The new Rockshox Bluto front fork for fatbikes has been one of the most anticipated products in the last several years. If one looks closely at the specs it should support the widest of tires with 4.9″ of clearance and a 150mm through hole axle. The only problem with the through hole axle design is that there is no way to easy mount a hub motor on it.
Who would want a front wheel drive fatbike? Front-wheel drive means crappy traction, as all your weight is in the rear. However All Wheel Drive is the holy grail of Fatbiking in snow as it seems like when plowing through more than 4 inches of powder uphill you can’t ever seem to get quite enough traction.
The industry has stuck with the Quick Release Dropout system that was invented all the way back to 1927. In all the 90 years since it’s invention the industry has still been unsuccessful at getting non-bicycle oriented people to be able to figure out how to use it properly. This has been the cause of countless lawsuits as the front wheels come right off over the first little bump from a poorly attached quick release and the lawsuits begin. Normal people just can’t seem to figure out the QR system. With the Through Axle system the wheel stays on even if the lever is not locked down properly, or at least is doesn’t quickly detach on its own.
What does this mean for the future of all hub motors. Right now the Through-hole system seems to only be found on really expensive bikes, but a lot of hubs that are standard dropout quick-release systems are being sold as ‘Through Hole Axle ready’ which means that wheel-set can easily mount on a through hole system with the proper shims.
One solution to the problem would be to cut away the bottom of the through hole axle holes so you could fit the motor in like a standard dropout then epoxy Dr Bass’s torque arms on either side. It would be hard to get it to align perfectly as the dropouts would be floating when they were epoxied, but if you put the axle on, wrapped the axle in saran wrap to keep the epoxy off it and tightened it down to about 1/5 of what you normally tighten an axle down and let it set I would bet that the alignment would be close enough.
Maybe I’ll be the first to try it and then I’ll post my results.
The trend towards through-hole axles is a disturbing one in the industry. Lets hope it fizzles out.