A pro cyclist makes many upgrades to his bike to optimize or improve performance. Like any other important part of a bike, a hub upgrade can make a significant difference in performance. That’s why many riders want to change the bike hub on their bike wheel.

Although a suitable high-quality bike hub improves riding performance, it is a difficult technical process. But you can change the hub yourself by following the bicycle hub assembly diagram. This allows you to complete the necessary upgrade process at a low cost.

In this article, I will discuss bike front & rear wheel hub replacement, including many issues regarding bike hubs. So, read till the end for details.

What Is Bikes Hub?

The bike hub is the center part of a bike wheel. The hub shell is usually connected to the rim via spokes. It includes bearings at both ends and an axle through it that connects the wheel to the bike frame.

Different hubs are used in the front and rear of the bike. The design of the front hub is relatively simple, but the design of the rear hub is more complex.

What Is The Purpose Of Hub In Bikes?

The purpose of hubs in bikes is to connect the wheel to the bike and allow it to move forward. And, Front and Rear hubs work the same, but there are some differences between the two. Below, I’ll describe the workings of both types of hubs.

1. Front Hub

Normally, we see the wheel of a bike working to propel it forward. But if you look closely, you get it is not the wheels, but the hubs that do this. Ball-bearings in the front hub allows the wheel to spin freely with minimum resistance. And, the ball bearings are housed in special housings for ease of disassembly, allowing easy replacement.

When Front hubs come with disc-brake mounts to facilitate disc-brake installation, then we see this design most often in the hubs of road bikes. Both ends of the hub have raised lips called flanges with holes to hold the spokes. And, the number of holes varies according to the category of bike.

2. Rear Hub

The rear hub needs to work well to ride the bike the way you want it to. Because the power you generate through the pedals goes through the hub. That is why the rear hub is one of the most important parts of the bike.

Multi-gear bikes have freewheels to change gears. As this freewheel allows the speed to be changed from being attached to the rear hub, the rear hub has a ratchet-and-paw mechanism that is quite complex. The number of teeth on the ratchet is determined by the category of your bike.

  • Bikes that require more torque have lower and larger toothed ratchets.
  • Besides, bikes that require quick and smooth gear changes use a ratchet with more teeth.

Why Are Bike Hubs Important?

Bike hubs are important for many reasons. You can consider these essential parts of the bike. Below I mention important points about bike hubs.

  • Hubs connect the wheel to the bike frame through their axle.
  • Affects the rider’s performance.
  • Hub bearings allow the wheels to rotate freely which makes riding the bike easier.
  • The power imparted by the rider is transmitted through the hub.
  • Facilitates in changing speed, and so on.

How Does A Hub Work?

The working method of the front hub of a bike is straightforward. It keeps the wheel connected to the frame and helps the bike to move according to the power supplied by the rider. These hubs facilitate the smooth riding of the bike. On normal bikes, the rear hub has to do the most complicated work.

A rear hub of standard bikes is usually a freehub. This generally works with ratchet or pawl technology. Since most bikes use the ratchet system, I will describe here how a rear freehub works with the ratchet system.

  • The ratchet system consists of two ratchet rings inside the freehub. The rings are connected to each other by the pressure of a solid spring. Ratchet rings have angled teeth on the inner edge that slip over each other when free-wheeling. But when the rider pedals, the teeth of both rings engage with each other and provide power to propel the bike forward.
  • One end of the rear hub includes the hub case to which the cassette is attached. The ratchet mechanism is installed inside the hub case. Thus the end of the hub case facing the hub shell has a ratchet ring and the hub shell holds on to the other ring. When the rider pedals, pressure applies to the ratchet ring through the cassette and the bike moves forward.

What Are The Different Types Of Bike Hubs?

Bike hubs are of many types based on wheel position, riding discipline, or mechanism. So that the biker can use the hub as per his needs or requirements.

According To Wheel Position

Hubs are of two types according to the location of the wheel; Front hub and Rear hub. I have already discussed these two types of hubs. The hub on the front wheel is called the front hub, which is the most common type. And, the rear hub works in a more complex process compared to the front hub.

According To Riding Discipline

Bike hubs are of three types according to riding discipline. Many call these the three basic types of hubs.

1. Mountain Bike Hubs

Mountain bike hubs can be of different sizes to match the hub width to the required axle length. And, Frame or Axle standards also differ to suit different riding styles. For example, companies use aluminum or carbon hubs on cross-country (Cyclo-Cross) bikes. On the other hand, Dirt bikes use hubs made of steel, so they can withstand a lot of stress.

2. Road Bike Hubs

Road bike hubs are ideal for ensuring better speed and performance. Because Manufacturer Companies design these hubs to be lightweight and minimalistic in order to reduce weight. Road bike hubs made for competitive riders are usually made of carbon fiber. And, they have more compact axles and durable & lightweight ceramic bearings.

3. BMX Hubs

You may have noticed that BMX bikes have tiny frames. That’s why the axles of BMX bike hubs are of consistent size. These types of bikes use single gears, which is why the hubs have to be designed accordingly. But some BMX hubs are double-sided, called ‘flip-flop hubs’.

According To Mechanism

Bike hubs are generally of 4 types based on mechanism.

1. Track Hub

Two stepped thread tracks are the key feature of the hub. The main thread of the hubs is for the attachment of the sprocket and the other thread is to acts as a lock ring. Single-speed bikes usually use this type of hub.

2. Flip-Flop Hub

These types of hubs are double-sided. Flip-flop hubs have threading with a lock ring on one side and a single-speed freewheel feature on the other side. BMX bikes use this type of hub, which offers two different speed options.

3. Free Wheel Hub

Freewheel hubs have ratchet mechanisms as well as different-sized sprockets. If you damage any one of the sprockets or need to be replaced, you need to replace that particular sprocket only. Generally, bikers use these types of hubs on bikes with multi-speed drivetrains. However, companies rarely use these types of hubs at present.

4. Freehub and Cassette

These hubs are basically components built on the hub on the drive side. Freehubs and cassettes work much like freewheel hubs. So that any cyclist can replace freehubs & Cassettes to freewheel hubs, and vice-versa. These hubs have a ratchet mechanism in a splined metal body. Thus you can replace certain parts of hubs easily if problems arise. And yes, they are less expensive and last longer.

But How Do You Know What Type Of Hub You Have?

An experienced mechanic or a skilled rider with expert knowledge of bike hubs can tell what type of hub it is by looking at a hub. Those with less experience may need to experiment a bit.

Traditional Way:

The traditional way to find out what type of hub your bike has is to examine the hub. If you have knowledge about all hubs, then you can understand what kind of hub it is.

Smart Way:

But the smart way to identify the type of hub is to take the help of the internet.

  • Find the brand, model, series, or serial number of your bike hub.
  • Search for that specific hub on the manufacturer’s website.
  • And, get detailed information, including hub type.

Do Bike Hubs Make A Difference?

Yes, hubs can make an enormous difference in your riding performance. If you notice the hubs, some road bike hubs help to propel the bike faster, while BMX bike hubs help with stunts. Furthermore, using the wrong type of hub on a bike can cause an enormous obstacle to performance. In addition, an improved hub, which accumulates less dust, will perform better than a normal hub.

And, How Long Do Bike Hub Bearings Last?

Bike hub bearings last about 8000 miles (12500 km) on average. But it depends a lot on bearing material, manufacturing technology, rider weight, road environment, etc.

However, a hub bearing can last a minimum of 5000 miles (8000 km) and a maximum of 18000 miles (29000 km).

Then, When Should A Bike Hub Be Serviced?

Modern bike hubs are usually very well sealed. The bottom brackets of these hubs are often not detachable. Because of this, they rarely require servicing. But if you ride in rough conditions or use too much degreaser, your bike’s hub may need servicing.

  • Some experts recommend servicing the hub after every 300 to 500 miles of bike riding. It’s also a good idea to service the bottom brackets at least twice a year.

But keep in mind that if you are a casual rider and ride the bike in pleasant environments, you may never need bike hub servicing.

So, Can You Change The Hub On A Bike Wheel?

Yes, of course, you can change the wheel hub of your bike, but it will be a cumbersome and expensive process. Because changing the hub requires you to rebuild the wheel. If you have to buy all kinds of components, the bike wheel hub replacement cost will be more than a new wheel. But if most of the materials are good, then you can try changing the hub. Even after this, you have to face the following problems.

  • Putting the pieces together can be quite difficult if you are new.
  • You can make mistakes often when filling valve holes.
  • Used parts are dirty and can be time-consuming to clean.
  • You may have to change some materials, which will cost a good amount of money.

How Do You Choose The Right Bicycle Hubs For Your Bicycle?

Since bike hubs affect smooth riding, choosing the right hub is important. There are several things you need to consider in selecting the right hub. Below, I’ll explain these important points.

  • Hub Type: Select the front or rear hub according to your bike type or riding discipline. Just as a BMX bike hub will not perform well on a road bike, a mountain bike hub will not perform well on a BMX bike. So, choose the hub according to your bike type.
  • Bearing Type: Well-sealed bearings protected from dirt and water are much more durable. This type of bearing ensures smooth riding and long usage. Moreover, well-sealed bearings do not require servicing, saving time and effort.
  • Rim Compatibility: When you want to replace an old hub, you must check whether the spoke holes in the hub flange are the same size as the rim. If your bike has 32-spoke rims, it will need a 32h hub to match.
  • Materials: Generally, most modern bike hubs are made of carbon fiber or aluminum. And, Hubs made of this material are lighter and more durable, improving riding performance. But if you are using a dirt bike or a bike that puts a lot of stress on the hub, then you can opt for steel hubs as these types of hubs can withstand more pressure.
  • Brake Rotor Compatibility: If your bike has disc brakes, you need to determine the compatible hub. Usually, companies specify six-bolt and center lock standards for rotor mounting. And, the six-bolt lock method is more commonly used where there are six screw-holes for installing the rotor. Therefore, select the hub according to your bike’s rotor locking mechanism.
  • Axle Size: The axle size of the bike hub is a very important consideration. With both front and rear hubs, the size of the hub should be suitable according to the size of the bike fork. As we cannot fit extra large hubs on the bike, smaller size hubs are also not possible to install on the bike. So be sure to choose hubs with axles of the required length.

How Do You Know Your Bicycle Hub Size?

In this case, you need to measure the width of the hub correctly to fit with the bicycle well.

  • You can use a caliper or ruler to measure the hub.
  • The inside distance of the dropouts on both ends of the hub is the measurement of your bike’s hub. Usually, a hub is 100 or 110mm long.

The easiest way to measure this is to place the hub perpendicular to a table surface and insert the axle into it.

  • Make a mark as far as the axle goes in.
  • Now measure up to this marked distance and you will get the hub distance.

Are Bicycle Hubs Upgrading Expensive?

Yes, upgrading a bicycle hub is quite expensive. Even upgrading the hub can cost you more than a new wheel. But if you don’t need to buy most of the parts, or you can use old wheel parts, then you can try upgrading the hub. Since the job is a bit complicated, you may need the help of an expert mechanic. For this, you need to spend some money as well.

To Wrap Up

If the extra cost is not a problem for you, then you can decide to change the hub on your bike wheel. But if there is time, do the whole thing yourself. Through this, you will get a better idea about your bike and it will play a more helpful role in getting the performance you want.

Here, I have explained the types of bike hubs and the process of determining them. Following this, you can select the most suitable hub for the best performance and can change your bike wheel hub on your own. If you have any more questions related to the bike hub, please let me know through the comment section or via our webmail.  And, any of us will get back to you as soon as possible.

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