Good hubs are an investment. They are an investment in reliability and will in most cases outlast your rims. They can be serviced as time goes on and play a big role in the performance of your wheelset. Choosing one can be hard as manufacturers are not in a position to compare and contrast their product against others that are available. I would like to provide some insight on that here. If you would like personalised advice on choosing a suitable disc brake wheelset feel free to get in touch with us. We can go into far more detail than we are able to here and tailor the advice to your needs. All of these hubs can be built up with a range of different rims and most with a range of different spokes to create varied wheelsets. Where possible, we have addressed the other components in other overviews across this site, for example ‘choosing spokes’ and ‘which rim’.
Disc brake compatible hubs on bicycles are a varied product and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the choice. It is also easy to select a product which is fundamentally incompatible with your brakes and/or gears and/or frame. It is beyond the scope of the overview here to thoroughly assess all elements, however it should help to give you an indicator as to hubs are likely to work best for you.
Not every hub on the market is listed here. The only hubs we are assessing are hubs which are:
- Readily available
- Would provide a good solution for the right rider in the right conditions
- We have decent experience with.
The lines have blurred for the sort of bike a disc brake hub would be used on. Now they can be anything from a time trial bike used exclusively on the road and almost exclusively on flat terrain through all sorts of mixed on/off road to aggressive and technical off road applications. Very few hubs would be well suited to all applications so it is, as much as anything, about the right hub for the right bike.
It is easy to be drawn in by products being generally well received, well known brands, having a long history of application. If you have previously had positive experience with a particular hub this may well be a valid reason to use them again. You may well really regret trying something else and end up being disappointed. However, where possible, I would like to give specific reasons for choosing one hub over another by comparing the hubs on their measurable quantifiable features as well as providing some insight into their best and worst qualities.
Below is a chart cross referencing some key features of the hubs themselves. It is difficult to answer some of these accurately so I have qualified some of the measurements.
I have listed RRPs of the hubs where applicable. Some hubs are more readily available at discounted prices than others and others have no official RRP. However available prices tend to differ much more regularly and vary more than RRPs.
Bearing carrying capacity
A nice feature to have, not always relevant for all riders at all times and also a bit difficult to measure – two different 6802 bearings for example may provide a different bearing carrying capacity. However, I would prefer to compare them as if they were equal. Variation depends on the material the bearing is made from and also their construction. Variation in capacity is principally determined by the actual bearing size, rather than their construction. So where we have attempted to provide combined capacity, that is on the basis of a nominal capacity for that bearing, the capacity of that hub may differ from that to a small extent. Generally all the hubs here have plenty of carrying capacity, more is of course more but a bigger bearing often adds drag and always adds weight so extra capacity can be a bad thing. Chris King hubs have angular bearings which we cannot provide an accurate capacity on – Chris King hubs do have high capacity. Hope and DT often use non-standard bearing sizes and capacity has had to be approximately estimated on that basis. Capacity is in kilonewtons and is based around static capacity.
All of the hubs mentioned here are available in through axle and quick release compatibility but not all hubs are available with ALL axle interfaces. We will address that separately. For application rating, these are determined by the manufacturer and not by us.
Rotor compatibility is abbreviated to ‘rotor’ and will be annotated as either IS for international standard 6 bolt rotor mount and/or CL for centre lock rotor mounting.
Freehub compatibility, abbreviated to ‘freehub’, will be annotated as, HG, for Shimano hyper glide, also compatible with a lot of Sram cassettes, XD for Sram XD cassettes and CA for Campagnolo cassettes.
Boost option means whether there is a boost shell available on the hub – this is likely to be heavier but the option being available is relevant. Abbreviated to ‘boost’ simply yes or no. We are not listing the colours the hubs are available in and sometimes this changes. However most hubs are only available in black, where other colours are available we have stated that other colours are available.
Points of engagement is only on the freehub of the rear and different engagement systems provide a different sort of feel of engagement, different drag etc. That is quite nuanced but we are literally looking for a headline figure for POE here, to give a numerical result.
We have not listed the drillings the hubs are available in. 32 hole is the standard, if the hubs are available in anything other than 32 hole then we consider there to be ‘drilling options’; abbreviated to drilling in the chart.
We consider all these hubs as suitable for Cross Country mountain bike applications (XC); that will make them suitable for road disc, gravel and cyclocross applications as well. On the application spectrum you can go up from there to all mountain (AM) from there to enduro (EN) from there to downhill (DH); so XC would be the lowest application rating and DH the highest.
We have separated the hubs into front/rear for ease.
|Chris King ISO||166||DH||IS||Yes||Yes||Yes||–||275|
|Chris King R45||144||AM||IS/CL||Yes||Yes||No||–||275|
|DCR Boost CL||140||AM||CL||No||No||Yes||4.48||58|
|DCR Centrelock SP||105||XC||CL||Yes||No||No||3.44||75|
|DCR HD disc||215||DH||IS||Yes||No||No||9.28||70|
|DCR Lightweight 6 bolt||120||XC||IS||Yes||No||No||3.44||53|
|DCR Standard disc||185||DH||IS||Yes||No||No||4.64||54|
|DT Swiss 180 CL||107||EN||CL||Yes||No||No||~3.96||299|
|DT Swiss 240s CL||126||EN||CL||Yes||No||Yes||~3.96||150|
|DT Swiss 350 CL||136||EN||CL||Yes||No||Yes||~3.96||60|
|Hope Pro 4||181||DH||IS||Yes||Yes||Yes||4.64||70|
|Chris King ISO||336||72||HG/XD||–||495|
|Chris King R45||265||45||HG/XD/CA||–||485|
|DCR Boost CL||260||56||HG/XD||7.82||110|
|DCR Centrelock SP||230||48||HG/XD/CA||7.82||113|
|DCR HD disc||380||56||HG/XD||11.16||104|
|DCR Standard disc||290||56||HG/XD||7.82||86|
|DT Swiss 180 CL||207||18-54||HG/XD/CA||5.54||550|
|DT Swiss 240s CL||232||18-54||HG/XD/CA||6.68||300|
|DT Swiss 350 CL||272||18-54||HG/XD/CA||8.96||170|
|Hope Pro 4||300||44||HG/XD/CA||~9.58||160|
Key model features:
Alto hubs are beautifully made. Their bearing capture/preload system is elegant and really easy to operate. Their ride quality is excellent. They have very fast freehub engagement and the weight is good.
The price is very high.
Chris King hubs boast a seldom equalled 5 year warranty with fast engagement, highly serviceable and durable, available in many axle interfaces, colours, flanges, drillings and general options – strong and a decent weight.
The price is high and regularity of maintenance requirement is also the most demanding of any hub here. The weight is good but not exceptional.
Excellent value and big range to suit all occasions, they can run with a range of freehubs, axles interfaces and rotors. There is a hub to fit any system. The weights are very good and the three point anti-bite system on the freehub is a nice feature and often omitted entirely from higher end hubs (ONYX being the only exception here). The engagement is better than most. The freehub design is the most reliable of any hub we have seen at this price point.
The freehub system is still based around a ratchet and pawl concept and therefore is not as robust/reliable as DT Swiss or ONYX system for example, weights are beaten in certain categories by other manufacturers. Limited range of colours across the range but some colour options are available.
The star ratchet mechanism is the most reliable and lowest maintenance of any system. 54t engagement is also good and the weights are good across the board. They are a hyper-reliable hub choice with real versatility.
No colour options. Freehub is slow as standard and the 350 hub is a little heavy the 240s hubs are are fairly expensive. The 180 is exceptionally expensive.
Reliable design, big range of shells, drillings and colours.
Freehub can be noisy. Engagement is good but beaten by a large number of alternatives.
Weight and surprisingly good value.
Noisy engagement system and much more limited range.
Probably the biggest overall range with customisable colours on different parts of the hubs as well as different shells and axle interfaces and freehub body options with alloy, steel and alloy hybrid. The freewheeling is utterly silent and totally instant. Plus a 5 year warranty and a reliable, low maintenance and durable system. Anti-bite system on the alloy freehubs is the best we have seen.
These hubs are not priced here because they are subject to $/£ fluctuations but generally come out between £450-£550/pair making their price fairly high. The hubs are also pretty heavy, lighter options are coming through but they have emphasized robustness and their sprag clutch system over an attractive weight.
Great range of colours and drillings and options. Fantastic weight through innovative axle design and titanium ratchet/pawl mechanism and precise machining.
Price – they are certainly more expensive. The axle design is a difficult to setup and best done by a professional with experience of Tune axles and the engagement is slower than most.
The DCR hubs offer excellent value for money. For those looking for an alternative, better known brand, DT Swiss 350 and Hope provide some compelling options with the DT providing the features I prefer to see in a hub however the Hope hubs offer colours where DT do not. Weight weenies should look to Newmen and Tune, if weight is not so relevant for you the ONYX hub design is truly special. The Alto hub design provides excellent ride quality for those with deeper pockets.