Compass Bicycles now offers the Grand Bois freewheel hubs for 120 mm rear spacing, with 5- and 6-speed cassettes. That’s good news for those of you with older bikes that you want to ride more often.
There are many wonderful old bikes that deserve to be ridden, yet many riders are reluctant to ride on difficult-to-fix and expensive tubular tires, or risk wrecking irreplaceable lightweight rims on rough streets.
To keep these bikes on the road, some riders build a second wheelset with clincher rims. Most older bikes have generous clearances, so you can fit relatively wide clincher tires. With the Grand Bois Extra Léger tires, you can replicate much of the ride of tubulars simply by choosing clincher tires that are about 10% wider than the original high-end tubulars. Then you can keep the original wheels for displaying the bike…
Rather than build such a wheel around a freewheel hub, with an undersized axle that can bend or break, as well as a difficult-to-find “New Old Stock” freewheel, you now can use the Grand Bois 120 mm rear hubs. The 120 mm spacing drops right into most old frames built from the 1950s until the 1970s.
These hubs use the same hub shells and sealed cartridge bearings as the standard Grand Bois cassette hubs with 130 mm spacing (top). The freehub body is shorter (bottom), and the axle is spaced to 120 mm.
To go with these hubs, Grand Bois offers a choice of 5- and 6-speed cassettes. They are rebuilt from Shimano 8-speed cassettes; the cogs should be available for a long time.
The 5-speed cassettes (bottom) are available with 13-23 and 14-24 cogs. They use custom spacers to get the same cog spacing as 5-speed freewheels, so you can use your bike’s 5-speed chain.
The 6-speed cassettes (top) are available with 13-26 and 14-28 cogs. They use 8-speed spacing. The benefit is that you get another cog, but you need to use a 7/8-speed chain.
With their classic appearance and maintenance-free quality, these hubs will allow many riders to get more use out of their cherished classic bikes. You could even build a new bike around these hubs. The benefits would be a stronger rear wheel – less dish on the wheel and a shorter, and thus stronger rear axle. With the narrower rear spacing, you also can use a narrower crank tread (Q factor), since the chainstays don’t splay outward as far. It’s certainly tempting, since I don’t need more than six cogs anyhow.
Click here for more information about Grand Bois hubs.