The best thing about the bike industry is the people with a passion. For me, it’s about the riders creating solutions to the problems they come across while riding their own bike, experiencing it for themselves.
Mic Williams, of Williams Racing Products, is one of these industry figures. A BMX rider who came to mountain biking a little later than some, that clearly didn’t hold him back and he quickly progressed to racing World Cup DH for several seasons as a privateer. What it did mean, however, is that Mic saw some of the foibles of the modern mountain bike with a slightly detached objectivity. Soon after getting on a mountain bike, he was already designing parts for them. One of the first things he created was the CentreHub. In fact, when he finished his degree in 2017, he actually included the component as part of his engineering thesis.
Since starting WRP, Mic has started making anything from dropouts and linkages to skid plates, should you want to incorporate BMX style tricks into your downhill riding. WRP also, rather interestingly, makes custom stems. If you tell them your desired dimensions they’ll make it for you.So, What Does it Do?
The device is essentially a slipper clutch but for your mountain bike. It swaps out with the spider on your cranks and helps decouple the drivetrain forces from your pedals. This will matter on some suspension designs more than others.
As the bike goes through its travel the rear center elongates and adds tension to the chain. Then, as we brake, where the suspension may squat a little, it can also pull on the chainring, and therefore our feet. A device on the cranks such as this is designed to remove the interference of the suspension forces on the drivetrain. Yes, your rear center will still grow but thanks to the one-way bearing in the crank, it will just rotate the chainring and without rotating the crank arms themselves.
This, of course, isn’t the only way to achieve this. You might have seen racers file down or remove one of their cassette sprockets. This “neutral gear” delivers a very similar result, however, it also runs the risk of you accidentally engaging that gear as you begin to pedal which could end rather badly.
But maybe the idea of a neutral gear is somewhat applicable here too as this device will let you change gear at any time without the need to be pedaling. This means that even when hard on the brakes or going into a turn and realising you're in the wrong gear you can easily change gear without having to move your feet. For people that ride janky, technical or undulating trails, a device like this could prove very useful.How Does it Work?
The WRP CenterHub is a completely modular design that is adaptable to most direct mount cranksets. If they have a removable spider then the chances are that the device will fit.
The device is made up of a spider, a one-way bearing and a crank adaptor. The interchangeable and adjustable spider is held in location via a patented pinch-bolt securing mechanism and is made from 6061-T6 aluminum. The replaceable direct mount adaptors vary to fit almost any crankset on the market. They are held in place by a patented blind-wedge system that uses a 3D printed titanium piece. The device weighs 309 grams. It also enables you to adjust your chainline as needed, so it will carry between bikes well.
The crank adaptor is 3D printed titanium and is the only piece you would need to replace if you swapped to a different crank setup.
Thanks to the one-way bearing, the CentreHub offers instant engagement and near zero rolling resistance. It also runs totally silent. In terms of durability, Mic explained that he's had a device on one of his bikes for nearly two years without any issue.
The simple device is easily serviceable and swapping out any needed parts should be very easy.Pricing and Availability
Mic, by his own admission, doesn’t have his sights set on world domination. Instead, he is looking to do small runs, selling to similarly passionate riders, and keep all production in Australia. The consequence of this is that the device isn’t particularly cheap, admittedly, but that is so often the way with locally made specialty equipment.
Pre-orders are now open and the device will cost $1,199 AUD. WRP are aiming for an end of 2021
shipment of the first orders.
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