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Thread: Velocity Hubs

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    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Velocity Hubs

    Anybody using wheels with Velocity hubs? From what I've read, their hubs are made by Formula but are upgraded to sealed-bearings. Is this right? Can anyone comment on their durability?

    Also, I've heard mixed reviews of sealed-bearing hubs--less service required, but more difficult service/harder to find parts when needed. Any feedback here?

    Part of the attraction is the ability to get a wheelset with a 36h f/40h r without breaking the bank. Dyad wheelsets laced to Velocity hubs seem to go for $300 or so online. Should I just have my local shop build Dyads up on XT 36h hubs instead ($350-$400 for the build)?

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    Formula hubs have sealed bearing.

    http://parts.spicercycles.com/page.c...nsearch=Search

    I've never had sealed bearing parts on a bike. I've heard such good things about Phil parts since they first became available I always wanted to try them. The thing is that I have tons of machines, etc... that have bearing in them. There isn't any other field I have come across where there is a premium placed on loose bearings. I have one british lathe that way because the maker thought it was cool to be able to adjust the set. I have complete confidence in sealed bearings the only bike angle where I would have questioned them is water, but apparently there it is a plus. Also, over the years, the Bullseye pulley concept floundered, but on wheels it seems durable.

    I have these touring wheels, I did a bearing job on them. The bearings only had a few K on them, but i wanted to see what the insides were like before I left on a since cancelled trip. I opened up these LX hubs, and the laborynth was dented, and the grease looked pretty nasty. Then when I re-did the bearing job I had a rough point during rotation, after I closed it back up it rode nicely and I don't feel the need to do anything about it, but it does go to show how easy all that would have been with sealed bearing. New bearings would have meant all new races, and seals, rather than what I have: damaged races and seals. I guess it's just a mater of checking the bearing size before you buy, and how easy they are to strip. The Phil has a reputation for being easy to strip , and you don't have to replace the cartridge for a long time. So as long a formula is copying the right features...

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    I've just rebuilt a rear Formula hub with sealed bearings. I sourced the replacement bearings from an industrial bearing company. Each of the bearings should have a code on the seal or outer race that can be matched to what the bearing company has. Generally, I think, they are electric motor bearings.

    As to the Velocity hub, mine, laced to a Aerohead OC wheel (the wheel was as supplied by Velocity) is a Shimano. I haven't stripped it yet to check the bearings, but the hub has done about 12,000km.

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    What is involved in the rebuild, and is it messy as with lots of grease. I'm not fussy about bike grease, but it's one less thing to carry and wash up from if it's all just a mater of dropping neat fitting donuts in there.

    One question, is the axle hardened?

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    Grease? No, not on the Formula hub I did. There was virtually no need for any grease because the sealed bearings have their own and you certainly don't (can't) any more. I put a dab of grease on the external seals on either side of the axle that butt up against the outer bearings. The way these external seals are designed, they also act as the spacers for your dropouts. I know this sounds a little confusing, but when you get to them, you will see what I mean if they are similar to the Formula hub I serviced.

    HOWEVER, it isn't just a matter of dropping neat fitting donuts in there. You need to knock the axle out of the original bearings with a hammer and drift, and similarly remove the bearings from the hub. You then will need a tool to press the bearings into the hub. The external part of the outer races need to have a tight fit in the hub otherwise you will get all sorts of cracking and popping sounds. And the beareings need to be seated properly.

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    That makes sense, I have a turret press, and I wasn't really thinking I could do it at the side of the road. Nice to hear details, thanks.

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    I bought a set of velocity wheels and havent found anything wrong yet (and Im not nice to my wheels). 36 front 40 rear dyads with velocity hubs and sealed bearings. Have about 2K miles on them, rain and shine. I bought a complete set of replacement bearings 4 months ago expecting to have to replace the stock ones--no such luck so far. I paid an even $300 for the set. Havent had to touch up the truing either.
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    Sounds like the hubs are probably fine, then. This does seem to confirm the "low maintainence but a pain to fix in the field" reports I've heard, though. For those of you with experience with these hubs, would you trust 'em on a remote tour (I'm looking at Iceland)? Perhaps if you've replaced the bearings before you went?

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    Sealed bearings on bike parts are usually good for a long go. Nowhere near like you have to replace the cartridge every time you would re-grease regular bearings. For instance Rivendell says you don't do any maintenance on the PW bottom bracket until arouns 15-30 thousand miles.

    If you can lace them yourself you can get the phil 7 speed freewheel hubs for 105, and 95 for the front. then you add rims for 20-50, and spokes, you have a pretty unbreakable combo. You can't get the cartridge hub for the cost of a pair of freewheel wheels. & is more than enough when you actually look at what most people are touring on, 11-34 hubs for instance, where the next spoket is a 12, just not usefull on a touring bike. Phils have hardened axles, as do Hugli, not sure anyone else does.

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    Velocity/Formula Hubs

    Had to re-build the rear formula/Velocity hub laced to a 40 hole Dyad rim on my LHT recently. Had to replace the cassette body. It lasted only 1800 miles. Velocity was very good about sending me a new cassette body though. Have since gone Phill Woods laced to 36 hole Dyad rims front and rear. The 40 hole Formula is now my spare.

    Richard

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    Velocity/Formula Hubs

    If you have a cassette type Formula hub, you Do want to lube the pawls of the cassette body. Grease is to heavy for cooler weather and lighter oil will not suffice. I use Phil "tenacious" oil. Works great.

    Richard

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    Quote Originally Posted by mycoatl
    Sounds like the hubs are probably fine, then. This does seem to confirm the "low maintainence but a pain to fix in the field" reports I've heard, though. For those of you with experience with these hubs, would you trust 'em on a remote tour (I'm looking at Iceland)? Perhaps if you've replaced the bearings before you went?
    Actually, the points about the Formula freehubs are quite relevant. The hub I stripped down needed quite a bit of attention to the freehub internals through corrosion. From what I have read here on this thread and elsewhere, the freehub is a weak point. The bike I worked on is a randonnee, commuting and touring bike, and had extensive bad-weather encounters. But its freehub failed entirely, fortunately as the Canadian rider was about to depart on the next stage of a tour in Tasmania, so she was quite close to a bikeshop.

    The freehub is quite easy to service, and if you do go with a Formula, it's wise to do it regularly (say, every 10,000 to 15,000km depending on riding conditions).

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    All this does raise the question of what is the point to sealed bearing hubs. I like the idea of the bearing and race being sealed, and of long term durability, and that the whole thing can be easily replaced with parts available in local industrial supplies. On the negative, I'm not car savvy myself, but recently did a front brake job on my truck with a neighbour's help. This required replacing the disc, and the disc was intragral with the bearings. I was surprised to learn that my F-150 had been running for 100 000 miles on rubber gaskets, labyrinth seals, and timken roller bearing which in this case are caged but not sealed bearings. This job may have been done once before, given the age of the vehicle, but really, it's pretty good performance for the LX level technology. You can get loose bearings anywhere, or one could certainly carry them at virtually no weight cost.

    I've always wanted Phil hubs, but I wonder unless you are making like a U-boat and crossing hub height rivers, how useful are these hubs. Particularly if one is into casssete hubs, would one be better off with the Hugli, seems to have the strongest freehub parts.

    Also for cassette front hubs, what about solid axle BMX types. Pretty strong axles some solid looking designs like the Surly that use available bearings.

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    I have been happy with bicycle ball-and-race hub bearings because I can strip them and rebuild, but with the exception of a broken race on the rear hub on my very first long tour, I haven't had any significant maintenance issues while on tour or on randonnees or while commuting (and that broken race was entirely due to my own inexperience in hub rebuilds).

    If you have the dollars to spend on expensive, highly engineered hubs, go for it. I know a friend wouldn't consider putting anything less than Shimano LX standard on his touring bike, too. But I have put in around 70,000km of riding on all sorts of bikes with simple, low to mid-level Shimano hubs. Admittedly, I do strip, clean out and repack regularly, but not on tour. Preload adjustment with quick-release axles is an art and can make a fair bit of difference. Other than that, it's not rocket science, and I do like fiddling with bikes.

    Admittedly, I also like the idea of sealed bearings. My SON Dynohub has been going for over three years and probably 50,000km and has never been touched. Formula might be on the right track with its sealed hubs, but the freehub on the rear appears to be the weak point (and not for the bearings, but the pawl mechanism). And if I could afford LX, PW or Hugi hubs, I might even consider them in the future.

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    Ball & Race vs. Cartridge

    Some terminology here:
    practically any hub has a Sealed bearing. The seal keeps out dirt & moisture.

    There are 2 bearing types out there for hubs; both types are sealed, but they are totally different systems:
    -the older cup & cone style. These occasionally have to be overhauled and/or adjusted. But parts are widely available and the job is not difficult.

    -cartridge bearings. These are a little round donut with seals on each side that are pressed into the hub shell and over an axle. Depending on the hub brand, replacement may be more difficult.

    I've used both types.
    -I have 3 sets of wheels now with cup/cone style bearings, and one wheel set with cartridge bearings.

    -the first cartridge bearing wheels I had came on a late 1970s Viscount "Aerospace" road bike. I can't remember the hub brand. The cartridges were very reliable. When I had to replace them after many years, I just went to a local bearing supply store and they matched the numbers.
    -I had a set of Velocity Spartacus wheels with cartridge bearings and had no problems with them.
    -I had a couple pairs of brand new Magura Louise pro disc hubs and had many many many many problems with the cartridges. The hubs always had some "play" in them, regardless of what I did. I noticed that they came with super slim spacers sometimes placed inside the hub shell behind the cartridge. But not on both sides, and not on all hubs. The experience with the Maguras almost made me swear off cartridge bearings forever.
    -the wheel set with cartridge bearings is actually on my touring bike. The front is a WTB; I can't remember what the back is right now.

    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richbiker
    Some terminology here:
    practically any hub has a Sealed bearing. The seal keeps out dirt & moisture.

    There are 2 bearing types out there for hubs; both types are sealed, but they are totally different systems:
    -the older cup & cone style. These occasionally have to be overhauled and/or adjusted. But parts are widely available and the job is not difficult.

    -cartridge bearings. These are a little round donut with seals on each side that are pressed into the hub shell and over an axle. Depending on the hub brand, replacement may be more difficult.
    I think most would disagree on your broad-brush application of sealed, especially on the cup-and-cone varieties. A simple metal cap with quite a few thousandth of an inch around it doesn't constitute sealed. While attempts have been made to "seal" cup-and-cone BBs with O-rings and the like, I don't think they were particularly successful. And the rubber boot that goes over the axles and hub on some hubs is not regarded in the trade as a true seal, but more as a protective bootie.

    If I am not mistaken, a truly sealed hub has two "seals"... something akin to the protective bootie on the outside, an airspace, then seals on both sides of the (cartridge) bearings. I believe that is the set-up on the SON hubs that makes them so reliable. The original SONs (black banded) had problems with water ingressing through the outer hub when the hub was taken from warm (inside a house) to cold outside. A single external seal is not total (even halfway) effective.

    Ultimately, sealed cartridge bearings, as should be fitted to hubs that suit them, should have seals on both sides. And the bearings eventually will wear down and likely get water and dirt into them as the seals also wear.

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    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    So here's a question:

    I know that Phil hubs have a great reputation for durability, but I've heard mixed reviews of other sealed-cartridge hubs and generally there's a warning to stay away from "boutique" hubs. So...what makes a cartridge hub good or bad? Is the the tolerances used in manufacture? The bearings are probably the same, so help me out here. Thanks! I've been learning a lot from this thread.

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    Probably the quality of the seals, and the quality of the machining for the press-fit of the bearings on the axle and in the hub. I think cartridge bearings are graded for each size specification, although that has more to do with the seals on them, I think, rather than the quality of the metal.

    Ease of dismantling and remantling [] is a factor and because the adjustment factor for cartridge bearings is virtually removed, that might put them in front. It's the need to press them in place that can be tricky...

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    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/sealed-bearings.html

    This FAQ pretty much combines all the points above. They are all sealed. Cartridge bearings don't sound all that wonderful. LX level tech as on my F-150 is probably about as good as it gets.

    I think one thing that makes the Phils better is that they aren't machined out of a billet of aluminum with the grain running parallel to the axle, thereby with low strength in the spoke direction. I thik they may be made out of sub assemblies, based mostly on the way they tarnish as seen on ebay. Just a guess though. Right now in the expensive ranks the Hugli is sounding better and better...

    Rowan in my local bike shop they were selling the Lx for 40 canadian rear and 25 front. Not all that brutal, though I don't like the current styling.

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    [QUOTE=Rowan]I think most would disagree on your broad-brush application of sealed, especially on the cup-and-cone varieties. A simple metal cap with quite a few thousandth of an inch around it doesn't constitute sealed.


    All bearings are sealed. Some seals are more effective than others. But do you ever see anyone out there selling an "unsealed" bearing? No? because even the dustcap-only, or dustcap with boot is a seal.

    Rich

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