Onyx Racing Hubs … Should you splash the cash?
Top end instant engagement
First off, these hubs are not cheap, even in the world of instant engagement hubs they are not cheap … but you may just get what you pay for.
All Onyx hubs come with ceramic hybrid bearings and titanium hardware as standard, they are instant engagement, silent, near frictionless and beautifully constructed in Minnesota, USA. If you intend to get other high end race hubs and are considering upgrading to all the bells and whistles, Onyx Racing Products it turns out, could be the sensible option. Let’s face if you’re going to spend money upgrading your ride it makes sense to invest in the spinning parts.
For BMX you have the option of 10mm or 20mm front hubs and for the rear you have the option of ‘Pro‘, ‘Ultra‘ or ‘Ultra SS‘. The ‘Ultra’ gives you the option of a 10mm axle or a 15mm through axle and have about a 40% higher torque capacity than the ‘Pro’ hub. I’m not sure that the vast majority of riders would notice or even benefit from the higher torque capacity but the axle size options allow you to upgrade if you change your frame. The ‘Ultra SS’ gives you the further option of a 20mm axle.
Unlike some other instant engagement hubs, the Onyx rear hub incorporates a sprag one-way clutch rather than a roller clutch, while I’m not going to pretend I fully understand the difference it’s the sprag clutch that reduces the weight of the hub and gives it the near frictionless spin. A few seconds comparing the Onyx to other hubs that use the roller clutch and it’s easy to see and feel the difference. The sprag has ‘lifetime’ grease applied during manufacture so it should not need servicing, assuming you don’t abuse it, but it’s not that hard to remove it should the need arise.
The first time you put your new hubs on your bike you may have to spend a few minutes adjusting the side load tension to get them dialed in perfectly, which is the same operation for front and rear. The 20mm Onyx front hub and the Onyx Ultra rear hub have been spinning away on my bike for about six months now without any issues at all, in fact, the more use they get the smoother they become … which is impressive since they have spun more freely from day one than any other hub I’ve played with to date.
When you first try instant enguagement hubs you won’t, or at least I didn’t, really feel a massive advantage although it is much easier to get set up perfectly on the gate. It’s not until you get back on a bike without instant enguagement that you notice just how loose it all feels, 204 points of engagement is not instant and you can feel it. I couldn’t go back.
All hubs will (I predict) be instant engagement in the future, it just makes sense. It will be interesting to see how many riders in the 2016 Rio Olympic final will be on instant engagement hubs, why would they give up that advantage.
The silent and stealthy feeling of the hubs is excellent but if you like to sound like your being chased by a swarm of bees then these hubs are probably not for you.
The 20mm front option does add to the stiffness of the front end, you can feel on the gate and in the berms but you will need to splash out on new forks too assuming you’re not swapping out another 20mm axle.
Looks wise, the Onyx hubs are beautiful, stunning in fact, even if the cut outs on the front hub can make cleaning a little time consuming. The hubs are available in endless amounts of colours and combinations, you can get them custom engraved with your name, number or graphic, they are even available with printed images around the body. Something there for everyone.
In our experience, customer service at Onyx Racing is second to none, a message to their facebook page gets a very quick and helpful response (from the company owner usually), no matter how much detail your after.
It’s not surprising that some of the world’s fastest, such as Sam Willoughby and Alise Post, rock Onyx. In a sport of ‘marginal gains’ there is nothing marginal about these hubs.