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Alienation Prototype Thrust Hub

Here is a sneak look at the new Alienation Thrust hub.

The new Thrust hub can take a 15mm thru axle and has three times the engagement points of the Bullitt and Royal hubs, which were Alienations previous race hubs.
The Thrust hub features
■Press-fit design
■Angled Hi-Low flanges
■6 pawls; 3 on & 3 off, 3 pawls engaged at all times, 4 degree engagement with minimal drag
■4 larger h-grade sealed bearings
■1 huge thrust bearing
■Shimano style lock-ring
■15mm thru axle, 15mm bolt-on & 3/8” bolt

Here is a bit more info from Alienation and BMXultra who tested them.

15 MM Thru Axles

15 mm thru axles were adopted by the mountain bike fraternity around 2009 firstly for downhill then cross country because it’s stiffer and stronger. It was said to be the death of quick release. When you are running suspension I can see the need to stiffen things up. I wouldn’t have thought there was the same issue with BMX bikes, because firstly BMX frames are rigid and secondly they are much smaller, so the tubing is generally shorter, which to me means there should be less flex anyway.

A few years down the line and 15mm drop outs are emerging as a new standard for high end BMX race frames. Frames from Supercross, Anarchy, GT, Redline (USA), Yess (Canada), Avanti (New Zealand) and MeyBo (Netherlands) are available (or are about to be) with 15mm drop outs. And it’s not just carbon frames either, they are mostly alloy and there’s a cromo frame with 15mm dropouts on the way too.

When Redline announced the Project 79 carbon frame with a 15mm thru axle they claimed it made the carbon frame “20% stiffer than a standard 10mm axle”. You can see the video here vimeo.com/37331587 Redline Engineer Kurt Hall says it 17 seconds in. It’s something that’s stuck with me for some time, because really, how do you measure that?

Alienation’s Bullitt and Royal hubs both have 17mm axles, shouldn’t that make them stiffer than 15mm? I’ve never been able to fault the 17mm axle and I would have to be one of the biggest BMXers on the race track these days. But then again, the ENVY frame with the 15 MM axle felt super stiff too.

“Instant” Engagement

“Instant” engagement has been a real buzz word these past few years. While the True Precision Stealth and Chris King hubs are known for their instant engagement both are extremely expensive. Other hubs like the Profile Elite are popular but I hear their six pawl system causes additional drag so there is more wear and tear on the driver, pawls and springs to achieve near instant engagement.

My argument has always been that instant engagement isn’t entirely necessary on today’s tracks. You get locked and loaded on the gate, so you should be fully engaged, you might pedal hard down the first straight but most tracks today are built to flow with bigger jumps in the first straight or two and tight rhythm sections for the last half.

I’ve been happy with my Royal hubs, which are Shimano standard and engage every 12 degrees, it’s pretty much the sort of engagement I have been used to for the past 30+ years of racing. But the pawls in the Royal hubs totally disengage from the drive to reduce the drag to nothing.

The Alienation Thrust hub engages every 4 degrees and it has 6 pawls like the Profile Elite hub, however the Thrust hub has only 3 pawls engage at any one time which means far less drag and wear and tear. This essentially means less maintenance and less on-going costs for the life of the hub. One thing I noticed what this is a quiet hub, it must make nearly half the noise of a Profile Elite hub. I was also happy the hub hasn’t skipped a beat from the moment I started using it.

Here’s Alienation’s head designer’s spin on how their system works. “The engagement system is unlike others. We use 45 points which is an odd number. Take 360 degrees & divide the 45 engagement points you have 8 degrees of engagement. Then divide by 2 you reach 4. There is always 3 waiting to engage. That is the uniqueness. Too there is minimal drag compared to other ratchet style hub systems.”

I must admit I’m happy to have spent some time with an “instant” engagement hub, while I think it’s great you don’t have to rotate the crank as far to start engaging the hub. I have heard the argument from a AA Pro rider that instant engagement can be important when jumping through big technical pro sections, meaning that the rider can get back on the gas much quicker and not lose precious time and potential speed to get through the next big set of doubles. I have to say it’s not a problem I’m often faced with, but I get the point.

What’s this huge thrust bearing and what does it do?

The thrust bearing permits rotation between the hub shell & the cog carrier while supporting axial loads. It is a little heavier than some hubs because of the thrust bearing, but it’s a trade off for maximum drive through the hub and milking as much power as possible.

So what does it weigh?

I’m told production weights will not change all that much from this prototype, I weighed it at 435 grams. With the 3/8″ bolt-on version it weighs 358 grams with a 16t cog; less bolts. It compares well to the Stealth S3 Pro hub that weighs in at 527 grams with 10mm bolt kit (15mm conversion kit will change the weight). I found the weight of the Stealth very interesting, because a complete set of Royal hubs weighs less, at only 510 grams… for the pair. Another popular hub alternative would be the Profile Elite rear hub that weighs in at 362 grams, however it’s not a 15mm thru. It runs adapters for 15mm that are designed specifically for the wider drop outs of the Redline carbon frame, the adapter could be modified for other frames with 15 mm dropouts at varying thickness.
The Alienation Thrust hub will be available around early to mid next year (Spring 2014 USA) and the front will be available to be purchased separately in 10mm only.

So there you go , it all sounds a bit to complicated for my liking haha ,but i know there are loads of riders who love all this stuff ,and if it works well then thats all good ,and you will have a top class AA pro hub , but if it goes wrong, like so many of the top end hubs seem to, then be prepared to shell out bucks!!!

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