Even with plenty of practice, changing a rear wheel isn't the easiest of tasks. Remember to shift down to the little cog, undo the QR, pop the wheel out and wrestle it out of the chain. You're left with the wheel (including the mucky cassette) and your trasmission all dangling everywhere while you fix your flat.
Enter the Hubdock. Essentially it's a two-part hub: the cassette and freehub stay put and you can remove the rest of the hub my undoing the quick release on the non-drive side. Look at this video if you're unclear:
Okay, the bloke in the video removes the standard rear wheel like a complete numpty. But even so, there's lots to like about this design. Obviously the big draw is that the transmission stays in place. There's no messing with the chain and getting oil all over your hands and no danger of things getting knocked out of alingment. It keeps tension in the chain too, so there's much less chance of the chain coming off the chainring when you're changing the wheel. Also, if you break a drive-side spoke you can simply take the wheel off and replace it, you don't have to take the cassette off as all the spokes are accessible.
Any downsides? Well, not any that we can think of, other than it's going to be a bit more expensive than a standard hub. Your first production run hub will cost you $379 on the Kickstarter pitch. Okay that's not cheap, but they're basically hand built. That's less than a Chris King hub would set you back. And there's nothing about the technology that necessarily makes it expensive. It's a simple concept.
Do we need it? Well, it makes life easier. It's all very well saying you've never had trouble changing a rear, but there's no doubt this system would make it a much simpler process. You probably never had any trouble with downtube shifters, but you've got STIs/Ergopower/DubleTap now, right? Just saying.
We're fairly confident that this is going to catch on. Especially since we asked someone very much in the industry loop about it, and got a winkey smiley in return...
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.