Your front and rear hubs determine to a great extent, the performance of your bike. The front hub helps your front wheel to spin and the rear hub functions largely in connection with your cassette to drive your rear wheel.
We’ll discuss why people seem to prefer loud hubs as opposed to quieter ones, what benefits can be derived from using them (also the downsides), and some of the loudest hubs that can be purchased.
Why Do People Want Loud Hubs?
Before we discuss why people want loud hubs, you should know what is referred to as loud hubs and what makes them loud.
What Does a Loud Hub Mean?
A bike hub is loud when it makes a lot of noise while the rider is coasting/freewheeling.
Surprisingly, high-end hubs are usually associated with this noise. And some have come to believe that the better the hub, the more sound it makes, and vice versa. You should however note that not all high-end hubs are loud.
What Causes The Noise?
This noise is usually caused by the pawls on the hubs making contact with the engagement surfaces, which are part of the ratcheting unit.
This contact makes noise because high-end hubs have more pawls and more engaging units than cheaper hubs. So more pawls are hitting the engagement points to create audible sounds.
These sounds aren’t the same for all hubs. Some make “click-click” sounds when you’re coasting and some squeezing. If you like loud hubs, you have the advantage of choosing the kind of sound you want to hear. Cool right?
Some hubs are also noisy because of the way they are manufactured. It’s only an increase in pawls that makes them different.
For example, hope hubs usually come with pawls that are widely shaped. The ratchet rings’ teeth are also deeper and the pawls have high tension. All these contribute to the sounds they make while you’re coasting.
Sounds like something bad right? Why then do people prefer it. Let’s look at the reasons.
Reasons Why People Want Loud Hubs
Loud hubs are the in thing and seem to be the trend these days. This is because of:
Riding with a loud hub ensures that you get the attention of people, like dog walkers and other riders on trails.
Most people like this because it helps clear traffic in your way. People hear you coming and quickly make way for you making it easier for you to pass.
2- Respect in the Community
Lots of riders have associated loud hubs with quality and efficiency. A rider that values the opinions of other riders wouldn’t think twice about joining the trend.
The general opinion is that most loud hubs are more expensive and have more quality so riders using them are more respected and considered elite.
Well, who wouldn’t want to use them then?
Coasting is especially bad when you’re riding with others. It puts them at risk, especially when they are right behind you.
It’s also impossible to avoid hazards or make sudden movements when you’re coasting. Supposing you’re freewheeling down a hill and you suddenly see a rock just ahead, you aren’t even pedaling, how do you avoid it?
People love loud hubs because it helps them to take caution. Since loud hubs mostly make sounds when you’re coasting, it helps you become aware that you have stopped pedaling and are now freewheeling. You can then stop this immediately and try to pedal.
4- It Drowns Other Noises
A lot of people have been heard saying they prefer loud hubs because it drowns other noises their bikes may make, like cables changing, suspension creaks, etc.
It also drowns other noises around you and keeps you focused so that you’re not distracted by your surroundings.
Why Are Loud Hubs Good?
You have seen why many people love using loud hubs but do they have benefits that could attract you into getting them too? Well, yes.
Let’s look at a few reasons why these hubs are so popular.
Loud hubs aren’t just noisemakers. They are quite distinct for their durability and reliability.
Most loud hubs are made by trusted manufacturers that are known for quality products. They last long and do not get worn out fast.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get a silent quality hub, but most silent high-end hubs come with clutches that add to their weight.
2- They are Faster
Because loud hubs have more engagement points and pawls, they engage faster which makes pedaling quick. The fast engagement that occurs when you start pedaling results in less energy being lost through your pedals.
You know bicycles don’t have horns, right? How then do you make people aware when you’re about to cycle around a corner? Loud hubs ensure that you’re safe cycling around corners and you don’t get hit by motorists, vehicles, etc. while riding.
The noise may be a little price to pay for your safety.
They also keep you safe while riding in a place where wildlife is abundant. The loud hubs announce your presence and keep animals out of your way so you can have uninterrupted riding.
How Can I Make My Hubs Loud?
Now that you are aware of the numerous benefits of having loud hubs, you’re probably wanting one, but you can’t afford it. The only option is to make your current one louder.
This can, however, make your hub wear out fast so changing it to a loud one is better.
1- You can do this by pulling the hub apart and de-greasing it.
2- After doing that, grease it just a little and set it back up.
You can also bend the spring a little. The springs are underneath the hubs’ pawls and bending them will create more tension on them. Just try bending the spring outward a bit and it will snap against the hub harder causing loud noises.
Why You Might Not Love Loud Hubs?
Loud hubs have a lot of good qualities, but there are downsides to them too. Let’s check a few:
If you’re not used to loud hubs, they can get pretty annoying. You just want them to shut up so you can concentrate. You may start focusing more on the sound than the riding which will take all the fun out of it. This can get irritating over time.
2- Attract Unwanted Attention
Sometimes you just want to ride past a particular location without necessarily being noticed but you don’t have that luxury if you use loud hubs. You can’t avoid people noticing and staring at you.
3- Hinders Communication
Using loud hubs makes communication with your fellow riders very difficult. You would all probably have to shout while talking and repeat yourselves several times.
With silent hubs, you can converse smoothly while you ride with friends.
4- Disconnect with Nature
It can also be irritating because you can’t enjoy the sounds of nature while riding through the woods. You lose that quiet that helps one connect to nature. So if you’re the type that enjoys fellowship with nature, loud hubs may not be for you.
5- Hinder Other Important Noises
As cyclists, one of the ways we know that a part of our bike needs maintenance or needs changing is by listening to the sounds.
While riding, you could notice your handlebars are rattling, your chain is rubbing against the derailleur, or other sounds that would suggest that your bike needs fixing. With Loud hubs, you can’t hear these sounds.
How Can I Quiet My Hub?
After looking at the downsides of a loud hub, you may want to know if there’s a way to quiet it down a bit or completely.
It’s simple! Grease it! Pull the hub apart and apply grease, but make sure you don’t apply too much of it. You will notice a significant change in the sound of your bike.
Whether your bike is manufactured to be loud or it’s loud because it is old, greasing it will quiet it down.
The downside is, it’s not a permanent solution. When the grease wears out, it will start making noise again. So you will have to do it frequently.
Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
What Are the Loudest Bike Hubs?
Some of the loudest bike hubs are, Hope hubs, industry Nine, Tune, DT Swiss, Hadley, White industries, etc.
Are Chris King Hubs Loud?
Yes, they are. When it comes to loud hubs, Chris King is usually preferred. This is because they don’t only produce loud hubs but are also known for quality and durability.
Chris King hubs are expensive but they are worth the money and have their own unique ringtone that makes them unique.
Chris King sounds like Chris king and that’s final. So choosing them is not just a matter of sound but also class and status.
Choosing loud or quiet hubs is a matter of preference. They both have their advantages and disadvantages but loud hubs seem to be the favorite of many.
They have lots of benefits and you can choose how loud of a hub you want. Just choose a range you’re comfortable with. Chris doesn’t sound like Hope and Hope is different from White Industries. So you’re not confined.
But make sure you aren’t choosing loud hubs to satisfy others. Do what works for you and what helps you stay sane. Loud hubs can be annoying if you don’t like them.