There are certain little nuggets of knowledge that float around the collective unconscious of cycling that many just assume everyone knows about. One of those bits of wisdom is that wheels make the biggest difference on a bike.
Most of the time (and rightfully so) the bulk of attention for road wheels is placed on the rim due to rotating mass, but what about how those rims roll and the drag slowing them down? Well, Atomik's new road hubs look to improve on the status quo.
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Instead of a group of pawls held in tension by tiny springs or wedged pieces of metal, Atomik's rear hub relies on magnets. In hand, the lack of drag was immediately noticeable and the wheels felt as though they'd spin forever.
On Atomik's display, the magnetic freehub spun much longer than the standard hub. At the end of its rotations the wheel actually reversed direction to settle at the heaviest point (the tubeless valve) at the bottom.
A proven star ratchet system
Atomik utilizes a star ratchet system much like the DT Swiss' legendarily reliable internals. Where they differ is that Atomik uses magnets to pull the two star ratchet pieces together whereas DT Swiss uses a spring.
The other difference is that in the Atomik hub the inner ratchet is housed within the hub body, whereas DT Swiss' is a separate piece. In total, the DT Swiss system uses six individual parts while the Atomik system uses only two.
The guys at the booth pulled a rear hub apart with just their hands. The freehub popped off, then the outer ratchet was removed and that was it. Simple barely describes it.
Currently the Atomik has 36 points of engagement, but that number could be bumped up by the time they're available this Fall.