A little background for those who might not know, Industry Nine got its name because it's the 9th business to come out of one machine shop in Ashville, N.C. The owner, Clint Spiegel, started out in his dad's machine shop in his teens, and it's the evolution of that same shop that now produces Industry Nine products. If you're interested in fancy machines, machining techniques, and just high-precision manufacturing, you'll get a kick out of this company, and we highly recommend reading up on them more!
Over the years, the company has moved through three distinct freehub design-eras: the first, what they call their Legacy Freehub, from 2006 to 2012; the second, their Torch Freehub, until this year (though it continues on road hubs); and finally the new Hydra and 101 freehubs, which just launched.
The original freehub was a marvel of machining, with six pawls, engaging in two phases on a 60 tooth drive ring to give 120 points of engagement. At the time, this was pretty much unheard-of, and the hubs immediately gained a following. Their combination of fast-engagement, beautiful construction and colors, and their unique aluminum spokes made them really stand out. We've heard people talk about the problems they had with those early freehubs, which just makes it clear how high I9 set their own bar, and it highlights one of the things we like about the company: constant improvement without forgetting about what they've done in the past.
Industry Nine was working on improving their hubs during the six years of their legacy freehub, and when they released their Torch design, they ushered in a new era of reliability. With their Torch Mountain freehub, they maintained the same 120 points of engagement, but modified just about everything else about the way freehub worked. In essence, they refined the original Legacy freehub, fixing the issues it had, and building something that was really reliable and easier to work on. I9 also launched their Torch Road freehub, which has 3 pawls, and 90 points of engagement for lower drag where high-engagement isn't important. This family of hubs has proven itself to have some of the best hubs that use a traditional pawl-driven design. With the Torch hubs, I9 also began making the hubs to work with a traditional j-bend spoke, which opened them up to many more applications.
Now Hydra takes freehub design to a place where it's never gone before. The hydra freehub has a ridiculous 690 points of engagement, which means it engages every 0.52 degrees! If you've ever ridden I9's Torch Mountain freehub, you know that its 3 degree engagement feels nearlyinstantaneous, but this is almost 6 times faster! That's huge!
The new design accomplishes this feat by putting the 6 pawls into 6 phases on a new 115 tooth drive ring. That means that each pawl engages on its own, which might sound like it would make the mechanism weaker, but Industry Nine has clearly been taking a deep dive into how a freehub works because this one actually takes material flex into account to get those high-engagement numbers. As you put pedaling force into it, first one, then more pawls engage as the system flexes ever so minutely. The result, says Industry Nine, is a system that's stronger because it significantly reduces the possibility that only one pawl will be engaged under hard load, which would unevenly load both the freehub mechanism and the bearings. So you get a hub that not only has insanely fast engagement, but it's also more durable, and because of the smaller teeth, lower drag.
As if this weren't enough, I9 also released their new 101 hubs at the same time as the Hydra. 101 hubs are currently only available in Boost spacing, black, 28 or 32 hole, with a centerlock or 6-bolt rotor configuration for j-bend spokes. Basically, they're a great option for your modern mountain bike at the moment.
The big news with 101 is that they're one of the most affordable hubs that's entirely designed, machined, anodized, and assembled in the US! They use a new freehub design with 90 points of engagement using 6 pawls in 2 phases on a 45 tooth drive ring to deliver an engagement point every 4 degrees. The use of larger teeth on the drive ring means they don't have to use their extremely expensive and slow EDM cutting process, which reduces cost significantly. Beyond that, continual streamlining of their production process, a slightly simplified hub design, fewer options, and more automation in the machining process, results in a hub that's a really impressive value. This hub allows us to offer custom wheelsets, built with the best parts on the market, for well under $800!
Both Hydra and 101 hubs are available with Sram XD, Shimano Micro Spline, and traditional Shimano HG freehub bodies. Torch road hubs are available with Shimano HG 11-speed road, Sram XDR, and Campy freehub bodies, so you can rest-assured that your new hubs will be compatible with whatever system you have or want to have.
We feel that these hubs offer a great value for riders who are looking for a truly exceptional hub, and we're really excited to be able to offer them! With a every freehub covered, a wide range of bearing options, and just about every spacing available (road, fatbike, boost singlespeed, along with the various standard mountain spacings), these hubs have most uses covered. The Hydraand Torch hubs are available in a huge range of colors, and as anyone who's seen it knows, Industry Nine's anodizing is second to none. They brought their anodizing in-house early-on because they wanted to be able to control the quality and colors as precisely as the rest of their products, and it really shows. Their colors are many, beautiful, and consistent.
The new Hydra hub offers almost silly engagement numbers, and actually promises to bring a new level of function, durability, serviceability, and just quality to an already exceptional hub, while their 101 hubs make a very slightly pared-down version of their hubs available to a much wider range of riders with very little loss of performance. We've got complete wheels built around these hubs available at a wide range of price points, so if you're interested in those, just check out our wheels page to get started.
From what we've seen the people behind Industry Nine know their stuff when it comes to designing and manufacturing a quality product, but beyond that they're also just great folks: their customer support is top-notch, and you can rest-assured that even as their hubs continue to evolve in the years to come, they will continue to support all of their products with friendly, helpful service, and in our book that's saying a lot.
Got questions? We're here to help. Check out our contact page to find the best way to get in touch!
This week's wheel build of the week is another super versatile gravel set up that's equally at home on road or CX.
Astral's Wanderlust Carbon rim is originally designed as a lightweight adventure / gravel rim capable of running up to 2.5" tires. But given their rim profile (23mm internal, 29mm external) they can perform double (or triple) duty as a pure road rim or cyclo-cross race wheelset.