Urban Velo

Fixed and Free with the SRAM Torpedo Hub

The SRAM Torpedo is the first production hub that switches from fixed to freewheel. Just a few turns of a screwdriver swaps it from one mode to another. Hubs like this have been on plenty of wish lists over the years for a multitude of uses. One could ride fixed for most of a long tour and cut to freewheel for the mountain downhill stretches. Or just have one bike with the choice between the two, all without flipping the wheel over. This conversion comes with a penalty – 480g worth for the internal guts needed for a hub like this. Only time will tell if the mechanisms that make the switcheroo possible has any backlash with backpressure or can handle the skidding that is so common with many fixed riders. The real question is if we will see this hub for sale in the North American market. We’ll keep you posted.


  1. Ghost RiderSeptember 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I don’t mean to sound like a jerk or anything…I love weird bike tech… but how in the HELL is this any better/easier/more effcient/smarter than flipping a wheel around in the dropouts? And GASP! what a weight penalty!

  2. jamesmallonSeptember 10, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    A friggin pound. Some weight penalty. Take it off your American gut. And “how in the HELL is this any better/easier/more effcient/smarter than flipping a wheel around in the dropouts?”

    Better? Cleaner and Faster.
    Easier? Leave it on the chain, in the dropouts, don’t flip your bike.
    More efficient? Same as above.
    Smarter? See the all the above.

  3. T.HudsonSeptember 10, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Hey the simple fact that they are doing it is cool. More money being spent on the fringe market products than pumping all of their money into new valving for 8″ travel forks. I’m all for it. Shimano, SRAM and even Truvativ with their new HammerSchmidt, (which is sooooo going onto my fixie to create a 24 and 38 tooth front ring with the flip of a switch-can you say polo demon bike) are putting money into real commuting alternatives. It will do nothing but good for all of us commuters, fixie and singlespeed riders because the product prices will come down eventually, we will have more options to choose from (other than what colour do you want your track hub) and it will even create new market segments which can potentially draw entirely new populations out of their cars and ride places instead.

    I think it is awesome. Give it five years and it will be wireless on the fly much like the direction that new drivetrain technology is headed.

  4. Ghost RiderSeptember 11, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I’m still not sold, James…what about the internals? This just complicates an elegantly simple device.

    I like T. Hudson’s wireless on the fly idea, though — more complication, but eliminates the tedious pulling out of tools and fiddling.

    Oh, and by the way, no “American gut” here. I look just like Fausto Coppi, but without his stamina or skill ;)

  5. jamesmallonSeptember 11, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Nothing personal ‘Ghostrider’, but most of us should take the weight off our bellies, before we spend extra thousands on a dentist bike, or worry about one extra pound on our sensible steel.

  6. old man slackerNovember 12, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Not to be rude but i remember a hub i owned many years ago (early 90′s) made by ACS which was the same thing, i believe it was called a freetrack hub.
    I wasnt into fixed then but i got it cheap and used it on my bmx at the time. Just thought it was worth mentioning

  7. RE: old man slackerDecember 31, 2009 at 1:59 am

    You’re right, it was the ACS Freetrak and it came with the 1987 BMX Mongoose Decade Pro freestyle. It mysteriously did not come with the 1988 BMX Mongoose Decade Pro – why? Was it shoddy? Was it dangerous? I don’t know because I can’t find any more info on it.

  8. Fixed gear…. with gears!? | relifecycle.comSeptember 22, 2011 at 8:16 am

    [...] than flipping the wheel. Good idea? Check it out here. There’s a seriously funny comment on Urban Velos announcement of it’s release (again, note the date, how come i only just found out about [...]

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