Re: [CR]Phil Wood Hub Timeline?Quality?

Example: Events:Cirque du Cyclisme:2002

Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 18:06:36 -0700
Subject: Re: [CR]Phil Wood Hub Timeline?Quality?
From: "Mark A. Perkins" <>

Hello all"

Here's my $.02 worth, plus a bit of a bonus in the form of a true story.

I have used Phil's products, the earlier stuff since the '70's. I have a BB in my personal touring bike that has been in there since I built the bike in '84, and I got it from a slightly used bike back then. I used his BB's, hubs, and disc-brake on my first tandem, which Dale Saso built (his second tandem) in '77. And my present '83 Santana Marathon tandem has had Phil 48 hole hubs since I bought it new. I also have one of his BB's in my chrome (I know the chrome makes no difference, but I like to mention it anyway) Bob Jackson track bike. Although I didn't think the disc brake worked all that great, it never gave me any trouble, and I've never had a problem with any other Phil component.

The best thing I can remember about all of the Phil Wood stuff that I've used is about that BB in the track bike. In 1976 & '77 I lived very near (2 miles away) the Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose, CA, and I was a racing member of the S.J. Bicycle Club. I trained and raced on the track as often as I possibly could, even with and against our own Terry Shaw (Shaw's Lightweight Bicycles - San Jose). In fact, my Bob Jackson was the very first bicycle to roll onto the newly completed concrete surface in '77, just because I was there with a bike and nobody else had one to try the new surface out with. But I digress. My point is that at the time, I had a Sugino track crankset installed on the bike (now all Campy except the BB), and I could feel what seemed like lateral movement, that shouldn't have been there, every time I was engaged in a sprint, as if the bearings were rolling up the sides of the cups. I don't know if that was in fact what I was feeling, but it wasn't the adjustment of the BB. So I got the bright idea that if I installed a Phil BB, maybe the play would go away (because of the cartridge type construction of the Phil BB). So I tried it and it worked. It may sound funny, but in a sprint I felt lots of idiosyncrasies, and one by one I made changes that eliminated them all. Like changing from TTT alloy track bar and stem to Cinelli steel units, 2 lbs difference, but stronger and less flex in a sprint. And changing to double toe straps to keep my shoes from clicking on the front pedal cage (which was very distracting while engaged in a sprint). Oh yea, changing from 280 gram, 28 spoke Martano's on Zeus hubs, to 36 spoke Mavic (gold anodized) "Record Du Monde De L'Heure" rims (don't remember their weight - but the 8 extra spokes per wheel made the most difference) on campy hubs. Results, heavier but faster and less flexible bike in a sprint. And by the way, I did occasionally win races back then, and I was in my late 20's.

In those days I could take a Phil component down to Phil Wood & Co. (downtown S.J.) and have anything rebuilt at ridiculously low cost. I too think that this kind of service has long since passed us all by.

I do have one complaint about Phil's hubs though, and it's really not a performance problem but one of aesthetics. Why in the world did he use thinly plated steel for the center barrel when there are lots of grades of stainless steel available? I have two sets of what would otherwise be beautiful, first generation large flange Phil hubs, and very usable, and while one set has minor rust pitting on the barrels, the other's barrels are completely crusted over with rust (I bought both pairs in this condition). Here's the real problem. If I had inquired, say 10 or 15 years ago, I might have been able to have the barrels replaced, but I inquired last year and found that they can't, or won't replace the barrels. I forget their reasons, but I think they no longer have the tooling to disassemble the flanges from the barrels (If you're reading this Terry Shaw, and you know something I don't please contact me). So, maybe someday I will again have access to a machine shop where I can create my own tooling to restore those hubs, but until then I'm afraid they're not going to be used on any bike again.

Sorry for taking up so much time and space with my little story, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Happy vintage cycling everyone!


"Bicycle Mark" Perkins Fresno Cycling Club - Historian Fresno, California, U.S.A.

On Fri, 26 Apr 2002 16:13:23 EDT writes:
> In a message dated 4/26/02 2:30:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> writes:
> What I don't get is the notion that adding Phil stuff frees the rider from
> some enormous maintenance hastle or improves the bike in some other way. At
> best the Phil stuff is equivalent to Campy and it may come up short in some
> ways.
> Among tandem riders (who are harder on equipment in general), when all else
> has been destroyed or has failed, they turn to Phil equipment. The consensus
> among tandem riders is that the Phil hubs hold up best. But they are among
> the heaviest, which is not a big deal for tandem teams.
> Glenn Fahey (tandem rider)
> Herndon,VA