. Helena in the Napa Valley, at the beating heart of the California Wine Country.  We had been told that we had to stop at the Clif Family Tasting Room, which is set-up to be very welcoming to cyclists and happens to have fantastic coffee.  Once outside though, we were pulled across the parking lot by the smell of tasty tacos, at the Azteca Market, so it was with full bellies that we set off from St. Helena, and headed up to the secluded town of Angwin for the last resupply of day one.  After a stop at the market for dinner and breakfast, we managed to squeeze in a bit of singletrack—complete with creek-crossings, slippery, rutted descents, and a touch of bushwacking—before emerging at last in Pope Valley to bathe in the golden light of a California spring evening on our way to camp on the shores of Lake Berryessa.

Riding trails around Berryessa

The morning of the second day found us anxiously awaiting the sun as it rose behind the mountains that we would soon climb. While the day before had been warm, it hadn’t been hot, and the night got cold—much colder than the summer sleeping bags that many of us had so hopefully packed were prepared to handle.

Lake Berryessa waiting for the sunrise

Soon we were back on the road though, and for the next many hours we pushed our bikes across washed-out creek crossings, struggled to maintain traction on steep-cattle-trampled climbs, and squinted at our maps to make sure we were actually where we wanted to be (or at least still headed in the right direction). We rode through an epic stretch of scorched earth and charred manzanita bush stumps before being rewarded with a 360 degree view that really let us stretch-out our eyes.

The day started down in the verdant green lowlands
Through the burn
Shige climbing up through the remnants of a burn
Big views....

After taking in the panorama for a bit, we pushed on down the hill into the valley, only stopping to form small bucket-brigades to pass bikes over cow-field gates that happened to cross our path. The descent was, as they say, ripping; but was over before we knew it, and we found ourselves surrounded by peach orchards, then walnuts, oranges, and kale.

The crew as we near Sacramento
Sacramento in the distance

We refueled at the first convenience store we found, and headed off across the flat expanse of valley toward Sacramento, which was already showing the tops of its tall downtown buildings in the distance.

20-or-so miles of narrow farm roads full of afternoon traffic gave way to wide clean shoulders and miles of slow-to-stopped traffic on Interstate 5 when we had to bypass a large flooded area, and then it was back to narrow roads and no shoulder as our mellow paceline rolled along the Sacramento river toward downtown. We finally pulled up to the state capital as dark was really settling in, and after a quick stop at Sacramento Convention Center, where the show was taking place, we all dispersed in search of our respective showers and dinners.

Riding to the show was a great experience, and though I might be wary of doing the exact same route again, given some of the challenging spots we encountered, getting to show up at the bike show on a bike felt awesome, and I'd highly recommend it.  If you get the opportunity to ride to next year’s show in Houston, go for it!

Photos by Brendon Potts

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Bikes of NAHBS: Part 1

Some of our favorite bikes from NAHBS 2019

This year's edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show just finished up this last weekend in Sacramento, California, and we were there to see what we could see.  It's really impressive to see the workmanship on many of the frames on display, but of course, it's usually the paint that catches the eye first.  Paint jobs this year were, as usual, amazing, over-the-top, tastefully understated, garish, and just about everything in between.  The bike that won best finish didn't even have paint on it, but more on that later....

Whether or not you're looking for your next bike, we find the ways builders combine parts and paint to be really inspiring, and hope you do too.  If you see color combos or parts that you don't know where to get on these bikes, and you'd like to get the same setup on your bike, we're happy to help you get exactly the look you want, so feel free to get in touch

For the moment, enjoy the bikes....

Mosaic GT-1

The bikes at the Mosaic booth were all stunners, but this one had a special combination of a subdued green-green fade paint job combined with Chris King's Matte Mango R45D Centerlock hubs, Threadfit bottom bracket, and Inset headset (with matching spacers) that gave just the right amount of 'pop'. 

Very nice indeed.

Dekerf Ti Mountain Bike

Chris Dekerf has been building frames in B.C. for over 30 years, and in that time he's also brought paint in-house, which makes his paint that much more impressive.  This Gulf Racing-themed bike was thorough to say the least.  He repainted everything–right down to the adjusters and air cap on the fork and the Enve stem.  Talking with Chris, it becomes clear how much he cares about each aspect of building the bike, and this is a perfect example of that.  The iconic paint is accented perfectly by the black White Industries headset, and CLD+ hubs.

Hunter All Road

Rick Hunter's bikes have a beautiful simplicity to them.  Even when they seem to have fun and odd details, he somehow makes a bike that looks unassuming and just very much about being a great and beautiful bicycle.  This road bike is a perfect example of that with its simple lines, single-color paint, and black White Industries R30 cranks, bottom bracket, headset, CLD hubs, and Paul Klamper brakes and Boxcar stem.  Even with the latest electronic drivetrain the bike wouldn't look out of place anywhere. 

Well done!

Sycip Designs Breakaway 

Jeremy Sycip has a varied repertoire—from cargo bikes to lightweight road and mountain bikes—but we really like the look of this all-weather fat-tire road bike with Ritchey Breakaway couplers.  With a wide-range double drivetrain, and just enough red accents from its shift housing and Chris King headset and spacers, R45D Centerlock hubs, Threadfit bottom bracket, and even the Silca pump, we think it's got a great balance of utility and bling.

We hope you enjoy these, but stay tuned for more, and if you have any questions about the parts and how to get look and parts you want for your bike, just get in touch.

All photos: Brendon Potts

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Bikes of NAHBS: Part 2

Best of NAHBS 2019 bikes part 2

As anyone who has been to a show like the North American Handmade Bicycle Show knows, the number and variety of bikes is a bit overwhelming.  From traditional to outlandish, there is a huge range of bikes to see, and that means sensory overload at the very least.

We like bikes that have (according to us at least) a tasteful use of color through paint and parts, and that look like they'd be fun to ride.  At this show we also found ourselves drawn most to the road bikes that were on display. Even having narrowed the choices down that much, there were still a lot of them to choose from, and that makes the process of determining which ones will show up here that much more challenging!

Here are a few more bikes that stood out to us:

Simple Bike Co Titanium All Road

This is one of a few Simple Bike Co bikes on display at NAHBS, and they were all very cool.  Oscar from Simple has been building for many other US-made brands over the years, and many of us aren’t familiar with the frames he builds under his own brand, but we should be!

The matte paint on this bike gives it a really clean look, and we love the way the Chris King matte slate InSet and R45D Centerlock hubs pick up the titanium color and contrast with the yellow.  

Black Cat All-Weather All-Road

This Black Cat is one of those bikes that if you weren't looking closely, would let you walk right by it; but if you happened to actually give it a second glance, you'd be pulled in by its details.  The paint, which had a beautiful semi-gloss finish, was an intricate pattern of blue on blue, and that theme was echoed in the blue Chris King R45D hubs, tapered NoThreadSet, and fenders that were painted to match the frame, fork, and stem.  Overall it was a surprisingly subtle bike considering how much it had going on, and we really liked it.

Mosaic RT-1

With so many beautiful bikes to choose from at the their booth, it’s hard not to feature a couple of bikes from Mosaic in our coverage of NAHBS.  If you've ever visited Mosaic's website, you'll find that they have an extremely thorough range of paint options, and the bikes they brought to NAHBS really showed-off what they're capable of when it comes to paint.  Of course once you get close to the bikes, it’s clear that there’s a lot more going on than flashy paint, but that paint sure is effective at drawing you in!  The Chris King InSet is one of the few parts that isn't custom painted given that the everything from the Silca pump to the hubs on the Enve wheels get the custom treatment on this shimmering blue beauty.

Caletti Jeremiah Kille Titanium Adventure Road

This Caletti was eye catching to say the very least. With paint by Jeremiah Kille, and a booth designed around the bike,  it really stood out.  It’s also a perfect example of an instance where having hubs, headset, and other parts that don’t match. Generally it just makes sense that you would try to color-match these parts, but with paint like this, the shiny black Chris King InSet works perfectly with the matte turquoise R45D Centerlock hubs and ThreadFit 30 bottom bracket.

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