Front Hedgehog hub on my Merlin MTB.
Front Hedgehog hub on my Merlin MTB.

A Look Back At Some Home-Brew Hubs

Once in a while you run across something that throws you back to your good old mountain-biking days. Such was the case when Kris Henry posted a picture of bike hubs he built while being a student at PSU. In the last year of my apprenticeship I designed my own set of what later generally came to be called V-brakes. Years before Shimano and Avid brought low-profile V-brakes to the every day mountain biker, GraftonMRC and a few others made this style of brakes. For a very long period of time, I ran my own set of MTB brakes.

While in college for mechanical engineering I no longer had ready access to lathes and mills, but new ideas were always on my mind. Ideas that were often put on mechanical drawings, ready to be made whenever the opportunity arose to let chips fly. Memory is already a little fuzzy about the exact timeline, but around 1994-1996 I designed and machined a set of hubs for my Merlin mountain bike. I first machined a front hub and about a year later completed the project by making a matching rear hub.

Since everything I make has to have a name, I called them “Hedgehog Hubs”. The design was loosely inspired by Pulstar hubs of the early 90ies. My rear hub shared the same spoke lacing on the drive-side as Pulstar hubs did. Nondrive-side and front hub were radially laced, which Pulstar didn’t do. All spokes were straight-pull, double-butted by DT Swiss. The front hub was CNC machined out of aluminum, used two cartridge bearings and a floating 12 mm titanium axle. The rear hub shell was machined on a CNC lathe, then milled and drilled on a conventional mill. Axle, freewheel and bearings came from a DT Hügi hub. Both were purple anodized by Aloxyd AG.

Most people would usually keep such one-of-a-kind parts, especially when they were made by them. But in keeping with my life motto to rid my house of everything I don’t use, I sold the wheel set with my “Hedgehog Hubs” in 2016. Why should they waste space in the house and collect dust? I’ve got a few photos of them on Flickr and lots of awesome memories. These hubs have taken me on many rides in Switzerland, through California, Arizona and the Canyonlands of Utah. At the 1997 Grundig/UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on the Skyline course in the Napa an Italian sports journalist covering the race loved my Merlin and asked to snap a picture. Those “Hedgehog Hubs” also got covered with trail dust at Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. They went to Tahoe, Etna, China Camp, Mount Tam and called Annadel home for several years. Good times!

This article was updated on September 29, 2020


Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion; always on two wheels, no suspension and certainly no flipping motor.