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  1. #1
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    X-12 through axle

    I'm curious about the potential to use of the X-12 through axle system on tandems. Doing a quick search didn't yield any results.

    The benefits seem to include increased frame stiffness, safety with disc brakes, stronger & less flexy hubs, minimal weight gain - if any. Some bike manufacturers build their bombers with swapable dropouts to allow using the old quick release spec too.

    To me, I like the idea of access to a lightweight DT-Swiss 240s Centerlock hub with a 142mm X-12 Through Axle, listed at only 228gm. This seems to be a great base to build a lightweight wheelset. DT-Swiss is just one of many making X-12 142mm hubs.

    Here's the 228gm DT Swiss CenterLock:
    240s_CL_Black_TA_12_142-cropped.jpg

    References:

    http://www.bikerumor.com/2011/02/07/...-the-big-idea/
    http://www.syntaceusa.com/index.cfm?pid=1&pk=1314
    http://www.dtswiss.com/Components/Hubs-MTB/240s-%281%29

    I'm wondering if this is gaining any traction in the tandem industry?
    Another item to add to our tandem modification to-do list?

    A couple shots of the 12mm axle, plus the required X-12 dropout w/recess:






    Then, there is talk of going all the way down to 9T cassettes. Yikes!
    Update/edit due to error... The X-12 setup will allow for this. Your old Q-release wont. Both X-12 and standard Q-release will allow for smaller cassette lock rings.

    Last edited by twocicle; 02-17-14 at 09:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Just off the phone with Mike Moore at Calfee.

    Apparently Calfee is prototyping Ti X-12 dropouts and should have them ready for primetime very soon (a couple months)... maybe by Feb/2014.

    Hmmm, another modification to add to our list for the Di2 retrofit? Likely this would require pulling the rear triangle apart for respacing our current 145mm rear.
    Last edited by twocicle; 11-13-13 at 03:30 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member colotandem's Avatar
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    Interesting to hear the these ideas of the use of 142mm hubs for tandems. The reason I say this cassette and disc rotor are in the exact same relation to the hub's centerline as a standard 135 mm QR hub and the wheel dish is also the same as 135mm hub which is a big move from the tandem "standard" of 145mm. Although the through axle should add stiffness, the hub itself looks just like a 135mm hub with 3.5mm end caps on each side that fit into the dropout cutouts. I have had people scoff at the idea of 135mm spacing on a tandem or heaven forbid 130mm spacing on a tandem!

    I digress. But the point is that the 142mm leaves the wheel dish exactly like 135mm not almost like 145mm. I've had this conversation with others thinking that the 142mm hubs are virtually the same as 145mm hubs (i.e. the flange width), where it is really not the case. Just some food for thought. I do like the idea of embracing more mainstream standards, which opens up the door to hub and wheel options for tandems.

  4. #4
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    ^^^ I agree about the 142mm X-12 spacing being very much a 135mm. It is one of the main points about compatibility helping with acceptance of this standard as (other than the new dropouts req'd) it did not otherwise change existing 135mm setups. The net hub & frame strength gains are still big improvements over the thin 5mm Q-release linkage we have been accustomed to. I guess another way to gain some of this stiffness on a 145mm spacing would be with a CK hub & "fun bolts" instead of a QR.

    Reading up on this topic has made me rethink our use of Ti skewers on our rear-disc spec'd tandem, but I am leaning away from the 145mm spacing as a "must have", at least for our usage.
    Last edited by twocicle; 11-13-13 at 11:30 PM.

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    I can see it would make removing the wheel a bit more difficult. Is the increased stiffness etc actually something that you would notice and improve the way the bike rode and performed?

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    Bryan (twocicle)
    Playing devils advocate a bit here. You changed frames a year ago so you had couplers for travel and I know you travel with it now. We travel with ours extensively and one thing I have tried to keep in mind when I upgrade (change)is to try not to be too unique and proprietary. The ability to go to a local bike shop in Europe or in a relatively small city and find parts is important to keep a trip going. This through axel doesn't seem to really open up lots of options for wheel sets readily available at this time, in fact it may limit choices to some degree. An example even though Spinergy wheels are becoming very popular you can't go the local bike shop and get a spoke. On our last Santana trip i know at least two teams that broke spokes and did not have spares. Fortunately for them a couple of us carry spares and the ability to change them and they could continue and finish the trip. BTW they were willing to pay just about anything for those spokes! I waited for DI2 to become more mainstream before I changed and can find parts if needed. Just food for thought.

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    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    I would much rather have a front through axle than a rear. When we are out of the saddle and grinding up a hill - I definitely get a bit of rotor rub up front with our Woundup CF fork. Since I haven't tried any other forks - I'm thinking that a stiffer axle would do the trick. While it would be nice in the rear - the rear triangle and dropouts can do a much better job of reducing flex in that location.
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  8. #8
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akexpress View Post
    Bryan (twocicle)
    Playing devils advocate a bit here. You changed frames a year ago so you had couplers for travel and I know you travel with it now. We travel with ours extensively and one thing I have tried to keep in mind when I upgrade (change)is to try not to be too unique and proprietary. The ability to go to a local bike shop in Europe or in a relatively small city and find parts is important to keep a trip going. This through axel doesn't seem to really open up lots of options for wheel sets readily available at this time, in fact it may limit choices to some degree. An example even though Spinergy wheels are becoming very popular you can't go the local bike shop and get a spoke. On our last Santana trip i know at least two teams that broke spokes and did not have spares. Fortunately for them a couple of us carry spares and the ability to change them and they could continue and finish the trip. BTW they were willing to pay just about anything for those spokes! I waited for DI2 to become more mainstream before I changed and can find parts if needed. Just food for thought.
    As with any equipment on a tour, a wise person takes a few spare tubes, a tire, and a couple spokes of whatever type they use. Nothing unusual about that.

    I believe it is the complete opposite for finding off the shelf components and/or built wheels of this X-12 nature. When can you ever say that about 145mm? Reading up on the trend that started over 2 years ago, man are we behind the times. Just Google: "x-12 29er wheels". Most any of those would see you through.

    Redoing our frame at this point is not really feasible, and the tech is not actually available at the moment. Food for thought on what may be coming as a standard for tandems, instead of clinging to using odd spacing in our wee corner of the industry.
    Last edited by twocicle; 11-15-13 at 12:23 AM.

  9. #9
    PMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
    As with any equipment on a tour, a wise person takes a few spare tubes, a tire, and a couple spokes of whatever type they use. Nothing unusual about that.

    I believe it is the complete opposite for finding off the shelf components and/or built wheels of this X-12 nature. When can you ever say that about 145mm? Reading up on the trend that started over 2 years ago, man are we behind the times. Just Google: "x-12 29er wheels". Most any of those would see you through.

    Redoing our frame at this point is not really feasible, and the tech is not actually available at the moment. Food for thought on what may be coming as a standard for tandems, instead of clinging to using odd spacing in our wee corner of the industry.
    Technology wise, the use of the thru axle is an improvement, but somewhat in this application a solution to a problem that does not exist. Not saying it is bad, just not decided it is really needed.

    The 12x142 axle setup is viable to prevent wheel / axle slippage during side loads encountered while maneuvering a MTB off-road. The design also adds stiffness and structure to the very common multi pivot or linkage rear suspension.

    For us, when we purchase our next off-road tandem, this will be one feature the new bike will have. But for comparison, our present setup uses a 135mm with QR and so far has endured some serious side loads.

    As for brake application loads pulling the wheel from the dropout, not all but many machines are now placing brake calipers in a position to apply forces that will hold the wheel in the dropout.

    If you do convert to this setup, one might consider as spares an axle and the axle nut. With an emphasis on lightweight, the axles are aluminum with aluminum threads. Longevity is not the focal point.

    I won't talk you into or out of the 12x142, just offering some ideas to consider.

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  10. #10
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Right. I won't be doing this conversion now as the lead time and cost is looking prohibitive.

    Still musing over my feeling that we may soon (speaking in yrs) see the end of 145mm and maybe 160mm hubs entirely, in favor of the TA trends using 142 or 150, etc, especially once the tandem builders start offering TA as a mainstream option.

    Broaching the topic as a "you heard it here first"
    Last edited by twocicle; 11-15-13 at 12:33 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member colotandem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
    Right. I won't be doing this conversion now as the lead time and cost is looking prohibitive.

    Still musing over my feeling that we may soon (speaking in yrs) see the end of 145mm and maybe 160mm hubs entirely, in favor of the TA trends using 142 or 150, etc, especially once the tandem builders start offering TA as a mainstream option.

    Broaching the topic as a "you heard it here first"
    As long as Santana is producing tandems, I'd be surpised to see 160mm hubs go away - just my .02 cents

  12. #12
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colotandem View Post
    As long as Santana is producing tandems, I'd be surpised to see 160mm hubs go away - just my .02 cents
    You are assuming that the 2 or 3 hub mfrs providing those, give a damn about the few hundred(?) potential hub sales per year.

    At some point, builders might need to get in line with the current non-tandem specific industry standards. Imagine how great it would be if you could pick from a list of 20-30 hubs as ppl with 130/135mm spacing currently can.
    Last edited by twocicle; 11-15-13 at 01:33 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    It is hard to tell for sure but on the higher volume models of most makers the standard tandem hub still seems to be 145mm spacing. Sure there are some race oriented tandems for sale at 130 and 135 but I have not seen any 150 downhill hub spacing being offered for sale. I suspect that even the outlier Santana sells more 160mm tandems than all the 130 mm or 135mm tandems combined. 130mm is the soon to be dead standard since 11 speed is really larger than 130mm.

    I think the trend is away from adherence to broad standards in low volume niche bikes like tandems. The internet brings demand for niche products together making it worthwhile for small manufacturers to sell parts around the world. All sorts of specialty parts are now available that could never be sold through brick and mortar retailers due to distribution and inventory costs.

  14. #14
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    There certainly has not been any response from hub mfrs to produce 145mm hubs in the 28h category. Case in point, discussed in this 3 year old thread.

    With all the deep section carbon rims on the market these days, you would think those mfrs could anticipate more hub requests for fewer counts than 32h. But, 28h hubs are still nonexistent.

    As Ritterview stated in that old thread, Chris King sells maybe a handful of tandem hubs per year and spec'ing anything new is not a priority. That pretty much sums up the availablility and importance of niche products. 145mm is going nowhere, maybe even backward IMO (cite the demise of the WI Daisy rear hub as the last victim).

  15. #15
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
    There certainly has not been any response from hub mfrs to produce 145mm hubs in the 28h category. Case in point, discussed in this 3 year old thread.

    With all the deep section carbon rims on the market these days, you would think those mfrs could anticipate more hub requests for fewer counts than 32h. But, 28h hubs are still nonexistent.

    As Ritterview stated in that old thread, Chris King sells maybe a handful of tandem hubs per year and spec'ing anything new is not a priority. That pretty much sums up the availablility and importance of niche products. 145mm is going nowhere, maybe even backward IMO (cite the demise of the WI Daisy rear hub as the last victim).
    I suspect two issues that come into play on 28 hole 145mm hubs:

    1) The bicycle industry in general seems to be moving to complete wheel sales and away from hub only and rim only sales.

    2) 145mm is a tandem hub and the thinking may be that the 28h hub demand would be only a very small percentage of that already very small market. From the makers perspective if you ask for a 28 hole tandem rear hub then you are basically asking for a custom hub.

    The nice thing is that some makers will respond to a single buyer's request. I wanted a 36 Hadley 160mm hub while Santana went to 32h hubs years ago and had none in stock. A call to Hadley and they offered to pull a Santana hub off the line to be drilled 32 and drill a 36 hole hub as a one off. I feel certain I could have asked for a 28 hole hub or any standard hole drilling.

    I agree however that there is an advantage to going with the crowd when selecting specifications. I may be looking at a custom tandem in the next year or two and will consider 135mm and 145mm hubs. I think 130mm standard is on life support and there is no reason to go with 160mm on a custom frame that I can see. WHo knows what the next road standard will be. 135mm seems like a good bet but Shimano may go with something else and then everyone will follow.

    The center to right on a 135mm White industries MI5 hub is 21 while the left is 166% greater or 35mm. I am not sure I like that big of a difference. My stoker also likes a really wide Q Factor so for us there is a chain line advantage to a wider rear spacing.

    The best solution for a 28 hole rim at 145mm spacing may be to build it on a 32 hole hub. I have been told that it takes some time to get the spoke selection right but the resulting wheel is just a s strong as a normal wheel.
    Last edited by waynesulak; 11-17-13 at 11:56 AM.

  16. #16
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    In interest of progress, posting an update on this topic.

    Calfee has finally announced the availability of TA rear dropouts (see post #2 above). 2014, it's about time!

    As posted on Facebook:
    6/4 titanium, 142 thru, available option on all models; road, adventure, CX, single and tandem.
    1661366_667218953322105_343222919_n.jpg

    Had this been available a year ago, I would have used it along with 135mm spacing on our tandem built last spring. The availablity of dozens of X-12 142mm hubs (135mm frame spacing) is very appealing. A few months back, I discussed with Calfee the possibility of modding our existing 145mm frame, but that would require a major rework and not feasible. Apparently even pulling an existing dropout is also a very big deal, so swapping to this format may only be realistic for new builds. Maybe next time.
    Last edited by twocicle; 02-12-14 at 04:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
    In interest of progress, posting an update on this topic.

    Calfee has finally announced the availability of TA rear dropouts (see post #2 above). 2014, it's about time!

    As posted on Facebook:


    1661366_667218953322105_343222919_n.jpg

    Had this been available a year ago, I would have used it along with 135mm spacing on our tandem built last spring. The availablity of dozens of X-12 142mm hubs (135mm frame spacing) is very appealing. A few months back, I discussed with Calfee the possibility of modding our existing 145mm frame, but that would require a major rework and not feasible. Apparently even pulling an existing dropout is also a very big deal, so swapping to this format may only be realistic for new builds. Maybe next time.

    Are you having a problem with your current wheel,axle Q/R setup? Why are you so excited about this feature. As I remember you are a light team and you have a very light stoker.

  18. #18
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DubT View Post
    Are you having a problem with your current wheel,axle Q/R setup? Why are you so excited about this feature. As I remember you are a light team and you have a very light stoker.
    Reasons for interest in this are all posted above and links provided.

    To summarize,

    - Thru axle is a far superior hub/frame interface for heavy duty applications... which IMO would include virtually all tandems regardless of team weight. Superior being defined as stiffer, stronger and safer. Frankly, after doing some research on lightweight options I am surprised we never hear failure reports of long "tandem length" skewers (especially Ti)... I prefer not to be the first in that line.

    - Availability of high quality, heavy duty thru axle disc ready hubs is widespread.

    - Weight of said hubs is typically considerably less than equivalent "tandem" Q-release hubs. This is especially true if going to a CenterLock rotor mount (with or without a ISO 6-bolt adaptor). Currently there are no "tandem" specific and/or "rated" hubs offering a CenterLock option.

    Note, thru axle is not limited to 142mm (effectively a modified 135mm hub), so there are wider options available too. Depends on your need for Q-factor, chainline, disc rotor size, etc.

    I see it as a move forward in current standards, much like the awakening of preference for wider rims vs skinny.
    Last edited by twocicle; 02-14-14 at 09:50 AM.

  19. #19
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    If the 142mm thru-axle hub is effectively a modified 135mm hub, then what is the spoke tension balance like? Uneven tension on rear spokes is surely more of an issue than the hub-frame interface or skewer. 145mm QR hubs move the drive-side flange further from the centerline, allowing more even spoke tension. If this isn't the case with the 142mm thru-axle hubs then I cannot see much of a need for them.

  20. #20
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Plenty of teams use 135mm spaced hubs with no issue, but as said, "thru axle is not limited to 142mm". You can go bigger with the original thru axle design if desired, but the slicker X-12 w/dropout slots that simplifies hub alignment improves on the design IMO.
    Last edited by twocicle; 02-17-14 at 09:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twocicle View Post
    Then, there is talk of going all the way down to 9T cassettes. Yikes! The X-12 setup will allow for this. Your old Q-release wont.

    The Capreo hub goes down to 9T using a standard QR.

    capreohub.jpg
    And here's a comparison with a standard hub.
    capreo-deore-hub.jpg
    Of course I'm not sure how important a 9T cog is to most tandem teams (maybe for a flatland TT tandem).

    Photos from Sheldon Brown

  22. #22
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezalel View Post
    The Capreo hub goes down to 9T using a standard QR.

    capreohub.jpg
    And here's a comparison with a standard hub.
    capreo-deore-hub.jpg
    Of course I'm not sure how important a 9T cog is to most tandem teams (maybe for a flatland TT tandem).

    Photos from Sheldon Brown
    Thanks for pointing that out. I misinterpreted the Bikerumor article that is referenced in the OP. It was saying that the X-12 (12mm axle) was the largest it could go while maintaining compatibility with small (9psd) lock rings.

    Just FYI, the Capreo setup is 9spd (or less) only and not really a widespread standard adopted by the industry. Meaning, few sources. Since it was intended for small wheel bikes and so few cogs, I can't see it being a factor.

    As for as usefulness of 9T or 10T, those would be useful gears for those wishing to use smaller chainrings. Di2 is a primary example, as these setups that can only handle a maximum of 2 drive rings.
    Last edited by twocicle; 02-17-14 at 09:42 AM.

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    Any thoughts on building a PowerTap with the 12x142 configuration? Looks like WheelBuilder offers the conversion to 12x142 TA, but the only PowerTap MTB hubs I found listed have the propriatory disc only available in a 160mm. Worth it (the small rear disc over proper rim brakes)?

    Thoughts on the durability of a 32-spoke PT wheel (admit I know nothing about wheel builds). Team weight is typically "not on the light side."

    Now, in consideration of a custom frame build around the end of the season, with the effectively the same as a 135mm spacing chainline, will this allow me to run a 10mm shorter BB, bringing the chainrings (and my modified DI2 FD) inboard 5mm [ish]?

  24. #24
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    Now Calfee is all-in on thru-axles. I think you've convinced them, twocicle.


    Quote Originally Posted by Calfee Design FB

    Once again, AngryAsian hits the nail on the head. We fall squarely in his court regarding thru axles on road bikes;
    So, my 135 mm Calfee dropout could not be converted to thru axle? Not that I've noted any problems with the QR, even with my weight weenie Ti KCNC skewers.

  25. #25
    Clipless in Coeur d'Alene twocicle's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
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    Calfee Tetra Tandem, Specialized Tarmac SL4 S-Works, other misc Road & MTB singles
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    Just remember, you heard it here first. Well, sort of

    I'm sure we will be fighting tradition & sentiment for some time yet, but my crystal balls say the old 5mm QR is doomed.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/a...u-axles-40005/


    As far as simply replacing Calfee rear dropouts... it ain't that simple, at least from the response I got from Calfee. Build it that way, yes. Retrofit... not practical. Offhand, I can't recall which would be easier... if any, starting with a 135mm or 145mm rear QR. Apparently even pulling the dropouts for replacement is a huge effort. Respacing is almost rebuilding the entire rear end. If you've got the pockets, anything can be done.

    Just today we received our Di2 retrofitted 2013 Calfee frame back from the mod shop. We'll be remaining "old school" on the QR setup for a long time yet, unless an emergency new frame creeps into our fold
    Last edited by twocicle; 02-20-14 at 07:16 PM.

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