NAHBS 2013: Gokiso’s Amazing Suspension Bicycle Hubs
We almost overlooked Gokiso’s booth, but as we passed by we overheard some interesting chatter. Something about suspension inside the hubs. Ding! Curiousity piqued…but that’s only half the story of these amazing hubs.
Two different hubs were on display, the externally suspended front hub shown above, and an internally suspended rear hub. Both operate on what’s essentially a lot of little leaf springs, and we’ve embedded a video below to show how it works, plus tons of pics.
The other thing that really blew our mind, which is also illustrated at the beginning of the first video, is the insanely low friction these hubs have. With most rear hubs, if you hold the freehub body and give the shell a spin, you’re lucky to get a few rotations. I did that with the internally suspended rear hub and it spun and spun. It’s hard to convey in words how good it felt. ENVE founder Jason Schiers happened to be standing next to me and said he has several friends in Japan that race them and won’t ride anything else, they’re that good.
Click on through for more…
There’s so much going on with these hubs it’s crazy. Note the beginning of the video where they spool up the front hub with nothing but a small air gun blowing on the virtually smooth flanges. Try doing that at home. Scroll to the bottom of the post for video on the rear hub.
On these, the inset sections of each “fin” are attached to the axle assembly, each acting like a small leaf spring. Click to enlarge for detail.
The other version uses an internal tube with the center of the hub shell resting on it and the ends of the tube resting on the bearings. Slits in the tube between the two connection points act as small leaf springs, giving a small amount of cushion to the bearings and prevent deformation of the rolling bits, but not enough to affect brake pad/track alignment. The result is probably the most drag-free hub I’ve ever felt.
The hubs use two DIN P5 deep groove bearings per side within the front and rear shell, and more on the outside of the freehub body. Actually, the rear hub has SEVEN bearings, with three of them between the FH body and the axle, making it every bit as smooth with pedaling as when coasting.
Their freehub bodies are Shimano 9/10/11-speed compatible or Campagnolo 10/11. They use four double-wide pawls, with alternating pawls offset by half so that clicks across the 46 teeth effectively provide 92 points of engagement for a mere 3.9º rotation. Even with that many teeth and much more contact area, the hub spun sooo easily in my hands.
Really, the only complaint with these hubs could be the weight, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering how much mechanical tech is crammed in there. Standard front road hubs come in 230g (Hill Climb) or 240g (Standard 700c), and the disc brake version is 305g. Rear hubs are 445g, 455g and 500g respectively, with the disc being available in both 130mm and 135mm widths. All are available in 20/24/28/32/36 drillings, with rears eschewing the 20 hole option. Oh, and they offer complete wheelsets for road and track, plus a BMX hubset…and their website says a bottom bracket is coming soon!
Check ’em out at Gokiso.jp.