Throwback Thursdays: WTB Way Wide (or Extra-Wide) front Grease Guard Hub

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The Grease Guard Way Wide front hubs, also known as Extra-Wides as there had been standard, wide, and extra wide options were pretty special.  For one thing, the name was no joke.  They were 118 mm wide.  Keep in mind current front dropout / fork dropout spacing is 100mm today and that 20mm through-axle forks stretch to 110mm, which sadly have seemed to become passé though I'm quite excited to see Fox bringing it back with the new 36 fork.  These Way Wides (or Extra, Extra-Wides) were a whopping 118, that's huge.  Just look at how quickly the spokes have to sharply angle inward to meet a 26" rim:

The owner of this lovely wheel, who will remain anonymous, proudly rides his rad gear as it was designed to be ridden, which is why I left the dust on there - these are not mantel-only parts for show, they've spent plenty of Tam time.

So what did it do?  Well, the increased width of the hub and angling to the spokes added compliance on rigid forks during its reign.  More bend and you almost build suspension into the wheel.  Then there was the lateral aspect to it.  Wider makes for more triangular, making for stronger support against lateral loads - more resistant to twisting forces, stiffer when steering or leaning over the front wheel.  Stiff in a good way, compliant in a good way.  So what happened?

Forks happened, specifically suspension forks.  They tightened up that front waistline, tucked things in, made them narrow.  Everybody wanted front suspension, nobody ever looked back, the narrow front standard had been set.  Plus, you needed a wider fork to accommodate these wider hubs making for another specific piece of equipment, so it never gained the momentum it could have.  But now with fat bikes coming out with wider front wheels, the RS-1 fork coming equipped with its own hub... who knows.

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