SOC17: Alto Cycling explains preload-free hubs, shows upcoming mountain bike wheels

In January, Alto Cycling unveiled an all-new version of their very smooth road hubs, using a pinch/press fit to tighten things up without putting any pressure on the bearings. Ultra tight tolerances let them do that without having any play or wiggle between the hub and axle, and this video shows how they do it. Click past the break for a couple photos, and check this post for more details…

AltoCycling.com

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shafty
shafty
5 years ago

So, the news is that they’ve chosen light seals on high-quality bearings, with either a low grease fill, or uncommon grease. Sounds revolutionary….

myke2241
myke2241
5 years ago
Reply to  shafty

No, it is not news at all! Featured last year. Mtb wheels are not ready

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  myke2241

Regarding the mtb wheels: they were prototypes at Interbike and still in design/testing. The models shown here are production ready and have been shipping for a couple of months now.

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  shafty

I’d like to clear this up, because it may not have been clear. The bearings are fully sealed NSK DD bearings with standard grease, specified for road, cross, and mtb use. The revolutionary aspect is not in the bearings, but in the closure system that allows them to rotate freely without any axial loading and a self extracting system. Sorry if there was any confusion in the video!

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
5 years ago

Real news would be road rims with a more modern internal diameter, no more of this 17mm stuff.

Eric
Eric
5 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

Agree about the the width. I don’t want to go back to riding rims less than 20 internal.

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  Eric

The depth of the hook does very little to adjust the amount of volume in a tire. The internal side wall width (22mm on our carbon clincher models) plays a much larger factor regarding the volume and ride quality of the tire. If you have a chance to demo our wheels at a retailer nearby, I highly recommend comparing the ride quality with your current set!

Jeff Servaas
Jeff Servaas
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobby Sweeting

My understanding was that the HED 20C internal width and 25mm outer width worked well for the 23C tyre because it supported the sidewalls the best, and provided an optimal aero shape. I’ve read the wheel should be 105% of the tyre width for smooth transition from the tyre to the wheel.

You have chosen a 28mm outer wheel width, which sounds optimal for a 25mm tyre. But why did you set the inner width at only 17C?

Greg
Greg
5 years ago

Ah. Very poorly described in the first article, IMO. Preload IS adjustable, and the pressed in end cap secures the adjustment. I still don’t see how mounting it on the bike and closing the QR wouldn’t introduce more preload (as was asserted in the prior article). Even in the video, the guy doesn’t bottom out the preload cap, he leaves it slightly loose. At least you can account for it, though.

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  Greg

The plug bottoms out on the axle, which protrudes from the threaded collar. When the skewer is closed there is no axial load on the bearing because the plug and axle act as one system. And the amount of force on the axle/plug system is not enough to compress the 7075 aluminum, which essentially acts as a column. This was widely discussed in the previous article’s comment section, but I’d be happy to go into detail if you had any other questions!

Dockboy
Dockboy
5 years ago

They say every wheel size in the video, but they don’t have boost?

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  Dockboy

A boost axle would require a rotor spacer as well, and would not give you any true benefit because the flange spacing would not be any wider. So we are choosing to cut stand-alone boost shells that have optimal flange spacing and axle fitment, and they should be available in 4-5 months (Interbike time). We are designing and manufacturing everything ourselves, so unfortunately it does take us a bit longer to keep up with some of the axle standards that change so quickly. But when our products launch they are real improvements on existing products, and I think that’s most important!

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
5 years ago

Your internal rim diameter is matched for tires in the 23-25mm range, in a world in which people are running 25-28mmn tires.

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

Our wheels are designed for 25mm tires, but work well with any size between 23 and 33mm, which is obviously more for ‘cross!

Gef
Gef
5 years ago

Neat idea. The wheels with spacers are more finicky I think.

Colin
Colin
5 years ago

I love how everyone is bitching at Bobby about industry propaganda. Boost is only effect when you actually use it, most “boost” hubs were rushed to market with little more than spacers to move the brake out and end caps to add 6mm in width. So screw you, Bobby, for making a product that actually does what it is supposed to rather than being the first to jump on a bandwagon…

Also in spite of what you may here, the widest rim in the world does absolutely nothing to the volume of the tire if the bead and sidewall of the rim are not allowing the tire to be, lets say, tire shaped. When it comes to rolling resistance, sidewall deflection is the enemy. If you don’t shape the bead right, you’re just creating volume without much benefit. Steve Hed knew this which is why he shaped his rims to allow a 23mm tire to behave like a 25mm. Hed still says the fastest tires on their rims are 23s, not because 23s are better, but because they shaping the tire with the shape of the rim not the width. The width is a byproduct of the shape, not just the width. Stan’s also does this with their BST. I know that the modern marketing ethos is that wider is always better, but wider rims don’t mean better tire behavior.

After spending a few hours on the phone with Bobby, and pages of email correspondence, I can tell you that this guy knows his stuff, and rather than attacking him with internet marketing talking points, go ride the wheels, I promise you, you’ll be more than happy.

PS, Tyler, Bobby, sorry if I went too far but in a product that’s all about details, the details become important, and that seems to be what everyone is missing.

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
5 years ago
Reply to  Colin

People don’t really ride 23s anymore. I don’t care about the aero properties of 23s. Consumer trends show people aren’t into 23s anymore. If you want to wow people you got to be making something current or even forward thinking like enve with sea. 4.5ar.

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

We recommend a 25mm tire on all of our rims, other than the MTB rims of course. Nobody said that Alto rims were meant for 23’s, and we actually advise against it. Colin was simply making a statement regarding HED’s comments on 23mm tires. I also hope that people see us as a forward thinking company, as we’ve only existed for two years but already have two design patents that will help to move the industry forward in a positive way.

Colin
Colin
5 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

I didnt really elaborate on the Hed story enough. Hed was on the 25mm train very early on, but no one would run them cuz 25s are just for touring bikes and roubaix, real racers use 21s. But because no one would run 25s, Hed shaped the rim to make a 23 behave like a 25, basically forcing everybody’s hand. The point was that the shape of the rim has more to do with the shape of the inflated tire than width of the rim alone.

Matt
Matt
5 years ago

Bobby – good luck with your brand (not sarcastic in any way).

IMO, many of your carbon clincher offerings are far too expensive to be a good value.

Expense in terms of lack of resale value they command vs. other brands (Zipp, Enve, etc) which increases the cost of ownership. Those other brands also can be very easily had on bro-deals when makes the value proposition even worse for Alto.

$1900+ for the 56mm Carbon Clinchers? Just IMO, simply reaching for the stars.

That said, I do wish you luck, as I appreciate your transparency and passion for your product.

Bobby Sweeting
5 years ago

Thanks Matt! We are always interested in constructive criticism, which is why I’m on these comment threads on the first place!

Our retailers sometimes ask that our wheels be listed at $500 more or less than our current price point, depending on the location of the shop and how affluent the area is. We price our wheels based on our production costs. Designing and manufacturing in the US at a small volume is incredibly expensive, and I would be willing to bet that our margins are dramatically less than companies that are producing thousands of wheels each month and selling at prices even higher than ours. Especially when most of those companies are manufacturing over seas. Our production costs are likely double that of most of the larger brands, but we have to price our products lower in order to compete and gain footing in the market.

Some customers choose to support smaller brands so that we can continue to innovate and create new products that will improve the riding experience. But if that isn’t your thing and price/resale value are more important, I totally understand. We can never compete with Zipp, Enve, Mavic, etc on price wars, marketing, trade shows, etc. The difference in production volume and budget is enormous, and we simply do what we believe is fair. Fortunately for us, there seem to be a lot of people looking for a unique product with something special to offer!