First Look: Alchemy Bicycle Works ORC-UL Rear Hub
Thanks to clever hub shell design and bearing placement, the ORC-UL is 30 grams lighter than the previous hub while increasing rigidity. The crew at Fair Wheel Bikes took apart one of their first production samples to photo and weigh, and sent over the details on the new hub.
Tech breakdown and actual weight coming right up…
In order to increase the stiffness of the hub rather than adding material, Alchemy looked at the bearing placement. Specifically, the drive side bearing that supports the end of the hub shell by the freehub. Typically on many hubs, this bearing is flush with the hub shell. That’s about 42mm from the drive side dropout. In the ORC-UL, the hub shell extends inside the freehub, placing the drive side bearing 11.7mm from the dropout, significantly reducing the amount of unsupported axle.
It is because of this design that a 193g hub can be stronger and more efficient than the previous 222g version.
The Freehub features three spring loaded pawls, for a total of 36 engagement points on the hub shell drive ring. In order to keep the cassette from digging into the freehub body, the surface is hard anodized. Currently, the ORC-SL is available in Shimano 10 and 11 speed versions which was a crucial upgrade from the original ORC which is not 11 speed compatible – and the new freehub design means they are not retrofittable. Drillings are limited to 24h and 28h hubs at the moment.
Apparently Alchemy had thought about releasing a Campagnolo ORC-UL, but have decided to delay its availability offering this explanation:
We have decided to delay the release of a Campy specific hub. However, there is a viable option. I recently tested the use of a Shimano 11sp cassette with a Campy drive train and I discovered that, by using three micro shims placed roughly equally throughout the stack, a Shimano 11sp stack will shift perfectly with a Campy drive train.
Currently, the ORC-UL is available in S10 and S11 versions. To address the needs of Campy users, I am now offering a modified version of the S11 that will include spacers for Campy 11. The modified S11 hub (O-UL-SC-11) will include the spacers and instructions on where to place them in the Shimano 11sp stack to achieve perfect shifting with a C11 drive train. I have tested this and the shifting is excellent.
At this time, we do not have a target release date for a Campy specific hub.
~ Alchemy Bicycle Works