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Despite the amount of riders who chose to run brakeless these days, there is no denying that there is a huge amount of riders who run brakes and use a 20 year old cable and bearing operated system, called the Gyro.
Ever since we first leaked the above image of an internal rotor, it seems the internet has been going crazy trying to work out what it was, how it worked and who made it? Well now all you curious people are about to have all your questions answered. I’m stoked to bring you the world exclusive product release of the new Affix Rotor by KHE, right here on The Merged before anywhere else!
I’m sure you all have a huge amount of questions about this new system, and to make it real simple, we have teamed up with KHE to bring you an instructional video (scroll down to the bottom of the page) that will explain just about everything you need to know. To top that off, I interviewed KHE’s founder and main man Thomas Göring, who invented and pioneered this system, just to answer any other questions you might have.
Get ready for the future…
Right so I think it’s fair to say KHE has a huge history and heritage in BMX. When did the brand first start and who was involved? What is your current position?
The company started in 1988 which means this year is our 25th anniversary. My brother Wolfgang founded the company back then, and our first investment was 400€ for a small drilling machine. I’ve been riding BMX myself since 1981, but today I struggle to find as much time to ride as I used to when I was younger. I take care of all kind of things in our company but mainly on the technical and product design areas.
The brand is synonymous with innovation. I know you were the first to bring out a number of products that went on to become standard and widely re-created by others. What have been some of your most successful and unique products?
We were the first company to us Freecoaster Hubs on complete bikes…maybe 18 years ago. Today the biggest prodcts that many riders use and maybe don’t know where they come from are multiple butted 2pc bars, Sprocket Guards (this changed the frames from the bashguard style back to the normal looking frames), Folding Tires for Freestyle, seatpost combo’s for Freestyle, outside adjustable Freecoaster hubs and yes the new internal Rotor system. There was also a ton of other small things that we have pioneered but those are the most interesting ideas we made happen.
What has the brand been up to recently? I know there have been a lot of rumours as of late regarding your relationship with Madd Gear Scooters. Would you care to set the record straight for everyone?
Yes there were a lot of rumours around that and to be honest it was funny to hear. I meet the owner from MADD in China but didn’t really know the company that well because the Scooter scene wasn’t really that big over here in Germany. We started using MADD to distribute our products in the USA and in the UK due to their extensive network but once we realised that it wasn’t the best way to promote and get our products our there, we stopped completely We no longer work with MADD, and have new distros in both countries. One of the rumours was that MADD bought KHE, I’d just like to say now that is 100% untrue and false. We are a proud BMX company and never will be a Scooter company.
Now lets get to the Affix Rotor System. It seems like this product has been in the works for a long time, and shares a lot of feature with your original F-SET internal gyro or “Bean Can” as a some have nick named it. How long have you been working on this project?
Yes the “Coke Can” was the first idea and becomes smaller more of a Coke Glass later on…haha. At the time we designed the original internal rotor, all frames had huge down & toptubes and the System Diatech (F-SET later) fitted to this kind of frame and didnt look too out of place. As Frames evolved to using slimmer tubing and to light weight parts the F-SET looked kinda out of place and didn’t really fit to style of Frames anymore. Yes the idea of a simple, clean, internal rotor system has obviously been on our mind for a long time now. The new AFFIX Rotor that you see here, we have been working on for over just two years. First samples were really handy made to see if the new idea worked out. Then we started to make everything using CNC machining to try to make things cleaner and smaller. The last step was then to get the system ready production and for use on Bikes/Frames. This was the hardest and most time consuming part as we had to open moulds for all parts.
What inspired you to take on this challenge? The gyro has been an industry staple for almost 20 years now, do you see it as outdated? What are the main advantages of the Affix System over the regular gyro?
I’m always thinking of how we can “better” and improve upon existing products, and the Gyro was always one of the main things I was thinking about. This was one of the key products to change the Race BMX’s of the 80’s to much more to the Freestyle bikes. Just think of all the new freestyle tricks that were invented in the 80’s and if they would have been possible without the gyro? Of course there were many other parts also changed the bikes but the Rotor really opened a new World in the past to many new tricks. We all need to thank Brian Scura (SST) for that one!
No the Gyro is not outdated at all, but It looks to me that despite the amount of riders now running brakeless, there is still a huge market for brakes and gyro setups, especially amongst park and competition riders. In the Simple Session for example over 90% of all the riders were using a Gyro. Today if you like to do double barspins or whips you just have the option to ride brakeless or go with a Gyro.
The main advantages of the Affix system are that the bike is now super clean. If you look on a normal Gyro bike with all the rotor rings, plates, double cables and all the adjustment screws, higher stems, the bikes just look so crazy looking and messy. We are a big step forward with the AFFIX Rotor. The system works parallel on the fork steerer which allows it to work with just with one cable & you don’t need adjustments anymore. The bikes looks more like a single cable bike but you still have a Rotor between allowing you to do all these tricks without a cable limiting your riding.
The system is much more simple that it looks at first glance, I know people expected it to be over complicated and difficult to work with. Essentially the cables run off two graphite shims which sit inbetween the head tube and the fork steerer. What is the durability of the shims?
For the shims we used one of the best materials we can get in Germany. We also have much experience with the F-SET rotor which used a similar system so there were no problems with the material.
How much compatibility does the Affix have? What do you need in order to adapt your bike to use this system? Will you be able to run this system with other brands Forks or Frames?
We have been extensively testing the Rotor for over two years now, and never had any problems with a headtube or the fork steerer. The small cut out on the side of the headtube is no problem at all. After the fork is build inside the frame, the steerer bending points are under the bearing or bearing area, so the strength is not compromised in any way.
In order to use the system, other frame makers will have to add the hole on the side of the headtube & have to offer the forks with the small holes inside the steerer. We will offer our forks with a sticker sticker patch which is placed over the steerer hole what says “Affix Rotor technology inside” which means the fork can be used as a normal fork & already used for the Affix Rotor. We will do the same with the Frames which means frame can be used as a normal frame but you still have the option to ride the new Rotor if you wish. If more companies will offer the holes on the frame & forks then it makes it easy for all.
The top cap features a hole in the top, meaning you can fit both front and rear cables for those of you who run front brakes. We also tested the system to see if in the long term, rust could effect the frame or steerer, after two years there was no more rust than any other frame or fork would accumulate.
Will this system improve braking performance? Surely it cant be as powerful a regular straight cable?
Yes, with the Affix Rotor braking performance is heavily improved over that of a regular gyro setup. The brakes feels much more solid because you don’t have all the plates & double cables in-between We are also testing the system with Odyssey’s Quick-Slick one piece cable. Imagine how simple and easy it would be to setup your brakes then?
By the sounds of it, this has been a huge project and has obviously taken a lot of time and effort to perfect. How long has it been in testing? What problems have you ran into along the way?
We have been working on this for a total of just over 2 years. We actually showed the first sample bikes at the last two Eurobike & Interbike already so you may have seen a sneak peek or two. The main problem we faced was to make the parts without open moulds so that we could test loads of variations but not spend crazy money for moulds that have to be changed if something is not perfect and didnt work. I’m sure you can imagine, we constantly had to change tiny parts in order to get a flawless system.
When will the Affix System be out, and how will it be available? Will it only be available on your bikes or available as a separate kit?
The Affix system will be available first on all of our 2014 complete bikes. Even our very basic entry level bike uses it, all the way to our Pro level team bikes. The bikes will be available October time. Our 2014 Frames and Forks will all be compatible, and a full Affix kit will be on the market shortly after.
How much do you expect the kit to retail for? Due to the simplicity of the system I’m guessing it will be more affordable than most thought to begin with?
In Germany the Rotor kit including cables will cost around 29€, with a USA price some time after.
Will this system be exclusive to KHE, or will you open it up for any brand to use? Have you worked with any other companies to use it with their bikes or make it compatible with their products?
No it’s not exclusive to KHE. There are already other companies who we have been working with very closely and will come out in the near future with Bikes using the Affix System. Many other companies also working on sample aftermarket Frames and Forks to work with the system.
Do you expect it to fully take over from the gyro, will we be seeing it on every bike in a few years time?
I really think that this system will catch up. It’s so easy to install and it actually reduces the cost of a bike as the whole system actually costs less to equip on a bike than a gyro. I’m sure Dealers, Shops, Mechanics and riders will all be real happy if they don’t have to spend time to adjust complicated rotors anymore. I will say in the next few years you will see a lot of companies wanting and going on to use the system. Its also really important is also that the real rider likes it. We got so much good feedback at the Interbike & Eurobike from so many good riders. i can remember Ryan Nyquist being blown away when he saw it for the first time. Our team riders love this system and have been heavily promoting it over the past year. Even Pros who dont ride for us have asked us if they can run one.
We are super excited to be working with other brands to enable their products to work with this system. We are fully behind this product and believe that it should be on very bike in the future.
You guys are always working on new and exciting products, I can only imagine your R&D Dept looks more like a laboratory than an office. Care to share anything else you have in the works?
Right now we just working on perfecting and deloping the Affix system even further. All I can say is we will be coming out with something new that we will show at the Interbike, but can’t tell you about that right now.
We are also working on a top Rotor ring that you can screw on a tap what means that you can use basic cables with a round head like Odyssey for example offering. These way riders can set up the system with different cables, housing to make it more individual.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Thanks to you Dave for the Interview! It’s finally great to show the world the Affix system the first time on The Merged. The video will help everyone to understand better how easy and simply it all works. We have a booth at the BMX Worlds in Cologne/Germany with a fully working demo of the system. If you’re there be sure to pop in and see the system in person!
We’ll thats our exclusive product release on the KHE’s new Affix Rotor. We’re very interested to hear your views on this one, so please discuss your opinions in the comments section bellow. Would you run the Affix over a gyro?