HQ Tour: Wheel and hub maker Kappius Components
In the ultra competitive arena of high-end cycling wheels, Brady Kappius sees his company’s target customer as the rider seeking the best all-around experience. They want a high-end product that’s lightweight and works well, the complete package if you will. And that’s just what Kappius Components says it’s selling.
“Whether its hubs, rims or complete wheelsets, we feel like we have that whole package,” said Kappius during Mtbr’s visit to the small company’s headquarters just north of Boulder, Colorado. “Right now we’re still just getting our name out there as a viable option on the high end. But we certainly feel like we can compete with companies like ENVE and Zipp on the rim side, and DT Swiss on the hub side.”
Indeed, improving hubs is where Kappius Components got its start. The genesis came in 2009, when Rus Kappius (Brady’s father and company co-owner) was out on the trail with some buddies. One of those buddies suffered a catastrophic hub failure and had to walk out. Kappius decided there had to be a better way, and when he got back home he started sketching ideas.
The elder Kappius felt the cycling industry was building hubs with inferior technology. So he concocted what he believed to be the optimal hub design, checked to see if it would violate any patents, and then started building prototypes in his garage in south Denver. That led to the KH-1, Kappius’ first generation hub. It worked well, but required significant buy-in to the Kappius system, because you actually had to machine away portions of your cassette in order for it to interface with the KH-1 hub.
The obvious next step was a more user-friendly offering, which led to development of the KH-1.5 and KH-2. These hubs took the benefits of the KH-1, but allowed for a standard cogset interface via a simple slip-fit system But the real selling point in all cases is performance. Utilizing 240 points of engagement, Kappius hubs aim to drastically reduce the lag time between pedal stroke and forward momentum.
“On your mountain bike think of a super techy climb with a rock garden or water bars, a slow grind in your easiest gear,” explained the younger Kappius, who besides serving as company president and sharing engineering duties with his father, is a top domestic pro ’cross and mountain bike racer. “That easy gear is where engagement is magnified the most. You are coming into a rock garden and have to coast for a second because otherwise you’ll hit your cranks. If you have a high engaging hub you’ll get back on the power and get the bike moving again without missing a portion of your pedal stroke, and thus not losing momentum. It’s similar in cyclocross. You’ll engage faster out of corners and get back on the gas.”
These features don’t resonate as much on the road, so Kappius says the company focus for now is on the cyclocross and mountain bike market.
“We fell like the hub is a neglected piece that people don’t think about,” added Kappius. “But there is a lot that goes on in there, so we are trying to tell our story of how hubs can increase your ride experience via the engagement. If you have the 240 points we offer versus the usual 18 from another brand, you will feel it when you ride. But you really need to ride one to see the difference.”