Review by Sean "Griz" McClendon // Action photos by Ian Collins
Profile Racing’s humble roots began in 1968, as a race car chassis shop based in New Jersey. Fast forward a few years and the company made the transition to BMX when the founder's children got hooked on racing. In 1979 the brand created their tried and true three-piece BMX cranks, which continue to set the standard for the industry 'til this day. In the mid-1990s, Profile Racing got its start in mountain biking, offering hubs, cranks and even chainrings. More recently, they introduced the Profile Elite MTB hubs, building off the proven performance found in their BMX line.
Regardless of wheel size, riders equipped with Profile Elite hubs are often regarded as "bad dudes." Why is that, you ask? Because it sounds like a swarm of killer bees is making sweet love to a rattlesnake whenever a pimp rolling on Profile Elite hubs zips through a line. Naturally, riders capable of handling the attention from others are attracted to riding Profile Elite hubs. Consequently, haters are going to hate. Not afraid to mount up a pair, we took to the hills to see what all the buzz was about.
Elite MTB Hub Highlights
- QR, 10x135mm bolt-on, 12x135mm, 12x142mm, and 150x12 rear hubs
- QR, 10mm bolt-on, 15mm, and 20mm front hubs
- 6-pawl, 204-point engagement freehub
- Tall, 59mm flange diameter
- 6-bolt ISO disc mount (non-disc front hubs also available)
- 32/36 hole
- 9/10-speed cassette body
- Weights: 150mm rear - 352 grams, 20mm front - 189 grams
- Available in black, blood red, purple, blue, polished, gold, aqua, and green
- MSRP: 150mm rear - $449.95, front - $206.95
"Gordon Bombay! Man, I hate the Mighty Ducks," said our internal dialogue upon opening the highly anticipated Profile Racing box. Purple combined with the distinct buzz from the Profile Elite Hub was sure to bring attention. Good thing we can handle it.
Twisting the cassette body rang like music to our ears. Inside the freehub, six pawls are arranged in three pairs, with each pair offset slightly. Each pair engages the 68-tooth ring in turn, giving a total of 204-points of engagement (that's just 1.76-degrees of rotation between clicks). Engagement feels incredibly crisp in your hands with no delay.
We laced up our hubs to DT Swiss FR600 rims with DT Swiss spokes and gold nipples in an effort to disassociate from the Mighty Ducks and associate with Kobe and the Lakers. The flanges are tall and centered providing the foundation for a laterally stiff wheel. Sliding a well-greased rear axle into the hub felt like precision, and the front hub feels as snug as the rear. Any machinist would drool over the precise tolerance and post-anodization engraving that brands this manufacturing masterpiece. Bringing it all together, the "Made in USA" aspect wound us up to get out on the trail.
On The Trail
All of the sudden, our Giant Glory test sled felt like she was gliding. Right away we noticed how smooth the bearings roll in the Profile Elite Hubs, and coasting speed seemed to increase.
With 204-point engagement, getting power through the pedals to the rear wheel is immediate, and the only delay we noticed came from our chain tensioning ever so slightly with each pedal stroke. It's a pretty odd sensation at first, but you quickly begin to appreciate the ability to get power to the ground fast, especially on a downhill bike where pedal strokes have to be well-calculated to avoid spiking rocks. For comparison, most rear hubs have just 24-points of engagement, meaning you have to ratchet the hub up to 15-degrees before power is actually being transferred. With the Profile Elite Hubs, having that crisp delivery of power is confidence inspiring while maximizing energy efficiency. Talk about a win/win situation.
The distinct buzz from the Profile Elite Rear Hub is loud (very loud), which is a characteristic that is either loved or hated. We love it. "That hub sounds crazy" is the most common response with the occasional "that sound would drive me crazy." Nevertheless, tuning into the distinct buzz gave us a newfound connection with rear wheel speed. Advanced riders with flow will enjoy developing new techniques. For example, utilizing a nose press to increase rear wheel speed with a half-crank or full-crank while the rear wheel is off the ground – as the tire returns to the ground an added burst of acceleration occurs. If your buddy was there to film it, you’ll get a sweet shot that sounds cool and kicks up dust or whatever soils you’re working with. We found this technique to increase flow through cresting sections of trail and occasionally exiting corners.
Lateral wheel stiffness is impressive thanks to the tall, centered flanges and short spoke length. We were unable to get the hubs to fail, malfunction or worse. Every ride ended with a grin. In fact, the dust seals do an incredible job of sealing bearings from the elements keeping the ride smooth. Those in the know understand what a pleasure Profile hubs are to ride.
Things That Could Be Improved
The retail price tag may be unattractive to the baller-on-a-budget. That said, a quick test ride would twist your arm and probably convince you to boost the American economy. With high-end complete wheelset prices hovering in the $900+ dollar range, they're still competitive, however, even when laced up to some nice rims. Also, these aren’t the lightest hubs around, but they feel strong, look the business, and the performance is nothing of impressive.
Long Term Durability
Simply bomb proof. That's that. In several months of testing we've had zero issues.
Built with pride and precision in Florida and backed by a 30-day manufacture's defect warranty, if they’re not perfect you’ll know right away and Profile stands to make it right. If for some reason they break, Profile extends a crash replacement program with discounted rates on parts. Also, the hubs are assembled with specific tools – like a bearing press – that most of us don’t have, so Profile recommends sending parts to them for a rebuild if and when needed.
What’s The Bottom Line?
A level of prestige accompanies any product that is made in the USA, and Profile Racing's Elite MTB Hubs are no different. Considering alumni riders like Aaron Chase, Kyle Strait, and Chris Powell - mountain bikers with a background in BMX or riders that take pride in their equipment will thoroughly enjoy the Profile Racing hub experience. They’re not the lightest hubs around, but they offer a great strength-to-weight ratio, incredible engagement, and durability that's proven to be second to none in our tests. If you’re required to ride downhill trails with a bell on your bike, you’ll have additional forewarning with the distinct buzz of killer bees on your side. Are they expensive? Yes. Will they last a long time? From what we've seen, that's a definite yes, which is why we have no qualms backing them with a 5-star rating.
Visit www.profileracing.com for more info.
About The Reviewer
Sean "Griz" McClendon is back, ladies and gentlemen. Following a major crash during the 2010 USA National Championship Pro downhill race, he put in the hours and fought his way back to health and the fun that is two wheels. Griz has ridden for a number of the USA's top teams throughout his racing career, testing prototype frames and components along the way. Motivated by the mantra "whips don't lie," you'll often find him perfecting his high-flying sideways aerial maneuvers while living the #pinelife.