Trailmech XC hubs throw pawls to the walls with twisted engagement design

trailmech mountain bike hubs hands on photos and weights

Based in Poltava, Ukraine, Trailmech was established in 2012 by two passionate cyclists who set out to make quality bike products. While they don’t specifically boast about being innovators, their unique mountain bike hubs certainly suggest some creative thinking has taken place.

No matter how many front rings or what gear range you’re running, Trailmech says engagement is the most crucial element to providing instant acceleration at the rear wheel. Their unique system ensures quick and efficient engagement with a surprisingly simple and affordable design.

They’ve been testing their XC front and rear hubs under the Ukranian National MTB team at UCI World Cup and World Championship races, and the hub’s patented design won a “Winner in Performance” award in the new components category by IPSO Award 2015. Are you engaged yet? Check out Trailmech’s promo video, hands on photos and info after the break…

Trailmech XC hubs, VRT technology

The Trailmech XC hub is actually built upon a very simple design, with the VRT (Vortex Ring Technology) ring being the only moving part inside. The hubs can be easily serviced without professional guidance or special tools.

With just 6º of rotational play, the VRT mechanism engages and transfers your leg torque via 60 teeth that lock simultaneously. The progressive lock-in channels guide the freehub body onto the VRT ring in such a way that the harder you pedal, the more securely the two halves lock together. Theoretically this should all but eliminate any load-induced gear skipping that can be dangerous to riders, or at least hurt your race results. Trailmech also promises greater torque transfer over a traditional ratcheting pawl system.

Trailmech XC rear hub, shown apart

For water, dirt and dust protection, the VRT ring is situated well inside the hub’s shell, behind specially designed seals (2 in the front, 3 in the rear). And, the internal parts are manufactured to very low tolerances to prevent elemental ingress.

The XC hub’s engagement mechanism is made of hardened tool steel, and the shells are machined from 7075 aluminum. Trailmech uses a special paint coating process for a durable, anti-scratch finish. They’re entirely designed and manufactured in Ukraine, save for the sealed Japanese bearings.

Currently, Trailmech’s rear hubs work with any 9 or 10 speed mountain bike cassette from Shimano or Sram, but an XD compatible driver for Sram 11-speed cassettes is also on the way. Dedicated All-Mountain/Enduro and Freeride/DH versions are also coming later this year, along with another hub option for straight-pull spokes. Brake rotor mounts are 6-bolt only.

Trailmech XC hub spec sheetWith a radical and unfamiliar design, curious consumers will be happy to know the Trailmech hubs come with a five year limited warranty. Until the end of 2015, Trailmech will offer introductory pricing of $338-$350 for the pair.

Trailmech XC rear hub, shown open

We had a chance to see them hands on at Sea Otter in a private meeting with Troy Watson, former employee of American Classic and Fair Wheel Bikes, who is now importing them into North America through his company WD Cycling Labs.

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The inner half of the VRT is backed by a spring, which keeps it pushing against the freehub body. Without small pawls, the parts count is kept to a minimum.

trailmech-mountain-bike-hubs-hands-on05

End caps thread on, making it easy to switch between thru axle and QR. Claimed weights are 140g (front) and 280g (rear).

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It’s using a 17mm axle with four cartridge bearings.

trailmech mountain bike hubs hands on photos and weights trailmech mountain bike hubs hands on photos and weights

Trailmech has been in business almost four years but never ventured outside the Ukranian and Russian markets.

trailmech.com

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Fergus
Fergus
7 years ago

How much friction does that design create?

BEERandSPOKES
BEERandSPOKES
7 years ago

Kind of reminds me of a freecoaster hub. I know it won’t freecoast but the design is essentially quite similar.

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago

How long do they feel fresh and strong, before they begin to wear and dull.

Colin
Colin
7 years ago

its like a DT Swiss hub and a freecoaster had a baby

@Ryan, probably a long time, its just a bigger, helical cut DT hub basically, and those star ratchets last forever if you lube them every once in a while.

@Fergus, I would assume more than a little bit, it will probably ghost pedal but I doubt you would notice on a downhill.

Cheese
Cheese
7 years ago

Good luck selling a slight variation on Chris King’s ring drive before his US patent expires.
https://www.google.com/patents/US5964332

gibbon
gibbon
7 years ago

So it’s a copy(ish) of both DT star ratchet and Chris King ringdrive.

Tim
Tim
7 years ago

The price and weight are pretty decent for the rear. Engagement is good at 6 degrees. King hubs engage at 5 degrees of rotation. Weight is also good, comparable again to King.
BTW- the name of the country is Ukraine, the adjective is Ukrainian (the author forgot the letter “i”)
@Ryan- Who knows? Like with all new products, consumers will have to test them. But we have no particular reason to believe they “wear” and get “dull” (it’s not clear what you mean- do you mean they might get play in them?)

JasonK
JasonK
7 years ago

Interesting. These are essentially a helical version of the DT (né Hügi) star ratchet. I certainly wouldn’t call this mechanism “radical and unfamiliar.” The difference between this design and DT’s is just like that between straight-cut and helical gears, which is to say that it’s not very different.

(Nearly every car on the road uses a transmission with helical gears for forward speeds and straight-cut gears for reverse. That’s why your car makes that whirring sound when you back up–straight-cut gears are louder than helical gears).

From a functional perspective, I can’t see much of a reason why this mechanism would be radically better or worse than DT’s. Friction while coasting should be similar. Engagement should be a little faster (6 degrees vs 10 degrees for DT’s 36-tooth star ratchet).

I’ll be interested to see how these hubs work in day-to-day use.

Todd
Todd
7 years ago

Looks pretty cool to me, the weight is decent too… More high engagement hubs for the restofus!

Collin
7 years ago

I wouldn’t really call this a new/unfamiliar design. This is essentially the same thing as a DT swiss star ratchet design that has been used on Specialized, Giant, Reynolds and Bontrager wheels for at least a decade. The issue that DT swiss found was going to finer teeth (18PT engagement is their standard, 36 p.o.e. and recently bontrager only 54pt are their upgrades) is that the finer teeth cause a larger chance of failure due to either too much/thick grease, or small amounts of dirt. What happens is the grease or dirt fill into the valleys of the teeth and then the other star wheel doesn’t fully engage, causing stresses to be significantly higher on the peaks of the teeth, resulting in extremely premature wear and eventually failure.

I’m curious on the durability will be with such fine teeth to allow for 60 POE.

Colin
Colin
7 years ago

I really think that all of the ways to make a freehub are already out there, and to these guys’ credit, the only room for innovation is in combining and simplifying existing mechanisms. There is a reason that it looks like King and a DT, those are both great designs!

It has fewer parts than a King and more POE than DT. Personally I would like to see more people looking into magnets over springs and making lightweight versions of the Shimano Silent drive hubs. Silent freewheeling, infinite POE and the more force you put to the rear wheel, the stronger the engagement.

Ripnshread
Ripnshread
7 years ago

Those look really sweet. I wonder what they sound like. My Kings purr. Seems like keeping they clean and sealed would be the only issue for me. To that, they do look easy to work on.

delquattro
delquattro
7 years ago

This is cool, but I’m looking forward to more innovation in internally geared hubs.

AFS
AFS
7 years ago

I’ll keep my 240s

SmooveP
SmooveP
7 years ago

Is this a silent hub? I don’t see any ratchet mechanism.

Trailmech
7 years ago

@Fergus This design does create more friction than a traditional 3 pawls system but no more than other high engagement designs. Unfortunately the more POE you add the more friction there is.

@Ryan The system has been in use now for close to 4 years of riding, refining and testing. It is very durable and will last for many years of riding.

@Collin The difference between the DT high POE star ratchets and this is the surface area of the TRailmech system is twice as large. If grease and dirt do get into the teeth the twisting motion of the helical spline will push it out.

@SmooveP The hub is not silent.

We will have a new website for the US up in the next few days but until then you are welcome to email us @ info@wdcyclinglabs.com

Frippolini
Frippolini
7 years ago

In general I appreciate and encourage innovation, but to turn innovation into a commercial success in an existing market it needs to provide significant advantage to compete. Here I don’t see any significant advantage, less so a game changing advantage. This hub does what every other rear hub does, but does so in a different way.
Enough advantage to allow the necessary buildup of distribution and service….(?) doubt so.
Made in Ukraine… with all respect, but I doubt that’s a winning sales argument.
Instant engagement to make acceleration faster… How much faster, how many 1/100’sof a seconds faster? Enough to make a real-world quantifiable difference… doubt so.

Otherwise, good work, good luck, if I see the product somewhere I’ll take a closer look at it. 🙂

Mark
Mark
7 years ago

Nice hubs! It would be nice to see streightpull version…

That Guy
That Guy
7 years ago

Ahhhh the armchair engineers are out in force today!! Good job Trailmech! Can’t wait to ride these hubs!

WannaBeSTi
WannaBeSTi
7 years ago

Hey Troy…
Tell’em to do CL, yo.
If Momma-Bear looks the other way long enough, I might have to gimme some…after my road bike gets ’em new rims.
See ya when when you return for Nat. Road Champs.

Tyler
Tyler
7 years ago

i herd them say “the more power the better engagement” the problem I see is after, say, a long climb, would they be tight and when you try and release they would buck you forward before completely releasing. At the same time. Dirt and grime, if anything gets in there they could lock or not engage at all. Now I know you’re going to say “well that could happen with any ratchet design hubs” but the engagement teeth are in a wedge shape and dirt would be expaled from the system. Good design though

tourist
tourist
7 years ago

not sure what “..very low tolerances…” means? And, to not be just a grammar troll, I’m curious if any of these high end hub makers list their tolerance spec? I’ve heard the original Hugi’s were a pain to work on due to super tight tolerances. These hubs do look the business IMO

Archer Swift
Archer Swift
7 years ago

Love to see new ideas and I wish this company all the best.
With that said, It would seem that this system has multiple long term durability and performance issues.
The bevel gear concept is nothing new and has been used in the Sussex drive shaft system on bikes, with lots of issues. Yes this system provides good engagement properties in one direction or transfer of force while force is keep constant by a pinion drive gear like in a differential.

However this bevel gear system has been found to have issues of wear when the two surfaces move in the opposite direction over the tops or peaks of the tooth engagement surfaces and the engagement of the two gears are reliant on the spring pressure behind the female gear. More spring pressure means better reliable engagement but also means more friction as well as significant long term wear, that will diminish tooth engagement due to coasting.

Always thanks to BR for allowing this platform to express our ideas and thoughts.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

Remind me somewhat of a BMX freecoaster clutch system, just refined to a larger ring and clutch and a smaller set of threads.

Turtle
Turtle
7 years ago

Also looks like an old Maillard freewheel.

Matty
Matty
7 years ago

And when you’re done riding, it will double as a coffee grinder.

Darryl
Darryl
7 years ago

Archer, the spring force is not a measure of the drive engagement.
If you look at the tooth profile, you will see that the drive faces are perpendicular and therefore the drive force produces no force against the spring.
The helical nature also ensures total tooth engagement.

SurlyWill
SurlyWill
7 years ago

Looks like Chris King and DT Swiss had a baby.

Pretty cool.

adventurebybike.be
adventurebybike.be
6 years ago

We’re riding these hubs for a while know, and they are extremely good and loud !
Big fan of these hubs.

Dimitros
Dimitros
5 years ago

Well, I can say that you won\t have any kind of technical issues regarding dirt and other stuff inside the helical gear with these hubs for sure. Our test rider(he races XC and Enduro) intentionaly remooved all the seales from rear hub especialy for dirt, so that dirt and dust could manage to get inside the hub easier that way, he successfully completed the whole Winter Cup + Spring Cup, in total 8 month of competitons, trainings and of course weekend bike trips. Zero issues at all.
Here is a link to video where he disassebles rear hub after 8 months without seals:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-bZ-QXwPrE

Hope it helps a bit..

Shean
Shean
4 years ago

I am looking for a new hub for my 12×142-32H spec AM and want to try out Trailmech’s product, it seems the product is no where to be found in Asia. Where can I get these Trailmech hub? Hit me at regata2188@gmail.com