Trek’s Bontrager group has been working with DT Swiss to develop an exclusive 54-tooth Rapid Drive star ratchet for use in 2014 Bontrager hubs. It’s part of a large scale overhaul of the Bontrager wheel lineup, which they’re branding Wheelworks, and we’ll have more info on that at Eurobike and/or Interbike.

This gives it a 6.67º engagement, which is pretty darn tight. DT’s field reps have been testing it on their mountain bikes. So despite the minimal looking surface area on the flat faces of each tooth, it’s proven to hold up to XC/Trail use. Our hunch is it’ll find it’s way to road bike wheels, too.

For Trek’s part, Bontrager’s marketing man Sam Foos told us this:

“For our Rapid Drive technology, we went to DT and asked them to make us a “Rapid Drive” star ratchet for the XXX wheelset and they were able to do that. It’s the same technology story as the Rhythm Elite/Pro wheels we just launched, just done with DT star ratchet internals instead of a pawl system like on the Rhythms. The 54 tooth star ratchets are currently only available as part of the XXX wheelset. No other company currently has access to these.”

Spin past the break for comparison pics of the standard DT options, plus a new video from Bontrager…


The original Star Ratchet had 18 teeth (bottom, foreground), then they doubled it to 36 teeth (right) for higher end wheels. They couldn’t quite double it again, so the increase was kept at another 18 teeth for the new Rapid Drive (top).

Like all DT Swiss Star Ratchets, they’re simple to service and replace. For now, these higher tooth count rings are for Trek only, but should they become available aftermarket from a willing Trek dealer, you simply pull the freehub body off, remove the old rings and drop these in. DT’s reps did say that grease/oil selections are a bit more critical with the smaller teeth. Anything too thick would prevent proper engagement.

Here’s their promotional video for Wheelworks:


  1. When it is cold, pop 18t back with some sewing machine oil.

    I wish they have made it 48t and 24t. I think it would be perfect. Why multiple of 18?

  2. For the balance of the universe, somebody needs to insert a mildly-witty remark about Trek’s reputation for reliability and the high number of chipped teeth on 36t ratchets.

  3. Project321 is also a great option with 3 degrees of engagement. I have 3 sets and I wouldn’t buy any other hubs. As a former Aerospace machinist, I really appreciate the quality control at P321 too. Great people to boot!

  4. Hmm Keith. You could get the hubs directly from the company that makes every aspect of them (i9), or you could buy a hub from a company (321) that gets the guts of their hubs from i9 anyway. Hmm… i9 over 321 anyday in my book.

    That being said, Bontrager’s really been stepping up the quality of their Race TLR (and nicer) wheels recently. Major props, as more entry-to-mid-level riders will be exposed to the benefits of a decent set of wheels, opposed to something from Alex, Mavic Aksiums, or (God forbid) a Roval that in some cases doesn’t even have a bead hook (I thought we got rid of wheels w/o bead hooks back in the 80’s)…

  5. I9 sound ugly and they had been significantly heavier.. DT Swiss works well, but 18 is bit low.. after 24 diminishing returns begin..

  6. What about the bearings? DT swiss used to have decent bearings, Bontragers’ bearing have never been durable, good race wheel but mostly for your Sunday rig. Never last a winter of grit and sh1te.

  7. @NASH – There’s plenty of legit criticism of Bontrager’s older wheels (their new stuff from the last two years is night and day better), but I’ve never had problems with any of their bearings. And obviously, the “Bontrager”-branded hubs with DT internals are made by DT Swiss, so any problem you have with their hubs lies with them.

  8. Not to turn this into a one brand vs another, but Bontrager wheels over the past few years have increased in value so much, that it is laughable that anyone would consider as the alternative.

    Industry Nine has possibly the worst quality control of any major player in the industry today. To have such broad product line issues, I am honestly surprised that anyone continues to pay the kind of outrageous money that they are asking.

  9. @tkeaton – Totally. I spent seven years selling Treks (finally done with that chapter of my life), and I watched them wisely rebuild the Bontrager brand from sub-par OEM garbage to legitimate industry player. Five years ago, Trek dealers only stocked a minimal selection Bontrager wheels, enough to keep their rep happy and maintain their Silver, Gold or Platinum level pricing. They languished in the corner until you could unload them for cost, while you showed your customers the latest and best Zipps and Mavics. The general mediocrity and constant rim failures are a thing of the past, and now the Bontrager line stacks up exactly to or better than any of the big wheel brands, generally with better prices and an outstanding warranty.

    We knew it was a problem when it was becoming hard to sell a rich triathlete a pair of Zipps Firecrest clinchers after they had read all the great things people say about their Bontragers on slowtwitch (or wherever those people gather). Now, the shop I worked for has begun selling Zipps by special order only, and cut their Mavic order nearly in half.

  10. Shreddie, I know where the freehub comes from, thanks. We are all free to use what we want, it doesn’t matter which parts we each want to roll with so long as we ride…NO?

  11. I’d be using these in an XC race situation rather than trail/all-mountian use. Good thing about them though if you carry a spare set the star ratchets take seconds to switch over.

  12. Now there is a wheel that has never seen a day’s rain 🙂
    See how the back side of the sprockets has been gently caressed by warm mountain weather, and kept inside when the nasty rain comes.
    DT stuff is good though and I have no complaints with the Star Ratchet hubs I have.

  13. I’ve had two sets of industry nine wheelsets, one old, one Torch and never had any problems. I am light but I do lots of miles and I’m not smooth.

  14. CHIPPS, my sprockets look cleaner than that and believe me they’ve seen some rubbish weather and mud. I just look after my bike like someone who spends thousands on a bike should.

What do you think?