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When Shimano first introduced its 12-speed XTR mountain bike drivetrain, it did so with the forced use of a new freehub body design – Micro Spline. The design made engineering sense: the smaller diameter accepted a 10T cog, it offered more spline surface area than Shimano’s HG design in order to reduce the risk of cogs digging in or creaking, and it was a little more fool-proof than SRAM’s XD driver.
However, what didn’t make sense was that Shimano made it a closed design and only allowed itself and DT Swiss (whose hub internals are used by many wheel brands) access to the license. Since then, Shimano has trickled its 12-speed technology down to its XT and SLX groups, and demand for Micro Spline-compatible hubs has surely sky-rocketed.
While the likes of White Industries took a rebellious path in making a non-official Micro Spline-compatible freehub, other hub makers played the waiting game while the industry and consumers put pressure on Shimano to change tack. And thankfully Shimano listened.
First to make it a party were IndustryNine, shortly followed by Mavic, Newmen and more recently Fulcrum. And now it seems that Shimano is set to open the flood gates of Micro Spline options come the 1st of January 2020.
Hope Tech recently announced that the start of the new year will see them able to offer Micro Spline for its Pro 4 hubs. Additionally, the British company will offer freehub bodies for its Pro2 EVO hubs.
Chris King have long been vocal about having a design ready, but were not allowed to use it, and will finally be offering its latest mountain bike hubs with a Micro Spline option, too. Chris King’s Micro Spline driveshell will only be available for Boost (148 x 12 mm) and Super Boost (157×12 mm) hubs. Pre-existing ISO B hubs can be converted and the Portland-based company expects to have products ready for sale by the 31st of January.
Stan’s No Tubes and Hunt Bike Wheels have also been vocal about having their Micro Spline designs awaiting Shimano’s approval, and it’s expected they too will soon join the growing list. Micro Spline is set to become a popular item in mountain biking and it shouldn’t take a crystal ball to imagine it one day finding use on the road, too.