Taking off a rear bike tire can be a pain. It’s a multistep process, and you have to be careful if you want to keep your fingers clean of grease. For most commuters, catching a rear tire flat on the way to work is a nightmare that ends with black fingertips and indelible grease gear imprints on your pants. To add insult to injury, you’ll probably be late unless you can get that tire on and off in record time — unfortunately, there are no pace cars trailing us on the Bedford avenue bike path run. The D-Fix bike hub makes changing a rear tire on your multigear bike smooth and clean.
The D-Fix I is a rear hub that separates the cog from the wheel, making it possible to leave the gears on the bike when you remove the rear tire. No need to shift to your lowest gear or touch the derailleur to get the wheel out cleanly, no chain-dangle leading to a greasy frame, and no dirty hands.
Invented by Jan Deckx, the hub features a split through axle and toothed hub ends that lock together. Made of 7075 aluminum and titanium, the lock is secured by a three-turn screw. Jan says he’s tested the hub extensively himself over a variety of terrain. He’d like to see the hub marketed to triathlon and mountain bike users first.
The three major bike parts manufacturers, Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo didn’t snatch up Jan’s new hub, claiming they have patents of their own for similar hubs and haven’t decided to move on them yet. As a major change from existing wheel parts, it would take market-wide acceptance for the D-Fix hub to really take off, but without their support this may have to get its start from a grassroots approach and the inventor’s iron will. If it does, it may lead to a simplification of rear derailleur designs to remove the spring required to take off the wheel, a feature not necessary with a D-Fix hub.
The tech the D-Fix is built on isn’t entirely new. The Cinelli BiValent hub is the easiest comparison, though Jan claims the two technologies are different and has a Belgian patent for his idea. Similarities of tech aside, we dare you to track down a BiValent hub. It’s a classic from the ’60s and very rare.
This could be a huge help to pro riders by significantly cutting down the time it takes to swap a wheel. Additionally, since riders keep their cassettes they needn’t fear getting a wheel with the wrong gearing from neutral service before descents or climbs. The D-fix hub will have to be approved by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) professional cycling’s world regulatory group before the pros can use it in races.
For the average rider who rides their miles without a service car, the D-Fix hub erases all the greasy woes of the roadside tube swap. He has an Indiegogo campaign running, offering reductions in purchase prices for hubs and wheels. Lucky for us, Jan says he will start production on a second patented hub of his, “a modification of a famous Swiss mark,” later this summer.