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Hubs Buying Guide: Internal Gear Hub Bikes
Using our unique ranking algorithm, we've selected the best products based on member reviews, the number of members who own or wish they owned the item, and how many reviews have been posted. This list is limited to the 12 best Hubs.1) Shimano Nexus SG-C6000-8C Brake Rear 36h Hub | 2) Shimano FH-4600 Tiagra Rear Hub | 3) Sturmey Archer XRD5 Drum Brake Hub | 4) Sturmey-Archer S2C Kick-Shift Hub | 5) Shimano Alfine Disc Brake Hub | 6) Shimano SLX M7000 Bicycle Hub | 7) Shimano Front Hub HB-5800-L | 8) Shimano SG-3C41 Universal Hub | 9) KOOZER HA02N/HA04N Bicycle Hub | 10) KOOZER HA02N/HA04N Bicycle Hub Disc 32H| 11) Fat Bike Hub Novatec 32 | 12) Shimano Nexus Dynamo Bicycle Hub |
The hub is the central part of your bike’s wheels (front and rear), which connects to the wheel’s rim via the spokes and through which the axle is fitted, enabling the wheel to freely spin on two sets of bearings.
As bikes have front and rear wheels, so too have they front- and rear-specific hubs. The front hub is simply designed to enable the wheel to spin, while the rear hub is a little more complex as it also forms part of the bike’s transmission – the cassette or sprocket which drives the rear wheel is attached to the rear hub, which on most bikes also features mechanism to allow you to coast or freewheel (exceptions being fixed-gear or ‘fixie’ bikes and track bikes).
Front hubs consist of a tubular body (usually metal) with a set of bearings at each end, either loose ball bearings packed into a bearing race and secured via locknuts, or cartridge-type bearings which press in as a single unit. The wheel axle threads through the body and spins on these bearings. The axle may be secured to the fork/frame using bolts or quick-release clamps, depending on the bike and hub type.
The hub will typically feature a raised lip at either end (the flange) which is drilled with holes for the spokes, again the number of holes/spokes depending on the wheel type. Many MTB and some road hubs will also feature disc mounts for disc brake rotors (on bikes running disc brakes, or with the potential to have them fitted).
Most road, MTB and BMX rear hubs will also feature a freewheel on the drive side of the hub. This is a splined metal (aluminium or steel) tube onto which you slide the cassette or sprocket, and which contains the spring-loaded pawls responsible for making the clicking sound you hear when you are coasting on the bike.
NOTE: The ratchet-and-pawl mechanism is what enables the wheel to spin freely when you are coasting, but to engage the transmission when you turn the pedals. The ratchet is a toothed gear wheel inside the hub body which engages with the spring-loaded pawls in the freewheel to allow rotation in one direction only.
When you are freewheeling, the pawls click past the teeth (that’s the noise you hear), but when you start pedalling they engage (catch on the teeth and transfer your pedal power to the wheel).
The number of teeth/pawls is a consideration for some riders when upgrading their rear hubs as while fewer/bigger teeth can deal with more torque (e.g. for BMX or gravity riders) smaller/more teeth mean better engagement rate and more immediate power transfer.
Which Hub is Right for You?
A replacement or upgrade hub can give your bike a performance advantage with lighter weight and better quality bearings available in aftermarket units.
However the type of hub you choose will depend on many factors including bike type, axle dimensions, riding type and budget. Learn more about the various hub types:
- MTB Hubs
- Road Hubs
- BMX Hubs
- Hub Spares
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