Having originally received one of the first RHUBs for review from Paul at the get go, I’ve been riding the Paul Component Engineering Disk RHUB 170 on my primary fat-bike for over 9 months and currently have 3 different wheelsets built with the Paul RHUB. (I paid for two of these hubs with my own hard-earned scratch, they are that good!). Besides my Tatanka that I have the original set on I have a RHUB built with a Northpaw 29’er rim for my Schlick 29-Plus ride and recently pressed a third Paul/Northpaw-S wheelset into service on my Schlick APe. Since all the RHUB hubs I use are basically the same this review will contain impressions from more than one of my wheelsets.
If you need a bit of background on the Paul RHUB, check out our intro article that we did a few months back. This article is more about actually riding!
The first wheelset we built up was a set of 47mm Northpaw-S rims laced to the Paul RHUB and the companion WHUB 135mm front hub with Sapim CX-ray spokes. The wheels built up great and this set is the one that I have the most miles on. If you are interested in wheel weights, we’ve been keeping a running list of fat-bike wheel builds and you will find that here. These are among the lightest!
For what its worth, I run 160mm rotors on all my fat-bikes with either Magura hydraulic or Avid BB7 mechanical brakes and I use SRAM 9 or 10 speed cassettes of either 12-34 or 12-36. In order to be nice to the freehub body I use higher end, but not silly, cassettes with the largest sprockets attached to an aluminum spider to keep the individual sprockets from cutting into the aluminum of the freehub body.
Immediately noticeable is the I9 freehub and its near instantaneous engagement. As we mentioned in our intro article, rather than reinventing the freehub, Paul chose to partner with Industry Nine and the RHUB uses the I9 6-pawl freehub that has some of the best engagement we’ve experienced on a fat-bike hub, or any hub for that matter, with just 3 degrees of rotation between clicks in the stock configuration. Note that if you want a bit less friction and 6 degrees of engagement instead of 3, you can take one set of the pawls out! I haven’t gone there yet as I like the RHUB the way it is right out of the box.
Also worth noting is that the RHUB is soon to be available with the SRAM XX1 compatible free hub from I9 if you want to go that route. Already have a RHUB and want to upgrade? Should be no problem, Paul will do it for you or you can tap into your LBS for their service.
Well, we don’t Alaska cold here just below the 45th Parallel but it did get down in the 0-degree range a few times and the hub performed flawlessly even after being stored outside over night.
Most of our winter riding is on snowmobile trails, lightly to firmly packed MTB trail and, my favorite, the frozen beaches of Lake Michigan where the shore ice and become a virtual MTB park that varies from one ride to the next. Like I always say, sometimes, no two beach rides are ever the same.
As ever, the near instant engagement is a real plus when you are looking for a bit of traction on slippery trail. No herky, jerky, tire spinning was evident. I ran several different tires over the winter season and the Paul Hub basically disappears during the ride, that is a good thing.
Lots more beach rides here than true, cold weather snow riding although many of our beach rides are in the winter on the shore ice of Lake Michigan when it is well below freezing.
The beach can be an inhospitable place for a hub with sand, water, zebra mussel shells, seaweed and other contaminants all over the place. Not to mention the more that occasional forays into the lake itself. Whether it is going around shoreline obstructions or just riding into the deeper water to cool off on a hot summer day, we don’t coddle our fat-bikes. The Paul RHUB has never complained and is as smooth as the day I got it.
General Trail Use
I going to sound like a broken record here but I just love the near instant engagement. I do quite a bit of standing on the pedals and repositioning the crank on the local trails and when I want to go it is sweet not to have to wind up or clunk into the next engagement point. I also like the sound the free hub makes. Not too loud but enough feedback to let you know it is back there doing its thing.
Well, like Ferris Bueller once said about a Ferrari, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
About the one year anniversary of the first hub I’ll do a teardown to see what a year’s worth of fat-biking has done to the RHUB so look for that in about 3 months! Meanwhile I’ll be a happy fat-bike rider with my Paul hubs.
- Material: 6061 Aluminum
- Weight: 427g
- Finish: Anodized or Polished
- Anodized Color: Silver or Black
- Dimensions: Axle Spacing: 170mm
- Flange Diameter: ø 65mm
- Center to Drive Flange: 40mm
- Center to Non-Drive Flange: 35mm
- Spoke Holes: 32
$440 – Disk RHUB 170 in Black or Silver Anodized
$446 – Disk RHUB 170 in High Polished Silver