How much does it weigh?
The mother of all first questions we get.
We are not yet disclosing our concrete weight figures until our final engineering for production is complete. What we can say is that we are on target for the hub of a delta weight of 350 grs over typical OEM hub (what you get on your new bike). For the air-reservoir on the rim it’s ~200 grs more.
So, it’s heavier than your current hub… Yet before you stop reading, just consider first that on a bike we are all first concerned about added weight because:
- It increases the amount of energy we need to put when climbing
- It makes the wheel more sluggish due to increased moment of inertia.
For 1. we have seen already that the increased rolling resistance of a tire at the wrong pressure can be really significant, easily over 15% on large tire. This happens while climbing, while rolling over flats and even downhill! So in a typical ride, with our Hub you will end up spending less energy overall!
For 2. most of the added weight is in the center of the wheel, of which ~ 150 grs are non-rotating. Then the air-reservoir is actually supporting tire at low pressure and also providing a very strong shock protection to the rim. This enables you to mount lighter, more efficient tires and also light but delicate rims. A fully optimized wheel has a similar moment of inertia but with lower rolling resistance.
Is it compatible with my Bike?
Before everything, we have made sure our hubs are as standard as possible. This means it can be installed on most bikes without any alteration to the frame, disk mounts or drive train.
The WhiteCrow Remote is also designed to be drop-in compatible in between the most typical bike controls and can be mounted on both sides of the handlebar.
Routing the command cable can be easily done by tracking it alongside the disk brake hose, secured with simple zip-ties (more elegant solutions from third parties already exits if those looks bothers you).
Check our specifications page for exact compatibility details.
Is it compatible with my e-Bike?
The wheel can be easily installed on any e-Mountain Bike featuring mid engine (most high quality bikes are like this) and compatible frame Boost/ FAT wheel points (again, most modern e-mountain bikes are like this)
Can I use any of my preferred tires?
We have designed the whole thing so when it comes to tires, there is no difference with existing wheels. We do recommend tubeless-ready tires, there are 1000s of sources in the internet on how to select and install these.
Is the in-tire reservoir included with the Hub?
The in-tire reservoir is an integral part of the system and therefore always included when you purchase a hub or a wheel from us.
The in-tire reservoir’s size depends on the rim that you are planning to use, and you will be able to select the correct size from our Indiegogo campaign when you order a Hub or Wheel.
Can I use a tire sealant like Stan’s ?
Well you Must!
The WhiteCrow Wheel works as closed system, therefore while there is an in-tire air-reservoir, it is NOT an inner tube. The tire itself is mounted tubeless-ready (or UST, if you could still find that somewhere).
There are many intrinsic benefits to tubeless-ready, which is arguably one of the best mountain bikes inventions of the last decade. A tubeless-ready wheel is not only lighter but much more efficient because it significantly reduces rolling resistance while at the same time it improves traction by enabling lower tire pressure.
You also may know there are some drawbacks to tubeless-ready, including “burping”, increased risk of rim damage and tire side-wall tears. These drawbacks are mostly a direct consequence of running at the low pressure afforded by tubeless-ready. Fortunately, the in-tire reservoir protects your tire and rim to dramatically reduce those risks without any added rolling resistance…. a win-win !
Is there a front wheel version?
We first released the back wheel only because we are a small team and we had to concentrate first on where we felt there is the largest impact. In many bikes, up to 70% of the rider’s weight is on the back wheel.
Also, the back wheel is harder to engineer, so once we are finished with it, making a front wheel version is relatively easy.
Of course, pressure in the front wheel has also a very large impact in handling, so, we are planning to release it ~ 6 month after series production of the back wheel has started. Boost and popular Fat Bike hub widths versions will be released simultaneously.
Is it waterproof?
Euuuh…. We added this question just in case there are any doubts.
The hub has been designed from the start as mountain-bike specific technology. It will go with you wherever you can already take your bike 😉
What happens if I get a Flat?
Oops! Another flat and I’m in the middle of nowhere… now what??
Our in-tire reservoir can be very easily removed (much easier than the tire itself). After disconnecting the air hoses from the wheel, place a new inner-tube (which you should always carry with you), inflate as usual and ride home “the standard way”.
Manufacturing Quality, Maintenance & Repair
You are based in Belgium, but where is the WhiteCrow Hub actually made?
Manufacturing a high-quality large but lightweight hub is a challenge in itself. We spent hundreds of engineering hours to optimize the design and we have very tight quality tolerances.
That’s why all the main components of the hub are exclusively manufactured by reputable suppliers in Europe and USA. Moreover, we have full tractability towards the raw materials used. Many people can claim using “space grade” 7075 aluminum, but we could see first hand how the Chinese supply is clearly not the same as in the USA! ( Check this out to see what we meant!)
Finally, the hub is also assembled in Europe, wheel building will always be hand-made and the maintenance of the hub will be performed in close partnerships with reputable shops.
How often will it need maintenance?
We are engineering the hub such that maintenance requirements will be the same as for a regular mountain bike hub.
The actual operating “duty cycle” of the pump is very small, as it is activated ONLY when deflating the pump. During normal riding, just two high-quality bearings are “active” and these are at the center of the pump, very far from any potential dirt ingress.
We also constructed our freewheel so any part that is subjected to wear and tear can be easily replaced, often requiring less skills than for many of our typical competitors. And its bearings also last longer thanks to its oversized nature.
Finally, the two “main” bearings supporting the bike’s weight are much larger than those used by many of our competitors, seating on a very sturdy axle which results on a strong, rigid and reliable wheel.
What happens if the pump/internals break down?
We have engineered a many fail-safe mechanisms into the design!
First of all, if anything “really bad” happens while you are riding, you can just repair the wheel as if you had a flat (see above). Your wheel will work just as a normal wheel and you can keep on riding for as long as you wish.
The main fail-safe mechanism is assured by totally preventing any catastrophic accident by over inflating the tire. The architecture of our design makes this simply impossible as the tire can never inflate beyond the initial max pressure you set at home before you start riding.
The second fail-safe mechanism is on the operation of the clutch and cable command, if any of these fail/break, the wheel will automatically go to your preset max pressure and just stay there. You can keep on riding like this for as long as you want.
The WhiteCrow Remote has positive resting position: Neutral. That means there is no chance you will “forget” and allow the wheel to inflate or deflate beyond what you want!
Another great safety mechanism is within the pump itself, there is a safety vale that prevents you from over-deflating the tire beyond a certain pressure even if you operate the command continuously.
Would I be able to ride the wheel if the hub needs repair?
This sounds like an oxymoron… but yes.
The internals of the hub (pump/clutch) have been designed so they can be easily extracted from the hub while keeping a perfectly functional wheel. So in worst case, if you have a total pump break down, you can remove it and ride the hub while waiting for a replacement/repair of these parts.
Would I be able to repair the hub myself?
We have designed the pump to be as modular as possible. This means that most parts can be easily replaced by anybody with the skills to perform a basic suspension fork maintenance. The only real skill needed are the ability to work in a perfectly clean workbench and to respect bolt torque specifications.
We will also be releasing videos with detailed steps for the most common operations.
I know nothing about mechanics. Who will be able to maintain the hub?
We are actively working to establish a network of reputable shops that can maintain the hub for you. Yet in any case, as mentioned above, any shop with the knowledge to service a suspension fork will be able to do it at ease.
Installation and Wheel Building
Can I install the wheel on my bike just by myself?
If you know how to replace a shifter cable, the answer is definitely yes.
To reassure you, we will be releasing detailed videos on how to do this once our hubs are ready for production, including tips on how to best deal with internal routing.
Can I install it on my “standard” mountain bike?
Tire pressure regulation has the biggest advantages with large tires. Yet, it’s totally possible to install it on a mountain bike with “normal” tires provided it has the modern “Boost” wheel mount.
How difficult is it to build a wheel compared to a normal hub?
As for any wheel building, lacing the wheel is by far the only difficult step. We recommend using typical double or triple-butted spokes on a X2 pattern.
You need to be careful in placing the first spoke on the right hole of hub & rim so the hoses face straight from the rim to the hub.
The extra hole on the rim can be done before or after lacing the rim (recommended, so you are sure to locate it correctly). You have a bit of slack so you can always place the hole on the strongest part of the rim. Aluminum rims are very easy to drill with a standard 8mm drill. Carbon fiber rims require a special drill bit, but otherwise the operation is a simple as for aluminum.
We will release a video on an example with lacing and performing these operations.
The air hoses themselves are made of “plain plastic” and can be cut a bit lose. Our experience has shown that the spokes protect them very effectively from branches and other hazards.
Can I mount any rim with the hub?
The hub is made with 32 holes and recommended in X2 lacing. It’s been designed to be mounted tubeless ready. Any rim that is designed for this setup would work.
The in-tire reservoir is mounted concentric and mostly rests in the middle of the rim.
In future, it is possible to design specific rims for the hub to better leverage the advantages of the in-tire reservoir optimizing the weight and protection that it provides.
Operation during your ride
How do I know the pressure on the tire?
Well, you don’t. It’s the same for shifting gears, you will know when you have the right pressure because the feeling of the bike changes quite a lot with it.
What you can measure accurately from home position is the max pressure you will be using from the ride (e.g. by looking at your floor pump), whereas the hub itself allow you to set the min pressure as a percentage of the max pressure.
How do I actually add new air to the wheel?
You add air to the wheel through a dedicated air-valve on the hub itself. Don’t worry, it is a totally standard Presta bike valve.
The best way to add air is by first operating the Remote to allow full automatic inflation of the tire. Your foot pump will then show accurately the maximum pressure of the wheel and you can then add or remove air to your desired level.
If this is still a bit confusing to you, we will show a dedicated video showing how to accomplish this simply.
Why is the hub “Energy Efficient”?
Tire Rolling resistance is a major factor limiting your speed during most of typical mountain bike rides. Therefore, reducing rolling resistance very significantly lowers the amount of power & energy you have to pedal in order to move forward at speed, during climbing, flat sections and even on a downhill.
Obviously, operating the Air Pump to deflate the tire requires energy to compress the air, and this energy will come from you (that is, unless you have an electric bike). We all know that pumping air into a tire can be hard work, yet you may have realized that using a large floor pump is easier and much less tiresome than a filed-mini pump. Similarly, our hub is the most efficient yet as it allows you to use the biggest leg muscles, and better still, your own momentum.
So, if you operate the pump while in a downhill, if only slightly, you are actually achieving this totally for free. And in many typical rides you will climb hard-pack fire-roads, requiring higher tire pressure (Always for free!) to only deflate the tire at the start of the single track, again for free!
Why is tire rolling resistance so misunderstood in mountain biking?
First of all, and contrary to intuition, rolling resistance is not mostly due to tire’s knobs “rubbing” the floor.
Secondly, because mountain biking is practiced across natural terrains, a truly representative, well controlled scientific study is exceedingly hard/expensive to do. As a result there is almost no serious/scientific research providing the necessary background of information to disentangle many of the historic preconceptions navigating through this subject in the media and the internet in general.
Thirdly, because most serious research come from road biking, plain & misguided extrapolations are rifle, totally dismissing the non-linear nature of the problem. Rolling tests of mountain bike tires on the same smooth drums used for road bikes are the most egregious examples of this.
Symptoms of all the above is the raging discussions of 29er vs. 26 vs. 27.5, or even the “surprise” in the recent realization that 27.5 Plus bikes can roll faster in many circumstances than plain old 29ers.
GEEK ALERT BELOW
Our research across reputable sources in all disciplines where tires are used shows that 3 major factors apply constantly in a non-linear fashion in a approach that it is better understood as Tire Impedance.
1) Some of the energy is indeed wasted in rubbing the floor. And this is mostly only because we are still using old-fashioned bias-ply tires. This is the plain linear “R” of the equation, and the large the contact patch & knobs, the worse it gets. Note already that, for same wheel, tire & pressure, R itself can change, being higher in hard-pack road, but lower in soft/slippery terrains. The higher the tire pressure, the lower this linear R gets. But in typical mountain biking conditions this is the smallest factor by far.
2) In hard-pack, most of the energy is wasted in internally deforming the tire itself . It’s no longer linear with speed, and it is sensible to the wave-form the terrain creates when approaching the tire . We can call this factor “L”. It mostly depends on the angles of the attack & exit across the overall circumference of the contact patch, to be integrated together. Note the angle of attack is more important factor than the total “cord length”. This is why:
- Tubeless ready is much more efficient than old fashioned tire + inner tube, as the internal heating by rubbing of the inner tube is fully eliminated
- Big knobs roll slower, as these create large local deformations of the tire during entry & exit.
- Typically 29ers roll faster everything else equal.
- For a given wheel and tire, the non-linear Impedance “L” here changes enormously with the exact ruggedness of the terrain. Higher tire pressure can make this better OR worse depending on these.
3) In rough terrain, most of the energy is wasted by conversion of horizontal energy into vertical movement of the wheel, bike and yourself 😉
Here is where a lot of the energy in mountain biking really goes! And to make things simple, a large tire at the low pressure can roll much faster overall than narrow one at high pressure. Not only rolling becomes quicker, but your own body “shakes” less, And you do waste a lot of energy across all you muscles when you are shaken! Just try a sledgehammer for a while, or riding over cobblestones for a few miles with a road-bike to feel this effect fully!
That’s also why a full suspension XC bike is often better than a hard tail.
Actually suspensions improve efficiency by minimizing energy wasted “vertically” by restricting it as much as possible to the non-suspended components (typically wheels & swing arms). But there can be still quite a lot of energy going to waste, just check how temperature of your rear shock raises when going through a rough segment.
A large tire at low pressure can therefore further reduce overall rolling energy requirements when hitting many obstacles typical of rough terrain, because it changes the equation in reducing the total unsuspended weight to just the mass of the contact patch… i.e. negligible. Note how this reduces the need for the suspensions to work, leading to less wasted energy even in fully suspended bikes.
Also a big tire is better at dealing with small amplitude high-frequency vibrations than suspensions, resulting in reduced “body shaking”, again lowering your body energy consumption and increasing comfort.