Results 1 to 25 of 25
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: TandemBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    8

    Rear Tandem Hub Recommendation Inquiry

    Hello Mtbr tandem enthusiasts!

    I've been to the site on and off for many years, but couldn't find my old registration info, so I re-registered today. I'm cross posting here on the recommendation from a user at BikeForums.net. I didn't realize there was a dedicated mountain tandem forum here, so I'm glad I got my butt over here! This is a long post, so forgive me if it's "TLDNR."

    Anyway, I'm looking for advice on current rear cassette hubs that can take high torque loads tandems produce. So far, I've narrowed it down to a few: Chris King (a perennial favorite), Phil Wood, DT/Swiss or another option (Edco, Hadley, etc.). I did peruse this site for hub failure issues and read up a bit, mostly on the DT failures & fixes.

    Anyway, here's my somewhat long-winded post about my history with rear tandem hub failure:

    Dear Forum,
    I've enjoyed perusing your website over the years. Thanks for the valuable information.

    I'm a wheel builder and former bike industry guy. I'm also a road and mtn. tandem enthusiast. I've attempted Moab's Slickrock Trail twice on the mtn. tandem, both times destroying rear cassette bodies and/or hubs. We're a decent-sized couple, but not THAT big, coming in at a combined weight of 330 lbs. Either way, I don't plan on ever attempting Slickrock again - I just don't think ANY hub can withstand tandem torque on such steep, 100% traction climbs! (Interestingly, the Union Fröndenberg Hügi hub (circa 1993) on our road tandem has survived 20 years with nary a skip and still runs smooth as silk - albeit never trying Slickrock.)

    I've always had issues with rear hubs failing on the mountain tandem - specifically due to high torque loads. My wife and I went through two OEM Hügi hubs, a standard, non-tandem Shimano hub (no surprise there), and now two Phil Wood FSC tandem hubs. The first Phil failed when the thread lock on the steel engagement ring either failed or wasn't used during manufacture and the ring threaded into the hubshell, splitting it in two between the flanges. My warranty replacement Phil lasted about eight years until this last week in Tahoe, when it stopped freewheeling. Disassembly revealed metal shards fouling the pawls and preventing freewheeling. The engagement ring shows chipping on the ramp edges and the steel foundation for the pawls is cracked and just about to let go. The pawls show no damage, BTW.

    I'll contact Phil Wood (from my home town) to see what repair/replacement options are available. However, I'm curious to see if you can make some recommendations for current rear tandem hubs that can take high torque loads. Prior to ordering the Phil years back, I considered a Chris King hub. I spoke with Chris at Interbike one year and was surprised to learn he used an aluminum engagement ring in his tandem hubs instead of steel. Although I've always lusted for King hubs, I decided to take the Phil Wood route, thinking I'd pass on light weight and bling factor of the King in favor of the durability (and added weight) of the Phil Wood. Well, now that I've gone through two Phil hubs, I think I'll pass on going with Phil again.

    So here I am again considering options for a hub that can take the torque my wife and I create. I'm again considering a King hub as well as Hadley, since Santana and Precision Tandems seems to spec them on their tandem build kits. I've also considered White Industries and Edco. However, my options may be further limited by a somewhat outdated 140mm dropout spacing on my 17 year old tandem.

    Either way, I look forward to any suggestions you may have for me. Thanks in advance for reading my long post and offering some valuable advice.

    Follow up additional details:

    Great replies, everyone. Thanks for the input and suggestions.

    Yes, I realize 8 years is a good amount of time for a hub being used on a mountain tandem. With many typical cyclists (and me when I was younger), this would entail a fair amount of miles and abuse. However, in my case, I haven't been on the bike much in that span. Off road mileage has really dropped off in the past few years, much more so on the tandem. That being said, I can appreciate the sentiments. When I contact Phil Wood, I'll definitely approach it as "I hope you can help me, but by no means expect any warranty at this point."

    I am, however, hoping to choose the best option moving forward. Not that it's a problem, really, to try out a few options. I have my Shimano tandem hub rear replacement wheel at the ready in case of failure anyway. Given that I'm "between jobs" at the moment, the budget isn't unlimited, so I can't go too crazy. But since I build my own wheels, the cost of replacement is pretty low, only really consisting of direct parts costs.

    I'm assuming I'll rebuild the wheel with a Phil replacement (perhaps upgrading to disk in back), and perhaps FINALLY go with a King. Even years in the bike industry I didn't take the plunge and go with a King, so perhaps now's finally the time.

    And if anyone can provide feedback on the current model DT/Swiss tandem hubs in off-road use and high-torque situations, I'd sure appreciate it. It sounds like the current models provide higher durability than the DT/Hugi's of old.

    Edit: I see the White Ind. tandem hub uses a Shimano freehub bodies. Perhaps not a bad route since I can easily replace blown freehub bodies as they happen.

    Thanks again for all the assistance!

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    526
    You specifically call out cassette hubs, but Rohloff is another strong option, and perhaps stronger than cassette hubs.

    Another option might be to build up two wheelsets. While this doesn't favor your current "between jobs" status, the ability to have a backup set of wheels (or even just one (rear) wheel) will lessen the downtime. It won't, obviously, prevent the long walk back.

    We're a 360lb team with gear, and strong recreational riders at best. Having done the long walk back three times (one fixie, one without drive, one split hub), all while using White Industries rear hubs, if you're having hub issues I'd not suggest their parts. Great customer service, but we had regular, repetitive issues with their stuff.

    We're currently on CK hubs F/R. We actually just had to send our rear hub back to them for warranty service. We had a noise, which led me to investigate the rear hub and discovery that the large drive-side bearing was no longer being retained in the hub. CK says this is typically due to too-high spoke tension (which pulls the hub shell apart). However, I had my rear wheel checked at the LBS and the spoke tension was at the high limit CK specs.

    And, even with the noise and all, we were not left stranded. CK also has great customer service. We have the CK wheelset from MTBTandems.com, which uses the ISO rear hub in HD guise, so stainless drive shell, HD axle with Fun Bolts. As far as I can tell, the only aluminum in the guts of the hub are the adjuster and the axle itself. The drive rings and shell are stainless.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    994
    Hi, TB,

    White Industries rear hub also failed us. Complete seizure at (thankfully) end of a ride. Got it cheerfully replaced by MTBTandems, then sold that bike. The Rohloff on the newer bike hasn't flinched.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    134
    Chris King w SS drive shell. Service is easy and user friendly. Been using one since 2002. Keep the bearings packed and the ring drive happy with clean lube, ride, ride some more, ride more, repeat.

    Proven so far to be very strong. They do have that "killer Bee" sound and more freewheel drag than others and even the stainless drive shell dimples but it has yet to let me down. Don't forget to re-tension your bearings after building your wheel. Called King about this and it is normal.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ds2199's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    682
    I already weighed in over on the bike forums thread. So I'll summarize. Thousands of miles with LOTS of climbing and ZERO issues. For a mountain bike tandem...

    CHRIS KING

    That's all.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: TandemBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    8

    Thanks for the replies so far!

    OK, I've corresponded with Phil Wood and they'll do a rebuild for me with new & redesigned freehub body for about $200. Totally fair. And the bonus? I won't have to tear down the wheel! (They'll need it built up to torque the hub to remove the engagement ring.)

    I can't believe a new replacement Phil runs over $500! Sheesh! Worth every penny to rebuild.

    Now, as I implied in my original post, I've always wanted a King. I think now's the time to order one up - with SS drive shell - and internals if possible. Whatever's the beefiest option, I'll order. It's been long enough, so I think that's the route to take. That way, I'll have two nice wheels on hand, with one of the two as a ready spare.
    Thanks again for the feedback and thoughtful replies. I really appreciate it!

    PS Here's a pic of the wife and I on the WhiskeyDrome at Oakland's pedalfest a few weeks back:

    Rear Tandem Hub Recommendation Inquiry-tndmoakwhiskeydrome.jpg

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ds2199's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    682
    Quote Originally Posted by TandemBear View Post
    OK, I've corresponded with Phil Wood and they'll do a rebuild for me with new & redesigned freehub body for about $200. Totally fair. And the bonus? I won't have to tear down the wheel! (They'll need it built up to torque the hub to remove the engagement ring.)

    I can't believe a new replacement Phil runs over $500! Sheesh! Worth every penny to rebuild.

    Now, as I implied in my original post, I've always wanted a King. I think now's the time to order one up - with SS drive shell - and internals if possible. Whatever's the beefiest option, I'll order. It's been long enough, so I think that's the route to take. That way, I'll have two nice wheels on hand, with one of the two as a ready spare.
    Thanks again for the feedback and thoughtful replies. I really appreciate it!

    PS Here's a pic of the wife and I on the WhiskeyDrome at Oakland's pedalfest a few weeks back:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	TndmOakWhiskeydrome.jpg 
Views:	135 
Size:	161.1 KB 
ID:	825290
    Great photo!

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    225
    Quote Originally Posted by ds2199 View Post
    I already weighed in over on the bike forums thread. So I'll summarize. Thousands of miles with LOTS of climbing and ZERO issues. For a mountain bike tandem...

    CHRIS KING

    That's all.
    I agree with Dan,
    CHRIS KING.....'nuff said

    Ed and Pat Gifford
    the Snot Rocket tandem

  9. #9
    PMK
    PMK is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: PMK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    2,247
    As I mentioned on the BF site, we still roll all DT Swiss. Regardless, both the Kings and DT uses drive ring style technology to gain forward drive. This, in my opinion is what makes them the superior hubs. Other hubs have pawls and springs that tend to be the weak link.

    PK
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    526
    With the White Industries parts, we'd have issues every six months. What would happen is that the torque we put out would push the pawls into the drive shell with enough force (over enough time) to enlarge the slots in the driveshell that the pawls slide into. Inevitably at some point we'd go for full forward drive and only two of three pawls (maybe one of three if we were especially unlucky) would properly engage the ring. THEN we'd snap a pawl and the show would be over.

    We could have changed the driveshell every five months and avoided the issues, but...

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    154
    years ago we had a dt swiss hub (branded Magura gustav) that was supposed to be "approved" for a mountain tandem. After about 2 years the Whole hub body split. D.T would not warrant the hub, said that was not appropriate for a mountain tandem. Alex from MTB tandems backed me up on it (still another kudos for Alex) and got me a good deal on a Chris King with ss internals. No more problems.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    367
    What about the Hope hub that MTB Tandems is using now?

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    54

    Rear hub

    My wife and me have destroyed every hub on the market and spent thousands of dollars in the process. No issue with our road tandems but the torque on off roading single track can be brutal on steep climbs. This year a friend, bike mechanic, and fellow tandem enthusiast, talked me into a rohloff SpeedHub. Amazing! Yes it costs a bit of money but I would have saved a boatload of coin had I installed this years ago. We have been off roading on steep sandy, muddy, single and double track this year with not a single issue. The only thing I would also consider in the future is the gates drive.

    happy cycling
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Agent Orenge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    2
    We run a Rohlof hub on the rear of our MTB Nicolai Tandem for 2 years now, no problem and we are fairly agressive riders. ( 10 Cape Epics between us) No chain issues, no derailleur issues and great equally spaced gears.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Agent Orenge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    2
    tried to go Gates but wont work on a full susser.

  16. #16
    Tandem enthousiast
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1
    Why won't Gates work on a full susser? AFAIK, the only thing you need is a way to get the belt to pass through the rear triangle. Our MSC Zion tandem happens to have a bolt near the rear dropouts so in theory a belt should fit.

    Marten
    www.tandemclub.nl

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    367
    We blew up the free body on a new Hope II after ten rides, we are not that powerful of a team, so it seems like that's a weak link in all pawl hubs.

    Hubs are a weak link in solo mtb's, so to add a second rider and double the load, it's no wonder the fail.

    I think a hydraulic hub is the best bet, so a Rohloff or a NuVinci if they ever approve of their hubs for tandems.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    54

    Cool-blue Rhythm

    Since last posting my enthusiasm with our full suspension Ventana mountain bike tandem I am even more positive regarding our Rohloff hub. Climbing steep off road technical climbs destroys just about any hub around. Thus far we are unable to destroy the Rohloff with zero maintenance. Yes it is approved for tandems but these are more commonly road bikes. If you don't mind forgoing the warranty on your Rohloff you can get much lower gearing for those unbelievable steep grinds. The worst case scenario is a broken shear pin which the factory will replace, at your cost, sustaining no damage to your internal gears. I dream about the future where I can afford a fatbike with a Rohloff.
    Keep riding and have fun out there!
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ds2199's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    682
    Quote Originally Posted by tndmnuts View Post
    Since last posting my enthusiasm with our full suspension Ventana mountain bike tandem I am even more positive regarding our Rohloff hub. Climbing steep off road technical climbs destroys just about any hub around. Thus far we are unable to destroy the Rohloff with zero maintenance. Yes it is approved for tandems but these are more commonly road bikes. If you don't mind forgoing the warranty on your Rohloff you can get much lower gearing for those unbelievable steep grinds. The worst case scenario is a broken shear pin which the factory will replace, at your cost, sustaining no damage to your internal gears. I dream about the future where I can afford a fatbike with a Rohloff.
    Keep riding and have fun out there!
    AND if you had not heard, they just announced a 170mm Rohloff hub!

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    54

    Smile Rohloff 170 mm hub

    Quote Originally Posted by ds2199 View Post
    AND if you had not heard, they just announced a 170mm Rohloff hub!
    Thanks for the information. I saw the hub a few days ago on the fat-bike website. It would be a great build. Yes it is not as light as an XX1 but the no maintenance is a big bonus along with no ripped off derailleurs.
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation: switchbacktrog's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    31
    Quote Originally Posted by Dubbelop View Post
    Why won't Gates work on a full susser? AFAIK, the only thing you need is a way to get the belt to pass through the rear triangle. Our MSC Zion tandem happens to have a bolt near the rear dropouts so in theory a belt should fit.

    Marten
    www.tandemclub.nl
    Because the distance between the BB and the axle changes as the suspension goes up and down.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    54

    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by switchbacktrog View Post
    Because the distance between the BB and the axle changes as the suspension goes up and down.
    Yes indeed unless you have a suspension from the bottom bracket that keeps this distance constant as you noted. Check out the link to a bike shop owner who utilized a Rohloff/Gates drive combo on his full suspension 29er.

    Goodbye to My Belt-Drive Rohloff Bike - VeloNews.com
    SOMETIMES SLOWER CAN BE BETTER

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: switchbacktrog's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    31
    There's a good thread here about the durability of belt drive. A long thread but some useful info there if you can weed it out.

    Belt drive. It may be time to admit defeat. « Singletrack Forum

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    221
    Destroyed the pawls and the gears on a white industries hub (almost did an endo on a technical downhill)- was an easy rebuild. Chis King (from MTBtandems steel shell) on the other tandem and have done way more technical trails........absolutely no problems

  25. #25
    K&K
    Reputation: ki5ka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    227

    Two polls on the subject

    Hub destruction Poll
    Phil Wood Hub failures

    Tandem Bear, I DO realize you know about these and have contributed. Just posted for others who might read the thread...

    This reminds me, I should probably tighten my CKs up.

    Cheers
    k
    Last edited by ki5ka; 06-15-2014 at 08:21 AM.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-28-2013, 07:57 PM
  2. Rear tire recommendation
    By DarkKnight369 in forum 29er Components
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 10-02-2012, 03:19 AM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-28-2012, 12:05 PM
  4. Rear tire recommendation
    By bassn in forum Wheels and Tires
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-29-2012, 10:11 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-30-2011, 10:23 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •