Bicycle wheel hubs are the central parts of your bike's wheels that connect to the rim via spokes and allow the wheel to rotate freely on bearings. See below for an overview of bicycle wheel hubs, their types, features and benefits.
Different types of bicycle wheel hubs depend on their function and design. Some of the most common ones are:
Front hubs: These are simple hubs with a hollow axle that fits through the fork dropouts and is secured by a quick-release skewer or a bolt. Front hubs usually have two bearings that reduce friction and ensure smooth rotation.
Rear hubs: These are more complex hubs with a mechanism for transferring the pedalling force to the rear wheel. This can be done by a freewheel (a ratcheting device that allows coasting) or a cassette (a stack of sprockets that slide onto a splined body). Rear hubs also have an axle that fits through the frame dropouts and is secured by a quick-release skewer or a bolt. Rear hubs usually have four sets of bearings for extra durability and stability.
Disc brake hubs: These are hubs that have mounts for disc brake rotors, which provide powerful and consistent braking performance in all weather conditions. Disc brake hubs can be front or rear hubs, depending on which wheel they are attached to.
Internal gear hubs: These are rear hubs that have an enclosed system of gears inside them, which allows changing gears without using derailleurs. Internal gear hubs offer low maintenance, reliability and simplicity but are heavier and more expensive than conventional rear hubs.
Bicycle wheel hubs vary in features depending on their quality, price and purpose. Some of the features that you should look for when choosing bicycle wheel hubs are:
Material: The material of the hub body affects its weight, strength and durability. The most common materials used for hub bodies are aluminium alloy (lightweight but prone to corrosion), steel (heavy but strong) and carbon fibre (very light but expensive).
Bearings: The bearings are the parts that allow the hub to spin smoothly on the axle. Two types of bearings are used for bicycle wheel hubs: loose ball bearings (which consist of metal balls held by cups and cones) and sealed cartridge bearings (which consist of metal balls enclosed by rubber seals). Loose ball bearings require regular adjustment and maintenance, while sealed cartridge bearings offer better protection from dirt and water but are harder to replace.
Spoke holes: The spoke holes are the openings on the hub flanges where the spokes attach to. The number of spoke holes determines how many spokes can be used for each wheel, which affects its strength, stiffness and weight. The most common number of spoke holes is 32 or 36 per hub.
Axle diameter: The axle diameter is the thickness of the axle that fits through the frame or fork dropouts. The standard axle diameter for front hubs is 9 mm or 10 mm (for BMX bikes), while for rear hubs, it is 10 mm or 12 mm (for mountain bikes). Some disc brake hubs use larger axle diameters, such as 15 mm or 20 mm for front wheels and 12 mm or 15 mm for rear wheels.
Bicycle wheel hubs play an important role in your bike's performance, comfort and safety. Some of the benefits of having good-quality bicycle wheel hubs are:
If you want to upgrade your bicycle wheel hubs or buy new ones for your next bike project, you can find a wide range of options at BikeExchange, Australia's leading online marketplace for everything bike-related.