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Old 09-16-10, 06:23 PM   #1
cappuccino911
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what makes a hub good?

I need to get wheels and I'm mulling so many options that my head is spinning. What makes a hub good? In some literature I've read its made to sound like duraace, ultegra, and 105 hubs are almost identical except for price of course! What is it that makes one hub better than another?
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Old 09-16-10, 06:31 PM   #2
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Polishing material choices and machining processes ..

Work the other way around what do you want the bike for?
and how much do you have to spend?
all those are road bike wheel hubs..
and only ones made by one corporation, Shimano ..

get the least costly it will do fine ..

the Shimano hubs for off road riding add another rubber seal around the axle .

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Old 09-16-10, 06:34 PM   #3
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Sorry, kindly answer the question please!
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Old 09-16-10, 06:38 PM   #4
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You get what you pay for, advise included .
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Old 09-16-10, 07:13 PM   #5
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The answer of "Polishing material choices and machining processes .." pretty much sums up the differences. Higher line hubs will be lighter, have a better polish and exterior finish and have better quality races and cones (or bearing cartridges for that type).

Within the Shimano road hub family the differences between 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace are not dramatic. 105 hubs can give excellent service and be very durable but they will be heavier and not have as nice an exterior finish. DA hubs are beautifully finished inside and out and have a lighter Ti freehub body in place of the steel body on the lower lines. The MTB hubs LX, XT and XTR follow pretty much the same weight and finish progression and, as noted, are better sealed than road hubs.

Are DA and XTR worth their significant cost difference? Your call.

fietsbob does make good points with his questions. What are you going to use the bike for? Are you a casual rider who only rides occasionally or a committed road junkie who puts 10,000 miles a year on his bike(s)? Is your budget tight or lavish? How much does "bling" mean to you?

Short answer: 105 or LX will give great service. DA and XTR will make you proud to own them and also give great service,
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Old 09-16-10, 07:41 PM   #6
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now we are beginning to get somewhere! With all products I know there is an element of paying for a name. In the case of dura-ace you don't have to be a genius to know that titanium is lighter than steel so it saves weight but it seems to me that since the hub is at the center of the wheel and not at the outer portion of the wheel that it has less of an impact. The next concern is then certainly durability both in terms of all weather condtions as well as simple longevity. If I buy a $300 hub, am I going to be replacing rims and spokes for less money in the future as opposed to buying another $300 2 years later.
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Old 09-16-10, 08:14 PM   #7
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What will make the largest difference in hubs given the three options you give is maintenance. Weight is really a non issue. Even "rotating weight" is not always significant, and certainly not given the weight differences in hubs. A well broken in decent quality hub will have a groove on the bearing surface that is smoother than any hub will be new. Even cartridge bearings run smoother with some miles on them. On the other hand if you run a bearing too tight or loose or dirty for too long it won't matter how high the quality - the operation will deteriorate.

As an aside: What I say to people who worry about an extra 2 oz of weight (over 50 GRAMS!) is just drink a 1/4 cup less water before you ride, or maybe wear a short sleeve shirt rather than a long sleeve, etc. It's silly to be concerned about ounces when you and your bike weigh 150-200+ lbs. If you want speed spend time on the road, not looking for the lightest components.

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Old 09-16-10, 08:21 PM   #8
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If I buy a $300 hub, am I going to be replacing rims and spokes for less money in the future as opposed to buying another $300 2 years later.
This is a hard one to answer. If you buy a $300 hub built into a $400 wheel you can certainly replace the rim and spokes for less than $400. If you buy a $100 hub built into a $200 wheel, it is often cheaper to buy a brand new wheel than to have the rim and spokes replaced.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:38 PM   #9
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now we are beginning to get somewhere! With all products I know there is an element of paying for a name. In the case of dura-ace you don't have to be a genius to know that titanium is lighter than steel so it saves weight but it seems to me that since the hub is at the center of the wheel and not at the outer portion of the wheel that it has less of an impact. The next concern is then certainly durability both in terms of all weather condtions as well as simple longevity. If I buy a $300 hub, am I going to be replacing rims and spokes for less money in the future as opposed to buying another $300 2 years later.
You should buy an $800 hub.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:44 PM   #10
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Ultegra and XT are the sweet spots in Shimano's line up although LX and 105 will deliver some solid service at a much lower price and only give up a little in finish... the bearing quality is rather good throughout the range and the only issue with Shimano is that their hubs have a finite lifespan as once the bearing cups wear they are done.

Cartridge bearing hubs overcome this as they have a very long service life and replacing cartridges is easy and takes very little time.

My days of buying mass produced hubs are pretty much over as I work with a custom frame builder who also makes world class hubs that are second to none.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:50 PM   #11
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Am building up a set of custom wheels on custom hubs and a few folks have been taken aback by the $700.00 cost of what is a very utilitarian wheelset... the hubs are $400.00 for the set (with a nice discount) and when you consider that these cartridge hubs will last someone for a lifetime, and are guaranteed for that lifetime, it is not a bad investment to make.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:58 PM   #12
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Am building up a set of custom wheels on custom hubs and a few folks have been taken aback by the $700.00 cost of what is a very utilitarian wheelset... the hubs are $400.00 for the set (with a nice discount) and when you consider that these cartridge hubs will last someone for a lifetime, and are guaranteed for that lifetime, it is not a bad investment to make.
Interest is piqued.
I'd like to hear more about these hubs.
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Old 09-16-10, 11:25 PM   #13
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As an aside: What I say to people who worry about an extra 2 oz of weight (over 50 GRAMS!) is just drink a 1/4 cup less water before you ride, or maybe wear a short sleeve shirt rather than a long sleeve, etc. It's silly to be concerned about ounces when you and your bike weigh 150-200+ lbs. If you want speed spend time on the road, not looking for the lightest components.

I'm not a weight weenie - I ride a steel framed bike, but I'm also not one to buy into this line of reasoning.
Here's the deal. I don't want to give up carrying 1/4 cup of water or wear the wrong item of clothing to save weight. It will negatively impact my ride. But there is absolutely no negative impact to using quality lightweight bike parts so I will happily do that!

The problem with not caring about "small" differences in weight between components is that there are so many parts to a bike that all those little differences make the difference between a 16 or 17 lb. bike and a 25 lb. bike. And while the amount of benefit of the lighter bike is debatable, no one really believes the heavier bike is preferable. So why not ride light?
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Old 09-16-10, 11:37 PM   #14
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Interest is piqued.
I'd like to hear more about these hubs.
PM sent.

Hub selection is like bike selection... you should match your choice with your needs and if you can afford a better grade of product that will give you better value over the long term this is a good way to go.

Some folks live in places where the sun always shines and the weather is generally good while others live in places where conditions can be horribly wet and cold or snowy and icy.

If you expect extreme use and have to deal with wet and wintry weather sealed cartridge hubs make excellent sense.
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Old 09-17-10, 06:54 AM   #15
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Ultegra and XT are the sweet spots in Shimano's line up although LX and 105 will deliver some solid service at a much lower price and only give up a little in finish... the bearing quality is rather good throughout the range and the only issue with Shimano is that their hubs have a finite lifespan as once the bearing cups wear they are done.

Cartridge bearing hubs overcome this as they have a very long service life and replacing cartridges is easy and takes very little time.

My days of buying mass produced hubs are pretty much over as I work with a custom frame builder who also makes world class hubs that are second to none.
This is the type of info I'm looking for! For example, I always hear the oldschool guys and the purists swearing by loose bearings for things like headsets and bottom brackets for top notch smoothness.

Also, the information on the MTB hubs having an extra seal is very good to know, seems like it would make sense to use one up front if I know i'm riding in wet weather a lot. But can a MTB rear hub be setup to work with 130mm spacing would be another concern.

FWIW, I havent' given a set of parameters because I really like to learn why some things are considered better than others and why some are just overpriced name brands and then ultimately I'll be empowered with the info to make the decision. Also, I have too many options to consider between the 2 bikes I currently own and certainly the possibility of picking up another one exists.

For example, why would I spend 400 bucks to build decent wheels on my flat bar commuter that will see all types of weather when I can just buy a cheapo rain bike used at a yard sale? well the reason is that I live in a small apt so my bikes have to be somewhat multipurpose. (otherwise theftproof so they can be kept locked outside)
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Old 09-17-10, 07:25 AM   #16
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now we are beginning to get somewhere! With all products I know there is an element of paying for a name. In the case of dura-ace you don't have to be a genius to know that titanium is lighter than steel so it saves weight but it seems to me that since the hub is at the center of the wheel and not at the outer portion of the wheel that it has less of an impact. The next concern is then certainly durability both in terms of all weather condtions as well as simple longevity. If I buy a $300 hub, am I going to be replacing rims and spokes for less money in the future as opposed to buying another $300 2 years later.
The quality of the hub has no effect on the cost of spoke replacement. It also has no effect on the service period before wheels need re-building, that is totally a function of the quality of the wheel build.
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Old 09-17-10, 09:19 AM   #17
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understood, I guess the quewstion should be worded "If I buy a $300 hub and need to replace spokes 2 years later am I at least going to be relacing it to the same hub andnot investing inanother $300 hub.

I must say, the money i save in NYC by riding my bike everywhere is easily in the thousands and I only started cycling in February so while cost is a concern because I'm willing to make certain investments.
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Old 09-17-10, 09:36 AM   #18
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There is the question of whether the bike comes off the street at both ends of the trip.

fancy bikes get stripped if left out for long . in big cities and college towns.

where the parts get sold .. eBay eliminated the 'fence'.


I give high marks to Chris King and Phil Wood
for making single purchase lifetime quality components, and still being in business
Producing in the US..

Campag has some production in Eastern Europe for lower wages, now.
and Shimano has had its products made all over Asia,
in various countries for a long time ..

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Old 09-17-10, 09:48 AM   #19
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Forgings,coined flanges and bearing mounts,bearing race material,finish and MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL,servicing them.

On a forged hub,you can direct the grain flow of the material to increase strenght where needed,can't do that on a billet hub.

Coined(stamping process) flanges and bearing mounts and radiuses,increases the strenght and density of those highly stressed areas.

As hub costs go up,there are heat treatments that are added to the bearing race processes,nitrided and so on.

As cost goes up more,attention to detail is increased.

As cost goes up more,exotic material start getting used.

On and on and on,until your wallets empty or they've taken off 100 grams,whichever come first.

None of this makes a rats ass if you don't take care of them.

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Old 09-17-10, 09:50 AM   #20
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This is the type of info I'm looking for! For example, I always hear the oldschool guys and the purists swearing by loose bearings for things like headsets and bottom brackets for top notch smoothness.
I am one of the old school guys who likes his loose ball bottom brackets because they run smoother than just about any cartridge bb I have used save for some very high end cartridge units and the same applies to headsets... a good one will last you a lifetime if you take care of it and prevent it from becoming contaminated.

Since hubs see more action and are because they are more prone to contamination than the bb and headset having a cartridge bearing in there makes a lot of good sense for a lot of people... I can service and repack a set of cup and cone hubs in the same amount of time it takes to service cartridge bearings.

If I have a problem with Shimano it is because they make disposable parts... Campy hubs and even their headsets can be rebuilt while Shimano components have a finite lifespan and become scrap metal if they wear out or are not properly maintained.

Would never complain about the smoothness of Shimano's bearings though.... their QC is very good.
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Old 09-17-10, 05:08 PM   #21
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I would go with 105 or ultegra. They are both high quality and long lasting if properly maintained. I am not a big fan of DA because they tend to experiment with it. If there is a problem then they simply redesign it.
The newest version of DA has an al. axle and what looks like a narrower freehub body. The internals such as the pawls will be smaller. I don't know if they are less durable or not.
Some of the after market brands have the freehub and cassette assembly, but they mount the right side bearings that support the axle inboard. This makes for a weeker hub.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/free-k7.html
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Old 09-17-10, 06:38 PM   #22
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I am one of the old school guys who likes his loose ball bottom brackets because they run smoother than just about any cartridge bb I have used save for some very high end cartridge units and the same applies to headsets... a good one will last you a lifetime if you take care of it and prevent it from becoming contaminated.
Funny, I'm just the opposite. I far prefer cartridge bearing bottom brackets and headsets for their ease of installation and longevity. Cartridge headsets in particular are far more durable in my experience and if they do wear out, all you need is new bearings and the cups and crown race last forever.

However, I like cup-and-cone hubs and don't mind the annual or bi-annual overhaul process. At the 105 or even Ultegra level it's often less expensive to replace the entire wheel than to have the old hub, even in perfect shape, relaced to a new rim.

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If I have a problem with Shimano it is because they make disposable parts... Campy hubs and even their headsets can be rebuilt while Shimano components have a finite lifespan and become scrap metal if they wear out or are not properly maintained.

Would never complain about the smoothness of Shimano's bearings though.... their QC is very good.
It's true that a Shimano hub with a bad race is scrap but I've never worn one out. The cones may eventually pit but the hub races seem to last forever. I have a set of 7700-series DA hubs with 55,000 miles and the original cones and races are still pristine. Again, at the 105/Ultegra level a new complete wheel is often cheaper than reusing the hub so lifetime hub durability can be moot.
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Old 09-17-10, 07:10 PM   #23
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Getting off the initial question, I prefer loose bearings and not a cartridge because I find they never put enough grease in the bearings and I like to use synthetic grease as the bearings spin faster and synthetic doesn't thicken in cold weather.
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Old 09-17-10, 08:34 PM   #24
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This is the type of info I'm looking for! For example, I always hear the oldschool guys and the purists swearing by loose bearings for things like headsets and bottom brackets for top notch smoothness.
The reason why Shimano and Campagnolo use cup and cones bearings on all their top end wheels and hubs is because this bearing type is superior to cartridge bearings when it comes to friction and longevity. This is not a question of being oldskool or a purist, but simply an engineering evaluation. The reason why most small hub manufacturers tend to use cartridges is because good cup and cone bearings requires expensive machinery and in-house knowledge. By effectively outsourcing the bearing parts, they can concentrate their skills on e.g. CNC machined hub shells and parts.

Does this mean cartridge bearing hubs are bad? Not at all. The hub quality depends on implementation. Some cartridge bearings crumble to dust by the mere mentioning of rain, others are well sealed within the hub.
I have some cartridge bearing hubs on my fair weather bike and they work very well for me. The extra friction compared to cup-and-cone (C&C) bearings is probably small and of no consequence. For my daily commuting and winter riding I prefer Shimano C&C hubs since I can pack them with so much grease that road grime, salt and water can't reach the bearings.

It is hard to beat Shimano C&C hubs; they are cheap, are silent, last a long time (I know several people with +50K on their hubs) and have very low friction and comes with really strong closed cam levers. However, for some people (typically MTB'ers) angle of the engagement of the freehub, or the strength of the freehub, is more important than bearing longevity. So all in all, hub quality also depends on what you think is important and how you use your bike.

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Old 09-17-10, 09:13 PM   #25
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Getting off the initial question, I prefer loose bearings and not a cartridge because I find they never put enough grease in the bearings and I like to use synthetic grease as the bearings spin faster and synthetic doesn't thicken in cold weather.
Unless you use cartridge bearings with better grease...

I really like c&c bearings but as I also work on a lot of bikes that don't get as much love my own do I see that for many people a cartridge system can be very practical because of extended service intervals and less chance of contamination.

Wait... I work on bikes for a living.

Everyone should start using c&c bearings.

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