Wethepeople 2016 Supreme Hubs

Know Your Roll - Wethepeople Supreme Hubs

The guys at RideBMX posted an article on the new Wethepeople Supreme hub, of which has been revamped for 2016 after a brief hiatus from making it.  This year’s model features WTP’s very own female axle system where 12mm axle bolts with 14mm ‘shoulders’ or ‘built-in adapters’ thread into a 17mm chromoly female axle, the hub comes with two sets of  bolts, one with longer shoulders for pegs and one with shorter ones for those without so you’re covered whatever the weather.  WTP have been messing around with the concept of 12mm axles for about 10 years and it’s good to see it cross over on a female hub, word on the street is that no one has come close to breaking one during testing.

Know Your Roll - Wethepeople Supreme Hubs

The Supreme also features their L/RHD switchable Q-lite driver (the pawls are mounted onto the hub shell and the ratchet teeth are on the driver instead of vice-versa) IGUS driver bushing, dual non-drive side bearings to dissipate the largely ignored leverage on that side of the hub.  Even the bolts have some crazy styling to them, and at a mere 391g, well, someone at Wethepeople clearly knows their sorcery…

Know Your Roll - Wethepeople Supreme Hubs

SUPREME – FRONT HUB

Material: 6061-T6 alloy refined hub-shell
Axle: 4130 chromoly female axle – 3/8″ thread
Bearings: 2 high quality Japanese sealed bearings
Spokes: 36h
Features: Alloy CNC’d cones
Weight: 262g (9.24oz)
Colors: Black or Polished
Hub Guards: Alloy available, Nylon coming 2016

SUPREME – CASSETTE HUB

Material: 6061-T6 alloy refined hub-shell
Axle: 4130 chromoly female axle 12mm thread bolt with 14mm extension shoulders
Bearings: 3 high quality Japanese sealed bearings
Spokes: 36h
Driver: 9t only
Full IGUS bushing driver system
Q-Lite system. Ratchet is machined into 1pc driver for maximum strength.
WTP-unique 12mm female bolt system.
Two bearings on non-drive side to increase hub life
Switch drive LHD/RHD system, new one piece pawl & spring system
Weight: 391g (13.79oz)
Colours: Black or Polished
Hub Guards: Alloy available, Nylon coming 2016

Head over to RideBMX for more photos.

S&M Shredneck Stem

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The Union posted this product feature on S&M’s eighth (?) incarnation of the classic 1992 Redneck stem; the Shredneck.  While it’s essentially just a slightly shorter Redneck LT with a top cap recess machined from the top of it, that’s not a bad thing, heavily machined stems akin to the XLT are rapidly losing popularity as bikes are generally starting to look a lot more ‘traditional’ again.

CNC machined 6061-T6 aluminium
50mm reach
7mm rise (24.75mm inverted)
11 ounces
Available in matte black and raw

The Union’s Evolutions Of The BMX Fork

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The Union posted an awesome article on the evolution of the BMX fork featuring a plethora of examples of some of the defining designs of the old-to-mid school era.  Some of the more wild examples include Kasta’s Uniblade fork, Hutch Trickstar forks and the S&M Ditchforks shown below with peg and AD990 mounts.  I’ve totally still got a pair of those Terrible One forks in my shed…

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Chrome Ain’t Cool

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Chromium plating (usually known simply as ‘chrome’) has been a staple finish for BMX bikes and parts pretty much since the sport’s inception when I was little more than a glint in the milkman’s eye.  Everybody from yours truly to your little brother has run chrome plated parts; rims being the steady favourite for generations (you can’t deny that it’s a classic look) partly due to being a harder wearing brake surface than anodizing.  While it’s nice to have nice things, the horrible truth is that although chrome plating has aesthetic advantages, it has a far darker side behind the scenes.

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The biggest structural flaw with chrome plated parts is in the structural steel components like frames, bars, and cranks and is caused by something called ‘sacrificial metals’.  When electroplating a steel component, it is first negatively charged by an electrical source before being immersed in a chromic acid bath with a sacrificial zinc or carbon anode; of which is positively charged.  The anode is (in layman’s terms) used to prevent the iron in your part from losing it’s electrons thus attracting oxygen molecules and turning into a lump of rust in the acid/electrolyte bath. The anode loses the electrons instead and it oxidises in place of the iron; this is a good example of a ‘sacrificial metal’.  This technique is also used on cheap zinc-covered town-bike spokes, roofing and even for ship hulls.

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Unfortunately there is a bad example too.  If the necessary pre-treatments of stripping, cleaning, sanding, polishing, multiple layers of copper and nickel plating etc, etc aren’t done properly then there will be flaws in the chrome when it comes to chrome plating eg. porous texture, poor adhesion, perforations etc.  While I use the word ‘flaws’, don’t think of them as cute, minor little flaws like a bubble in your grips or a small buckle in your rim; these are disastrous flaws that, if unchecked over long periods, can and may well maim you.  Chrome plating keeps water away from the iron contained in the tubes of (let’s say for argument’s sake) your bars and preventing them from rusting as a barrier layer but the problem is that iron is anodic to the nickel in the same way that zinc is anodic to iron.  The slightest perforation in the plating (of which can easily be caused by manufacturing or rider error; defective chrome plating, grinding, crashing, even simple installation can damage the plating if you’re not careful- chromium is plated by the millionth of an inch) not only makes the tubing vulnerable to rust but because iron is anodic to the plating itself, the rusting is actually accelerated by the chrome plating that’s supposed to be protecting it- the steel literally sacrifices itself for the chrome.  This is why you’ll see old American cars with rusted out bumpers with the chrome peeling away where the steel has corroded underneath to the point where it’s barely there any more.  This site is a good place for more information about chrome plating as a finish.

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It doesn’t end there though, while searching for distribution info on the FlyBikes website last week, I stumbled across an interesting section on their frequently-asked-questions portion of the page;

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While the structural (and weight) disadvantages of chrome has been more or less clear to me for years and usually steered me away from actually spending money on it, I had no clue of the environmental or the human cost of a mere finish.

Spotting that Flybikes FAQ explaining their wholly righteous reason for not offering chrome colour options prompted me to do some good old Google trawling on the negative health affects of chromium plating; there was a lot of material.  This report by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention was the most reliable literature I could find on the subject; being the CDCP is a government agency and the fact that the US chrome plating industry is pretty damn big so they probably know what they are talking about.

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There are two different types of decorative chrome plating, trivalent and hexavalent; the stuff that made Erin Brockovich a household name.  Unfortunately I can’t tell the difference scientifically because I only have a very limited understanding of these things but trivalent is basically ‘modern’ chrome, it has more of a nickel tint whereas hexavalent is the classic ‘old school’ stuff; harder wearing, blue-r tint but heavily regulated by the state and for good reason, hexavalent chromium is hugely toxic.  It’s trivalent counter part is not quite as harmful, has less stringent exhaust regulations and is easier to waste treat; spilling a small beaker of it’s hexavalent counterpart on your garage floor has the potential to poison any nearby wells and land you in some deep trouble.

chrome-plating-process

The gases emitted by the chromic acid are the super dangerous part about hexavalent chromium, without adequate fume-extraction or personal protective equipment, a chrome worker is subject to some horrific illnesses including but probably not limited to; cancers of the lung, trachea, and bronchus, contact dermatitis, skin ulcers, irritation and ulceration of the inner nasal lining (nasal mucosa) as well as perforation of the nasal septum- a symptom commonly associated with prolonged cocaine abuse.  The CDCP findings also report of kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, epigastric pain, erosion and discolouration of teeth, and even perforated ear drums.  In the case of the nasal ailments, on average the symptoms start manifesting within the first month of employment with a chrome plating shop.

This passage from the CDCP report was stood out to me as the most troubling though;

..11 male employees in an Ohio electroplating facility reported that most men had worked in the “hard-chrome” area* for the majority of their employment (average duration: 7.5 years; range: 3–16 years). Four of the 11 workers had a perforated nasal septum. Nine of the 11 men had hand scars resulting from past chrome ulcerations. Other effects found during the investigation included nose bleeds, “runny nose,” and nasal ulcerations..

*Hard-chrome is often known as ‘engineering chrome’ and is used for lubricity or oil retention in things like car engine parts and gun barrels.  Although essentially the same as it’s decorative counterpart, it’s applied in thousandths of an inch rather than millionths like decorative chrome.

So what can be done?  It depends on how much you like your chrome bike I guess, you could hassle your favourite companies via social media into telling you whether they’re using hexavalent or trivalent chrome (to the untrained eye it’s hard to tell the difference) and only buy trivalent if like me, your conscience is getting the better of you.  You could even boycott using chrome parts altogether until there’s better identification of whether they’re using trivalent or not, there are plenty of adequate alternatives including fine polishing, anodising and even certain types of chrome-look paint that look great, come in more colour options, weigh less, are less harmful to the environment and are better suited to people who live in wetter climates.  If you already have chrome parts, you can take better care of them by spraying something like J P Weigle’s Frame Saver into the inside of the tubes and generally keeping the outside of them clean with soapy water… and by not grinding.  The choice is yours at the end of the day; vote with your wallet.

 

Flybikes 2016 Fuego Frame And Bars

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Devon Smillie’s signature Flybikes Fuego frame underwent a few significant tweaks for 2016, the most notable being the addition of external head tube gussets as well as the existing internal ones that Fly utilises and the shift from Fly’s proprietary Spanish BB to a larger Mid;

For 2016, Devon wanted to make a few changes to his Fuego frame. The first thing you will notice is that we’ve added external gussets. These gussets are an addition to the internal integrated gussets we already utilize on the frame, making for an extremely strong front end. Next, we’ve raised the seat tube height a half inch to 9.25″ and shortened the back end to 13.35″ making for a strong frame that’s built to take on the streets.  We have also added an additional top tube length for those of you who are looking for a smaller frame. This year, the Fuego will be available in 21″ and 20.5″ top tube lengths. We have also switched to a Mid bottom bracket to accommodate our new 24mm Dolmen cranks, the spindle size was too large for Spainish bearings, and our traditional Dylan removable brake mounts for a clean looking frame for brakeless riders.

FUEGO_insta_1 (1)

Top tube: 20.5” / 21”
Head tube angle: 75.5º
Seat tube angle: 71º
BB height: 11.75”
Stand over: 9.25”
Chain stay length: 13.35”
Weight: 2.531 kg. / 5.57lb. (21″)
Colours: semi-translucent brown, flat grey, trans black.

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The Fuego bars are also now available in a higher 9.5 inch rise for those of you on the tall side.  The Fuego bars and frame are out now in some countries with others following close behind, get your local shop to grab a set if they are your bag.

Rise: 9”  or 9.5”
Width: 29”
Back-sweep: 10º
Up-sweep: 3º
Weight: 796g / 1.75 lbs. (9″)
Colours: semi-translucent brown or trans black

Profile Blackjack Sprocket 2016 Re-issue

Blackjack Spread

Profile Racing have re-released what is arguably the most recognisable (even to people who don’t ride in my own personal experience) and iconic mid-school sprockets; the Blackjack, for it’s 18th anniversary in 25, 28 and 30 tooth sizes.  The Blackjack sprocket (as pictured below) was first made in the late ninties, boasted 44 teeth, a 10mm thickness and was compatible with a sprocket-hole mounted grindplate.  I still see originals floating around today so needless to say, they could take a beating.  If it’s your thing get your local bike shop to order you one in or head to Profile’s e-store where they even have a few old 44T versions left…

Black Jack and Guard copy

Stranger XXLT Rims

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The Come Up dropped a rare product feature on behalf of Stranger who have come up (ha!) with a new version of their XXL rim; the XXLT rim.  Inventive name, I know, but boasting a humongous 42mm wide profile, flash-welded join and weighing a fairly reasonable 595 grams as opposed to the XXL at 630 grams; I think they can just about be forgiven. While the wholly… holey nature of the extra machining is a bit of a dirt trap for my particular part of the world, the wide profile will undoubtedly help prevent pinch flats at lower tyre pressures compared to some others on the market.

Ecalt 25.4mm 4-Piece Strangler Bars

eclatstrangler

It wasn’t too long ago when uncut Slam bars were considered the biggest bars available at 8″ tall.  With bars getting an inch or two taller over the last 5 years, back pains are becoming less frequent due to not being hunched over a set of tiny 7.5″x 24″ bars (probably mounted to a bloody ‘dropped’ front-loader stem too…)  In short, we’re all riding for longer and we have our bars to thank for it.  The only real issue with tall bars is the leverage forces involved, the extra strain can be way too much for some stems and can cause a lot of extra slippage- or even snapping in the bars if your stem is too powerful not to slip.  Not so great for your teeth…

eclatstrangercomparing

The guys at WMT have been trialling their solution of changing the clamp-area diameter from the traditional 22.2mm (7/8″) to 25.4mm (1″) for about a year now on two piece bars with Wethepeople.  This is to increase the clamping tube’s surface area to prevent slippage and adding extra material where bars break.  Éclat being the innovators they are, announced the first four piece version yesterday; the Éclat Strangler bars.

eclat

Being WMT’s premium quality brand, Éclat have been designed these bars from the ground up with function and longevity in mind.  The 25.4mm clamping tube is welded to a 25.4mm griptube for an increased welding area at the junction where four piece bars typically break.  The grip tube actually tapers back to 22.2mm where the grips are installed to maintain the traditional feel but gives it a slick new-age look that’s sure to turn heads.  There’s no info on angles/geometry yet but they will be available in 9.1″ or 9.6″ sizes by summer 2016 with compatible stems being released at the same time.

S&M Dagger Frame

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Back in September, Kurt at the Union gave us this brief look at the new S&M park-specific frame, dubbed The Dagger, that they had on display at the Interbike trade show.  While information on it is limited right now, what we do know is that it has double headtube gussets, removable seat stay brake lugs, an integrated seat clamp and is going to be made in small batches; sold with a pair of the responsive 26mm offset Widemouth forks.

s-m-bikes-bmx-dagger-frame

As well as the forks being very manoeuvrable, the frame itself is something of a nipper with it’s tight headtube angle, short rear end and low bottom bracket, all making this frame as responsive as possible.  No word on available top tube lengths as of yet but with only two weeks until it’s released, we won’t be waiting long.

75.75 degree head tube angle
71 degree seat tube angle
11.6″ bottom bracket height
7.25″ seat tube height
12.8″ to 13.2″ chain stay length

If it looks like your cup of tea, hit up your local bike shop and get them to pre-order one for you ahead of it’s release date.

Slacking Off- A Brief Study In Freecoaster Slack

Occasionally with a ‘job’ like this, I’ll be lucky enough to be sent parts to test by companies going through research and development stages of making new BMX components, my main qualification to do so is being able to throw a bike around while still being able to analyse a broken one better than simply saying ‘I fell and it broked!’
Then one day someone will pull a cruel joke and send you not one, but two types of freecoaster to test knowing full well how you feel about that kind of heresy and witchcraft… but with me being ever curious about new technologies emerging and not wanting to be left behind, I gladly accepted the task.
Trying out both clutch and pawl type freecoasters, I figured out that while the pawl type was the easiest to use, the clutch type was best for adjustability and thus, reliability (in the respect it won’t engage and throw you on your arse as easily when rolling backwards) due to being able to remove/ add slack spacers at will. This is something that can’t be done with a pawl type coaster without using a different clutch-disk or slack cam ring- depending on which brand you ride.  This is not to say that you are completely out of options when it comes to slack adjustability though; the following factors can also play a part in the time it takes your hub to engage;

Gearing.

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A higher gear ratio where a larger sprocket, or a smaller driver, is used so higher top speeds can be reached does so because a larger sprocket like a 27T-9T ratio for example, pulls more chain links over the driver with each pedal stroke than a smaller 25T sprocket pulls over a 9T driver; it works the same way that a single point on the outer edge of a vinyl record will move faster than a point in the middle despite it having the same number of revolutions per minute- except there’s a chain wrapped around it.  What this also does is reduce the time it takes for your rear hub to engage as chain gets pulled over your driver at a faster rate when your gear ratio is higher.  In the days of cassette hubs and freewheels (if you’ve been riding as long as some) this wasn’t so much of an issue but with freecoasters and fakie tricks coming back into popularity, it’s something that is of much greater importance.  If you’ve got steady legs and a desire to bomb it around at mach 10 then you could probably get away with something like 27 or 26T-9t but if you like a bit of room for error when moving your feet around while coasting backwards then maybe stick to a lower 25T-9T, no one likes a bruised arse.

Crank Arm Length.

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While 175mm tends to be the standard go-to length for BMX cranks they can usually range from around 165mm to 180mm depending on your height, riding style or personal preference so for arguments sake we’re just going to talk about the two extremes of long (eg. 180mm) and short (165mm).  If you imagine the crank in it’s engaged and disengaged position as well as the distance between the pedal spindles as a kind of triangle (as illustrated in the shoddy MSpaint diagram above) you can see that the red lines represent the set freecoaster slack angle but you can see that the slack effectively widens as the cranks get longer.  It’s worth noting that the difference is negligible but noticeable if you go between 165mm and 180mm cranks although virtually non-existent if you were running 175mm cranks to begin with, but you know, every little counts sometimes…

Chain Tension.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that freecoaster driver bearings really do not like tight chains but a loose chain can also artificially increase your freecoaster slack angle as well as help your bearings last longer.  Before your hub even starts to engage your legs have to make the chain tension enough to pull the chain over the driver to begin with so the slacker the chain; the slacker the angle, obvious enough.  But that also increases the likelihood of your bike sounding like a rusty bag of nails inside a biscuit tin so exercise restraint with that one kids.

While I’m sure all of the above is quite obvious to some older riders including the Bikeguide police, and I’m sure it’ll get picked apart in some way or another but the main point I want to make is that it’s not something that gets talked about a whole lot, especially to younger riders, despite being a big issue in BMX today. That said, if there are any points I’ve missed feel free to hit me up at oberzine@hotmail.com.