Is this really such a novel piece of equipment?

2006 Bianchi Bergamo internal/hub derailleur

I commute with a lot of weight on the rack and pop spokes in my rear wheel at least a couple of times a year. I had it rebuilt and had a good six-month run until last week. I asked a local shop to spec a full replacement wheel so I'd have a spare that I could just drop in (so I can then get the other wheel fixed up when convenient, without losing the use of the bike in the meantime).

They came back saying that the hub alone would be $350 USD. The whole bike was something like $600 USD.

I can't find a source for this, and now I'm concerned that someday that thing is going to break and then where will I be? Any suggested courses of action?

  • You could just learn to replace a broken spoke. You'd need the right spokes, the right nipple wrench, and a freewheel tool. – Jay Bazuzi Jan 27 '11 at 6:41
  • @Jay What about truing? – Jay Jan 27 '11 at 6:43
  • You can true against a brake pad. Also, consider fatter tires with lower pressure - that would soften the blows on your wheel. Even when I was 290 lbs, I never broke a spoke (not that I biked a lot miles). – Jay Bazuzi Jan 27 '11 at 6:54

You could order your own replacement hub, for example Universal currently lists the 36h Dual Drive (Disc) for $187. These hubs are a relative rarity, and I don't doubt that your LBS price would be above $300. Bianchi presumably got them in bulk for a bargain when they specified this frame.

If you're carrying heavy loads upgrading to 36h is certainly a reasonable solution and will definitely help. You can also select a beefier rim - I personally like the Salsa Delgado, but rims such as the Velocity Dyad and Sun Rhyno Lite are perfectly fine as well. Lastly, get a professional wheel build. All told you're probably looking at at least $320, most of which is dominated by the price of your hub.

Depending on your riding conditions and preferences, another solution might be to replace your Dual Drive hub with a normal 9-speed derailleur hub. This will cost a bit more than usual in the near term (you'll need to replace the shifter and the derailleur), but you'll have more wheels at your disposal. Craigslist and eBay can be a treasure trove of relatively inexpensive handbuilt wheelsets, if you're patient.

  • You can get away with just 9 speeds on the rear, and no derailleur on the front, even with heavy loads, especially if you choose to space the gears wide apart. I do this and pull a trailer with my twins in it, in a hilly part of the world. Total weight of bike + trailer + people = 450lbs. However, I don't ride long distances, my legs are strong, and I often talk myself out of doing it because it's hard. If you're somewhere flat, it's way easier. – Jay Bazuzi Jan 28 '11 at 1:15

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