Hub flanges: The unsung heroes of wheels

Hub flanges are often overlooked but are perhaps the most important components of a wheel. Widely understood and incorrectly mistaken as simple metal discs that hold the wheel together, these flanges are in fact invaluable for proper wheel operation.

What are hub flanges? They’re the most basic component of a wheel’s engineering and are located at either end of a wheel’s axle. Made from steel or aluminium, the flange act as the most simple connection point between the wheel and the axle.

Of course, flanges can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses. Generally, the specific design and materials of a flange depend on the type of wheel it’s used in. Automotive, aerospace and industrial wheel designs, for instance, all have very different appearance and function from a wheel you might see on a bicycle.

Although the actual design of flanges differ from one wheel to another, their main purpose remains constant. hub flanges provide necessary rigidity to the wheel when spinning rapidly or under excessive load (think of excessive drag forces, for example). Because flanges are attached to the axle, they effectively bear the brunt of these forces and provide the wheel with the necessary stability it needs to perform optimally.

One of the biggest advantages of having flanges is that they reduce the risk of wheel bearing failure. Given their location between the wheel and the axle, the flanges provide an extra layer of protection. The flanges absorb any shock or sudden stop that the wheel may experience, reducing the pressure on the rest of the wheel’s components.

Additionally, flanges also perfectly bridge the gap between the axle and the wheel. When creating a wheel, it’s important that there’s no gap between the two, otherwise the wheel can suffer from serious performance issues when rotating. Flanges are able to completely fill in this gap, facilitating perfect contact between the axle and the wheel.

Overall, it small components like hub flanges that make wheels the reliable pieces of engineering that we know today. From protecting hubs from excessive load and providing extra stability to filling in the gaps between the wheel and axle, flanges are truly the unsung heroes of wheels. They’re the indispensable small part that has made sure that wheels have been able to keep us moving for hundreds of years.

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