Are these some of the lightest, stiffest and fastest hubs around? Tactic Racing, launched by the co-founder of Princeton CarbonWorks, has debuted with a hub set said to weigh only 215g, with ceramic bearings and a new freehub design claimed to improve engagement.
Princeton CarbonWorks is best known for its wavy rims, used by Team Ineos-Grenadiers at times during the 2021 season, and the company’s co-founder, Harrison Macris, has branched out into hubs through the new Tactic Racing brand.
The 215g headline weight is for the pair (64g front, 151g rear for the disc version), which Tactic says is more than 50g lighter than DT Swiss’s latest 180 flagship hubs.
The freehub, meanwhile, offers 45-point engagement and a patent-pending conical design that apparently results in a larger contact area than any other freehub on the market.
The price? £1,000 / $1,300 / €1,150 / AU$1,850 for the pair.
Supply and demand
With Princeton CarbonWorks now well-established as a wheel brand, Tactic Racing has been launched to address what Macris sees as flaws in existing hub designs, and to overcome the supply chain shortages of bike components worldwide.
“It was a goal to make the best hub possible, for the pro peloton and others,” says Macris. “We weren’t able to get other hub companies to work with us, because they were all drowning in orders and not willing to start something ‘new’.
“We went out and made our own, leveraging some really good talent and machine shops.”
The hub shells are the key to the feathery overall weight, with each CNC-machined from a solid billet of aluminium using a 5-axis machining process that takes more than three hours per hub. The result looks impressive in Tactic’s photos, at least.
Tactic tells us the design is engineered to combine high strength and low weight, so the hubs have no rider weight limit, can be used on- or off-road, and are rated for day-to-day use.
All of this makes the claimed weight of 64g for the front hub and 151g for the rear even more impressive – if, as ever, they stand up to abuse.
The freehub comes with a new patent-pending design, which also contributes to weight reduction while improving engagement, according to Tactic.
Instead of a traditional setup of gear and pawls, the simplified design uses a powerful spring and two conical gear faces that, Tactic claims, offer a larger contact area.
The concentrically aligned design also ensures the mating components always engage smoothly, according to Tactic, and will apparently extend the lifetime of the component parts.
Tactic’s hubs come with ceramic bearings with a tungsten disulphide low-friction coating (apparently used on Mars rovers, if that’s your thing, although we’re not sure it’s entirely relevant here!).
The bearings are ABEC 7 graded, which may not mean a lot, unless you enjoy skateboarding, where ABEC bearing arguments have been rife for decades.
The ABEC scale was developed by the Annular Bearings Engineering Committee as the standard for the tolerance of a ball bearing, rated in odd numbers from 1 to 9, with 9 offering the tightest tolerances.
Now, a lower grade isn’t necessarily a grade of quality, it’s just for some applications closer tolerances aren’t necessarily what’s required. At the top end of the scale, an ABEC 9 bearing has an accuracy of 0.0012mm (compared to 0.0075mm for ABEC 1).
Specs and prices
Tactic hubs will be available in 24/24 and 28/28 spoke configurations initially, with 16/20-hole options coming down the line for the front and 24 for the rear.
The brand will offer disc and rim brake variants, with SRAM XDR, Shimano 11-speed and Shimano 12-speed freehubs available at launch. Campagnolo options are coming soon, according to Tactic.
They won’t come cheap, however, with the price set at £1,000 / $1,300 / €1,150 / AU$1,850 for a pair. The hubs will ship from 1 January 2022.
We’ve got a demo wheelset with the Tactic Racing hubs at their heart winging their way to us imminently.