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Old 01-19-06, 02:28 PM   #1
TallRider
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My impression is that high-flange hubs are a style thing for fixed-gear people. They may make a wheel stiffer side-to-side, which could be helpful for heavy sprinting in track applications. They make the spokes shorter, and thus the wheel may ride stiffer. But why would your average road-riding fixed-gear rider want high-flange hubs? Especially given that, whatever advantages, this design has, hubs designed for regular road and off-road use are low-flange?

Mainly, this question is coming out of my lack of knowledge about hub design for various applications. All the road wheels I've built have low-flange "normal" hubs, though my commuting bike with 27" wheels has a high-flange front hub with 36 4-cross spokes.

My default is to think that it's mainly a style thing, especially for front hubs, where I can't see any reason that a single-speed or fixed-gear bike would place different demands on the front wheel than a geared bike.

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Old 01-19-06, 03:36 PM   #2
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They may be used primarilly to add style points on a fixie, but they do increase the strength/stiffness of the wheel by increasing the spoke bracing angle. I especially like American Classic's new Hurricane wheelset. It was designed for cross, but I'd run them on a road bike way before those silly aluminum-spoked Ksyrium hoops everyone loves. 32 spokes, 3x pattern, high flanges, nearly dishless, and a weight of only 1545 gm.
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Old 01-19-06, 04:06 PM   #3
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Spokes used to break a lot more than they do today. The stainless steel they were made out of wasn't as good as it is now. Even up through the mid-80's, cyclists used to carry spare spokes just like spare tubes.

One big reason why track bikes have high-flange hubs is so that a mechanic could change a broken spoke on the rear wheel drive side without removing the cog. Since both the front and rear wheels are evenly dished, having all four flanges the same size means you only need one size spare spoke.

Track racers tend to be big, heavy people, and back in the day, they broke a lot of spokes. That's also one reason why tying and soldering spokes was popular for track riders - if someone broke a spoke while sprinting all out, it would be safer for the pieces to stay put on the wheel, not flap around.

Road bikes used to have high flange hubs, and then at some point manufacturers started making low flange hubs for racing bikes to save weight. Touring bikes usually had high flanges up to the 70s and 80s to make spoke replacement on the road simpler. By the time mountain bikes came out, the stainless steel was so good that we hardly ever need to repair a spoke on the road any more.

Both of these things - high flange hubs and tied/soldered spokes - also make the wheel stiffer. How much stiffer? Guys like us will argue till the end of the internet about that, but the difference is pretty small when compared to other factors, like tire quality and rim strength.

So, to answer your question, most urban fixed gear riders have no idea why their fixie hubs have high flanges, but they like the way it looks. I know I do .
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Old 01-19-06, 08:27 PM   #4
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The mounting area of disc brake rotors requires the spoke holes to be farther out in order to allow for installation. A side effect of this is a wheel that is more laterally stiff than the lower flange types.
In all honesty, the difference in rigidity is minimal if the wheels are propperly tensioned.
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Old 01-20-06, 01:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by same time
Spokes used to break a lot more than they do today. The stainless steel they were made out of wasn't as good as it is now. Even up through the mid-80's, cyclists used to carry spare spokes just like spare tubes.

One big reason why track bikes have high-flange hubs is so that a mechanic could change a broken spoke on the rear wheel drive side without removing the cog. Since both the front and rear wheels are evenly dished, having all four flanges the same size means you only need one size spare spoke.

Track racers tend to be big, heavy people, and back in the day, they broke a lot of spokes. That's also one reason why tying and soldering spokes was popular for track riders - if someone broke a spoke while sprinting all out, it would be safer for the pieces to stay put on the wheel, not flap around.

Road bikes used to have high flange hubs, and then at some point manufacturers started making low flange hubs for racing bikes to save weight. Touring bikes usually had high flanges up to the 70s and 80s to make spoke replacement on the road simpler. By the time mountain bikes came out, the stainless steel was so good that we hardly ever need to repair a spoke on the road any more.

Both of these things - high flange hubs and tied/soldered spokes - also make the wheel stiffer. How much stiffer? Guys like us will argue till the end of the internet about that, but the difference is pretty small when compared to other factors, like tire quality and rim strength.

So, to answer your question, most urban fixed gear riders have no idea why their fixie hubs have high flanges, but they like the way it looks. I know I do .

Thanks for that info. As someone who just likes looking at a bike (not a good enough rider to be a stylist), I will also say that the high flange just affords the hub designer more space to do something a bit more decorative. That's probably the reason that us urban fashionistas like them. They're just a bit more ... baroque. Which can be a nice thing on an object that's utilitarian in design and confined to mainly angles, straight lines and rigid geometric shapes.
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Old 01-21-06, 03:08 AM   #6
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You said it all very accurately indeed. I am an old school rider who loves the modern gear. I still have high flange hubs on my "classics" and I like the look. Your statement about spokes was right on. I rode 36H, 4X, tie & soldered my wheels. Reduced my breakage significantly and made for a laterally stiffer wheel for sprinting on my track bike. Today I ride them for looks when I am out with a fellow classicist, but mostly I ride the latest gear for the majority of my road time. Haven't broken a spoke in a long time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by same time
Spokes used to break a lot more than they do today. The stainless steel they were made out of wasn't as good as it is now. Even up through the mid-80's, cyclists used to carry spare spokes just like spare tubes.

One big reason why track bikes have high-flange hubs is so that a mechanic could change a broken spoke on the rear wheel drive side without removing the cog. Since both the front and rear wheels are evenly dished, having all four flanges the same size means you only need one size spare spoke.

Track racers tend to be big, heavy people, and back in the day, they broke a lot of spokes. That's also one reason why tying and soldering spokes was popular for track riders - if someone broke a spoke while sprinting all out, it would be safer for the pieces to stay put on the wheel, not flap around.

Road bikes used to have high flange hubs, and then at some point manufacturers started making low flange hubs for racing bikes to save weight. Touring bikes usually had high flanges up to the 70s and 80s to make spoke replacement on the road simpler. By the time mountain bikes came out, the stainless steel was so good that we hardly ever need to repair a spoke on the road any more.

Both of these things - high flange hubs and tied/soldered spokes - also make the wheel stiffer. How much stiffer? Guys like us will argue till the end of the internet about that, but the difference is pretty small when compared to other factors, like tire quality and rim strength.

So, to answer your question, most urban fixed gear riders have no idea why their fixie hubs have high flanges, but they like the way it looks. I know I do .
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