Mountain bikers know the importance of grip. Traction keeps them upright and safe as they navigate rough, rocky terrain, splash through puddles, and squelch along leafy, muddy trails. Whether you’re climbing up steep inclines or holding steady as you hurtle down hills, you have to be one with your tires.
The innovative, high-tech WhiteCrow Hub is an ingenious way to adjust your fat bike tire pressure on the go, maximizing the surface area of the tire grip according to the changing surfaces you’re riding on.
“While smoother and hard surfaces require a solid bite with a small contact-patch, looser terrains require a (much) larger embrace,” the inventors explain. “For extra soft and powdery ground such as snow and sand, tires require ultra-low pressure to avoid sinking in; very rocky surfaces are also best tackled with a ‘flexible’ tire providing an embracing grip.”
The WhiteCrow Hub lets you ride off without worrying about the terrain ahead. There’s an air pump hidden inside the hub as part of the “air-closed” system, and it allows you to inflate but also deflate your tires as you ride. A “reservoir” in the hub holds higher pressure air to inflate the tires, so you’re not pulling in outside air and any muck with it. We think of the process as being like an air bank, where you can withdraw and deposit at will. That, we understand, is not a very technical explanation, but you can get more detail from the engineers at WhiteCrow.
“Our hub is a bit of an engineering marvel,” they report, “and probably the most audacious piece of technology introduced into mountain biking since the times of the first oleo-pneumatic forks.”
The hub’s main body is tooled from hard-anodized 7075-T6 aluminum, and the central hub body is made of carbon fiber.
Adjustable tire pressure leads to safer riding (fewer spills) and more comfort, as you aren’t receiving as many jarring impacts, but also more efficient bike-riding (your legs will thank you).
“We are all concerned with our energy requirements to keep the bike speeding forward in any circumstance,” the tech team say. “Having the correct tire pressure for a given surface condition can save up to over 15 percent in otherwise wasted energy.” Hopefully that means longer, more comfortable rides—or at least less hobbling when you roll out of bed the next morning.
This device is compatible with most fat bikes and e-bikes, the designers say, and they’ve made the remote control so it is “drop-in compatible” with most bike controls and can be mounted on both sides of the handlebar. You just flick a switch to activate the hub, and then you can easily increase or decrease your tire pressure in increments, no pit stops required.
Right now the WhiteCrow team are still trying to get funding for full production of the hub. Until then, they are adjusting the weight of their product, so no final price is available yet. However, they explain that although it will be heavier than regular mountain bike hubs, the energy efficiency of the unit will offset the extra weight.