Shopping for road bike hubs can be overwhelming for those without experience. There are many different types of hubs available, depending on your bike. Many road bike owners wonder if their hubs are available in different sizes.
All road bike hubs are not the same size. When it comes to front wheels, there’s a standard 100 mm (3.93 in) hub, but rear wheel hub sizes can vary. Road bike rear wheel hubs can be 120 mm, 126 mm, or 130 mm (4.72, 4.96, 5.11 in). However, the 120-mm (4.72-in) rear wheel hub is the standard.
Let’s take a closer look at road bike hubs and everything you need to know about them.
Why Do Road Bike Hubs Come in Different Sizes?
Road bike hubs come in different sizes to allow shifting to different gears. 126-mm (4.96-in) hub sizes give five or six gears, while 130-mm (5.11-in) allows for eight, nine, or ten. These hubs need to come in different sizes to accommodate the space needed for these gears.
Shifting gears on a bike is vital for those who are biking on more than just a flat surface. Having different speed options available allows cyclists to control how much effort they need to move the pedals.
For example, if you are having trouble moving the bike up a hill, then you may want to consider shifting to a lower gear. This will help with the amount of force you have to use to get the bike up that hill.
Comparatively, if you are pushing the pedals with too little effort, that can affect your speed. This leads to bikes topping at speeds lower than you want to go. Shifting to a higher gear can fix this for you by creating more friction and allowing it to go faster.
Larger hubs give your bike the ability to have more gears available. This gives you more control over how fast you go and how much effort is necessary to move at the speed you want.
Different gears on your bike also allow you to find a comfortable speed regardless of the surface on which you are riding. Putting in too much effort when pedaling can exhaust a cyclist before they get as far as they want. So, finding the right gear can make a cyclist a lot more effective.
Why Are Bike Hubs Important?
Bike hubs are important for any bike because they allow you to move faster and more effectively. Front and back hubs have separate purposes, but they both allow you to have more control over your bike. Having a good hub means a smoother and all-around better bike ride.
The Front Hub Is Meant To Keep Up With the Rear
The front hub will connect to the front wheel. This hub is often forgotten about compared to the rear hub, which has more power, but the front hub is just as important when it comes to how smooth your ride is.
The front hub of a road bike is one size. There doesn’t need to be size variations because the front hub is not used to change gears. In fact, the front hub doesn’t do much in the way of powering the bicycle.
The front hub is there to ensure that it keeps up with the rear hub as gears and speeds change. It contains ball bearings that help it move freely without much resistance. That is vital for keeping up with the rear hub, especially for those who want to ride fast.
Front hubs are also built to contain brakes. Most people choose to have brakes just on the rear wheel, but front hubs are made with the possibility to contain a brake. So, your front hub could house another brake.
Besides keeping up with the rear hub, the front hub is also very important for steering your bike. As you know, steering happens in the bike’s front while the power comes from the back.
The Rear Hub Is the Powerhouse
The rear hub is a more intricate piece of technology. While some bikes are only made with one gear, many are made with multiple. The more gears there are available, the harder the rear hub will work.
On a one-gear bicycle, the rear hub will still control the speed of the bike. It will use the energy put into the pedals to turn the wheel and move the bike. When you introduce more gears, the rear hub will be responsible for a lot more.
The rear hub on a multi-geared bike is made to control the bike’s speed and engage the transmission when needed. The transmission is what shifts the gears as you ride. So, without the rear hub, the bike would have no power and no ability to communicate with the transmission to change gears.
The rear hub must be well maintained in order to keep the ride and gear changing smooth. The better the rear hub, the more likely your bike ride will be smooth, and gears will shift as they should. If you notice hesitation or some resistance, consider cleaning your hubs and using some sort of lubricant to keep them running smoothly.
What Are the Best Road Bike Hubs?
The best road bike hubs are made by DT Swiss, SHIMANO, and Phil Wood. These are a few of the biggest names when it comes to bike parts, and they have that reputation for a reason. Let’s talk about each hub in a little more detail.
DT Swiss hubs are lightweight without sacrificing quality. They are also reasonably priced compared to some other brands. DT Swiss also prides itself on making reliable hubs that will last as long as you take care of them.
DT Swiss has been around for 25 years. So, they know what they are doing. Their products go through extensive testing and quality control before they ever reach you. So you can ensure you are getting the most out of your hub when you buy it from DT Swiss.
Check out the DT Swiss Rear Hub to see their best hub option. This rear hub is a lightweight option that has a carbon shell. It is available on Amazon.com.
SHIMANO is another great hub company. They pride themselves on providing their customers with durable hubs that are polished. Their goal is to create the smoothest-running hubs for your bike, allowing you to have the best possible riding experience.
SHIMANO has been around for 100 years now, and they’ve been a leader in creating reliable and forward-thinking bicycle parts since then. You know when you’re ordering from this company, they have a vast history of happy customers.
If you want to try a SHIMANO hub, Shimano Deore Disc Rear Hub is a great option. This disk rear hub is available on Amazon.com.
Phil Wood is not as widely known, but they are a reliable bike part company. They offer great products that last for a reasonable price. In fact, Phil Wood hubs have been chosen many times as the best choice.
Phil Wood was founded in 1971. So, while they haven’t been around for 100 years, they have certainly established themselves as a company that is here to stay.
Check out one of their top products, the Phil Wood Rear Track Hub. Available on Amazon.com, this rear-track single-sided hub is reasonably priced and reliable.
What Type of Maintenance Should I Do On My Bike Hubs?
Bike hubs should be overhauled about every 1500 miles (2414.01 km) in order to keep them working properly. This can be done more frequently when you notice a difference in your bike.
Whether it isn’t shifting as efficiently or it is making strange noises, take time to do a little extra maintenance when you notice something is not right.
Keep Your Bike and Hubs Clean
First, you want to make sure to clean your bike regularly. Dirt, water, mud, and other substances can lead to lubricants being less effective.
Those substances can also cause many issues with clogging and creating resistance for your hubs. So, ensure you are cleaning your bike regularly to avoid this buildup.
How To Do an Overhaul
About every 1500 miles (2414.01 km), you will want to do an overhaul. An overhaul involves taking the hub apart, thoroughly cleaning it, and adding lubricant to ensure it’s ready to go.
You will need some tools to get this done properly, and make sure you do it over a towel to avoid the mess. You want to start by removing the hubs. To do this, you will first need to remove the locknut.
To remove the locknut, you need to turn it counter-clockwise as you hold the cone in place with a wrench. There may also be washers here. Feel free to remove them as well and keep them with the locknut.
Next, remove the cone that you just held in place. Once this is removed, the ball bearings will fall out. So, make sure you have your hand ready to catch them, or you may have to chase them across the room.
Now that you have one side of the hub free, remove the locknut and the cone on the opposite. Sometimes the locknuts on one side of the bike are slightly different than the other side. So, keep them separate just in case they are slightly different.
Remove the bearings from the hub while keeping track of where they are on the hub. Sometimes there is a different number of ball bearings on each side. You want to ensure you are putting your hub back the same way.
Now that you have everything removed, clean the hub and all parts thoroughly. Remember that everything needs to be completely dry before putting your hub back together. Never try to put it back together with wet or even just damp parts.
The hub itself should be wiped out thoroughly with a damp rag and given plenty of time to dry before anything is put back in it.
You may have noticed that we did not mention the dust caps. This is because it is not recommended that they be removed during the overhaul process. Dust caps are easy to bend and break. So, it is not recommended that you remove or attempt to clean them as you may damage them.
Spot Maintenance Is Important Between Overhauls
In between overhaul intervals, you may notice strange noises or more resistance when you peddle. These are common issues with hubs becoming too dirty or running out of lubricant. If this happens, make sure you are cleaning your bike thoroughly and applying more lubricant to ensure that it stops.
If these issues persist or you notice that your lubricant isn’t lasting very long, you may want to consider a different type or brand of lubricant. Let’s go over some things to consider for selecting a lubricant that works for you and your bike.
What Kind of Lubricant for Road Bike Hubs?
The best type of lubricant to use for road bike hubs is one that is waterproof, non-sticky, stain-free, and long-lasting. These qualifications are vital for any grease you put on your bike hubs in order to help your hubs be effective and last longer.
Any lubricant that you choose for your road bike hubs should be waterproof. If you are ever riding in the rain or even through standing water, then you need to protect your hubs and gears from rust and water damage.
You should also consider a lubricant that is non-sticky because it will help your gears run more smoothly. Any lubricant or grease that is sticky can lead to a lot of issues with your hub. You don’t want there to be any sticking when you try to change gears.
Stain-free grease is not the most important requirement, but it can help keep your bike nice. If you want your bike to last longer and look great, then stay away from any lubricants that aren’t stain-free.
Long-lasting lubricants are vital for those who don’t want to have to reapply constantly. The grease that you choose to use on your hubs should be made to last. If it isn’t, then you will need to apply it more often.
There are so many different lubricants to choose from that selecting your own can be overwhelming. That is why it is best to consider what standards you want the lubricant to meet rather than just choosing a brand.
From the base level of knowing the qualities that you want, you can try out some different brands to find your favorite without much risk. So, start with these qualifications and try a few different brands until you find the right one for your bike.
Not all bike hubs are the same size, and the different sizes play an important role in how much you can control your speed. Bike hubs that are larger tend to have more gears available for the cyclist to shift. More gears give the rider more options for resistance and speed.
Bike hubs are a vital part of any bike and should be cleaned and lubricated frequently to keep them running at their best. So, clean your hubs frequently, keep them lubricated, and don’t be afraid to invest in a good set.
Other articles you may like to read:
- Level Nine Sports: Choosing a Hub
- BTA Oregon: The Best Bike Greases
- Bicycle Universe: How To Use Bicycle Gears
- Cycling Vitality: Do Bike Hubs Make A Difference? Here’s the Truth
- Park Tool: Hub Overhaul and Adjustment: Cup and Cone Style
- Bicycle Network Australia: Hub Servicing – How To Remove Dust Caps Without Breaking Them?