Ten days, my front bike wheel locked up during my morning commute. The wheel had been acting funny on a ride the night before, but it froze completely when I was about half way to work. I had to ride the rest of the way with the wheel barely held into the fork – a dicey proposition. As soon as my local bike shop – Fit to Be Tri’d – opened, I brought the rig down there. The mechanic took one look at it and guessed that the hub was pretty much fried. The owner verified that, and said they’d need to order and install a new hub, which would take about a week. “But what about RIDING!” I was about to exclaim when he offered to loan me a wheel to use while my own wheel was out of commission. I was all, “Sure. That’s fine,” but when I went down to pick up the loaner, I discovered that he was letting me use a $250 HED Belgium C2 wheel and HED hub – a serious bit of metal. The mechanic joked that I’d get too used to this lighter, stronger, faster, better wheel and need to upgrade instead of going back to my repaired stock wheel.
That didn’t happen – or hasn’t happened yet – but I did have a blast riding on the HED wheel, which (true enough) felt lighter and faster than my old wheel. Admittedly, I’d clearly been riding the original into the (literal) ground, but still: the difference was noticeable. When I went back to the shop on Friday to return the HED wheel and get repaired wheel back, the mechanic told me that the old hub had been so badly damaged by gravel that one of the bearings had disappeared, several had been severely ground up, and the circular inside of the hub had been made oblong. In short, I killed that hub. Which is kinda satisfying. They let me take the old one home as a souvenir, saying I should make it into a necklace. I’m not sure that’s my style, but maybe it’ll serve as a pen holder or something. And the new Deore 105 hub – one step up from the last one – is pretty nice, though not quite as nice as the HED setup. When I have $650 lying around, I’ll consider moving up to the full front-and-rear HED wheelset.