Howdy Jerry and all,
While it might be measurable, properly lubed and adjusted hubs from even the highly revered Wald® Super Record Gruppo (Sorry foreign friends, rare and possibly unavailable outside the USA) have extremely low friction for sure. A built up wheel properly measured would have less measurable friction under controlled conditions than a bare hub of course. The fact is the leverage from a full size (700c) wheel is enormous on even a poorly adjusted hub and bearing quality in the real world (cycling world that is) has no effect on speed even in Chris Boardman record world (How about that hour record, he's something). In the workshop (and I'm not alone) people routinely bring in bicycles for minor adjustments on brakes or flats and the axle cones are so tight they will not turn by hand (many times on both wheels). Some people have been riding for years like this unaware and refuse to be troubled with having it corrected. Despite these supposed great unwashed perceptions of the lack of need to have even the most minimal maintenance done to their cycles their riding performance on the road is only slightly diminished (however great mileage's on seized up hubs will never be realized because of certain self destruction of the mechanism). We many times have an elitist view of cycles of ordinary breeding as not worthy of casual use; but to many on the list it is quite a joy to take a basic quality machine and refine and maintain it to exceed it's design limits by many times in years, miles and performance.
Of course in the racing world one must tap into every advantage real or imagined to win an I would certainly want the smoothest hubs available in any event. As enthusiasts we certainly have a high regard for finely produced mechanisms as they are joy to service, use and behold. Few items are produced in this world as finely as even an ordinary bicycle hub when you consider how many miles and years them can last. Hub quality of course, certainly varies by manufacturer, model and year of production. My vote for the early 70's on smoothness was Campagnolo NR/SR(IT), Phil Wood (US), Lambert(UK) and Maxicar(Fr) followed by the early Duraace and early Suntour Superbe. Later the field was cloudy as sealed cartridge bearing smoothed hubs out over many price ranges. It should be noted that Lambert hubs used sealed cartridge bearings.
All other hubs of the era were inferior in smoothness but what we neglect to calculate in hub quality that may be more appropriate to the bike performance was how well the flanges were formed and drilled for spokes. This would affect wheel quality and prevent spoke breakage and effect ride quality far more than bearing smoothness. I remember in the early days Sunshine hubs (Normandy Knockoffs) broke spokes continually I feel because of oversize spoke holes. Many hubs from Taiwan and China followed this pattern and had similar performance while having silky (Campag style) smoothness.
On the Normandy(Luxe) smoothness issue. As a lad in the bicycle shop I was surprised that the Normandy hubs on the 26-28 lb Peugeot UO-8's were far smoother than the Luxe model on the race ready PX-10. The PX-10 had very rough hubs. The head mechanic at the time stated that was OK because the hubs were packed (or should be packed) with an abrasive grease that polished the cones and races as you rode along. After a period (unspecified) of time you repacked your silky smooth hubs with fresh grease and lived happily ever after. Were do you buy abrasive grease (Or what % of simichrome is mixed with park lube to get best results) and do we have any testers?
It should be noted while exceeding rare in the USA by the mid 1970s high end French bicycles used a model often used a Normandy hub of similar smoothness to Durace of the era (very good). And in the late 70's early 80's Norrmandy/Atom/Maillard were rolled into the Spidel Group and top hubs of extremely high quality were produced. Today it is my understanding the name of the hub is Sachs and quality is not an issue.
Always begging everyone's pardon,
Gilbert Anderson sunny in the 60's f. Raleigh, NC USA
In a message dated 10/29/00 3:36:14 PM, email@example.com writes:
<< Just thought better of one point in my post - no need for a treadmill, which introduces issues of wheel construction. Just attach the hub axle to an electric motor and measure the watts required to turn an unbuilt hub at a given rpm. Anyone know of this being done and the results documented?
Jerry "instructor in Electrical Engineering lab many, many moons ago" Moos
Jerry & Liz Moos wrote:
> Smoothness is in the eye of the beholder, virtually any alloy QR hub properly lubricated and adjusted is infinitely better than a badly maintained example of the best hub ever made. I think the "smoothness' of Campy bearings
> is another of those beliefs that is 10% fact and 90% mystique. If you asked an engineer with experience in automobile and aircraft rotating parts but no knowledge of bicycles to rate hub smoothness, I'll bet he wouldn't find
> much difference between a properly adjusted Campy NR and a properly adjust Normandy Sport or basic alloy QR Shimano. I suppose one could measure smoothness, i.e. relative lack of energy loss to friction, by rigging an electric
> motor to a hub axle, running the wheel on a treadmill, and metering the electrical input it took to maintain a given speed. I'll bet the difference between one relatively good quality hub and another would be minimal. The
> most important factor in hub performance is lubrication and adjustment. I like Normandy Competitions (especially with Simplex QRs) because they are cool and French, others like Campy NR because they are cool and Italian,
> others like Dura Ace because they are cool and Japanese. No reason in that for not getting along.
> Jerry Moos
> Chuck Schmidt wrote:
> > "Can't we all get along?"
> > --Rodney King
> > C. Andrews wrote:
> > >
> > > Jerry Moos wrote, in part:
> > >
> > > Why the Italian chauvinism? What about Stronglight 105 bis cranks, Mafac brake
> > > lever half hoods, Lyotard Berthet pedals, Normandy Competition hubs with Simplex
> > >
> > > ****I've rebuilt enough Normany hubs, Luxe and otherwise, to know that they were only ordinary at best, and often very rough, even with new grease, bearings, and careful adjustment. Not a hub for the ages, I can tell ya.