Hey there TR world, I just wanted to throw this out into the forum and see everybody’s opinions on premium hubs. Seems like all my friends are getting cool colored hubs but is there really significant performance benefit over OEM hubs? My friends all swear by the high engagement but I just think to myself “if those weren’t cool colors would you really know a difference”. I just noticed i9 makes the 1/1 for quite a bit less money than the shiny colored hydras which got me thinking about upgrading but still have no idea if its really worth at all. My current hubs have 24 P.O.E and I believe the i9 1/1 have 90 but am I really going to notice that? Would love to hear some people who run all types of hubs and the pros and cons of different brands and if it really is worth it.
Premium = better engagement, lighter, more durable, and usually easier to service.
My biggest gripe with OEM hubs is the short life span. I’ve blown up DT Swiss 370s multiple time in the last year, just switched to a set of 240s and am much happier. I much prefer the ratchet vs a pawl system .
I purchased a set of Chris king hubs for my last road bike wheel build, and the only advantage I see so far is customer service. At least for me, Chris kings customer service has been absolutely amazing. They are always willing to discuss a few things and help out with any spare parts you need. Outside of that, they aren’t much lighter and DT Swiss offers a 54 POE option, so YMMV.
I’ve got some Hope hubs that are from another millennium, old standards and QR, but I can still get spares.
Just on the rebuild factor and lifespan I’d get them again assuming budget allows for it, and in fact my last rear wheel purchase stretched the budget massively for a Pro 4.
It’s not going to make you faster but you’ll not be replacing them often which is also environmentally/money conscious.
I’m under the impression that engagement count is really only relevant to trials riding and very technical climbing. In other words, if you do a lot of quarter pedaling then you will notice a difference, quite a difference in fact.
I really like dt swiss 240s and 350. They just work, and the 240s are as light as anything out there. I9 does come in pretty colors, but from my experience from friends who own them, they arent quite as durable as DT. Kings last forever, come in plenty of colors, but are a little heavier and cost a tiny more. All three hubs are good, but DT is my pick.
When I purchased my Enve 5.6 they told me their hub was just as good as a Chris King one and way less maintenance. Was considering the latter but after calling them direct I went with Enve one and have been happy.
High-engagement hubs for maximum racket when coasting
White Industries T11 for road and wow!
So impressed that I’m getting the CLD for my Disc Wheels.
Worth every penny in terms of Value.
I second White Industries T11 hubs. I have them on a custom Boyd wheel set. They are excellent. Fantastic performance and easy to service. My next hand built wheel set will have WI T11 on them.
What’s all this hub maintenance you guys talk about? I have never in 8 years touched my hubs. My wheels spin without noise. Am I missing something?
Premium hubs go brrrrrr
I have a set of 2008 Chris King hubs on my old 2007 Yeti ARC. Those hubs might just be the best money I’ve ever spent, with regards to cycling. They’ve only been serviced once and to my mind, they still run flawlessly. If I were to ever have a custom wheel set again, I wouldn’t bother looking anywhere else.
Engagement is one of those things that we all have different tolerances for. Some people notice high engagement angles, others don’t. I definitely notice the “slack” in the cheaper Shimano hub on my winter bike for example but I struggle to feel the difference between the I9 Torch on my fat bike (3deg) and the Hope hubs, Pro 2 EVO and Pro 4, (8deg) on my other bikes.
Situations where you might notice it are when coasting then wanting to put power down, with large engagement angles you’ll get a short dead moment in the pedal stroke, the above “slack”, before the hub engages with a “clunk”, with low engagement angles you’ll still get that dead spot but it will be so small as to feel like the power is there immediately. A bit off-topic for here but for the fat bike when in snow you want really smoove power delivery so the higher engagement is better. The ultimate here are the Onyx hubs with their 0deg sprag system.
If there is a brrrrrr sound, isn’t that some friction (or ratchet) creating the noise.
‘sounds’ to me like wasted energy?
If you have the bike in a stand, the higher engagement hubs generally don’t let the wheel spin as long after pedaling (the more rapid engagement does create some extra drag and slows down the super duper lightweight wheels). However not sure this is something that really matters when there’s a rider on the bike actually moving
IMO, engagement (better engagement = you turn the cranks a smaller arc before the freehub engages) is meaningful for MTBs and maybe some gravel cyclists on that type of terrain. Otherwise, I ignore it. It doesn’t do anything for you. It doesn’t improve drivetrain friction. It doesn’t make you respond faster in most road situations.
With premium hubs, you could (in theory) be getting better bearings, so better bearing materials, better races, tighter tolerances. You would expect better tolerances on the hub side, maybe better bearing life. You could be getting better design of the hub. You are very likely getting better finish.
I have had one pair of super weight weenie premium hubs that were very light … and very short lived. So, poor design overall. It wasn’t the bearing quality, it was that the bearings were too small, so they could bear the load and they wore out too fast. I had another pair that was well designed, but the axles were aluminum. Unfortunately, with time, those axles got bent slightly, and that likely contributed to bearing wear. And even worse, the manufacturer went out of business, then Wheels Manufacturing bought the design and started to support the hubs, then they discontinued the hubs after maybe two years. Hopefully, hubs like that have generally died out.
I have had good experiences with OEM hubs (Novatec, in my case), and I know others have had good experiences with Novatec and Bitex. They definitely look less premium, but they are good quality at a good price. Now, not all iterations may be good quality. I think I’ve heard that some of the OEM hubs on Hunt wheels (those versions may have been off the shelf Novatecs) had poor tolerances, i.e. some people got lemons.
If you are thinking about this, do be aware that there might be a gray area between OEM and premium. DT Swiss can clearly be bought off the shelf as a premium hub. However, either their hubs or their hub internals are used as OEM equipment on relatively budget and premium wheels. Where it’s DT Swiss hub internals, I think the wheel company may be submitting their own designs to a third party manufacturer.
One of those things where if you don’t know, it’s not a big deal. I’ve been riding I9 hydra hubs for a while and now when I ride something else I notice it, the lack of instant engagement. Mostly important on the mountain bike but it’s even something I’ve noticed on the road bike that has a slower engaging hub, there’s a small dead spot that you really only notice in particular moments.
High engagement is really nice though, and if I’m building a set of wheels I’d go I9 first at this point. Not a fan of loud hubs either and when I mentioned this to I9 they recommended a DuMond Tech free hub grease that works amazingly well and quiets them a great deal. For the high drag remarks, these things spin faster and longer than even my tried and true DT 240 hubs do they nailed the holy grail. I was not a fan of their previous designs so I was skeptical of the newer design but it’s been really good for me.
My road wheels use DT Swiss Star Ratchet hubs (forget the exact model), they’re fine. My MTB wheels use Bontrager in-house hubs with their Rapid Drive system, they’re fine too. Personal opinion: expensive hubs are bling. There are plenty of “XT/Ultegra” level hubs out there that are plenty durable without the bling or fancy materials of premium “Dura ace” level hubs. If you get something cheap, it may fail, like a local guy I know who’s (proprietary) hub in his Prime wheels seemingly fell apart.
I wouldn’t buy wheels with cheap junk hubs, but wouldn’t go out of my way to spend more on a set just to have them say I9 or Chris King