Phil Wood FSA hub related questions
I'm considering building a rear wheel with a 7 spd/135mm OLD/36h Phil Wood FSA hub. By building with a velocity rim with 2.5mm offset spoke holes, according to SpoCalc i should be able to achieve an essentially dishless rear wheel. My objective is to achieve a stronger, better spinning rear wheel, for use in commuting, recreational riding and touring - a nice strong all-around rear wheel. I ride mostly 9 speed drivetrains but have been thinking i don't really need all those cogs.
My questions are:
1. Are Phil bearings really better than other cartridge and loose ball bearing alternatives, as far as smooth spinning / low friction goes? No hype please, I need some thoughtful answers to this $500 question - it's a really expensive proposition to me. Are they worth it?
2. I have no recent experience with threaded hubs and freewheels. Are good quality (ie pawls and bearings) freewheels available at low cost? So far I've found the QBP shimano listing, and interloc's defiant freewheel, as well as various ebay listings. http://www.interlocracing.com/freewheels_steel.html
3. Are most 7 spd freewheels spaced the same as a 7 spd shimano cassette, so that I can use older 7 speed indexed shifters? I suspect they are/I can.
Thanks in advance for any helpful advice.
For a commuting, recreational riding and touring wheel I think that one of the better Shimano freehubs is pretty hard to beat. They're servicable, the freehub body is easily and economically replaceable, and the drive side bearing is moved out to minimize bent axle woes.
Sometimes boreing is good.
+1 I think the value of "dishless" wheels is overstated. A 135 mm hub with an 8/9/10-speed freehub has quite a small amount of dish and they have proven strong enough for very severe MTB use. I expect your touring/commuting requirements won't be any more demanding. Many loaded touring bikes use 130 mm hubs with 8/9/10-speed freehubs and the wheels last just fine. It's likely the rim will fail from brake pad abrasion before anything else happens to it.
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
As noted Shimano freehubs are reasonably priced, easily maintained and very durable at way under the price of Phil Wood.
I have a project stalled (skipped over to a Rohloff) with the rear freewheel config you have in mind. I bought several 7 speed FWs and I am not too sure on the quality, they certainly were fairly inexpensive. I think this is a good option for people who want 40 spokes or more without spending 500 on hubs.
About the only thing I didn't like about the project, and I still am going to finish it, is that I really couldn't convince myself that the cartridge bearings were superior. Phil hubs make sense, the hard axle, the quality overall, whether the cartridges are really a good idea is harder to say. I started to think of the Hugli, but they are about 100 more, though you get a freehub for that. I think that by droping the smallest cog on an 8 you get a similar useable coverage with the 7. However back in the day they packed those gears differently with a mega low, so you have to consider that also.
I got jumped on, by the way, on the touring forum, for calling that spoke style "dishless". It isn't dishless, it just uses similar length spokes. You can set it up so the whole bike uses one spoke length.