Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
with Maintenance Free Sealed Cartridge Bearings Built Specifically For
Choosing the right hubs for a touring bicycle is extremely important because
hubs support the entire weight of the rider and the load. Bicycle
hubs may look similar from the outside but the interior contains big
differences in quality and durability. There are two main types of
hubs used on touring bicycles: loose bearing and sealed cartridge systems.
A loose bearing system means that the interior of the hub is basically
screwed together but still exposed to the elements. This makes the
interior of the hub vulnerable to water and dirt. Once dirt enters the
bearing system it acts like sandpaper grinding down all the moving parts.
Because bicycle tourists are regularly exposed to bad weather, loose bearing
hubs need to be regularly disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled while
paying close attention to spacing and adjustment. The only advantage
to loose bearing hubs is that they are cheap to manufacture. Shimano
mass produces the vast majority of the hubs found on bicycles these days and
has stuck with the loose bearing system to cut costs. Do not be fooled
by Shimano's claim to have a "sealed mechanism." This only means that
there is a cheap rubber sleeve attempting to cover the bearings.
The alternative to a loose bearing hub is a sealed cartridge system where
the interior workings of the hub are permanently sealed at the factory.
Moisture and road grime never contaminate the system. This means that
the bearings and grease last much longer than a loose bearing system because
there is no contamination from the elements. Phil Wood & Company makes
the best sealed cartridge hubs that I have used. They even have a
special model designed specifically to handle the extra weight and punishing
conditions of bicycle touring. As with anything; better equipment
costs a bit more, but will pay for itself with years of trouble free use.
If you need a wheel fast here are my favorite
mail order wheels that can be used for loaded bicycle touring
What's wrong with using standard mountain or road bike hubs
I hear it all the time, "But Tim, I've used my Shimano hubs
while touring and never had a problem." This
may be true for short trips, especially when the hubs are new. However, if
Shimano hubs are not maintained frequently, it won't be long for a beautiful trip to literally grind to a halt
because dirt has entered the hub mechanism. Another common problem is that
Shimano hubs were never designed for the extra weight of a loaded touring bike.
This extra weight causes broken axles and cracks to form in the hub body.
Once the hub body cracks, the entire hub needs to be replaced. This is
expensive because the hub has spokes and a rim built around it that have to be
completely taken apart. Broken axles can be replaced but this requires a
high degree of mechanical skill to completely disassemble the hub and rebuild it
with a new axle. Few people we meet know how to do this or carry the
special tools, grease, and replacement axle necessary for the job.
Why I only trust and relay Phil Wood
Bicycle Touring hubs
I don't like worrying about mechanical problems while I'm on the road.
My cycling adventures are about the people and places I
visit as I ride around the world.
With my Phil Wood Bicycle Touring hubs under me, I can forget about breakdowns and concentrate on more important
issues like finding a better taco or reading Chinese road signs.
Another major benefit to using the high quality Phil Wood
hub sets is not having to carry specialized cone wrenches,
spare ball bearings, replacement axles, and grease. If you like
to travel light and hassle-free then consider the value of spending more money
on components before you hit the road.
Phil Wood make many other types of hubs besides touring.
Phil Wood Sealed Cartridge Bearings
Mechanical break downs
due to using the wrong hub are common among the bike tourists I've met.
It's a problem that can leave a cyclist stranded. I usually know how to
repair broken hubs but because I use Phil Wood sealed cartridge hubs, I no
longer carry the additional
hub tool, spare parts or grease in my panniers. If you haven't got the
tools or knowledge to repair a hub, often the only option is catching a ride
to the nearest shop. Quite a hassle in places where it's hundreds of miles
to the nearest well-stocked bike mechanic!
I recommend buying a sturdy set of wheels hand-built by
someone who understands the kind of punishing situations touring cyclists
experience and the extra weight they carry. It is all about picking
the right tool for the job.