Another Upgrade That Can Help Your MTB Riding!

An upgrade that can help your mtb riding!

I had a fellow mountain biker email me a great question the other day.

“I do have one question. I’m wondering what your opinion is on the importance of a really good rear hub. I tried to find something on the web page but I couldn’t. Personally I find that a quality rear hub is one of the best improvements you can make on a Mtn bike. It might be because I ride trials but I fell there is a huge difference between instant engagement and near instant engagement, weather climbing or descending. I was just curious what your opinion might be. I don’t often get to ask questions of bike experts..

Thanks again,

Jim Loughlin”

The exact Chris King Hub I run

The answer is, yes in many situations.

When climbing a technical climb with lots of rocks and ledges the near instant engagement makes timing of pedal wheelies and weight shifts much easier and precise. These hubs eliminate the “dead spot” when you pedal 10-20 degrees with no engagement. This dead spot can cause your weight to move forward before your bike moves forward often shifting you out of position. Better engagement also allows you to keep your feet more level when ratchet pedaling, requiring less downward movement to achieve the same amount of forward progress.

Even while descending the quick engagement allows you to apply power to the pedals a hair quicker coming out of corners. This leads to a feeling of being more precise and in control.

Hadley Rear Hub

Here is a list of some hubs with quicker engagement and number of points of engagement (I am skills coach not a bike part nerd, I am sure there are quite a few I am leaving out) XT 36pt., DT Swiss 36pt, Hadley 72pt, Chris King 72 pt, Industry 9 120pt, Halo Supa Drive 120pt. For me it feels like the Hadley and Chris King work great with 72 points of engagement which I believe is every 6 degrees and the Industry 9 and Halo are about every 3 degrees. There is also a newer company, Stealth Hubs that claim less than a degree of rotation for engagement but I haven’t heard much about them (which only means I can’t give you my opinion on them). Do your research and find the hubs you like and that fit your budget, some of these hubs cost almost as much as our three day skills progressions!

Personally I am a big fan of both Chris King and Hadley Hubs. I have a Hadley rear Hub on my practice wheel set and it has lasted six years so far. My race wheelset has Chris King hubs and they have lasted two seasons so far and still work great.


3 replies
  1. steven
    steven says:

    I have to give a 5 start to the chris king hubs, i have been running them front+rear on my 1997 santa cruz heckler and just had the factory service them 2 years ago for a small fee when i rebuilt the wheels, they are awesome! ROLL ROLL ROLL forever too!!!

  2. MissedThePoint
    MissedThePoint says:

    I hear the Stealth hubs still have a certain degree of “float” before engaging. Stealth hubs are heavy and use “1-way” needle bearings. They way I understand it, the needle bearings only roll one way, allowing smooth coasting, but “lock” when trying to roll the other way. Well, to say the least, it isn’t instant.

    Add Kappius hubs to the list, at 72 points, which is 5 degrees (360 degrees divided by 72).

    Correction on DT Hubs, they are 18 pts, but there is an upgrade ($40) that makes them 36 pts.

    For racers worried about freehub drag, I believe Kappius uses a 8 pawl design, where most others around 36 pt are 6 pawl. I9 uses 6 pawls. Chris King uses Ring Drive, which supposedly has significantly more drag than a 6 pawl design. Fewer contacts points, the less drag there is. Typically the few pts means really fast rolling; go from I9 wheels to non upgraded DT hubs, and you probably will notice how fast and smooth the DT wheels roll up to speed when coasting on descents. If you’re not racing, you will appreciate being able to climb through chunk much easier. The “falling” feel and balance loss from non-instant engagement hubs causes problems and if the drag isn’t a prob (only when you’re not pedaling), then instant engagement hubs solve more problems than they create.

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Interesting comment on rolling speed, just had that discussion the other day. I would love to see a rolling speed speed test on different hubs. You are not the first person to say Chris King hubs don’t roll fast, I believe that may be true but would love to see some research.


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