Hubs are a bike component that most of us don't really give a second thought too once they've been laced into the rims. Industry Nine are known for being at the upper end of the price spectrum, but are they worth it? We covered around 3800 miles so far in all conditions on the hubs in just over 2 years.
It's pretty much impossible to get excited about how a hub looks. For the outside they look pretty much identical to every other hub. We got them in the only colour a hub should ever be, black.
Internally the freehub has 6 nice looking pawls and 120 points of engagement. The pawls are reengaged with a very tiny spring, one of which pinged out never to be seen again the first time we disassembled the hub.
The I9s have a very distinct sound, and at full chat sounds like an angry swarm of mosquitoes. It's much higher pitched than on a DT Swiss or Hope rival. LiveFreeandShred have a good video on Youtube below:
Our previous hubs were silent, and whilst at first it was a fun novelty zooming about the trails like an aggrieved insect we ended up finding it annoying, and a bit "look at me!".
Luckily the noise could be all but removed by packing the freehub full of marine grease. This might add a small amount of drag, but it reduced the noise dramatically, as well as helping seal the hubs against the elements.
The engagement of the free hub is very impressive, push down on the pedals and there is zero delay before power is transferred to the wheels. Other than that, there isn't much else to say about a hub!
Industry Nine have some great support videos and documents on their website which made life easy when it came time to service the hubs. We really liked that the axle is used as a tool to remove the outer bearings, meaning no special tools are required. Nice one.
After losing one of the pawl springs, getting a replacement was quick and easy, another plus point.
Once the hub is disassembled its easy to gain access to the bearing covers to remove them and repack the bearing with grease. All in all, we score the I9s highly on serviceability.
With a pricey product such as this, we would hope for a high level of reliability and trouble free use. After around 5 months we noticed that the rear driveside outer bearing had developed play. We used the bike for another few weeks before it became more serious and then replaced the bearing. As the hub was still fairly new we were worried that this was going to be a common occurrence , but are pleased to say that since that we've only had to regrease the bearings with marine grease every 6 months or so. There is no play in the hubs, and everything is still running smoothly.
We don't use pressure washers on our bikes often, but we do ride in all conditions, all year round in the UK and have been very impressed with how the Torch's have held up. We expect to get a lot longer out of the bearings before any more need to be replaced.
There's no getting around the fact that the Torchs are an expensive luxury. A hub half the price might not have quite the same points of engagement and distinctive sound, but they aren't going to make you any slower than having the I9s attached to your bike.
The fact that they have proven to be reliable - and we rate this to a certain degree over out right performance - still makes the price hard to swallow. We can't really fault the Torch on its robustness, that said, we've only had major issues with very low end hubs, the difference between the mid-range and top end hubs in the mountain bike world seems minuscule.
We don't have anything to complain about with the Torchs, other than the price, but would we buy them again? Probably not. Would we be pleased if they came specced on a bike we were buying? Yes.