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Bont Generation 3 (Gen 3) 100mm Inline Speed Skate Wheels: That Clicking Sound Could Be the Hubs Cracking, Breaking & Shredding

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Just at the end of the Friday "Lonely Hearts Skate" at Country Park with timv the night before the Tour de Lions, I had noticed an odd clicking or rubbing sound coming from my frames, I thought. When I got home I took a quick look but that doesn't always mean much when it's me looking and I'm distracted happily. As we got ready for the Tour de Lions the next morning there was no noise for a few minutes but I heard it just as everyone was getting ready to roll out and I was taking photos...I asked my pals about it and nobody could tell what was up, but that was in a hurry and Fred said "It's time!" and we all took off to forget it for a while. As we hit the road all seemed good. I was taking hundreds of photos as the cyclists were breezing by, and after a while I noticed higher than usual heart rates and average heart rates, which means of course that I'm going out too fast. But I had been strong lately, well trained, so we thought something else was up, and eventually the subject came up of the odd noise beforehand. Maybe that was why I was not doing as well compared to others I had been skating well with over the last few weeks. Any excuse will do. Usually it's that I got 3 hours of sleep. Then we got to a slightly tricky downhill, not too fast, but with a switchback left to make, requiring some braking. That was when I heard the clicking sound, and I didn't fully apply the brake as a result, but just went past the switchback intersection and turned around. No big deal. We stopped for a second and took another look, not really thinking about it being what it eventually turned out to be. So back on the road we went, me feeling bad for holding things up, having a high heart rate, and all that. I thought I was rested enough and in good shape. What's up? We hit another downhill and I was having fun, out front by a dozen feet at least, feeling great. Then I heard the clicking sound again and this time I knew it was a wheel problem, not a frame or GatorBrake frame alignment mix up. So we stopped again. That's when we all took a really close look and found that the hubs of the Bont Generation 3 (Gen 3, Gen Three) had cracked, and in some cases split completely with visible gaps. I took the fourth wheel out and put the third wheel in the fourth slot with my axle in the third slot for stability. It was all good. Bont Generation 3 (Gen 3) Inline Skate Wheel with Cracks and Breaks in the Hub at Tour de Lions 2009Bont Generation 3 (Gen 3) Inline Skate Wheel with Cracks and Breaks in the Hub at Tour de Lions 2009 (At this point, JonathanS and MikeB should have just sprinted off and had a fun, fast day, but they stuck with us a long time! I was still toast for a long time as I tried to get my average back to a sustainable figure.) We finished the day fine and I put an alternate wheel on a few days later and went skating. Silly optimist (OK stupid lazy skater), I had not really noticed that almost all of the other wheels had cracks in them. As I finished my last lap for a particular day, one wheel started clicking, and this time, it completely came apart just as I arrived at my car! Wow! I had assumed that there was just a bad wheel, but in my opinion, this is a faulty hub design. Compared to the old Hyper Hyperformance +G hubs, these are thinner and more sculpted looking. Compared to the Gen 4 hubs, I've heard the Gen 3 are a bit thinner. Others who are lighter in weight than myself (and I'm still well within a reasonable weight expectation for a skater on 100mm wheels) have had cracks and splits in their Bont Gen 3 hubs. It's too bad, because I thought the Bont Gen 3 wheel was a good value and a very good value as prices go these days. As it stands, I might still try the Gen 4 sometime, but they are a good deal more expensive. After at least one other problem with Bont wheels (out of round) a few years back, and back then hearing other problems from others, I thought the Gen 3 were very good. But now I have to say I don't think they're designed to hold up to long distance roadskating. Your experience may vary and I welcome your comments. As for me, I miss the old Hyper Hyperformance +G and Mach 2. Even if someone proved these not as fast, I never never never had any problem with any of the hubs breaking down over the years. So if you have Bont Gen 3 (Generation Three) wheels, my advice is to take them off. Use your own judgment (I prefer judgement), but at very least examine them carefully and often to make sure you don't do what I did...trust that wheels are designed so the hubs simply do not crack or split. I certainly have nothing against Bont, and it's my fault I didn't see the cracks earlier and didn't make the connection that several wheels would probably have cracks if one did. But these are the obvious after the fact conclusions that we make after an accident, or a near accident, when hindsight and logic are so easily construed.
Bont Generation 3 (Gen 3) Wheel with All Spokes of Hub Broken at the Thinnest Sculpting Point

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