Original article from BikeRumor.
Chosen, a Taiwanese hub manufacturer, has brought to market a hub that runs silent, and spins freeley in both directions. For more details, go to the article or watch the video below, but the basics are that the freehub is only engaged when you are pedaling, and the pawls retract when you are freewheeling.
Why is this good? Frictionless is almost always a benefit for most things that spin, and the freewheeling in both directions is useful for parking bikes in tight places (pushing the bike backwards makes the pedals rotate and they can get in the way when trying to get it into a busy bike rack, for example).
Then, Chosen claims that with this freehub will “allow riders to optimize pedal position which helps to corner faster”. Ummm, ok. I can’t possibly imagine a situation where a rider has ever said, “I would have railed that corner but I just couldn’t get my pedal to bottom dead centre”. I have no idea how this situation is any different than with a standard hub. It’s just a non-issue.
Silence? Yes, it’s silent, but I’m not really so sure that this is a good thing.
Where would silence be a good thing? Late night indoor trainer sessions? Actually, I thought I’d be able to come up with at least a few more plausible situations, but I can’t. Chosen suggests that you can sneak up on rivals and pounce on them without warning, but if you are attacking someone, you are pedaling, thus your freewheel isn’t making any noise – unless you know how to produce large quantities of forward motion on a bike without pedaling. If that’s the case, you might need a Chosen Smart hub.
Far from being a benefit, this could actually be a problem. Not being aware of the close proximity of another rider could cause accidents, not merely in a race (where you could argue that you should be aware enough of your immediate surroundings with or without excess freehub noise), but more importantly, when you’re not.
I see this hub as being the most useful, not where the video places it (mountain biking, where there is enough noise coming from all manor of other sources, so who cares that your hub is silent?), but on the commuter bike. This is where the most useful feature will come in handy: the parking issue.
However, where do commuter bikes travel? Urban, often over-crowded, metropolitan areas, where the rider might be passing other cyclists or pedestrians on shared-use paths. The noisy freewheel is an extremely useful feature, giving those around you a progressive warning that you are approaching. If you are racing, some people actually enjoy the noisy freehub and use it after sneaking up on an opponent and putting them off a bit by freewheeling for a second at close range.
But, high performance wheels aside, most freehubs are pretty quiet anyway, so what’s the point?
It’s a pretty cool idea, but unless you need to regularly park your bike in tight spots, I’m not sure why we should care.