Probably just about all cyclists will agree – removing your bike’s rear wheel is a hassle. You have to open and loosen off the quick-release, pull the derailleur cage and chain back out of the way, smack the axle loose of the dropouts, and then guide the cassette cogs around the now-dangling chain. Your hands get dirty in the process, plus you get to look forward to repeating everything in reverse when putting the wheel back on. California-based inventor Leonard Ashman figured that the process ought to be easier, so he created the HubDock – it lets you remove your back wheel, without even touching the drivetrain.
Here’s how the device works ...
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The HubDock utilizes a thru-axle which is unthreaded/pulled out of the hub body from the non-drive side, in order to remove the wheel. That axle is subsequently pushed back in/threaded into place when the wheel is reinstalled – a quick-release lever on the end of the axle then ensures that everything remains snugged up. A standard axle, by contrast, stays in place as part of the hub body at all times, and secures the wheel entirely by the pressure of its quick-release or locking nuts.
When the thru-axle is unthreaded and pulled out for wheel removal, the main hub body disengages from its freehub body, which is mounted inside the user-supplied cassette – in other words, the main hub body and the freehub/cassette are no longer attached to one another. Because the cassette and freehub combo stay attached to the bicycle frame, the wheel is then able to simply drop straight down – just like the front wheel does, when you remove it.
Once the tube has been patched, the tire has been changed or whatnot, the wheel is just slid back up into place, the axle is reinserted, and the main hub re-engages the freehub/cassette as the axle is threaded back on. The whole process can be seen in the video at the bottom of this page.
The hub will apparently work on any standard frame, with the existing dropouts. Cassette compatibility presently includes all 11-speed or under models made by Shimano and SRAM. Although the cassette remains attached to the frame when the wheel is removed, Ashman tells us that it can be easily taken off for servicing or replacement.
Tipping the scales at 415 grams, the HubDock is within the weight range of most mid- to higher-end rear hubs – the popular Shimano 105 hub, for instance, weighs in at around 420 grams. Additionally, the thru-axle provides a stiffer, more secure method of wheel attachment, which is why they’re currently found in the front hubs of many mountain bikes.
Ashman is now raising production funds for his device, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$379 will get you a clear-anodized HubDock, when and if the funding goal is met. Colored anodizing will cost an extra hundred bucks.
For his part, Leonard can't understand why such a product doesn’t exist already. “I know the bicycle companies hire some pretty sharp engineers, but it seems like they’ve been kind of asleep at the switch for a while,” he said. “Hopefully, I’m going to wake them up.”
Source: Liberty Wheel Systems