All great inventions come about as a solution to a problem. Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release skewer out of frustration at the wingnuts that used to hold bicycle wheels in the frame. And so Colorado-based Russel Kappius has developed a new hub design after his friend’s bike hub failed on a long ride, resulting in a long walk home.
With his engineer's hat on, he started working on a a solution, and developed a hub with a large shell and wider bearing spacing and larger freehub mechanism. 240 engagement points drastically reduces the pickup time, that slight delay when you push on the pedals and the freehub engages. His design is based on a larger hub design which allows for better bearing placement, and is easier to maintain and is lighter, he claims.
When it came to manufacturing he found traditional methods too expensive and too slow, with a turnaround time of months. So he hit upon using 3D printing, more specifically direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). 3D printing is one of the newest and most exciting manufacturing developments in recent years, and involves a laser melting layer upon layer of metal powder. Using 3D printing produced much quicker turnaround times of just a matter of weeks of prototypes, and was a lot less expensive.
It’s a manufacturing process gaining popularity quickly, and we’ve featured a few examples on road.cc previously. There was the Bristol-based company’s space-age Nylon bike a couple of years ago, and the same company more recently printed titanium dropouts for Charge Bikes, who used them in a limited run of cyclocross frames.
Since then he’s formed Kappius Components and his hubs have become desirable, most famously ridden by Swiss mountain bike champion Christoph Sauser.
“Having folks from around the world chase me down and saying I really believe in what you’re doing, I want to support you…[Sauser] sent me an email that dropped me to the floor. He’s one of the biggest names in cycling and the second sentence he said to me was, ‘I think your hub is the best.’ That’s pretty flattering – humbling too.”
The first hub, the KH1, uses oversized design, twice that of a regular hub, with many more points of engagement. This means the pedal can engage every 1.5 degrees. But it’s only compatibale with cassettes they modify to work with the hub. A bit of drawback. The second hub, KH2, solves this problem, being compatible with regular cassettes. It's currently on Kickstarter, take a look here.
He’s not only working on a second generation hub, but also taking a look at the rest of the wheel, with the rim in his sights. They plan to bring to market they own wheel design in the near future.
“The tyre I’m not going to really touch right now, but the rim I am…the rim is something I think we can do way better, you look at the way F1 cars work, they use carbon fibre – I think there’s a lot of things we can offer there – and then eventually the entire drive train.”
This is just the start, Kappius reckons the whole bicycle could one day be produced entirely using the 3D printing process. The cost of the manufacturing process will come down and there will be more small firms popping up, and there’s even the possibility of buying 3D printers for your home.
Find out more at www.kappiuscomponents.com
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.