AX-Lightness Alpha 580 gram frame!

AX-Lightness ALPHA 580 gram frame

AX-Lightness ALPHA 580 gram frame

LUST is the only word I can use to describe my feeling for this photo… I’ve heard rumblings of the AX-Lightness frame, but in recent days those rumblings seem to have turned into reality. While Photoshop hobbyists might spend days working on fake iPhone images, they don’t generally work on fake bike frame photos; this is real and I WANT ONE!

Now will it really weigh 580 grams for a small? And just how big is a small? And will it be stiff enough for real racing? Given my experience with AX-Lightness, and their history for producing awesome stuff, I’m going to remain optimistic.

So what I know so far is that the price for the frame only is supposed to be 3900 €, and the price for the frame+fork+headset is supposed to be 4600 €. When you compare that to the recently announced Cervelo California Project, this seem like a veritable bargain. With the current exchange rate that’s $5,300 for the frame, sans fork and headset.

There’s a discussion on the frame on the Weight Weenie forum here: http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=71934 And if you can read German, then you can check out this page: http://www.forum.light-bikes.de/showthread.php?t=12893

Sneak Preview of upcoming C-4 hubs

C-4 FH-50 and RH-180

New RH-180 and FH-50 hubs from C-4

Here’s a sneak preview of some new hubs from C-4 that are in production now, and will be available in limited quantities within a few weeks. The hubs arrived via FedEx and I had the opportunity to play with the hubs, take a few photos, and then I had to wrap them back up and send them back.

C-4 names their hubs based on the weight. This new rear hub will come in two different flavors, the more budget-conscious RH-180 and the no-holds-barred RH-160. The production RH-180 is supposed to weight 185 grams, and I was told that it might even tip the scales a few grams under that. And the lighter version, the RH-160, as the name suggests, should end up right around 160 grams. (This pre-production RH-180 weighs 197 grams on our scale.)

RH-180 possible specs: (I can’t guarantee any of these….)

  • MSRP $395 USD
  • 100% manufactured and assembled in the U.S. (Orange County, CA)
  • 15mm quad butted aluminum axle
  • Hub shell CNCd from 7000 series aluminum
  • Patent pending self-adjusting bearing preload system. (I don’t know anything more about this)
  • 4 Phil Wood cartridge sealed bearings. 1 6902 for the drive side and 3 6802 bearings — one for the non-drive side and two for the cassette body.
  • Forged aluminum cassette body.
  • Available in 20, 24, and maybe 28h?
  • Colors: black for sure, sliver most likely, red probably, gold & blue unknown.

RH-160 possible specs: (again, no promises here….)

  • MSRP $495 USD
  • 100% manufactured and assembled in the U.S. (Orange County, CA)
  • 15mm quad butted aluminum axle
  • Hub shell CNCd from 7000 series aluminum
  • Patent pending self-adjusting bearing preload system. (I don’t know anything more about this)
  • 4 ceramic hybrid sealed bearings. 1 6902 for the drive side and 3 6802 bearings — one for the non-drive side and two for the cassette body.
  • Machined aluminum cassette body (lighter than the forged one for the RH-180)
  • Titanium ratchet rings (lighter than the steel ratchet rings in the RH-180)
  • Titanium pawls (lighter than the steel pawls in the RH-180)
  • Available in 20, 24, and maybe 28h?
  • Colors: black for sure, sliver most likely, red probably, gold & blue unknown.

The pre-production hub that I had the opportunity to play with came in at 197 grams, and that was with full ceramic (not ceramic hybrid) bearings. C-4 has no intention of using full ceramic bearings, rather they had them in there for a show, where hundreds of people would be spinning the axles in their hands. The production hubs will lose weight over this pre-production hub mostly due to some hub shell modifications, a new axle design, and a different end cap. And the RH-160 will benefit from a significantly lighter cassette body (CNCd rather than forged) as well as the titanium ratchet rings and pawls.

There are a few other nice design touches worth mentioning. One thing that I love is that you can simply pull the cassette body off of the hub and replace it with a Campy cassette body — no tools required. This is wonderful if you’re a shop or wheel builder and don’t want to have to stock as many hubs or wheels. You can simply get all of your hubs in Shimano and then keep a few Campy cassettes on hand. The wheel dish doesn’t even change if you swap cassette bodies. (2009 and later PowerTap hubs are the same way and I love it.) I realize that there is a small sacrifice in terms of flange spacing, and optimizing spoke triangulation, from Shimano to Campy, but to me the trade off is worth it.

The drive-side flange is angled toward the center of the hub, to allow for less bend in the spokes. Similarly, the hols in the non-drive ring (no flange) are angled toward the center of the rim.

FH-50 front hub specs: (These I feel more confident on, but again, no promises…)

  • MSRP $135 USD (standard) or $155 USD (ceramic)
  • 100% manufactured and assembled in the U.S. (Orange County, CA)
  • Adjustable preload
  • Phil Wood or ceramic 698 bearings
  • Available in 16, 18, 20 and maybe 24h?
  • Colors: black for sure, sliver most likely, red probably, gold & blue unknown.

While technically a pre-production hub, this one won’t see any real changes before production, other than getting polished and anodized. This hub will be available with Phil Wood bearings or ceramic hybrid bearings. The ceramic bearings drop the weight by about 2.5 grams.

Final thoughts… These look like awesome hubs. There are lighter hubs out there, like the M5 flanged front and the ExtraLite SX rear. But the M5 flanged front uses micro 688 bearings, and it isn’t specifically designed for radial lacing. And the ExtraLite SX rear hub reduces weight by substituting bushings for one of the cassette bearings. So if these hubs are robust and reliable, then they should be popular — time will tell.

And for those who like pictures, here’s some eye-candy: