This is my first post and I could not find anywhere this question had already been asked. Thanks for the help.
My wife and I are just getting into tandeming. We plan to do trips from 1 day to 2 weeks. For the longer trips we'll have a trailer so the extra gear will go on it. Our combined weight is 325 lbs. The bike will have rim brakes with the option for a drum to be attached. I don't want to skimp on the hubs at all, but I also don't want to pay for a "name". I've been looking at White Ind., DT-Hugi, and Chris King. Which one is the best bang for the buck?
Phil Wood...? all spacings, all drillings, no disc, disc, sealed bearings, been around the tandem scene on the American market longer than any of the ones you listed. Absolutely, unquestionably the best.
I would recommend you go to <www.mountainbikerreview.com > and search on the different hubs you're interested in and read ALL the reviews and carefully consider the information about follow up service. Then you can base your decision on a broader selection of opinions. If a specific hub you're interested in is not on the site, read all reviews about products by the same manufacturer to get an idea of the kind of service you can expect.
I had a set of wheels built to replace the stock's that came on our Speedster. I was able to get a really good deal on DTHuGi's but, had heard of some problems people had with HuGi a few years back. It would have been very hard to pass up the deal I was offered on a '03 set of HuGi hubs but, I'd not mind spending a few more dollars if the quality was in question. I thought to myself, well, Co-Motion uses HuGi's as their stock hub. If Co-Mo trusts the quality and workmanship I'll do the same. I had Velocity build a 36h HuGi on Velocity Fusion rims w/DT spokes. We're getting close to 2,000 miles and have not had even a hint of a problem with the hubs. The only reason I'd not build my next set with HuGi is I may want to go with less than a 36h wheel and I dont think HuGi offeres less than 36h. If they do, then fine, I'll use them on my next wheel set too.
What make/model of tandem and what's the rear spacing? 130mm, 135mm, 140mm, 145mm or 160mm? It is important to know as not all of these hubs come in all the necessary widths and configurations for thread-on drum brakes.
However, pending the additional info....
CHRIS KING TANDEM:
Of the three you list, Chris King's tandem hubs are the "new best" with regard to durability. They are also quite light even with the steel cassette body which IS recommended for tandems; however, they are also the most expensive of the tandem hubs on the market. We and many other teams have these on our off-road tandems primarily because they are the only hubs we have not been able to routinely destroy when subjecting them to the rigor of two-up, technical off-road riding.
Excellent seals and a bomb-proof engagement system. The only downsides are -- they aren't completely user-serviceable (unless you buy the Chris King tools needed for the job), 36h drilling, and you can't use them with a drum brake. Ouch!
WHITE INDUSTRIES RACER-X:
My next pick from your list would be White Industries' Racer-X hubset. We have these on one of our road tandems -- but without the left side threading for the drum brake -- and they have thus far been a great hub. They are very light -- lighter than Chris King -- but use a less robust pawl engagement design than Chris King. However, I've not heard of any pawl related problems with these hubs. The only bit of negative feedback that I am aware of had to do with the bearings on the previous model of hub sold for use on tandems: the Speed Racer hub. However, on the bright side the replacement bearings have all been holding up fine. You'd have to check with White to see what drillings they are offering for tandems. I'm pretty sure they offer 36h, 40h and 48h. A good friend in Austin, TX, put together some photos and a narrative description of the White Ind. hub overhaul process that you can check out on our Web site if you want to see the "guts" of their hubs: http://home.att.net/~mark.livingood/.../whitehub.html
As for the DT/Hugi hubs, I'll defer to Brad who is actually using them.
PHIL WOOD FSC:
Not included on your list are the also mentioned Phil Wood hubs which remain my personal favorites for the "overall best" tandem hub -- we have two sets for our road tandems. They are a bit heavier than the others but it's not rotating weight so the penality is minimal and far outweighed by other considerations. I have a Web page that provides an overview of these hubs (I like them that much) which you are more than welcome to peruse: http://home.att.net/~mark.livingood/.../PhilHubs.html
The one thing that I don't mention is that Phil Wood hubs have a reputation for being an integral part of well-built tandem wheels just seem to last and last with nary a broken spoke. The folks at Phil Wood attribute it to the way they form their spoke holes -- stamping vs drilling. My favorite "feature" is that they are completely user serviceable without the need for any special tools. They have model specs to cover every rear drop-out spacing that tandems use along with all the various drilling options.
Frankly, I don't think you can go wrong with any of these hubs -- well, at least the ones that can be adapted for use on your tandem and drag brake.
Well, after reading everything I could and talking to a few wheel builders, I/we decided to go with White Ind. hubs and Velocity Fusion rims. The drag brake will be a mech. Avid disc because I already have the mount for it on my frame.