When the center cannot hold, you’re in trouble. Hub is the centerpiece of your bike’s wheels, which connects to the rims through the spokes. It handles all static and dynamic loads dished out by the road and the rider.
To keep your wheels spinning smoothly, you must pick the right hub that suits your riding needs. But before you make a final decision, take in some hub considerations.
Consider the bearing type. Long lasting hubs rely on good-quality bearings. Most of them are either one of two types: cup and cone bearings and cartridge bearings. While the former—commonly used in old and less expensive hubs and still favored by Shimano— has the advantage of being easily serviced at home, though tricky to adjust because of the individual parts; the disposable latter used in newer hubs, where the steel balls or needles rotate in a single cartridge unit, requires no more tedious micro-adjusting, and can be removed entirely for servicing or replacement once worn out.
Another consideration is the flange. The tension of the spokes applies the largest load to the hub. Those wheels with two-, three- or four-cross spoke patterns create less stress on the flange than those that are radially laced. Only use extra thick or forged flanges to handle radially laced spokes and avoid any breakage.
Moreover, larger flange diameters contribute to higher lateral and torsional wheel stiffness, which are popular with track racers. Match also the number and type of spoke holes on the flange to the spoke holes drilled into the rim.
Pay attention to the hub width as well. Typical hub widths are 135mm for mountain bikes and 130mm for road bikes. Although, the trend of wider hubs front and rear is playing out across the scene, with the motivation of making a stiffer wheel by increasing the bracing angle of the spokes.
This process of choosing the right hub might seem more complicated than ever, but it all falls back to knowing your application and your budget.