sealed or non sealed hubs for touring?
I woukld like to upgrade my Trek 520 wheels but want to keep the 27" configuration. Harris Cyclery has a set of Quando sealed bearing hubs mounted to Sun rims 36 spokes for $129 and the non sealed hubs /wheels for $99.
I have been told that non sealed are easier to clean in the field and to repair loose lost ball bearings. Does anyone have an opinion on sealed or non sealed hubs for touring in USA. Wardie
You need a new bike
In the USA, anything you need is a phone call and a FedEx overnight delivery away. The worst case scenario is you call Harris Cyclery and order a replacement wheel.
Has opinion, will express
There was a thread on sealed versus cartridge bearings here a short time ago. Scroll down or across the pages to find it and you will find a discussion on the merits of both. I favour sealed.
However, a warning, not from personal experience, but from extensive research on hubs -- steer clear of Quandos. Despite the fact they are being sold by Harris Cyclery, the reviews I have read of them have been almost entirely negative.
With hubs, I think the added expense is warranted. Sheldon Brown, on a discussion in Bicycle Mechanics forum not long ago indicated he thought Shimano Deore hubs and Shimano hubs generally at a lower model level, were the best on the market. He particularly liked the labyrinth seals. For your purposes, they would be excellent. I still favour sealed bearings despite Sheldon's astute opinion.
"anything you need is a phone call and a FedEx overnight delivery away"
Only in the US. And even there you may have some major inconvenience. Let's say you have a cell phone and your hub brakes down in the middle of nowhere. What address do send parts to. The reality is that if there is the slightest chance of that happening you will have saved a lot of money just getting the better parts in the first place.
When sealed hubs were first introduced the idea was mostly that they would survive more mudplay. Then it used to be said they would survive longer between "repacking". When it comes to normal road touring. You should get a few K out of your hubs before they need repacking. I have cycled a week of rain and opened LXs and they seemed a little wet, but the grease was still intact, it hadn't washed out. And the only reason I had opened it was maintenance after a 2 week tour. If I had Phils, I probably wouldn't have even bothered to look. Bearing wise you can do roadside maintenance, as long as you have grease. The bearings aren't going to wear out and break most of the time, and they are stronger in a packed wheel than a cartridge wheel because they are bigger balls.
The main things I worry about, and I really haven't had any reason to worry, are broken axles, and torn out spokes. Not even the expensive billet hubs are mostly better on torn out spokes, they tend to billet aligned with the axle. Mostly the spokes should be fine, but there are some lacings with high tension and dish on narrow width hubs (That I don't use) that can add to the stress a bit. Broken axles could be solved for a few bucks with hardened axles.
I'm not sure about the lower end shimano stuff but I know that XT hubs now use a plastic seal... not rubber which is probably going to be next to useless for keeping out dirt and water (as pointed out by Harris Cyclery on my last visit).
Originally Posted by Rowan
Has opinion, will express
The key is labyrinth seals which operate differently to rubber seals.