1996 might have been one of THE most important years for Profile Racing. Two products were produced that would change the course of the brand’s history; One Iconic, One the harbinger of countless innovations over the years.
1996 was the birth of Profile Racing’s Imperial Sprocket.
Today, still, the most popular Profile sprocket to date: From the 44t in 1996, to the 25t in 2003, to the 33t in 2018.
The design was inspired by car rims on a low-rider truck seen in 1995. The first in our sprocket catalogue to use contoured milling, as Corey Alley states (as the designer), “I wanted to refrain from the design being too busy: simple and timeless.”
And timeless is what it remains.
In its inception, the Imperial was available only in high polished. In sizes 39t through 46t. Although we’ll get into its variations in size, color and material over the years, the base design has NEVER changed.
AND, most importantly, 1996 saw the renaissance of a cassette hub into the world of bmx.
After an almost 10 year hiatus (from Profile’s Gyro-Lite Hubs), the factory brought back a High Flange Freewheel hub with a much newer aesthetic. The initial prototype is below, named “The Kegger” (appropriate for it’s shape). Although The Kegger never went into production, it’s basic aesthetic would alter into Profile’s Iconic, Dimpled/Scalloped hub design.
The Profile Racing High Flange Freewheel Hub was born.
BUT! Soon after our High Flange freewheel hubs went into production, Corey Alley brought several Spring/Pawl design ideas to the table (some from the MTB/Road industry and some design aspects from a VERY early 80’s bmx cassette hub that never caught on).
With wizard skills, a medley of arcane ideas were mixed into the Profile cauldron. And conjured from that stew, the High Flange Freewheel hub was modified into the first Bmx Cassette hub.
What were the advantages of a cassette hub versus a Freewheel hub?
- Much easier (and less expensive) to switch cogs/gearing than having to switch a whole freewheel.
- Use of sealed bearings instead of loose ball bearings: a much more durable option. *Noted: Though now we make a sealed bearing freewheel.
- Lighter in overall weight.
The original internal design was much the same as they are in 2018, with the exception of the driver being a 3 Spring/3 Pawl (today, ours is a 4/4 (Mini) and a 6/6 (Elite)) and it being in two pieces.
Seen here is the second version of the 2-piece, OG driver. Unlike the 9t nor the cog drivers of today, the 2-piece design had one threaded section specifically to hold the springs and pawls, and a second thread-on section that would hold the proprietary Profile Cog and lock ring.
Over time, and with better machining and tooling, this driver design became one-piece.
Although there have been numerous axle, hub shell, color and spacing options over the past 22 years, the basic concept of the Profile Cassette hub (it’s spring and pawl mechanism) has not changed.
Why fix what’s not broken?