Monday, January 14, 2013

Pacenti DL31 Rim And Hadley Hub Wheelset


I wanted to build set of wheels for my 650B testing for a long time, but I could never make my mind up with the product selection, so I decided to go with Hadley's hubs and Pacenti's DL31 rims since I liked each of those company's engineering knowledge, expertise and designs. Hadley's hubs have a cult following, and the small company has been making excellent hubs from their California offices for many years. Pacenti whom is famous for their 650B products, have been cranking out their own innovative designs for tires and rims for just as long.

I had the Pacenti DL31 650B rims built up with the Hadley DH front and SDH rear hubs, and DT Swiss Competition 15/16 spokes, for a robust and tough All Mountain build. My good friends over at Cafe Velo in North Colorado Springs built the wheels, so thanks to the owners Chris and James, and David  the builder, for the excellent creation. Cafe Velo carries Specialized and Cervelo (Road and Tri), and BMC (Road and MTB), plus they have some of the tastiest coffee and treats in town.

The Hadley hubs aren't light, and might be considered portly to a weight weenie, but they are overbuilt and well made, and the Pacenti rims are stiff and decently light for such a wide rim. I definitely built the wheels for the abuse and toughness that exist when tossed into true All Mountain environments, and the smooth as silk Hadley hubs and fat Pacenti DL31 rims make for an ideal build.



Hadley Hubs
The made in America Hadley hub shells and axles are CNC machined aluminum, and are high strength and well built, and they come in a nice array of anodized colors and axle sizes. Hadley keeps a pretty low profile, and although they don't have a website, they can be easily reached by phone at (909) 946-6780 in lovely Upland California. You can purchase their hubs from various online vendors, or you can get your LBS to order them from BTI. Hadley is a small family-owned business which has excellent customer service, and they're always willing to go the extra mile for just about anything. Hadley Racing Hubs is run by Mike Hadley, who has a racer's mentality about the hubs, so they're designed with bearings that are fast and smooth, with low rolling resistance, and although they're durable, they'll still need occasional maintenance to keep them at their best.

The Hadley DH front disc hub uses two adjustable cartridge bearings that are sealed and replaceable. The axles come in QR, 15mm and 20mm versions (all swappable), 32 and 36 hole variations, and are available in Black, Silver, Gold, Blue, Red, Gun Metal colors and retail for around $160. I tested the 32 hole front with 15mm and 20mm thru axles, which weighed approximately 208 grams.

The Hadley SDH rear disc hub uses four adjustable cartridge bearings that are sealed and replaceable, and it utilizes a durable titanium freehub body with 72-point four pawl engagement (optional 36-point three pawl). The axles come in QR, 10mm bolt on and 12mm x 135 or 142 versions (all swappable), 32 and 36 hole variations, and are available in Black, Silver, Gold, Blue, Red, Gun Metal colors and retail for around $300. I tested the 32 hole rear with 12mm x 142mm thru axle, which weighed in approximately 360 grams.


Pacenti DL31 Rims
From the demented mind of Mr. 650B himself, Kirk Pacenti, comes the new DL31 rims, which join their brethren, the DL28 and CL25. Kirk and his company Bike Lugs, have been pumping out his own designs on rims and tires for many years, and his Neo-Moto tires and Velocity Blunt rims were at the forefront in this latest vogue of the 650B renaissance. Kirk is a twenty-year veteran of the bicycle industry, and Bike Lugs was created to support, supply and consult with framebuilders, and his first love was lugged steel frame construction, hence the company name.

The aluminum Pacenti DL31 rims are tubeless ready, and are made with welded construction and stainless steel eyelets, and come in 26", 650B and 29" sizes, and in 32 and 36 hole variations. They come in basic Black, with one small and simple decal on each side, and retail for $88. I tested the 32 hole Pacenti DL31 650b version, which weighs approximately 546 grams (522 grams for 26" and 582 grams for 29").


The DL31 measures at an outer width of 31mm, and inner bead width of 26mm and a height of 20mm. The rims were designed for Enduro and All Mountain riding, and their width and lightness make them ideal for anything except full on downhill abuse.


Testing Rig and Terrain
Testing was performed on my medium Ibis Mojo HD with the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air rear shock, Magura TS8 27.5 fork (primarily), and Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3 tires. I am 5'9", weigh in at 155 lbs and have been riding since the inception of the RockShox RS-1, and started out on a Bridgestone MB-2 for my first MTB steed. I have mostly ridden in the West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona, Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are prerequisites, and intricate follow through and large huevos are required.

Note: Always use a fork that is designed for a 650B/27.5 wheel, as using an uncertified fork breaks your warranty and can cause safety concerns. In addition, the fork's geometry is not optimized for a bigger wheel so the handling is affected, bottom bracket height, steering, etc.


Impressions
The Hadley hubs are extremely smooth, and just flow along the trail, and after a very brief break-in period, I never noticed any friction or drag issues. The rear is amazingly quiet, especially after using the loud Chris King or the new Syntace Hi-Torque MX hubs, the former buzzes and the latter clicks noisily along the trail. The 72 toothed Hadley rear works well, and while it doesn't have the highest POE its certainly right up there with the competition, and in direct comparison to my Industry Nine, I never found the slight lag difficult to deal with, and it was usually spot on when dealing with technical terrain.


Switching out the front hub axle was a simple affair that only takes two 24mm or 21mm (15mm axle) cone wrenches to go between 15 or 20mm size. Their axles are an interesting setup, and are comprised of two halves, which screw into each other. This system works well, and once screwed together it offers a stable and solid axle, which increases the rigidity of the front end and gives a smooth and low friction movement with the bearings. The axle loosened on me during the initial break-in period, so my mechanic (David at Cafe Velo) suggested a drop of Loctitie to keep things snug, and ever since then it hadn't loosened. I liked the solidity of the screwed together axles much better than using adapter caps, which can occasionally pop off when you are working with a detached wheel.


The tightening and loosening of the bearing preload do take some special tools which Hadley makes themselves (33mm pin spanner front & 29mm rear), though you can use other manufacturer's tools in a pinch. With the proper Hadley tools, swapping out the bearings, or dismantling and cleaning the rear is pretty easy (16mm pin spanner required). The components are carefully thought out and simple, and as a complete package it functions well and is very durable. After many miles during the test period, the grease is still clean, so I am predicting excellent longevity and durability with the hubs. These hubs are freewheeling monsters, and seem to roll along forever, and they're low maintenance, dependable and durable, and simple to work on when required. KISS - Keep it simple, stupid.

I have used some 35mm wide rims before, including the Pacenti designed Velocity P35 and the new Syntace 35, and they both offered great strength and incredible stability, but they take some effort to roll over for cornering and to facilitate quick steering. Meaning, the 35mm rims like to stand up straight and tall, and that stability means they're not easily knocked out from where they're pointed and steered. The DL31 is still fairly wide and provides the same sort of strength and stability of the 35mm variety, but the slightly less width lets them roll over and steer with ease, so it's simpler and quicker to corner and turn. Instead of the forceful dab that the 35mm rims require, the DL31 only needs a minor flick to get changed.


I set them up tubeless, but the inner bead wall height is slightly tall, so I ended up adding three layers of 25mm wide tubeless tape spread across the rim bottom, and that seemed to work perfectly for getting tires to snap onto the bead. The main tire I used during the test period was the Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3, and they popped on easily in tubeless mode and have worked just fine, and they haven't burped or lost much air since their initial installation. I like to run my wheels in a tubeless mode, which give you the benefits of lower pressure and a lack of pinch flats, which is a real problem when riding in my local heinous rocky terrain. The wide rims made the Neo-Moto 2.3 come to life because they pushed them out wider, and although they aren't my favorite tires (not sticky enough), they're certainly tough and durable with decent traction for a narrow tire. I just installed a set of Vee Rubber Trail Taker 2.4 tires, and I must say I like them a lot. They offer lots of floatation and traction due to their fat 2.47 inch knobby width, and since they're wider than taller, they actually fit in the rear yoke of my Mojo HD. I rode the Neo-Moto at around 22psi, and the Vee Rubber at 18-20psi, and the width of the rim facilitates riding with lower psi since the tires get a bigger footprint.

What I like about this overbuilt wheelset is how bombproof it has been. I have bashed them  into rock gardens, off jumps and generally abused them, and I have never felt any discernible amount of flex. I am sure you could build them with lighter spokes, but I like having a sturdy set of wheels with bomber spokes that can tolerate the occasional tossed up rock and stick without any damage. Another plus in choosing the DT Swiss Competition spokes in the 15/16 gauge is that you can usually get a spare at almost any LBS.

I haven't had any issues with the rims getting dented or scratched up, so they have been very durable for all the rock gardens, and gravelly and rocky trails that I have ridden them on. The stainless steel eyelets have kept the spokes nice and tight, and they have remained true during the test period. In general, the beefy spokes, stiff and strong rims and hubs, worked together to create a wheel that tends to stay in tune over a long period of time, no matter what gets tossed at them.

Measured Specs:
  • HUBS
  • Hadley Rear 12x142 - 347 grams
  • Hadley Front 15mm - 202 grams
  • Hadley 20mm axle - 47 grams
  • Hadley 15mm axle -  39 grams
  • RIMS
  • Pacenti DL31 650B rims - 542.4 grams
  • DL31 outer width/inner width/height - 31.1mm/25.9mm/19.6mm
  • WHEELS
  • Wheels Rear - 1089 grams
  • Wheels Front - 940 grams
  • Wheels Total - 2029 grams

Bottom Line
The Hadley hubs are still smooth as silk, and the quiet rear connects up as needed, without any undue lagging. One of the tough things in reviewing these hubs is that they are hard to notice, as they're ultra quiet and don't seem to do anything special, and sort of blend into the background of doing their job. When you pay close attention, you discern the quality feel, smooth and fast ride without any drag, which all work in synergy for a pretty amazing hub. They aren't the cheapest or the lightest hubs in the marketplace, but they're certainly a bargain when compared to Chris King and Industry Nine, and their longevity gives them a good price ratio. They're not the lightest hub, but their build quality and robustness and longevity make them a real winner.
The Pacenti DL31 offers an ideal width, which is wide enough for great stability, yet still offers quick and precise steering and cornering, with minimal effort to roll them over. The shape and design of the rims give excellent stiffness and lightness, and the steel eyelets keep the wheels in true for the long haul.

The wheelset is overbuilt and a bit portly, but who cares; they're monster truck wheels that can run over anything without any noticeable flex, and they sail along smoothly and quietly, and have decent enough acceleration and rolling qualities. The superb Hadley hubs are smooth and drag free, and the Pacenti DL31 has an ideal width and stiffness, and together they make an excellent wheelset.

Strengths
  • Wheelset - Built tough and durable
  • Hubs - Large array of axle adapters and colors
  • Hub Front - Screw together front axle is stable and stiff
  • Hubs - Smooth and drag free
  • Hubs - Durable, well-built and simple design
  • Rims - Steel eyelets
  • Rims - Wide, stiff and flex free
  • Rims - 31mm is ideal, wide enough, but still easy to steer and corner
Weaknesses
  • Wheelset - Slightly portly, but darn tough
  • Hubs - Not the lightest
  • Hubs - Special tools for some maintenance operations
Wheelset Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Hadley Hubs Rating: 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Pacenti DL31 Rim Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers



Pacenti DL31 650b Rim Specifications:
  • Visit Pacenti Bike Lugs at http://www.bikelugs.com
  • MSRP: $88.00
  • Size: 650b - ISO 584 (optional 26" and 29")
  • Width: 31.0mm
  • Inner bead width: 26mm
  • Section Height: 20mm
  • ERD: 563mm
  • Weight (650b): 546g
  • Welded Construction
  • Disc Only
  • Hole Count: 32 or 36
  • Color: Black
Hadley DH Front Hub Specs:
  • MSRP: $157-161
  • International Standard 6-bolt/44mm-BCD disc mounting dimensions
  • 2 adjustable preload cartridge bearings - replaceable and sealed
  • Available Axles: QR, 15mm, 20mm
  • Colors: Black, Silver, Gold, Blue, Red, Gun metal
  • Made in USA
  • Holes: 32, 36
  • Weight: 207g (15mm)
  • Call Hadley at (909) 946-6780
Hadley SDH Disc Rear Hub Specs:
  • MSRP: $299-320
  • International Standard 6-bolt/44mm-BCD disc mounting dimensions
  • 4 adjustable preload cartridge bearings - replaceable and sealed
  • Titanium freehub body w/ 72-point 4 pawl engagement (optional 36-point 3 pawl)
  • Available Axles: 135 x QR or 10mm bolt on, 12mm x 135 or 142
  • Made in USA
  • Holes: 32, 36
  • Colors: Black, Silver, Gold, Blue, Red, Gun metal
  • Weight: 360g (12x142)
  • Call Hadley at (909) 946-6780

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What do the Vee Rubber Trail Taker 2.4 tires weigh ?