Rob English, founder of English Cycles, has been working on his aero hubs for quite some time. Now, finally, they’re through the first production run and available separately or as complete wheelsets with Enve’s 6.7 Smart System aero rims.
In a nutshell, here’s the scoop directly from English:
“This is a concept I have been working on for a couple of years – I have been racing on a prototype front hub for the last two seasons. I was able to partner with C4 in California to produce a production version. With a deep front rim, a narrower flange spacing can be used without compromising the lateral stiffness – the bracing angle remains similar to a shallow rim and regular width hub. The wheel then has less frontal area, and the spokes are further from the fork to reduce interference in the airflow. I haven’t been able to test any of this theory in the windtunnel, but subjectively the wheels feel fast.”
More pics, plus a closeup look at one of his super-trick custom Di2 triathlon bikes, after the break…
The front hubs use tear drop shaped aero flanges over the axle with a narrow set hub shell. The hub has carbon fiber bearing covers with adjustable preload. It weighs a claimed 120g and retails for $225. The rear hub is fairly straightforward with direct pull non-drive side spoke holes and traditional J-bend spoke flange toward the cassette. It’s available with either SRAM/Shimano or Campagnolo freehub bodies for $450. Claimed weight is 182g.
English will build wheels to go with his custom bike with just about any hub, but he’s offering a custom build using ENVE’s recently introduced Smart System 6.7 rims. The front is a 60mm deep full carbon rim and the rear is 70mm deep, hence the 6.7 naming scheme. Wheelset price is $2,600 and includes his 44g ti/carbon skewers. English says these rims offer the aero benefits and deep enough profile to work with his hubs for a very fast set of wheels that’ll still perform well in crosswinds. Of course, you could always build them with the deeper 8.9 rim pairing, which ENVE says is their flat out fastest set for TT/Triathlon.
The wheelset as shown weighs in at a claimed 1435g, pretty good for a deep aero set. Spokes are available in custom powdercoated colors, too, as shown on this sweet bike:
If you’re a regular reader of Bikerumor, you saw English Cycle’s completely stealth Di2 road bike build. If not, you need to see it here right now.
For the triathlon and time trial crowd, Rob English took his new aero hubs laced to Enve 6.7 rims with custom colored spokes and built up a very trick tri bike with hidden Di2. Notice the total lack of cables and wires on the frame? Here’s how he did it:
Starting at the front, the bike uses Shimano’s electronic bar end shifter pods rather than the standard road levers. Where the road bike hides the control box under the stem, this bike slides it into the aero bars. English gets away with this because, in practice, Shimano’s Di2 system is a set-it-and-forget-it drivetrain. And if you track your mileage (and by simply being a triathlete it’s a pretty safe bet you do), you know about when to recharge the battery. In reality, charging it once or twice per month would be more than adequate.
Should you need to access it, you simply pull it out of the aero extensions. The result of the hidden part is an extremely clean cockpit. A bridge between the extensions provides a mount for a computer, GPS, iPhone case, etc.
The bike eschews Shimano’s standard (and bulky) Di2 battery and mount for Icarus Lights’ stealth battery with Mini-USB charging port built right into the frame.
The rear derailleur wiring runs out of the dropout over the skewer. Rear brake is hidden behind the bottom bracket to keep it mostly out of the air stream.
The overall result is a bike that’d set you back about $9,000 depending on options. English Cycles’ bikes are all full custom, so you can certainly get into his brand for less, but bikes like this provide a pretty compelling reason to save your pennies.