Today we're really excited to announce that we're adding Onyx Racing Products' hubs to our catalogue!
Minnesota based Onyx has been around for many years, having started out making hubs for BMX racing, and has slowly been gaining a following in large part because of their unique Sprag Clutch freehub, which gives virtually instant engagement (technically there's a tiny amount of rotation needed to engage the clutch, but take it from us: it's imperceptible) and infinite engagement points.
After the instant engagement of the freehub, the next thing that jumps out about these hubs is what happens when you stop pedaling: silence! In a world where loud freehubs are synonymous with high-quality and fast-engagement, Onyx hubs are a total anomaly because of their silent freewheeling. And there's more to that silence than quiet: because when you coast, the sprags disengage, there is almost no drag caused by the freehub mechanism. This is a big departure from traditional pawl-based freehubs, which generally employ some combination of more pawls and stronger pawl-springs to ensure quick engagement, which translates to more surfaces dragging across more teeth with greater friction, and therefore more drag.
To complement the low-drag freehub mechanism, Onyx hubs come stock with Enduro hybrid ceramic bearings to lower drag even more! Hybrid ceramic bearings have lower drag than their steel counterparts, and are an upgrade that few hubs come with out of the box. The fact that Onyx hubs come with them stock just shows that racing is more than just part of their name: it's part of their entire design ethic. These bearings are protected from the elements with extremely tight tolerances in the bearing covers, and a labyrinth seal between the freehub driver body and hubshell. And for those who want either full ceramic or full steel bearings, they are replaceable when and if they wear out.
Beyond the bearings themselves, Onyx hubs have an easy to use, and very solid bearing preload adjuster mechanism (with titanium bolts), which can really help get the most life out of a set of bearings, and which we feel is a great feature on any hub. It makes adjusting the bearings possible (which a good thing to be able to do even with cartridge bearings), and also makes disassembling the hub much easier.
So can you get one to fit your bike? The answer is almost undoubtedly "yes"! From fatbike to road, BMX to boost singlespeed disc hubs, there is an Onyx for just about any spacing and configuration!
If there's a downside to the design of these hubs it's that the sprag clutch is relatively heavy. There is simply a bit more steel in the freehub than is necessary in most other designs. Whether this is a big deal to you, is a decision you'll have to make, but we tend to feel that the benefits are worth the bit of extra weight for most riders. For reference, a standard rear ISO disc mount Onyx hub weighs about 100 grams more than a comparable hub from Chris King. It's something; but it's not unreasonable by any means, and we feel that the silent, low-drag design makes a small weight trade-off acceptable for most uses. If you're trying to build an ultralight project bike, you might be better-off going with something from White Industries, but for most other uses, these hubs will be hard to beat.
One final, and very important note about these hubs is that you can get custom laser engraving at no extra charge! When you consider the almost encyclopedic range of color options that the hubs have, and the fact that you can mix and match end cap and axle colors, this means that you can customize them more than just about any other hub on the market! There are a few limitations on what you can have etched onto a hub, but within reason (think single color mainly), the options are endless! The photo above from Bikepacking.com shows that intricate patterns are no problem, so as long as the design is single color and not copyrighted, you should be good to go!
These technically superb hubs are backed by a 5 year warranty, and we're really stoked to have them. We're excited to be able to offer something that offers riders a unique product that has proven extremely durable and functional, and are happy to answer any questions about them so let us know if you've got any! Also note that if you don't see a configuration on our site, just get in touch because it may take us some time to get everything up!
In the meantime, head on over to the product page to take a look at the options!
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.