What is everybody opinion on premium hubs?

I wouldn’t either and it’s fair to mention the chasing bling aspect but they both offer some performance advantages over mid-range options. I wouldn’t suggest Shimano hubs for mountain biking, non-serviceable free hub and open cup and cone bearing system, neither of these are good things. XT wheels are still the only free hub failure I’ve experienced.

Still I won’t argue using a DT Swiss product *(star ratchet version) they are still the most bomb-proof mountain bike product I’ve ever used. For folks that don’t service their hubs, this is your option.

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I’ve never destroyed a road hub. I’m not that lightweight but I also ride a full squish MTB and tend to pick my lines well and ride smooth and don’t just slam into stuff because suspension, so never destroyed an MTB hub either.

Hopefully those are all valid excuses for not riding hard enough :rofl:

Side note: a buddy of mine has a newer bike with the Shimano XTR hub (I think) and it’s pretty cool that it doesn’t have any ratchet noise when you’re coasting. No idea on durability

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I have two sets of wheels with DT 350S hubs (gravel & road). They have been fantastic and they are around $150 cheaper than the 240S. I could care less about the tiny bit of extra weight. The bearings and internals are the same as the 240.

I think the 350 is a big step up from cheaper hubs like Bitex, Novatec, or similar. I don’t know if very expensive boutique hubs are worth the extra money but, you know, some people like bling or what they perceive as the best.

BTW, on both wheels I have the 18 tooth ratchet. On the road bike I never ever once thought that I wished I had more ratchet teeth. Very occasionally on the gravel bike I wish I had the quicker engagement but never enough to spend $100 on it.

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Side note: my road wheels are due for bearings. What’s a good steel bearing to go for? I need (2) of the 6803 and (2) of the 6902

Agreed, unless you do very technical climbing where you are doing very slight pedal ratchets then you probably won’t notice a big difference once you get under ~10deg of engagement. I noticed the difference when I went from ~19 POE to ~35POE but I doubt more than that would be worth a huge price increase

Seeing as a few people have aligned with my love of White Industries Hubs, if you really want to treat yourself, get a single speed and get one of their Freewheels.

Angry Bee’s
Pissed Cicada’s

Oh the sound… the Sound! :heart:

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I started with shimano, the deore/105 level, then ultegra/XT level. They’re fine, but:

  1. The cup and cone bearings leave the possibility of over tightening and eating out the cups, which cannot be replaced.
  2. The axles and freehubs couldnt be updated to thru axles or XD drives etc.
  3. they’re not light.

Then I went to Chris King

  1. You can upgrade the axles across some standards, but it’ll cost a ton of money to upgrade

Now I’m on DT Swiss

  1. I can swap from quick release to thru axle for cheap
  2. I can get different freehubs for cheap
  3. the bearings can be replaced and the ratchet mechanism too
  4. they are crazy common, so I’m more confident in a random bike shop on a trip away having the spares to fix them on the spot, and that cannot be said of CK or any of the other smaller brands or OEM hubs

I plan to use DT240 and DT350 hubs for all my rear hubs from now (or some of the OEM hubs that use DT internals. Some Rovals, some Bontragers, some Reynolds etc). For the front, I have some DT240 and 350s, but also a Stans’ Neo front, and they all take common bearings. So even though the front hub is pretty rare, it takes a super common bearing, so I can have that replaced if it goes out where ever I am.

My use of premium hubs is all about servicability, upgradability etc, not about feel/engagement or anything like that.

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I went from 36 to 54 POE DT Swiss hub on my MTB. I got the hub “for free” from my LBS when they damaged the original hub taking off the cassette (I can’t fault them; I wasn’t able to get the cassette off either).

Can’t say I notice a huge difference - maybe a slight benefit on technical climbs, but certainly not a “wow, this is awesome” reaction. Not sure I’d need any higher.

I like the simplicity of the star ratchet hub. These come in 36 and 54 POE. Anyone ever had to search around the garage floor looking for a pawl?

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I think they mean freewheel, but hub. And yeah that one gets loud and gunky…

Engagement - generally the slower you’re going the more it matters. If you’re climbing on a mountain bike up a steep hill while balancing, it matters. If you’re doing a TT, it doesn’t. On the road, it might matter if you’re trying to closely follow someone with a lot of variability.

Everything else - it’s hard to tell what you’re getting for your $$. Generally, all the magic is in the rear hub and even very very decent bearings are cheap. You can judge value for money by the cost of the front hub.

Are the very high priced hubs better than the value players? Lets break it down.

  1. Very low end hubs - Yeah, you should spend more money than $20. The flanges will break and the hubs/seals are junk.
  2. Low end hubs - $50-150/set (powerway / novatech / Formula / Bitex/ some other players) - These are generally fine. The bearings won’t last as long as some nicer ones, but these are generally fine. Weight is on par with the best. Super mass produced.
  3. Value hubs - $100 - 350/set (DT Swiss 350, Shimano) - These are great. Will be quieter or stronger than the above. Weight will be good but not great.
  4. High end hubs - $350+ - The usually add a lot of structural durability that helps the bearing survive, larger flanges for laterally stiffer wheels, bling, millions of unnecessary engagement points, some long story, funny noise… These are generally just a touch lighter than the above or a lot heavier.
  5. Wheelset/mfg specific hubs - $150- $700 (Zipp, Bontrager, DT Swiss, Mavic, Giant, Roval, etc) - These allow you to use fewer, but larger spokes. They may also be more aero or redesign /reverse the nipple/head.

For value bling - Circus Monkey, Koozer are common junk alibaba grade (but maybe good for that twice/year kids CX wheelset), Powerway and Bitex makes some anodized hubs for cheap, Acros and Hope in the midrange. Anodizing a line of goods to be a consistent, deep color is very very hard and expensive. Coming up with unique colors or particular colors is way more expensive, which is why you generally see just a few popular colors (silver, red, blue) then the same less popular (orange/gold & Purple) and never see hard to make colors in the primary lineup (gunmetal grey - hard to make random batches consistently (either one run or mass prod))

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Grade 3 would be the minimum. Grade 5 would be better. Grade 7 probably not worth the money.

I could have gotten them cheaper elsewhere; but, decided to go for a set of replacement bearings off eBay based on the hubs I have.

I’m a Chris King hub fan. Not the lightest by any means, but bullet proof. My old - 2001 vintage - road bike has a set of hubs that are as old as the frame, and they still are in amazing shape.

But then I go for longevity over weight every time. I tend to keep bikes and components forever, so reliability matters.

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If premium hubs offered a real performance benefit every WT team would be running unbranded Gokiso hubs.

It looks to me, that shimano road will go 12 speed sooner or later. I’m guessing that it’ll either be the shimano micro-spline freehub from mtb, or something similar. The fact that a DT240/350 (and a 370 if you want to upgrade that to star ratchet), will be upgradable if the freehub is no longer than 11-speed road or campag, should be a huge selling point.

My DT240 rear hub came with a 26 inch mtb set of wheels I got on ebay for $130. I sold the front wheel for $90 less ebay fees and bought the new axle for the DT240 to upgrade it to DT240S and be 12mm thru axle compatible. I also got the DT hub tools, so all in, probably did cost me $150 for that used rear hub with a 54t ratchet.

My DT350 rear, came as a 650B wheelset with a front wheel for $275 used 100 miles. I’m going to keep these a 650B wheels for my 2021 gravel bike purchase.

If you either build your own wheels, or have a builder who doesnt mind you bringing in whatever hub/rim and sometimes spokes you have, then used DT wheels/hubs can be had particularly cheaply if you take your time. For what I’m paying for DT240/350, I dont see any other reasonably light, reliable and upgradeable options. Now if I was going into the LBS and they said the DT240 rear hub is $400 and the front is $200, and then rims are $100 each for alloy, or $600 for carbon etc … then I’d be reconsidering my DT choices, as my bank account would complain.

My vote is for quality, which does not necessarily mean premium… Shimano for example makes very solid, reliable hubs that build up into a great wheel. If premium means some kind of boutique brand then choose wisely, even then they are not all created equal. Some brands favor light weigh, some engagement, some try to do both…

Personally, I built up my MTB with hope pro-2’s a few years back; I had several reasons. Build quality is top notch, they are user serviceable (as someone else pointed out even well after hope progresses their designs) and they are modular, so i can switch cassette type if I need/want to. (i hold onto my bikes for a long time, so being able to replace/update components is a valuable feature to me) The engagement is frosting on the cake, but not necessary, and I won’t lie, I love the sound. Note though, those last two are not needs, but wants.

Now, some may say the engagement helps when mountain biking… I don’t think it’s necessary, and this is coming from someone who does own and ride a pure trials bike with a high engagement front freewheel and everything. It makes sense when you are trying to pedal kick and a small adjustment of pedal position means cleaning a section or not. However, that kind of riding is not what 99.9% of people do when they go mountain biking, especially if you are talking XCO, XCM or any of the downhill disciplines. I’ve never dabbed on my XC bike because the engagement wasn’t there, others may have different experiences.

My bottom line, aim for quality of build and solid design. I’m not sure if Hope or DT qualify as “premium” if you compare the price tag to I9 or CK, but, they have well executed designs that are simple and reliable. They both spec quality bearings and while not cheap, they won’t break the bank. Again, they both offer pretty quick engagement, but I’m more worried about reliable engagement/function than fast engagement. Personally I’ll avoid ultralight designs, just too many compromises to the design to shave weight in a place where reliability is king (thin flanges, small bearings, poor bearing support, etc…).

Just my $0.02…

one more thought… worth noting that comp style trials bikes these days all run front freewheel designs and the hubs look like track hubs with fixed cogs (threaded and splined designs abound), and a souped up BMX style freewheel mounts to the cranks. The engagement on these freewheels is so tight that if you turn the wheel while the bike is in the work stand, the cranks spin and they do not freewheel, slipping engagement in trials will lead to a crash, so the designs are tuned accordingly. The street trials riders do still use in-hub freewheels, and in that realm hope’s dedicated trials hub dominates the market, with chris king in the running. In those applications both manufacturers opt for a steel free hub body to handle the loads.

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One premium feature everyone with multiple wheels should consider… DT Swiss’s ease of no-tool cassette swaps with your other wheels. As long as you have the same Star Ratchet type on two similar wheelsets, you can just quickly yank and flop a different cassette on to a wheelset. Fat road tires got a flat and need to use regular road wheel? plunk plunk ride. Going on a trip and want a bigger hill gear? plunk plunk… Three wheelsets and want to save $100 on a cassette? Put your road cassette on the trainer?

Reading this whole thread, I wanted to check if my rationale is right. I’m looking at building a new road (maybe one day gravel?) wheelset under $1500, and comparing the Novatec D411SB / D412SB and DT Swiss 240 EXP. I have a wheelset with 350s and like it fine but I wanted a lighter hub. I know 80g shouldn’t matter, but I can’t help myself. It’s a $400 difference between the two hubs.

Anyway, I’m light at under 150 pounds, and won’t ride in the rain, so it feels like the extra reliability on a more premium hub isn’t something that will be a big deal for me. My ftp is around 250 watts so while not bad for my size, not exactly a wattage monster.

Is that reasonable?

It wouldn’t be about the weight for me but moreso the reliability of the hub itself. If you are going to the trouble to build a wheelset then I’d personally spend the extra in order to avoid potential issues down the track. The 240’s are great hubs and you will likely have them for a very long time, spares are readily available and if you want to sell the wheels down the track then I’d suspect that they would hold better value than the Novatec’s.

There is also something to be said about potential downtime arising from issues within hubs. I’ve had two wheelsets with CK’s on them and serviced them once in 5 years and they looked brand new when they were serviced.

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If hub quality made a performance significant difference, every WT team would be using unbranded Gokiso hubs.