|The Snow Dog with the original rear wheel.|
After only two rides, I knew something was seriously wrong, however; the next day was my birthday, and I was bound and determined to ride the bike on my birthday, January 23rd, and then I would send the hub, or complete wheel in for servicing. That last ride was a doozy! The hub was really, really bad.
I looked at the cassette and ring gear before sending it off. One of the pawls wasn't engaging at all, while the ring gear was absolutely torn up. I knew at this point that the wheel would either have to be torn apart, or the whole wheel would need to go back to Phil Wood for servicing. I e-mailed Phil Wood on January 24th, and cordially told them about my issues.
I got a reply January 26th with a return authorization number, address, and a promise they would get to the wheel as soon as possible. I sent the wheel off that day, and on February 4th, got a message that servicing was complete, and the wheel would be coming back to me.
|Ben Witt's loaner wheel worked perfectly.|
On February 10th, I got the wheel back. I sent a thank you e-mail to Phil Wood and Co, and then got to swapping out wheels. I was going to ride the Snow Dog to work and see how they did on the warranty work. Phil Wood's invoice showed they replaced the free hub and ring gear. No charge. I was stuck with the shipping bill out only.
Unfortunately, the very next day I had to send Phil Wood another e-mail in which I wrote the following:
"Once again, I wanted to compliment you on you and your teams quick service. However; the hub is still failing.
I went to work and back on the bike today, a round trip of 10 miles, and the hub engagement was making noises and I could feel the vibrations through the cranks. It seems after every time I coasted, it would almost always "pop" loudly after the first revolution, and every so often, in the middle of pedaling. Once the crank freely rotated a half a revolution, as if the pawls slipped again, like last time.
I counted 24 instances of loud popping noises just on my return trip home, which is approximately double the amount from the morning trip into work.
It is my opinion that this hub will fail again completely.
Just to cover everything: I did not touch the hub other than to install the tire, tube, rotor and cassette last evening. It also should be noted that I have been riding Ben Witt's rear wheel, (a blue anodized Phil Wood hub), on the bike for the last week plus, and it has never made a single peep, or acted anything other than normal. So, that eliminates anything to do with the rest of the bike. It definitely is an issue with this particular hub.
I can not trust this hub. I am going to cease riding it immediately."
I got a response the same day:
"Gadzooks!! That is certainly a first since I've been servicing hubs at Phil Wood. I don't blame you
for your disappointment. I too feel your pain. I will speak to the upper management on how we are
going to rectify the issue for you unfortunately it will not be until Monday as everyone has pretty much
left for the weekend. Hang tight and I will get back with you ASAP on Monday."
|Happier days with Ben's wheel|
That was a Friday, the 11th, and on the 14th, I got a message saying that they would send out a shipping label to get the wheel back to me, and a promise that their engineering department would be taking a look at the issue and making sure it never happens again.
Well, Frostbike was happening that next weekend, and I also had to return Ben's rear wheel, so he could get his bike up and running. When I got back, I packed up the wheel again, and sent it off. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the U.S.P.S. label Phil Wood sent out to cover the shipping:(from my e-mail to Phil Wood dated 2/23/11
"I received the shipping label here Saturday while I was gone at Frostbike. I got the wheel off to you finally today.
A couple of things of note:
1: The wheel was sent intact, as instructed by you.
2: The shipping label, a Priority Mail one, had a value of seven dollars and change. The local Post Office told me that in order to send the wheel to you Priority Mail in the box I had to pack it in would cost $72.00. I had them change it to regular post, which cost me $15.00 and change. I now am out approximately $60.00 in shipping the wheel to you twice.
3: I tested the wheel one last time before pulling it down, static, while seated, I could get it to pop loudly, as if the pawls were not fully engaging, several times."
I also went on to say that I didn't think I could ever trust that particular hub, and requested that they swap out for a completely new one.
That's been the last time I saw my wheel......
On March 16th, I sent a followup e-mail asking for a progress update. The next day I received an answer telling me free hub bodies were not available from their supplier and that they should be showing up "next week" , and that they would be keeping me informed as to the progress on the matter.
On April 20th, I sent an e-mail again, since I had heard nothing from Phil Wood in the ensuing 33 days since my last communication with them. I simply asked for an update. On April 21st, I received the following:
"Well, unfortunately the free hub bodies are STILL on back order from our
supplier. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will see them next
week. I will let you know as soon as I see them hit the door."
On May 23rd, after hearing nothing for 32 days, I simply fired off this; "What's the latest?" I got the following reply....
" We just received the back ordered freehub bodies from our supplier.
Our hub/wheel is currently being inspected by our engineering department
per their request just to double check that everything is within spec in order
to prevent any further issues in the future. From what they tell me they should
be finish with the inspection by Friday at which time will ship the wheel back
to you right away."
Well, as of this writing, on June 27th, I have neither received the wheel back, nor heard from Phil Wood and Co. Now I have pretty much lost all faith in the situation. While I may get the wheel back at some point, I have purposed to move along, since there isn't really any way at this point that I (a) would want to run a Phil Wood hub, and (b) I can't trust this company.
I post this as my story to those who went out of their way to make the Snow Dog possible for me, and to let anyone who might be wondering what happened with this situation know what has went down. I am not a person who wishes to "bring Phil Wood and Co. down", or "get revenge" for this situation by putting out any negative spew about the company. It is what it is. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is bad customer service.
Finally, I want to make it clear that this hub was something I purchased with my own money. I wasn't given the hub, and it wasn't a review/test deal for Phil Wood. It was an honestly purchased hub for my personal use.
Where am I going from here? Well, as I understand it, a matched set of snow bike hubs is due out later in the fall from a company I do trust, which I may wait for. If that looks like it might be delayed, I will have to pursue other options, but for now, that's the sad story of the Snow Dog and the Phil Wood hub.
Now ya know....