Author Topic: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King  (Read 17666 times)

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Offline RupeandCyndy

Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« on: October 25, 2011, 11:11:27 am »
Does anyone have recommendations re. Phil Wood touring hubs?  I have read the discussions of cones vs sealed bearings and am considering Phil Wood if we go with sealed bearings.  Do Phil Wood hubs require frequent service?  Can anyone/any bike shop service them easily if needed?  We are looking for extremely reliable hubs that require minimal service, and ones that can be serviced/repaired easily anywhere in the world. 
We bought Chris King hubs for our new touring bikes and found they were not what we wanted (a very expensive lesson).  Billed as extremely reliable and not requiring much service, we found they did not live up to the expectation.  With less than 3000 miles on our hubs as we started our tour (in the US and Canada), we began experiencing problems (failure to engage) within the first 500 miles.  Each bike shop we stopped at was reluctant to work on them as they require special tools and most shops don't have them.  When we finally found a shop that could work on them my wheel was pretty much unusable, he rebuilt it with loaner parts and lent us a wheel for my wife so we could continue.  A question that has come up frequently was "when did you have them serviced...?"  That implies that the CK hubs need frequent service, something I don't want to have to cope with while touring - if I did I would go with cones and repack them every x000 miles...  Historically, I have found that cheaper hubs (Campy) require minimal service and I usually don't have to do anything but keep the cones properly adjusted, repack them after about 10000 miles and they'll go for 20000 miles or more.  Touring would probably require more mx than that though and I doubt they'd go as far.  Chris King didn't work well for us, we ndon't want to repeat a bad (expensive) experience with Phil Wood hubs.  Hopefully if we spend $ for Phil Wood they'll go for 20000 miles with minimal maintenance, otherwise it's not worth doing...

Offline DaveB

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2011, 12:26:09 pm »
For durability, simplicity and ease of maintenance and repair, Shimano hubs are very tough to beat.  Either Ultegra for road (130 mm OLD) wheels or XT hubs for MTB/Touring spacing (135 mm OLD) would serve you very well.  I have an older set of Dura Ace hubs (7700) that have over 50,000 miles on the original cones, races and freehub body and have been serviced at, at best, 8000 mile intervals.

Campy hubs (only Record hubs are now available as a separate component) are also very durable and easy to service but are available in 130 mm OLD only and require Campy cassettes while Shimano hubs will accept any Shimano or SRAM 8, 9 or 10-speed cassette.

Phil Woods hubs have an excellent reputation but repairs in the event of early failure require special tools just like your experience with CK hubs and not every Podunk shop will have them.  All Shimano hubs require is a set of cone wrenches and a 10 mm hex key and Campy hubs only require a 2.5 mm hex plus 2- 5 mm hex keys.  Any bike shop anywhere can service them.

Offline whittierider

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2011, 12:53:10 pm »
Quote
we began experiencing problems (failure to engage) within the first 500 miles.

That sounds like a freehub body issue, but I don't know if the freehub body is really separate from the rest of the hub with that brand as it is on Shimano.

Quote
Historically, I have found that cheaper hubs (Campy) require minimal service and I usually don't have to do anything but keep the cones properly adjusted, repack them after about 10000 miles and they'll go for 20000 miles or more.

Far more, I'm sure.  I have some old Campy hubs with that many miles which with the cups and cones cleaned up look almost brand new.  You have to look pretty carefully to even see where the bearings were riding.  I believe I went the first 18,000 miles without having the hubs open at all for any reason.  The key however is to make the adjustment correct for after the skewer is squeezed down.  If you eliminate the play for when the wheel is out of the bike, then the bearings will be way too tight after the skewer is squeezed down.  The axle is slightly compressible, and the skewer pressure makes the cones go a little closer together.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 03:12:04 pm by whittierider »

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2011, 12:59:45 pm »
This is primarily a religious discussion, and proponents on either side of the issue are strict adherents. In my experience, it comes down to what the person doing the maintenance prefers.

I am a fan of cartridge bearing hubs; I hate futzing with cups and cones, especially in the middle of nowhere. I'd rather adjust cantilever brakes in some Sisyphean torture plan.  I had CK on a touring bike and never had to service that bike, but I sold the bike just after the 5000 mile mark in order to thin the herd. I have a set of inherited Phil Wood touring hubs that were on a touring bike and went onto a randonneuring bike. I don't know how many miles were on the bearings (still original) but I put in just under 4000 miles on those without any issue. Still going strong.

For your criteria, I would suggest White Industries. I have a set of MI-5 hubs with about 15,000 miles. They have been immersed multiple times (my bottom bracket didn't survive this period of time) and I am generally unkind to this bike: riding down stairs, jumping off curbs, hopping over potholes and speed bumps. Still smooth, still original bearings, although I think the freehub could use some attention. White hubs, at least the MI-5, don't require any proprietary tools for complete teardown and service. Bearing replacement is a bench operation doable by trained monkeys.

When it comes time to replace bearings in the White hubs, put in some Phil bearings and be happy for another long distance.
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Offline paddleboy17

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2011, 01:31:36 pm »
I will second White Industries hubs.  Phil Wood is legendary, but really pricey.  I had my my Waterford built with a WI hubset and have no issues with them.  As was previously mentioned, cartridge bearings are really sweet to have.

For value, I have had pretty good luck with Shimano hubs. Yes, the hub will have loose bearings, and oxidation on the rubber boots can be a problem, but the wear is great if they are properly adjusted.  Shimano hubs need to be rebuilt (new grease and bearings),  and you can do it with needle nose pliers and a set of cone wrenches.

I have a really poor history with Mavic hubs.  As far as I know, Mavic does not make a touring hub.   I have had two mountain bike hubsets from Mavic,  and neither one gave good service.  I have a road bike hubset from Mavic, and it has been noisey but OK.
Danno

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2011, 11:33:24 am »

Phil Woods hubs have an excellent reputation but repairs in the event of early failure require special tools just like your experience with CK hubs and not every Podunk shop will have them.

This is simply not true. You only need two 5 mm allen wrenches to disassemble the hub. This is even simpler than White Industries hubs. If you go to their webpage you will be able to download a document showing how easy it is to service the hubs.

I have Phil hubs myself. So far they have done approx 10000 mi on a loaded touring bike. They run like the 1st day and there is absolutely no reason to service them. They are absolutely bombproof. These hubs are extremely robust, but for comparison the rear hub weighs more than 1 pound.

Lucas

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2011, 01:10:20 pm »
I looked at the instructions (http://www.philwood.com/philpdfs/FSAinstructions.pdf).  I saw no special tools that I would not have at home, but the job definitely takes more than an allen wrench.  This looks to be more work than servicing a Shimano hub.  Perhaps there is a different definition of what servicing means?

At least we all agree that Pil Woods are robust.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2011, 01:48:49 pm by jsieber »
Danno

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 03:15:23 pm »
I would also add Velo-Orange's Grand Cru hubs. I have their freewheel hub. The construction and bearings are impressive. It's another hub that can be torn down and serviced with tools in every toolkit.
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Offline PeteJack

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2011, 08:45:11 pm »
Quote
oxidation on the rubber boots can be a problem

Too true. I keep my Trek 520 under a porch and the boots disintegrated after a couple of years. I couldn't find replacements after trying half a dozen bike shops including the place I bought the bike. Eventually I went through the catalog with the guy at REI, we found replacements and special ordered them. I bought two sets as I didn't want to go through that again. For very long tours you may want to consider replacement boots along with other spare bits and pieces. Or put new boots on before you start.

Offline cgarch

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2011, 12:47:15 am »
I have both and have had for some time. I can offer this - the next time i look for a new set of hubs it will be Phil. Period. While capable, I don't like messing with hubs. I have two sets of Chris King rear hubs and one front hub for my tandem. The rear hubs have had to be serviced on an annual basis and I believe the service guides recommend this. Some element of the free hub seems to separate and it takes (i'm told by my LBS) a special tool to reset that part. I've had one for 9 years and the other for 3 years. The newest completed a trip down the coast in '09 with no problem (lucky for me) but I did worry about it. I have a Phil on one front wheel for the tandem as well and not a thing to report on it - I don't worry about that one. I also had a set of Phil hubs from 1976 that are still fully functional and in use on my single bikes. I did have one where the flange separated and was quickly replaced - but that was in 1992. Have also torsionally sheared (grab a piece of chalk and twist it - that's torsional shear) a bottom bracket - similarly replaced promptly at no charge. But the bloody CK hubs seem to constantly need tweaking as I can quickly tell when they loosen up. YMMV.

Craig
Santa Rosa, CA

Offline DaveB

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2011, 12:45:57 pm »
This is simply not true. You only need two 5 mm allen wrenches to disassemble the hub. This is even simpler than White Industries hubs. If you go to their webpage you will be able to download a document showing how easy it is to service the hubs.
Not quite that simple.  First, you need two 8 mm allen wrenches and the bearings are not going to be in stock at every (or even most) bike shops if you need a replacement.  Yes, they would be easy to service at home but on-th-road servicing would be a lot more trouble.

I agree they are good hubs but plain-Jane Shimanos cost a small fraction of what PW's do and can be very durable with even minimal maintenance. 

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2011, 04:06:06 pm »
Only slightly off topic, I hope; one of the guys I rode with this summer had one of the high-zoot rear hubs.  I don't remember if it was Chris King or Phil Wood -- I don't think it was a White hub.  IIRC, he'd bought it used 10-15 years ago, and it wsa still running fine.  The freehub on that thing sounded like a rattlesnake on steroids whenever he coasted, though.  Anyone have an idea which one it was?

Maybe that'd be a good idea in bear country!

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2011, 02:56:51 pm »
Really noisy? Chris King. It's a very distinctive sound.
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Offline BikeFreak

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2022, 10:23:14 am »
I want to give an update even though this thread is +10 years old:

My touring bike is fitted with Phil Wood hubs both front and rear. About 15 years ago or so I bought these hubs solely based on internet reviews: Although heavy and pricey they should be the best most bullet proof hubs out there. Install and forget. These hubs are fitted on a normal touring bike only doing paved roads. I weigh 150 lbs and total setup is perhaps 200 lbs.

After some 10-15000 miles, only in dry sunny weather, I started to experience some loud noises from my drivetrain system - like a loud bang or crush. It sounded as if my chain was slipping a tooth on my cassette. As if my dereailleur would get out of alignment for a second, move my chain to the next wheel for only a second and then falling back - making a crunching noise. However I never felt anything in the chain and when I was looking down, the derailleur was stable and not moving anywhere. But the loud noise was there. There was only 1 bang/crunch at a time, usually uphill and it would happen maybe 5x pr day.

I stopped touring for some years and approx 2 years ago I decided to disassemble the Phil Wood rear hub and inspect it. Initially everything looked OK, but then I found that the large spring giving tension to all 4 pawls was broken. And since this spring makes more than 1 revolution around the pawls, more like 1,5 revolution, the parts were kept together and no pieces had fallen out. But it was clear that the spring action was not the same on all 4 pawls anymore.

I contacted Phil Wood and wanted to buy a new spring. Answer: We do not supply this spring anymore. You have to buy an entirely new hub instead. I got pissed about this customer service and decided to have a spring fabricated locally based on the parts I had incl sourcing the right spring material, annealing it (to avoid damage) etc. The new "homemade" spring came out as an exact copy and 3 more were produced for future "problems". After installing the operation seemed OK again. I could bike again with no loud noises from the drivetrain systsem anymore.

With the new spring installed, I went on a 2000 mi bike trip. On this recent bike trip, the noises started to appear slowly again, and at the end I had heavy noises from the drivetrain maybe 20x pr hour, and climbing was not a requirement anymore. When I cam home, the hub as disassembled again: The spring was still OK, but 1 of the 4 pawls had considerable play. I started looking for other hubs on the internet comparing the different pawl systems. I now ordered a White Industries Mi5 hub and the Phil Wood will be discarded. I had hoped that this American made hub would last a lifetime, especially since I have not abused it at all. On the White Industries webpage I can buy all the spare parts incl springs and pawls if necessary - not so on the Phil Wood web page.

When I inspect the Phil Wood webpage, all their cassette rear hubs are sold out. Does anyone know why? To me it seems they are closing down that part of their business.

Lucas

Offline staehpj1

Re: Rear hubs - Phil Wood and Chris King
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2022, 11:20:13 am »
That is disheartening about the Phil hubs.

FWIW, my experience with cassette hubs that have LONG mileage on them has been all Shimano Deore XT, 105, and Ultegra with cup and cone bearings.  They seem to last pretty much forever if given a reasonable level of maintenance (repack bearings once in a great while and keep an eye infrequent on adjustment).  Given that, I've never been too tempted to upgrade to Phil Wood or White industries.