I have been using the Wheelsport wheels for slightly over two years, ever since I brought back a pair of them back from Taiwan. As far as I know, it was one of the first pair of Wheelsport wheels that are used in Singapore, as I got the wheels even before MyBikeShop brought them in. After two years of usage, it is safe to say that these wheels are pretty good. I have had zero problems with these wheels over this time, and the rims are still as true as the day when it was first installed on the Dahon Boardwalk. It is also quite obvious that Wheelsport wheels are becoming really popular on Dahon and Tern bikes.
Of course, routine maintenance will go a long way in ensuring that the hubs run nicely and properly. I have been overhauling the rear hub freewheel mechanism every 6 months, cleaning and regreasing the moving pawls. For more details about Wheelsport Rear Hub maintenance, refer to this link.
However, I felt that it is time to try something new. I wanted to get a new wheelset, but I can't seem to find a wheelset that is better than the Wheelsport wheels. Short of the Kinetix Pro, which are light and fast but probably less durable, there are not many other options. Carbon or high profile wheelsets may look good, but they are actually quite a bit heavier and do not suit my style of riding. The only way to go is to custom build a new wheelset!
I see no advantage or improvement in rebuilding a wheelset with a 10 speed rear hub, as it will be not much different from my current wheelset. With top end groupsets progressing to 11 speed drivetrains, it is necessary to upgrade the rear hub in order to fit the wider 11 speed cassettes.
For Shimano 10 speed road cassettes, a 1mm spacer is needed to fit it onto a standard 8/9/10 speed freehub body.
1mm spacer on a 8/9/10 speed freehub body, for installation of Shimano 10 speed road cassettes
As for the new Shimano 11 speed road cassette, it is actually 2.85mm wider than a Shimano 10 speed road cassette. This means that even without the 1mm spacer, the freehub body will need to be 1.85mm longer in order to accomodate the 11 speed cassette. This is why all the new 11 speed compatible freehub body are 1.85mm longer than the current 8/9/10 speed freehub body.
Although I have no plans (yet) to upgrade to an 11 speed system, it is always good to future-proof, to allow upgrading in the future with lesser effort. There are actually quite a number of 11 speed compatible road hubs out there, but good hubs are hard to come by. In my opinion, American Classic hubs are really smooth, which are those used on Kinetix Pro wheels.
However, for gold coloured 11 speed road rear hubs, good ones are only available from Chris King or Hope (as far as I know).
My personal impression of Chris King hubs are that they are super durable, and have a unique RingDrive mechanism for freewheeling, instead of the common pawl and ratchet system. The freewheeling sound is also supposed to be a rather unique "angry bee" buzzing sound. Moreover, the hub engagement is much faster than most other hubs due to the RingDrive construction.
As for Hope hubs, they are using a standard pawl and ratchet freewheeling mechanism. They also have a super loud freewheeling sound, which I don't really like as it is too loud! They are cheaper than Chris King hubs though.
In view of the special RingDrive mechanism in Chris King rear hubs, I decided to get a Chris King try out this mechanism. I wanted something different from the standard freehub mechanism.
Chris King R45 11 speed Rear Hub! Gold colour, ceramic bearings, 24 spoke holes.
The Chris King R45 rear hub has 45 points of engagement in the RingDrive mechanism, which means that there are 45 contact points between the freehub body and the hub shell when you pedal. This ensures firm power transfer with no slippage.
Also, this means that when transiting from freewheeling to pedaling, the hub has 45 chances to engage in a single rotation. To put it simply, the hub will engage every 8 degrees of hub rotation. (360 degrees divided by 45 = 8 degrees).
As for the Wheelsport rear hub, it has 24 ratchet teeth, and 6 pawls. There will be at most 6 pawls in contact when pedaling hard. The engagement angle is also larger, at 15 degrees. (360 degrees divided by 24 = 15 degrees. This means that there will be almost twice as much freeplay in the Wheelsport rear hub as compared to the Chris King R45 rear hub. It will not matter to most people, but I would like to try and see if the difference is perceptible.
Enough of all the technical info, let us move on to the pictures!
Rear hub that comes with a detailed servicing manual. 5 years warranty on the Chris King hub.
Opening a present!
Lustrous gold hub with laser engraved details.
The 1.85mm spacer that is used when mounting 10 speed cassettes. For mounting a Shimano 10 speed road cassette on this freehub body, use both the 1.85mm and 1mm spacer.
Hub needs to be readjusted to remove any bearing play after a settling-in period. This is because angular bearings are used in this rear hub.
Aluminium freehub body, lightweight but less durable. Something I overlooked when doing my research.
I realised that the freehub body is actually made of aluminium, which keeps the weight down but will be more prone to damage by the steel sprockets. This will be of problem to powerful riders or MTB riders who will mash the pedals hard. My riding style is more of spinning nicely and comfortably in the correct gear, which will hopefully minimise the damage to the aluminium freehub body.
Before building the hub into a wheelset, I decided to take apart the hub to check out the mechanism inside. With the help of the manual and some Youtube videos, it seemed quite doable.
Dismantling the Chris King R45 Rear Hub (Partial):
Loosen the 2.5mm hex bolt on the non-driveside. This bolt tightens the adjusting clamp around the axle.
Use the so-called "helper hole" to help unscrew the clamp. Insert the 2.5mm Allen Key into the hole and use it to help unscrew the adjusting clamp.
After loosening the clamp, the non-driveside QR insert can be pulled out. It can be rather tight due to the rubber o-ring and the close tolerances of the hub.
The inside of the adjusting clamp. See how the material use is minimised, by hollowing out the parts that are not needed!
Once the adjusting clamp has been removed, the entire axle can be pulled out from the other side. It is really simple!
The freehub body, otherwise called Driveshell Assembly by Chris King. Note the helical thread that is part of the RingDrive mechanism. Also pulls out of the hub shell quite easily.
The inside of the driveshell, with the sealed bearings visible.
Close-up look at the helical gear. This activates the RingDrive mechanism when the freehub body rotates forward during pedaling.
Yup these are ceramic bearings! Further disassembly is possible if the bearing snap rings are removed.
The other side of the helical gear, which moves in the axial direction to engage the RingDrive mechanism.
The 5 sub-assembly parts of the Chris King R45 rear hub.
I am happy that this basic disassembly can be done with just a single 2.5mm Allen wrench! No need for other specialised tools. Of course, if we want to further disassemble the hub, special tools will be required. But for routine maintenance, this should be sufficient to clean and regrease the helical gears. As for maintenance of the RingDrive mechanism, special tools will be required to further disassemble the rear hub.
It is also quite easy to reassemble the rear hub, and I have also learnt how to adjust the bearing preload. Now all that is left is to build the wheel and use it!
Lastly, a picture for weight weenies:
Weight of 218.2 grams, which is practically the same as specified in the specifications (218 grams). That shows how accurate their manufacturing process is, to be able to control the weight down to the nearest gram. This can be considered a relatively lightweight road rear hub.