The hub is where it all started for Kappius Components. In 2008, SRAM introduced a radical new cassette design, the Red Powerdome cassette. It was machined out of a solid block of steel, taking hours to CNC machine. An engineering feat in its own right, its design is what got us thinking. The SRAM cassette has a large hollow inside it based off the use of a standard Shimano freehub body. It hit us, why not use all of that space for hub? In combination with a few in the field hub failures, we set out to design a new cassette/hub interface based off of sound engineering principals while putting other existing standards to the side. We aimed to utilize the empty space under the large cogs on the cassette to increase the size of the hub. Bottom brackets, headsets and frame tubes have all increased in diameters, realizing the strength to weight benefits of these designs, but hubs have stayed steady in design for the past 25 years or so. The last major change was converting from threaded-on freewheels to the Shimano HyperGlide interface we are all familiar with. This design change did have its benefits: It was lighter and simpler. You could replace individual cassette cogs as they wore out. Those days are long gone. If your cassette wears out, you replace the whole thing. Starting with non-functional prototypes, we re-engineered the cassette to hub interface, oversizing the system allowing us to have wide set wheel bearings, an externally mounted drive system with very high engagement all in a system that was easy to maintain and very durable. This is how the KH-1 was born. A unique, oversized interface drive system. The most interesting fall out of the oversized system was our drive system engagement. With the extra room, we could easily fit 8 pawls in a paired engagement arrangement in conjunction with a 60 tooth drive ring offering an unheard of 240 points of engagement. This translated to a ride on the trail that allowed you to get power to the pedals immediately, key in technical sections and out of corners. Another unique feature is our magnetically sprung pawls. Instead of springs used to push the pawls into the drive ring for engagement, there are 2 opposing poled rare earth magnets effectively springing the pawls up. This design wasn't something we set out to do. After spending too much money and time on custom springs, it hit us, why not just use magnets? Simpler, one less part, and impervious to wear.
Our product offerings have expanded since then with the enjoyment of the quickly engaging drive system. Some people didn't want to be tied in to our proprietary cassette/hub interface, but wanted the quick engagement and easily serviceable drive system. The KH-1.5 and KH-2 satisfy these needs. The KH-1 will always be our child and we are constantly refining it, making small incremental changes here and there while the KH-1.5 and KH-2 offer the Kappius Components technology to a larger audience.
Designing rims at Kappius Components wasn't just a 'me too' product. Sure, we could go pick an off the shelf rim, put our logo on it and be able to sell complete wheels to a greater audience, but that isn't what we set out to do. We saw the potential for design changes in the rim that could allow us to offer a better experience on the road or trail. Every single contour and dimension was designed in house for specific reasons. Wide rim widths for increased tire volume and traction. External nipples for easy building and truing. Offset spoke bed for a stronger wheel and more even spoke tension. Dimensions that allow for low pressure riding without the worry of burping a tubeless tire and easy tubeless tire mounting without struggling to get the bead to seat. These were all issues we set out to overcome with the ultimate goal of building a complete wheel system that offered the best user experience.
There has been a sizable change in carbon rim manufacturing lately, creating "hookless" interfaces to tires. We don't use this design at Kappius. And here's why.
Actually these are excerpts answering inquiries from customers by me, Russell Kappius.
From an engineering perspective I pose this question: "Yes, you can do it, but why would you?" The only logical argument that I can agree with is that it's easier to make. Any argument saying it's better fails on me. The only argument I'll give a bit on is strength. The strength of hookless rim may be higher because of some fundamentals, but it's counteracted by requiring a taller sidewall. Taller sidewalls are more likely to encounter a rock strike when compared to a shorter sidewall like ours.
The other strength argument I've heard is that hooked beads on carbon rims require "soft" molds. These soft molds do not compress the carbon as much, leaving it a lower modulus. This is NOT true with Kappius molds. While it might be a bit harder to envision initially, our molds are made in a way that do not require soft parts, and the carbon on the hook is just as good as the carbon elsewhere.
To me, the performance of a hookless design can only be inferior to a hooked bead. This is due to the shape of the tire bead and how it interfaces to the rim. Hookless interface very poorly, resulting in unnatural bending of the tire casing.
Lastly, if hookless were better, why aren't aluminum rim manufactures doing it? I'll tell you why: Because it's just as easy for them to make a hook as not, and they know hooks work better!