Ambrosio rear hubs: a false economy?

Soft alloy Ambrosio Zenith freehub

Foreground old, background new: Ambrosio Zenith freehubs chew up too easily to recommend

HAVING WHEELS CUSTOM-MADE IS all fine and dandy until you discover you didn’t specify the best components at the outset. In this case the error was to choose some inexpensive Ambrosio hubs over my generally preferred Royce or Shimano items. While the hubs have run smoothly enough and in most respects have proved excellent value, nevertheless the cassette carrier has chewed three significant indents into the softer alloy of the Ambrosio hub, causing the cassette to wobble and so necessitating replacement of the freehub.

Sadly and annoyingly the route of least expense is to replace the freehub with the same, poor quality item. This route cost me £36 for a new Zenith freehub from UK Bike Store, plus £6 fitting, plus some bother. One alternative would have been a rebuilt wheel (about the same price of £36, depending on spokes chosen), plus a freehub made of either light and strong titanium (e.g. Royce Venus – £250) or ‘heavy’ and strong steel (e.g. Shimano Ultegra at £70). Another route would have been a Novatec 172 ABG freehub with in-built ‘anti-bite guard’ (ABG); a small steel spline inserted onto the freehub which stops the cassette from destroying the alloy freehub body (about $50/£32 at current exchange rates, from http://www.bdopcycling.com/Wheels-Parts.asp). Installation requires 1 x 5 mm allen key and 1 x 17 mm cone spanner. Oh, and if you too have ‘cassette wobble’ but no wear on the freehub, perhaps you’re not getting the necessary compression on the lockring – due maybe to a ‘spacer issue’ behind the cassette. I found a great online article about this matter here; http://bit.ly/CassetteIssues .

anti-bite guard freehub

Novatec 172 A.B.G.

It’s been pointed out to me that another solution would have been to create a hybrid wheel by swapping the freehub from Ambrosio/Novatec for Shimano to Ambrosio/Novatec for Campag, as the deeper Campag freehub splines don’t get chewed. I could then retain the Shimano drivetrain by getting one of those cassettes from somewhere that are splined for Campag yet spaced for Shimano. For me though this is far too geeky and troublesome a ‘solution’, to my mind the simple and long-term view is that light and cheap is not the way!

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