When Industry Nine launched their all-new Hydra hubsets, they immediately turned some heads. Hydra's claim to fame is their 690 points of engagement drive system, but there are also other changes Industry Nine has thrown in that we want to talk about today. After riding Industry Nine Hydra wheels all summer, here is our long term review. For more product specifications from our Jeff and Industry Nine Sales Manager Charlie, check out our Industry Nine Hydra launch video.
The heart behind the new Hydra drive mechanism is Industry Nine's 6 pawl, 6 phase design. This means that as the freehub body spins each of the 6 pawls engages one pawl at a time. As you begin to pedal and transfer power through the hub, the inherent flex built in to the system allows the first and second trailing pawls to also engage and share some of that load. This distributes the load across three different pawls so that all of the power going through the system is not driven through one pawl. Previously with Industry Nine's Torch platform, a 6 pawl 2 phase system was used where every other pawl was engaged at a time (3 at a time). Hydra's 6 phase design along with a finer tooth drive ring and redesigned pawls are what make 690 points of engagement possible.
The Hydra drive mechanism is offered throughout all of industry Nine's System wheels as well as their S series complete wheels and Classic hubs. No matter if you are looking at Industry Nine's Trail 270, Enduro 305, or Grade 300 wheels, you can get them rolling on Hydra. Industry Nine also offers 11 different anodized colors that can be completely customized between hubs and spokes. To design your own custom wheelset, check out the Industry Nine AnoLab!
Bearing Life - The biggest problem areas Industry Nine wanted to improve on with Hydra were bearing life and drag reduction, and those are some of the things I wanted to touch on. Previously with Torch, the bearings inside the freehub body of the rear hub always seemed to take the most abuse and wear more quickly than the other bearings. With Hydra, a larger bearing is used inside that freehub body with a stiffer bearing seal. After riding Hydra wheels all season in the worst of conditions, the increased bearing life certainly adds some reliability to these wheels. The seals on each of the end caps have also been redesigned for added sealing properties. We want to keep water, dirt, and grime out from the inside of the hubshell and the bearings that live there. Overall, Industry Nine has certainly made steps forward with durability and reliability with their new bearing and seal layout inside the Hydra hubs. This is something that to the untrained eye might go unnoticed from the outside.
Drag - Industry Nine claims that even though their hubset goes from 120 points of engagement with Torch to 690 points of engagement with Hydra, they have reduced drag of the system by 20%. Adding engagement while also reducing drag is certainly a tough challenge. When you take a look at the tooth profile on both the drive ring and the individual pawls, you can see in the photo below how Industry Nine was able to pull this off. The teeth on both the drive ring and each of the six pawls are actually shallower compared to Torch. What this does is it keeps the pawls from jumping up and down as much which in the end created unnecessary drag. The pawls are also now driven by a leaf spring instead of a coil spring. The leaf spring has a more linear spring rate compared to the coil spring and so the pawls don't quite slam in to place like they did with Torch. With that said, the leaf springs still provide enough force to push the pawls in to place when they need to be. That combination has reduced the overall drag of the wheel when coasting. Now what does that mean when you get out on to the trail? While I'm not sure I can tell as much as a 20% decrease in drag, going from Industry Nine Torch to Hydra wheels, this is still certainly an improvement. You can feel a decrease in drag with the new Hydra wheels and that means you will be maintaining your speed more easily out on the trail. Who doesn't want to go faster?
Engagement - Like we have said already, the Industry Nine Hydra wheels offer 690 points of engagement. That means for every full rotation of the freehub body, the drive mechanism is there to engage 690 times. That is massive! So what does that added engagement do for you when you are out on the trail? The more points of engagement, the less play there is in your drivetrain. As soon as you start pedaling, that power is almost immediately transferred through the drivetrain and to your rear wheel. I think the biggest benefit to having all of that engagement is when you get to some technical climbing. Being able to get one more half pedal stroke in can sometimes make the difference between getting through a technical climb and getting off and pushing your bike.
Serviceability - When the time comes to Service Your Industry Nine Hydra Hubs, it's best to remove the freehub body so you can clean and lubricate the drive mechanism itself. If you do need to replace hub bearings, this is also a great time pull that drive system apart. Thanks to the leaf spring driven pawls, when you do slide the freehub body off the hub axle, those pawls want to stay in place much more than with the Torch design. If you have any experience Servicing industry Nine Torch Hubs, chances are you have had one of the pawls slide out of place and shoot that small coil spring across the floor. We are getting in to the nitty gritty here but having those pawls and springs stay in place make the Industry Nine Hydra hubs much more serviceable.
Industry Nine launched their latest Hydra platform as the next phase of Industry Nine. After riding the i9 Hydra System wheels all season now, we have put these wheels through their paces. With a larger bearing inside the freehub body and a new end cap seal design, Industry Nine has improved bearing life, durability, and reliability with their Hyrda hubs. The shallow tooth profile on the drive ring and pawls along with the new leaf springs that drive those pawls decrease the overall drag for the spinning wheel. When it comes to engagement, the Hydra hubs knock it out of the park with 690 points of engagement. These wheels put out power right away out on the trail. Overall, Hydra is a step in the right direction improving all of the problem areas that we may have not even known existed with i9's Torch platform.
Max Morgan is 27 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 9 years, competing in the UCI World Cup series and U.S. Pro GRT series. To learn more about Max, check out Max's rider spotlight here!