Kirk Pacenti is an interesting guy with unique ideas for the mountain biking community and cycling in general. Kirk and I have not always seen eye to eye on some concepts (see 650B article here) as his support for 650B is widely known while mine is lukewarm at best given current market offerings. However, new innovations and outside of the box thinking is much needed in an industry that has been seeing only one way for a long time, so when Kirk emailed me his latest idea…I had to take a look.
Kirk’s new design revolves around freehub body and how that interacts with the cassette. How many times have you tried to take off your cassette only to be hassled with resistance from gouge marks in the splines? What if there was a design that could not only get ride of those splines, but allow for lighter cassettes at the same time?
Kirk’s new polygon shaped freehub cassette body looks to solve this age old problem in the biking industry.
From Kirk Pacenti
I want to make clear that it doesn’t have to be my design. The real point is to get the industry talking and working together on a standard.
I look at it this way; 10/11 speed systems are “line in the sand” of sorts. Now that we’ve crossed it, we may as well optimize the system for that many cogs rather than stuffing them into an obsolete 7/8/9 speed standard.
Splines also have to go, as they were designed when cassette bodies were all made from steel. With a polygon shape you could conceivably make much lighter cassette bodies, possibly even made from composite materials.
On the surface, this looks like an incredible idea. Conceivably, this could go into action on higher end mountain bikes and mountain bike components in the foreseeable future with open arms from any rider looking for lighter parts and easier installation/service.
There is one huge hurdle to cross before any big name bike manufacturer would take this on…
Whether we like to think about it or not as enthusiasts in the bike industry, the cheaper bikes are sold in much higher quantity than our $1,000 and up rigs. To get a new standard like this through that would effect all bikes and components in the industry, you have to get it through the cheaper line ups as well. While we have seen some changes in “standards” as of late, the 15mm TA, tapered steerer tube or 142mm rear axle standards only effect higher end bike line ups. This design is a forward thinking process that would make sweeping changes in the industry.
Could it be introduced in the higher lineups first and then brought down through the ranks? Possibly…but that would also require an investment on the bike manufacturers end to bring it to market (and something they might not be able to charge a premium for).
So what do I think about the new design from Kirk?
I really like the idea. From an mechanical design standpoint, it makes sense…stronger fit with less ability to cause maintenance issues down the road. It also solves a common headache at the same time. Whether or not the industry takes this one on will be another story that we should see played out over time. While I do like how me made this design “open source”…if it was me…I would have patented it and sold the licenses…
What do you think about the design? Hit up the comments or discuss on our new Bike198 forum.