Gear Report: Homebrewed Components



 The drivetrain adds color to the otherwise paint-free bike.

Anyone who rides a single speed long enough will soon find themselves looking for replacement cogs and chainrings. I had since moved to a splined hub about a year ago and found swapping the rear cog to be much more friendlier. There is something about using a pipe wrench with a freewheel removal tool and a cheater bar that just left me feeling, let's say, over-torqued.

Now that I'm free of freewheels, I quickly went out and bought some rear cogs. Good, mostly round blue-collar cogs. They worked great, moved the chain forward one tooth at a time, yada yada. Not sexy, but they generally aren't supposed to be, right?  My long-termer Middleburn crankset from the UK never complained nor loosened but it was wearing out and it was looking iffy to spec another ring this side of the Atlantic anytime soon.

Sometime last October I'd glanced at a basic, photo-driven quarter page ad in Mountain Flyer Magazine (excellent quarterly!) from Homebrewed Components. This relatively new, circa 2009-2010) one-man machine shop offered chainrings for the Middleburn crankset so I was instantly intrigued and ultimately sold. Homebrewed's main picture was of a spiderless chainring for the Sram XO crankset. Unique.

The spiderless chainring that matches the Middleburn interface...
Now that's serving a niche market. Thanks HBC!


Using his easy-to-use dynamic Chainring Finder I quickly found my chainring/cog options for the Middleburn crank. I quickly got lost window shopping on the site and perused his bash rings and even read a tutorial on how to make your own chainring (which HBC was interviewed and published in Wired Magazine)

The only catch was the lead time...

Homebrewed Components (HBC) tries to fulfill orders in about 30 days but some orders ship out 45-60 days later according to online reports. I received my order about 45 days after the original purchase date. My credit card wasn't processed until the product shipped so it kept the financial side of things tidy.

My simple order of a replacement aluminum Middleburn ring (32t) and aluminum rear cog (18t) shaved about 21 grams from the Lynskey. Not much, but it all counts doesn't it? The rear cog alone knocked off 12 grams despite offering wider flanges to interface the freehub and prevent notching - which had already occurred as my old rear cog silently ate into the soft American Classic freehub body. Oh well...

HBC offers an anodized rainbow of colors for you to choose from. I opted for the 'safe' shiny / red theme on the Lynskey so I ordered some Red up. But the orange sure looks awesome, too. When I opened the US Mail package the shiny rings looked like jewelry. They were both perfectly round. The craftsmanship is also top-notch. Knowing they were made buy a single guy in his personal shop might classify them as bike jewelry. 'Merican-made to say the very least!

While the aluminum rear cog will wear much faster than titanium, you can
buy two for the price of one... I wanted some color so that sent me
over to the aluminum camp.


Not only do they does he offer aluminum rings but HBC also specializes in titanium and stainless rear cogs and titanium chainrings. Yes, they are more expensive ($105.00 avg) and are not available in any colors other than, er, titanium, but the rings will wear much, much longer than the more affordable $45.00 aluminum cogs. Color vs price vs longevity - oh, the problems of personalizing your bike. Better make a matrix chart and start analyzing.

The rings and cogs offer a narrow profile as I can attest: I unknowingly attached a 10 speed chain to the drivetrain and only discovered the error when the quick-connect wouldn't quickly disconnect... at all. Whoops. The 10 speed chain tracks beautifully over the teeth so I'd say his 3/32" tooth widths work just fine. Just remember to use a 9-speed chain with a quick-connect or a tried-and-true bombproof BMX chain.

I plan on ordering some more rear cogs in different sizes. I better order soon as I hear HBC continues to grow in popularity but is still a one-man shop. Think it through: If you want some functional bike candy for summer you'd better be dialing up your Internet radio signals and selecting your gear now.

The 'virtual' line is around the block leading to the door of this machine shop.

Highly recommended.

11 comments:

Cruiser said...

Great stuff --- another good post to read.

Justina said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences here on your blog.

Scott Sisamis said...

I ordered chain rings rom HBC over 5 months ago, I 've received one email saying that the rings were being shipped over a month ago but they never were, I've sent multiple emails with no response. Its the worst scam ever, I don't suggest that anyone should order these products, you are required to pay up front from which by the looks of it several people have and similariy have not received product or response. If anyone has delt with Dan and had success please contact me at ssisamis@gmail.com thanks

Anonymous said...

Total scam. Parts will not show up now. Tons of people are waiting for their parts and it has been 6+ months. He is totally MIA.

Anonymous said...

Been waiting 16 weeks and counting. I emailed, but have yet to receive an email back. I think I'm out $55 dollars. Please people, if you like your money, don't order from homebrew.

Anonymous said...

Same here. Several weeks ago I ordered. Several emails, no response!

Anonymous said...

Anybody have a phone number for HomeBrew Components? I ordered and paid for a chainring and its been 2 months now and I haven't received anything or gotten a reply via email.

Anonymous said...

I placed an order on 3/28/2012 and I haven't received any thing yet, including a returned email. I strongly disagree with the conclusion of the above article. Please don't give HBC your business. He's just stealing people's money.

Anonymous said...

Same story here... 24 weeks and counting. Dan Wilcox is a bad person to do business with.

Stay Away.

Anonymous said...

just gave up on this guy it's been over 4 months and no product I've been emailing him for a month now and no response. I hope I can get my money back from PayPal. I own a bike shop and if I ran my business like this guy I would go broke

seamonkey said...

I haven't checked back in awhile. I, too, was looking to reorder some chainrings but after all the mtbr discussion and long order completions or lack thereof, I guess it's time to steer clear of Homebrew until otherwise noted.

The product was top-notch but unfortunately I'm guessing he got crushed from too much business and not a good way to batch out 40+ ring variations.

My original order from this review took 5 weeks from order to delivery back in early 2012.