Urban Velo

SRAM Torpedo Fixed / Free Hub – On Test

sram_torpedo01 The SRAM Torpedo hub is unique, and one of the more exciting test items to come into my hands in some time. Freewheel or fixed – this hub switches with a few turns of a screw making it the first such hub to do so since the long lost ACS Freetrack. This switcheroo does come with a weight penalty – the hub is listed at about 480g, though honestly the weight difference between the Torpedo and a conventional flip/flop fixed/free hub with cog and freewheel attached is minimal.

sram_torpedo02Spaced at 130mm, the hub is truly meant for road and ‘cross bikes though squeezing a mountain frame 5mm or stretching a track frame 10mm is really no big deal as long as they’re steel and not heirloom quality frames with delicate bottom bracket lugwork. Cogs are available in either 1/8″ or 3/32″ width and 16/17/18t with a 46mm chainline or 19/20/21t with a 49.5mm chainline for maximum crankset compatibility. The 32h hub builds up with no dish and is available in a few different colors – silver, green, gold, purple and blue. Drilled 15mm cap nuts keep the wheel in place, though first look says you may want to use a chain tug to keep things secure since the nut is not serrated. And keep a small flat blade screwdriver handy to perform the magic with, conveniently my Leatherman has a blade that fits just right…

sram_torpedo03 The real deal about the hub is that fixed to freewheel conversion, accomplished with roughly 8 turns of the recessed screw head pictured. In freewheel mode it has a confidence inspiring audible click of freewheel pawls slipping across the teeth with very little drag, just as it should. It feels exactly the same as any quality freewheel. Lock it down to fixed and it is silent, though the cog does experience some backlash or “play” back and forth. It is noticeable in the pedals – I’d estimated it to be a few degrees (less than 10) at the cog. More than a loose chain on a conventional fixed hub allows. First impressions based on a very brief ride to the Post Office and back is that the backlash is there and not going away, but not as much of a problem as I thought it would be on the workstand. In fact, after just a bit of pedaling my mind adjusted to it and while the feeling did not go away I wasn’t cursing myself down the street either. Skidding felt normal, though who knows what it may be doing to the internals. SRAM likely doesn’t want me to open it up and find out how it works, but curiosity is calling and something tells me I’ll see the guts of the Torpedo before long.

The Torpedo hub certainly adds complexity to a fixed drivetrain, but for someone who likes to coast sometimes and not others this is an interesting niche product. Time will tell how it works over the long haul, we’ll keep you informed as we tick off the miles.

12 Comments

  1. Ghost RiderApril 16, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Does screwing down the lock more than the recommended 8 turns reduce the backlash?

    When this was first announced, I was lukewarm about it…but now that I’ve had time to think about it, it sounds like a cool hub — a lot less fiddly than flipping a rear wheel. Looking forward to hearing more about it (and maybe a shot of the internals).

  2. jamesmallonApril 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    A good idea if you want your fixed and free in the same gear inches, which many people don’t. Give as a review of the Sunrace Sturmey S3X as soon as you can!

  3. MarcoticoApril 16, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Any idea how much this will retail for?

  4. AlexanderApril 17, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I enjoy flipping my fix/fix wheel, especially with my Jethro. I’ve gotten pretty quick at it, and the maneuver has become a fun performance—flip, grab, spin, switch, spin, pocket, pull, flip, guide, grab, spin, spin, flip—very showy; almost a trick. And, for a second, I feel like it’s the early twentieth century, and I’m riding the Tour De France.

  5. silly questions… « Mikesimagination Unplugged…April 21, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    [...] enough of that – if you’re interested Urban Velo has a review of the new SRAM Torpedo hub here. I’m holding out for the Sturmey Archer S3X, it’s in the brochure for ‘09 but the [...]

  6. Bianchi Pista Via Brera 2010 Preview at Urban VeloJune 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

    [...] I’d assume a brake will be in the box as well, because the Pista Via Brera will ship with a SRAM Torpedo fixed/free rear hub. Scheduled for a fall 2009 availability, there is no word on geometry or [...]

  7. alexander haterAugust 24, 2009 at 11:41 am

    alexander,

    who the hell cares if you’ve choreographed alternating your flip flop wheel? it’s not about what you look like when you’re working on your bike. it’s how your bike works. spend s’more time in front of a mirror and get this juvenile image maintenance shit out of your system.

  8. what?December 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    and the functional application for this is? so you can rock a fixie on your single speed cyclocross bike when you’re training on the street, convert to freewheel mode in the dirt? and hey, alexander hater, this thing just seems like it would fail ANYWAYS so why are you berating someone who is obviously a purist and proud of it. alexander was not basking in the glory of how he looks flipping his rear wheel, he was stating that he was happy that he got good at it over time. how your bike works is in direct relation to how good you are at working on it AND the quality of the frame and components. flip flop hubs are proven to be solid. this gimmick is not. its made by sram. sram is garbage. any professional bike mechanic knows this to be fact.

  9. 2011 Bianchi Alloy Pista’s – Pista Dalmine and Pista Sei Giorni « Urban VeloAugust 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    [...] track located in Dalmine, Italy—not far from the Bianchi factory. The bike is equipped with a SRAM Torpedo rear hub, a carbon fork (with alloy steerer) and front and rear brakes for an MSRP of [...]

  10. pist as bruApril 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    well i have one of these and i’ll be shortly changing out to a regular old flip flop velocity deep v rear. not because of wanting to show off my locking dance skills but because the ‘play’ spoken about in the review bothered be a little. and i found cheap 2nd hand deep v’s on line. however, if you are into fixed gear but want to change to freewheel very easily (or visa versa), this is a great compromise.

  11. RICHARD OXBYOctober 21, 2011 at 5:18 am

    SRAM GARBAGE?are you real i am a cycle engineer,and a parts tester.Tested sram against sturmey archer (Nottingham)and shimano nexus in the 1990,s for a magazine.The sram hub i still own,the others were binned years ago,sturmey went in 2 weeks.This isnt to say that sturmey hub gears are no good now .S3X is good,the play on the hub has to be there,and yes i am a fixed purist,you dosometimes have to compensate in cycle engineering.Bravo to my favourite hub makers Sram for bringing out a practical idea,mine is ordered and i will keep you all posted.

  12. RyanNovember 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I hate this hub… I’ve always road a straight fix and this thing has bothered me for months. It feels broken and the target market for this item has got to be small… I recommend a flip flop hub over this for anyone. Plus the future service is not easy, check out youtube for the complications.

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