Tom is a patient guy. He actually ordered this wheelset mid January. The delay? Alchemy Bicycle Works had run out of the wonderful Alchemy Orc rear hub. They weren’t producing more since the new Orc UL (ultra-light) rear hub was due out soon. So he waited.
I must say, it was well worth the wait! The Orc UL had its work cut out. Trying to be ‘better’ than the Orc wouldn’t be easy. Would the planned 30g weight loss leave it weaker, less stiff? I’m happy to say that the answer is no. So much so that Alchemy’s Jeremy announced that there would only be one Orc, the new Orc UL. 194 grams. Strong, light, ingenious.
The new Orc UL has managed to achieve two impressive and paradoxically simultaneous improvements over the original Orc hub: It has made it stiffer while making lighter. 30 grams lighter. As a result there’s a few unique features of the Orc UL. First, and visual is the body is leaner, straighter, and extends further out the non-drive side, allowing the axle bearings to be further apart. Next, while not visible on a built hub, the hub shell on the drive side extends in behind the free hub body.
The free hub body is now hard anodized, as indicated by the signature sandy bronze of a hard anodized alloy. The pawls are as stiff as before, but smooth and engage quickly thanks to strong pawl plate springs and 36 teeth for the three large pawls to snap in to.
Like the original Orc, the Orc UL features a signature fifth bearing that is pressed over the free-hub body, into the shell, with then a top sealing aluminium ring pressed over that. The result? A fully sealed and contamination impervious pawl chamber that promises miles of trouble free use.
More details can be found on Bike Rumor’s First Look: Alchemy Orc UL article.
At 1240g, this wheel set is about 30 grams lighter than the previous exact build using the Alchemy Orc. The front ELF hub remains unchanged for 2013. It’s difficult to imagine improving upon the ELF. At 66g it is light enough without losing its excellent bracing angles, and large bearings. I doubt it would be a good return on investment to try to make the ELF lighter. If Jeremy at Alchemy did, it would be a specialty hub, and not the lightweight workhorse the ELF is.
The Stan’s NoTubes remain unchanged save for a minor decal upgrade and some clarity (finally) from Stan’s NoTubes in terms of recommended tensions for this rim. In the past, they’d specified very low tension resulting in a weak wheel, if you didn’t simply ignore their advice, which I did on several occasions, after some experimenting.
Tom ought to feel the lift of a pound or more off his road bike, putting his Bontrager wheels aside for the summer in favour of these beauts. Enjoy, Tom!