Interbike 2012: Kappius Hubs Updates Bearing Design, Ramps Up Production

Kappius updates hubs with angular contact bearings and moves production offshore to meet demand

Kappius Components, the little father/son brand that emerged around Sea Otter with their custom cassettes mated to a larger axle hub, has updated the design to use angular contact bearings. This mod lets you quickly and easily remove any play in the hub. Brady Kappius says they also offer longer life because all of the balls in the bearing are in contact at all times rather than resting on only a few with cartridge bearings.

We were worried SRAM’s XX1 introduction might diminish demand for their design (which you can check out in full detail here), but our fears are quieted a bit after they told us they’re actually having to move production overseas to meed demand. Right now, Russ Kappius can’t make them fast enough, so they’re are taking preorders for the new design and should start shipping in spring 2013.

Comments

doctor tinklepants - 09/25/12 - 1:22pm

Moving orders overseas to meet demand? I call BS! There’s a ton of machine shops in our area that are desperate for work, so I have to believe that this guy is just looking t lower his production cost. For that reason alone (lying about capacity) I will not buy from him.

Robert - 09/25/12 - 1:34pm

ditto.

moving it overseas will only push lead times out even further.

plus that hub looks kinda difficult to clean

Swangarten - 09/25/12 - 1:53pm

@Dr tinklepants- The US has priced itself out of competition for both volume and cost. Dont be so surprised and take some imaginary highroad.

Matt M - 09/25/12 - 2:08pm

@Swangarten – Agreed. If Dr and Robert would pay attention, he’s manufacturing them HIMSELF. If he were to have another US machine shop do the work then the cost would just go up more and most likely still wouldn’t meet production volume needs with just one shop.

All you internet experts need to realize that the US does not set the standard on quality… Other companies laugh at us for our arrogance and stupidity. But by all means, please post details of your 100% US made bikes with cost and parts break down. I am intrigued…

Brian - 09/25/12 - 2:23pm

If they are that desperate for work they need to make their rates competitive with the global markets.

michael - 09/25/12 - 2:39pm

@ Matt M (the expert)
Moving production overseas is cheaper, but it comes at the cost of the environment and human rights
Using near slave labor and polluting as much as they want.
I will be buying “MADE in the USA” Industry 9 hubs.

NotAMachinist - 09/25/12 - 2:51pm

He may have so many orders that outsourcing is the only option. Possibly he can’t find anyone locally who can produce the quantities (low or high) at the price he needs. He will find that the further you move production away from home the less control you have. Finding a really good overseas producer will help, but having a 12 hour time difference for phone calls and emails makes communication difficult. Having a 2 day lag between finishing a part and being able to inspect it makes quality a challenge. These are not impossible obstacles, thousand of companies do it every day. But the smaller the company, the more difficult the challenge.

Everyone, me included, assumes “overseas” means China or Taiwan. Maybe he’s outsourcing to Germany or Spain or Italy, all countries with long histories of quality machining and bicycle production. King manufactures in the US, Tune manufactures in Germany. Both are high end, high priced components made in high cost countries, but are still less expensive than Kappius’ $1000 hub. I tend to think country of manufacture affects peoples purchasing decisions about boutique components such as this.

Let’s be honest, he’s moving production to China or Taiwan because he can get large quantities at the lowest cost. It’s a business decision. Whether it turns out to be a good one or not only time will tell.

michael - 09/25/12 - 2:51pm

Industry 9, Chris King, & White Industries don’t have any problem making competitively priced hubs in the USA.
I would say Chris King does set the standard on quality.

Matt M - 09/25/12 - 3:01pm

@ michael – Laced to a foreign manufactured rim with foreign manufactured spokes and nipples most likely. Keep on feeling high and mighty about one part on your bike… As far as environmental and human rights implications, these small companies are the last place you should throw stones. If anyone can manage to move production to the US it is the corporate giants who produce enough volume to be able to form assembly lines and amortize the higher costs associated with US manufacturing. I’m all for making the world a better place, but as long as the big boys are outsourcing to the lowest price, everyone else is forced to follow suit or minimize expectations of company success.

doctor tinklepants - 09/25/12 - 3:13pm

@Swangarten & Matt M – First off, I’m not an internet expert. I’m a machinist. And I’m only speaking about SoCal machine shops. So bear that in mind when you consider what you’re saying. And get off your high horse about costing on a complete bike and don’t put words in other people’s mouth. I’m in the fortunate position of being at capacity with a project, so what I’m saying isn’t sour grapes. It’s disappointment that profit has been placed first in the bike industry, yet again.

You guys are spouting the standard lines people use to move production overseas. Yes, they’re cheaper. Yes, their quality can be just as good. I don’t deny either of those things. And there’s no one shop that does machining, ano and carbon. Anywhere. The Asian companies typically have one person managing each project so you only have to deal with them. But when something doesn’t meet spec, boy, you’re in for a ride as they chase it down (Been there. Done that. Not going back to save a buck). Stateside you might actually have to deal with two or three different companies. The horror!

He wants to make a cool product with the minimal labor and cost involved. I get that. But what moral compromises are you willing to make for that end? Terrible wages? Check. Unsafe working conditions? Child labor? Check. No environmental safeguards? Check. I can’t personally justify that for something as basic as a bicycle hub. Especially in the limited quantities the aftermarket companies sell.

/rant

doctor tinklepants - 09/25/12 - 3:15pm

Also “just because the big companies do it” is a truly terrible reason. It’s a self defeating argument.

Psi Squared - 09/25/12 - 4:11pm

Man, there are a lot of “experts” here with no knowledge. No one here knows where Kappius is having the work done overseas. No one here knows what the wages, labor practices, and environmental practices of that shop overseas are. No one here knows the financial situation of Kappius, nor does anyone here no who Kappius has talked to and in what towns, counties, states, or countries Kappius talked to people about production.

If you “have to believe” something, then you’ve likely done so without the benefit of critical thought or without the luxury of the facts surrounding the decision.

$1000 for a hub that doesn’t measure power or do anything else? No thanks.

It should be noted that CK and WI are doing their own machining and producing there own stuff and have been for a long time. They’ve arrived at that point by having machined and produced other things, in addition to bike stuff. For whatever reason– a reason that no one here likely knows–Kappius can’t scale up their production. It’s a bad argument to allege that if CK and WI can do it, anyone can.

Matt M - 09/25/12 - 4:56pm

@doctor – As PSI Squared pointed out, you can’t make a blanket statement like, “It’s disappointment that profit has been placed first in the bike industry, yet again.”

You have no idea what their margins are or how they arrived at their decision, but I’m certain their aren’t any non-profit performance bike companies. At the bare minimum, the owners have to make a comfortable living after paying employees, insurance, taxes and other overhead. Insinuating that they should either produce their product in the US or not make it at all is just ignorant.

I’m not expert on machining or the bike industry, but I do deal with outsourcing everyday to China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico and know the hassles involved. Is it pretty? No, but it’s not slave labor either… If it was, we wouldn’t constantly have issues with factories being understaffed because workers don’t come back after holiday / vacation.

My entire argument surrounding the topic is that you can’t put the “Made in the USA” requirement on every part or you’d have no bike. Therefore, it’s hypocritical to bash a start up company for doing what they need to in order to bring their product to market.

Brady @ Kappius Components - 09/25/12 - 5:11pm

Thanks for the comments everyone. Hopefully I can explain some of our business decisions to ease the level of confusion out there.

My dad and I started this as a way to design a more durable, easy to maintain and reliable hub. After numerous friends got caught in the backcountry with broken free hubs and no way to pedal out, we knew there was a better way.

Our hubs are currently made in the US. The aluminum in Oregon and the steel drives in New York. This was after searching high and low for competitive prices. Even with this, our hub are expensive. You’d think with the current state of manufacturing in the US this would have been easier to do. We understand the price is high, this is simply due to the cost of the components to us. This is partly due to the relatively low quantities compared to other industries. Some companies wouldn’t talk to us unless we were doing more than 30,000 units a month. Our current aluminum supplier has had issues with us supplying us our needs, so this isn’t a purely cost based move although that is a factor in the decision. Believe me, if we could do this in the US at a competitive price we would by all means.

For example our steel drive costs us in the neighborhood of $300 per hub. If anyone know of wire EDM or DMLS companies that can do it for less, I’m all ears. US companies such as King and I9 have these machines in shop which makes things much easier for them. We have a small machine shop to refine our aluminum and carbon prototypes but by no means have the ability to go to full production. We aren’t a machine shop, we are enthusiastic cyclists with separate full time jobs but the desire to make cycling more enjoyable.

Increased quantities will decrease costs but the only place that we have found that can do it is in Asia. We are fully aware of the difficulties producing there but have high hopes with the suppliers we have found and they have good reviews from other US companies that they produce products for. We fully expect to make a trip over seas (or a couple) to make sure things are being produced at the standards we require.

On another note, it looks like the XX1 cassette will be even easier to modify for compatibility with our hub.

Brady
Brady @ Kappiuscomponents.com

doctor tinklepants - 09/25/12 - 5:44pm

@matt – Nope. Not if “doing what they need to” brings them to a point of moral relativism in production sourcing. Not gonna happen. And again, you’re putting words into my mouth. When did I ever say every part had to be made in the USA? When did I say ANY part had to be made in the USA? You’ve accused me of that twice now, and the reality is that I’m fine with overseas production. Read that again: I’m fine with overseas production.

In this case, however, the reasoning is BS. And that’s what gets me. Especially at that price point. Because being a machinist, yes, I absolutely can speculate on the costs and margins. Maybe dude’s a great engineer, but has no production sense or is just unwilling to do some leg work to find good local suppliers. Whatever, I don’t know. But looking at the product and it’s retail price (and knowing full well what bike industry margins are), if he can’t get it made domestically while maintaining a decent margin, well, I can’t explain that.

doctor tinklepants - 09/25/12 - 5:49pm

@Brady – Thank you for the thoughtful response. Try calling around some SoCal machine shops. I think you’ll find a lot of underutilized mills, lathes and even EDM machines people are desperate to get running. I know White Industries has (or had) a wire EDM they ran small batch jobs on, and Paul Component does a ton of outside machine work. Just two options to get you running.

Best of luck, it’s a cool product, and I’d love to see it happen.

Freddie - 09/25/12 - 7:13pm

“For example our steel drive costs us in the neighborhood of $300 per hub.” Hahahahahahahaha! You’re getting screwed.

Freddie - 09/25/12 - 7:15pm

Get a business license, act like a machine shop, and you’ll get much better prices.

Psi Squared - 09/25/12 - 11:03pm

Man, there are a lot of d!cks that post. I’m willing to bet that virtually none of them would have the sack to share their comments face to face with the people they dump on, in this Kappius.

Psi Squared - 09/25/12 - 11:03pm

“…in this case Kappius.”

Federico F. - 09/26/12 - 5:47am

Indeed, I wonder why you say that XX1 coudl drive off Kappius hubs… I think that on the contrary is going to make them even more popular, given the tons of space which can be obtained inside the giant 42-10 cassette. Well maybe the 10 tooth sprocket will require some redesign of the external bearing placement but it’s not the end of the world. Considering how big the 42 teeth sprocket is I bet you could even get more POE than with a 11-36 cassette currentl used on Kappius hubs…

As far as traditional transmissions go, Kappius hubs are by far the coolest thing. Of course nothing beats a usable gearbox, but I must admit SRAM XX1 + Kappius hubs look like a match made in heaven

Pepe - 09/26/12 - 9:52am

@almost all of you

Interesting your concern about working and envronmental conditions on the “overseas” (meaning outside US?).
Please considerer that this conditions just meets the demands of US companies to supply things we all buy at the lowest possible price. (that would explain that condition…)

Besides, US is the second carbon dioxide emitter, both per capita and total emissions, just behind China. So “overseas” will almost in any case mean more environmental friendly.

Hope your concerns have some “real” action (beside writing some good willing post)…

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