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HubDock makes it easier to remove a bike's back wheel

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February 21, 2013

The HubDock allows cyclists to remove a bicycle's rear wheel without touching the chain or...

The HubDock allows cyclists to remove a bicycle's rear wheel without touching the chain or derailleur

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Probably just about all cyclists will agree – removing your bike’s rear wheel is a hassle. You have to open and loosen off the quick-release, pull the derailleur cage and chain back out of the way, smack the axle loose of the dropouts, and then guide the cassette cogs around the now-dangling chain. Your hands get dirty in the process, plus you get to look forward to repeating everything in reverse when putting the wheel back on. California-based inventor Leonard Ashman figured that the process ought to be easier, so he created the HubDock – it lets you remove your back wheel, without even touching the drivetrain.

Here’s how the device works ...

The HubDock utilizes a thru-axle which is unthreaded/pulled out of the hub body from the non-drive side, in order to remove the wheel. That axle is subsequently pushed back in/threaded into place when the wheel is reinstalled – a quick-release lever on the end of the axle then ensures that everything remains snugged up. A standard axle, by contrast, stays in place as part of the hub body at all times, and secures the wheel entirely by the pressure of its quick-release or locking nuts.

When the thru-axle is unthreaded and pulled out for wheel removal, the main hub body disengages from its freehub body, which is mounted inside the user-supplied cassette – in other words, the main hub body and the freehub/cassette are no longer attached to one another. Because the cassette and freehub combo stay attached to the bicycle frame, the wheel is then able to simply drop straight down – just like the front wheel does, when you remove it.

The HubDock utilizes a thru-axle which is unthreaded/pulled out of the hub body from the n...
When the HubDock-equipped rear wheel is removed, the freehub and cassette remain attached ...

Once the tube has been patched, the tire has been changed or whatnot, the wheel is just slid back up into place, the axle is reinserted, and the main hub re-engages the freehub/cassette as the axle is threaded back on. The whole process can be seen in the video at the bottom of this page.

The hub will apparently work on any standard frame, with the existing dropouts. Cassette compatibility presently includes all 11-speed or under models made by Shimano and SRAM. Although the cassette remains attached to the frame when the wheel is removed, Ashman tells us that it can be easily taken off for servicing or replacement.

Tipping the scales at 415 grams, the HubDock is within the weight range of most mid- to higher-end rear hubs – the popular Shimano 105 hub, for instance, weighs in at around 420 grams. Additionally, the thru-axle provides a stiffer, more secure method of wheel attachment, which is why they’re currently found in the front hubs of many mountain bikes.

Ashman is now raising production funds for his device, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$379 will get you a clear-anodized HubDock, when and if the funding goal is met. Colored anodizing will cost an extra hundred bucks.

For his part, Leonard can't understand why such a product doesn’t exist already. “I know the bicycle companies hire some pretty sharp engineers, but it seems like they’ve been kind of asleep at the switch for a while,” he said. “Hopefully, I’m going to wake them up.”

Source: Liberty Wheel Systems

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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17 Comments

“I know the bicycle companies hire some pretty sharp engineers, but it seems like they’ve been kind of asleep at the switch for a while,”

They're not as dumb as you think. This is a step back in terms of technology. Ben keeps writing "freehub," which this definitely isn't. It's a removable hub with a freewheel mounted to the frame. Actual freehubs became prevalent in the last three decades because they integrated the hub and freewheel, allowing the hub bearings on the right side to be located all the way at the end of the freewheel. Any mechanical or structual engineer can attest that moving the hub bearings as close as possible to the support points (the frame dropouts) makes the axle less vulnerable to bending. HubDock moves the hub's right bearing back to a point closer to the centerline of the bike, which is just begging for bent axles. It would be possible to get around the weakness by using a larger diameter thru-axle, but the standardized diameter of cassette bodies and their bearings means expanding the axle diameter is not possible.

Gadgeteer
21st February, 2013 @ 03:43 pm PST

Had the same system on my first motorbike back in the early 1980's [1972 Suzuki GT250]. Made life a lot easier.

djmc
21st February, 2013 @ 04:32 pm PST

I"m not so sure, Gadgeteer - I don't see why there is no bearing outboard.

And the bearing on my Shimano gearset is actually at the wheelhub, not out at the gear cluster. . .

socalboomer
21st February, 2013 @ 04:58 pm PST

I like it. But for $379 dollars I'll get my hands dirty.

JimD
21st February, 2013 @ 06:55 pm PST

Can't recall if the Suzuki GT250 had a similar system as djmc reports, but I know some Pommie bikes had QD or quick detach rear wheels, so nothing new really. Of course, shaft drive and single-sided swing-arm bikes have a similar concept.

Martin Hone
21st February, 2013 @ 07:26 pm PST

socalboomer,

How would you transfer forces from a bearing at the end of the freewheel body to this hub? The two parts slide together via a splined interface. They are not structurally fastened together. The only way they can affect each other is to rotate on a common axis. Also, "gearset" and "wheelhub" are not terms used by cyclists or engineers for the component companies, the former because it's not applicable (except in internal gear hubs) and the latter because there is no such word.

Gadgeteer
21st February, 2013 @ 07:28 pm PST

It appears as if there may be 3 bearings in this "effective" axle assembly

The hub will have 2 bearings, and the sprocket mounting assembly will have at least one bearing if not 2.

This is a fairly simple Idea, but it isn't worth the money. (not for $375).

Using a spline to provide positive location of the cassette (freewheel assembly) to the hub, and the threaded axle post tensioned with the Quick release, gives a strong system, the only real difference to a conventional set-up is replacing the sprocket thread with a spline, and cutting the axle in half to be joined with a threaded adapter....

Of course it is still likely to be weaker than a single non-threaded axle, (as the threaded section will be thinner), however the spline with a large contact patch should remove a lot of the bending moment from the axle and transfer it directly to the hub...

Sure, for those who want to put their bike in the car all the time, it may be a godsend, however for those who want to ride rough, and have a strong rear axle, it may not be so-good....

Of course it is really designed for cafe racers, who want to slide the bike in the back of the Audi at the end of a ride, and haven't figured how to remove a wheel without touching the chain... (And have cash to bun)

MD
21st February, 2013 @ 07:29 pm PST

You don't need to touch the drive train components to remove or insert a rear wheel.

If you change the gears so that the chain is on the smallest front chainring and more importantly on the smallest rear cog on the cassette, the chain will have the most slack.

Then when you undo the quick release you can lift the rear wheel off the ground and give it a gentle tap on the top. It should pop free from the frame. With the chain so slack there should be plenty of free movement to extract the wheel without needing to touch the chain or rear dérailleur with your hands.

Reinserting simply requires you line of the smallest cog with the chain slightly in front of the dérailleur, then gently pull it upwards. The rear wheel should pop back into the dropouts quite easily.

I do not get grease or oil on my hands when changing a wheel/tyre on either my road bike or mtb. I get more dirty from the dirt and dust on the tyre itself.

Struggling to see the need for this invention.

benonabike
21st February, 2013 @ 08:15 pm PST

Motorcycles have had Quickly Detachable ("QD") hubs that left the chain - and often the brake drum too - in situ when the wheel is removed since the 1950s. I've got one out in my garage right now.

However, in general they are noticeably heavier and cause more friction due to at least one extra bearing than the non-QD component, I would have thought that was a drawback for a pushbike.

Catweazle
22nd February, 2013 @ 07:05 am PST

Hey Cycle Studs, it's not about YOU getting grease on YOUR hands!!!

This is for the ten million or so riders who aren't nearly as savvy as your- selves.

I didn't see much sense in Grip Shifts in '86, I thought Rapid Fire were the best thing going...now SRAM is one of the BIG 3 in the industry!!!

Just saying...

Janet Baird Booth
22nd February, 2013 @ 07:30 am PST

The chain has never been the source of the dirt on my hands after working on my bikes.

Slowburn
22nd February, 2013 @ 08:10 am PST

i am imagining that this would be for non-techie riders

people who ride bikes that cost about $375 to begin with

and this thing adds $375?

at least those people wouldn;t care about the extra 2 lbs weight :)

wle

wle
22nd February, 2013 @ 09:07 am PST

Geeez - if removing the back wheel on a bike is such a hassle to some then I'm surprised said people are able to ride a bike.

What I see here is at best an expensive solution to a problem that isn't real. In fact the "solution" looks more to me as introduction of unneeded weight and possible problems even break downs.

BZD
22nd February, 2013 @ 10:06 am PST

This product has existed for many years. Cinelli was producing this in the 1960's. http://campagnolodelta.blogspot.com/2010/02/cinelli-bivalent-hubs.html

godspeed
22nd February, 2013 @ 10:56 am PST

An extra $100 for color anodizing? All it takes to add color to anodized aluminum is a dunk in a bath of cold water with water soluble dye before dunking into a bath of hot clear water or a steam box to seal it.

Cost per item? Fractions of a thousandth of a penny worth of dye. Dyes can be *any* water soluble dye, food coloring RIT or other fabric dyes, but for black the best result is from specially formulated anodizing dye.

Gregg Eshelman
22nd February, 2013 @ 11:48 pm PST

Bivalent hubs were also interchangeable front and rear to equalize tire wear and frequently laced to 650c rims, Cinelli reasoning that modern, smoother roads didn't require 700c rims.

This interchangeability meant weaker front wheels with dish and as others have said, modern freehub designs are stronger with the outboard bearing.

The assumed target market of non-tech savvy cyclists is largely riding bikes that cost less than $379. Cyclists willing to spend $379 on a rear hub will likely want one that makes them faster.

Greg Mixson
23rd February, 2013 @ 05:35 am PST

@Gadgeteer -

Not that I could see any specific drawings, but it looks like the mating surfaces are indeed splined, and the quick release would bind them together as it is threaded - we saw the user spin it several times before clamping. That would be enough since it's enough for us already. . .

Sorry - should have used "cassette" instead of "gearset" although you get the same results if Google'd. Intent and meaning were still there and you did get what I was talking about. Same with "wheelhub" instead of "free-hub". Bearings are not in the hub itself, but in the ratcheting portion at the far outside as illustrated at http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html - this means that the bearing would not be a big deal. The mating surfaces, being splined and then threaded/clamped together, should work just fine.

socalboomer
26th February, 2013 @ 09:47 am PST
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