Handbuilt Bicycle News


White Industries

Aaron Allen

Monday 11 April 2016

White Industries: Petaluma, California's finest

White Industries is a family business from California that makes beautifully polished, smooth rolling and durable components.

White Industries: Petaluma, California's finest
Photo: White Industries

White Industries, current kings of gleaming polished silver, in my opinion, have been manufacturing bicycle components since 1978 in Northern California.  We took a factory tour with Alec White, son of company founder Doug White.

One aspect of the visit I really enjoyed was the family feel. For example, I’ve ordered hubs and other goodies from Lynette Toepfer hundreds of times over about 15 years as a retailer, but we never met face to face. She’s been with the company for 23 years. Now that there are two generations running the show there, you just get a sense of pride and history you don’t often find.

The facility itself is lean and mean. When you have decades of experience and a talented crew, you can manage a very efficient process. As someone who has actually worked in a couple of different factories as a young man, I tend to nerd out on machinery and process. White’s got a good thing going over there. In fact, one part of the factory tour couldn’t be photographed which means we’ll see some new goodies very soon. Be excited!

The hubs White makes are famously smooth rolling and have very little friction from the freewheel mechanism in the rear hub. The bearings are smoother and stay that way longer than a lot of hubs costing quite a bit more. There’s no ceramic bearings here either. I asked Alec how they do it, and of course “Can’t Tell you” was the first answer. He went on to explain the secret really lies in great design and refining the process. The way the hubs are built, it’s actually almost difficult to overload a hub bearing. Couple that with increasingly tight tolerances over the years, and you’ve got pretty much the perfect hub. White actually uses some pretty hi-tech tools to continue refining their process, including a Zeiss Coordinate Measuring Machine, that may only be of interest to the super tool nerds out there. If you’re not a tool nerd, know this, it measures super tiny things and is integral in their quality assurance.

White Industries CLD hubs  Photo: White Industries

White makes an extremely wide variety of different hubs for road, mountain, track, singlespeed and plenty of options therein. The Centerlock Disk (CLD) hubs were of personal interest; they tick all the boxes: lightweight, buttery bearings, durable and super easy to service … one tool and you can do pretty much anything aside from replacing all bearings. They’re gorgeous, and yes, I did pick up a pair of polished silver CLD hubs for a new build.

White doesn’t stop at hubs, they’ve got bottom brackets and cranks as well as super solid freewheels. They also make a totally unique crank and freewheel pairing known as the Double Double. These folks make awesome equipment for nearly every discipline from high performance road all the way to the Double Double. Give these guys a look if you’re looking for anything drivetrain related, they’re some good folks making darned fine products.