10 Best Mountain Bike Hubs in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

There are enough mountain bike reviews to fill up several encyclopedias and still leave enough details out.

Simply put, these bicycles have revolutionized mountain biking. They can be correctly described as the apex of cycling technology, as their ability to deal with tricky terrains like mountains and hillsides is something worth marveling at.

Among their many parts, one of the most intriguing is the hubs found on their wheels. What are they exactly?

A bike hub is the central part of bicycle wheels made up of the axle, the bearings, and the hub shell. It’s the part of the bike that allows the wheels to rotate freely.

In a nutshell, without a rear hub, you won’t be going anywhere.

Mountain bike hubs come in various types, and we’re going to look at the best ones on the market that are suited for the mountain bike.

At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Mountain Bike Hubs

If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the mountain bike hubs that most people buy).

Top 10 Best Mountain Bike Hubs – Our Reviews:

1. Hope Pro 4 EVO

The Hope Pro 4 EVO came as a successor to the Pro 2 that has received a lot of love from bike enthusiasts worldwide; it still shares a lot with that version. As much as its predecessor was good, the Pro 4 has gone further steps forward by adding improvements to an already amazing mountain bike hub.

The Pro 4 rear hub weighs 300 g and is crafted out of aluminum billet with stainless steel cartridge bearings. The hub engagement system has a 44T ratchet ring that’s backed by a 4-pawl drive system, something that the Pro 2 lacked.

The hub is also versatile as mountain bikers can modify the thru-axle to their preferences.

Hope hubs have a substantial flange diameter that doesn’t just increase its lifespan and efficiency but also gives the cyclist better control and handling.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum Billet
  • Weight: 300 g
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Bearing Type: Cartridge
  • Brake Type: Six-Bolt disc brake mount
  • Flange Diameter: 57 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 44

Pros

  • Quality UK-made hub
  • Exclusive design
  • A large spoke flange diameter
  • High-quality bearings
  • Faster hub engagement system

Cons

  • Creates some noise when running
  • Available in only one color

2. Shimano Deore XT

Shimano is the most successful bike parts maker, and they’ve been holding that fort for a while now that it’d be hard to find a bike that doesn’t make use of its high-quality Shimano components. The Shimano Deore XT front mountain bicycle hub is one of those parts.

The affordable front hub weighs 240 g and can handle any type of terrain that’s thrown at your mountain bike. The bearings are in angular contact with the wheel, creating an efficient type of friction that makes the ride more comfortable by significantly reducing the damage change to the hub.

It has a quick-release axle, making the whole hub very convenient since it’s easy to use and replace without much help. This is the kind of rear hub you go for when comfort is your priority.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 240 g
  • Axle Type: Quick-Release
  • Bearing Type: Cup and Cone bearing
  • Brake Type: Six-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 70.6 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 36

Pros

  • Big flange design
  • Angular contact bearing
  • Horizon treated ball bearings
  • Affordable
  • Quick-release axle
  • Comes with accessories

Cons

  • Installation can be tricky

3. DT Swiss DT 350 Rear Hub

The closest competition Shimano has had for years as far as quality is concerned has come from DT Swiss. The name’s synonymous with premium components only found in high-end bike wheels.

On top of spotting proprietary star ratchet system technology, the DT Swiss hub provides top performance that’ll catch the attention of even the least keen rider. With unrivaled longevity, the DT350 has a ‘no-tools’ policy that lets every rider adjust and fix anything that pops up while the hub’s in use.

The hub engagement system has 36 points that allow the rider to get the most out of their mountain bike. With an impressive grammage of 277 and a large diameter, the DT Swiss hub has the strength needed to keep the bike running at optimum levels for years before you start entertaining the idea of a replacement.

This is the rear hub you want on your bike when going on cross-country trips.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 277 g
  • Bearing Type: Cartridge
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 58 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 18

Pros

  • Premium products
  • High-quality Swiss manufactured hub
  • Uses propriety technology
  • Elite bearing performance
  • Strong and durable
  • Effective star ratchet system
  • 36 hub engagement points
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Available in only one color

4. Onyx MTB Rear Hub

The Onyx MTB  rear hub is another beautiful piece of machinery that pays close attention to performance than anything else.

The hub has bearings created out of hybrid ceramic that makes them lighter and stronger than others from major brands. They’re also adjustable, and you have the option of either making them super tight or loose, depending on your needs.

The whole system has unique sprag-clutch mechanization that triggers instant hub engagement when power is applied. This seamless switch-up gives you a very silent ride without the buzz and chain grating that’s common with most hubs.

This Onyx hub is best for those who are into racing because of its high engagement speeds; you’ll have a significant advantage over your competitors who may be using slower hubs.

Features

  • Material: 7075 Aluminum
  • Weight: 447 g
  • Bearing Type: Cartridge
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 60mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: N/A

Pros

  • Silent mountain biking
  • Fast hub engagement
  • Limited maintenance needs
  • Decent bearing performance
  • Unique design
  • Versatile ceramic bearings

Cons

  • Costs a lot
  • Very heavy
  • Comes in only one color

5. Chris King ISO

Chris King makes proprietary rear hubs that boast of unmatched mechanical tolerance. Having identified how important rear hubs are for wheel strength and performance, the company focused on creating the right products to bring that into reality, and they successfully pulled it off.

Maintenance of the Chris King hub has been made easier by the provision of a 2.5 mm hex tool that grants you access to the internal parts of the device. The durability of the hub means you’ll have to clock considerable usage before you start thinking of a complete overhaul.

The Chris King ISO has 72 points of simultaneous engagements that make switching up gears super fast and efficient.

The spokes supported by the rear hub are in a range of three: 32h, 28h, and 24h. This makes it possible for the hubs to be applied in lightweight wheelsets.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 336 g
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Bearing Type: Cup and Cone
  • Brake Type: SIX-Bolt disc brake mount
  • Flange Diameter: 57.4 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 72

Pros

  • 72 points of engagement
  • Solid build
  • Long lifespan
  • Dedicated maintenance tool

Cons

  • Limited color options
  • A bit heavy

6. Industry Nine Hydra

Sporting a 7075-T6 aluminum construction, the Industry Nine Hydra comes with amazing axles and end caps that will turn every ride into the best all-mountain biking experience.

It has a swift 690 POE that makes the front and rear hub engagements super quick. This gives the bike the envious ability to climb up hills very easy and fast; the split-second changes is one thing bikers will appreciate the most as they strive to keep the momentum of the climb going.

The hub, with its four bearing system, makes use of external seals to shield it from moisture damage, increasing its lifespan. The big axle also gives the necessary rear end stiffness.

Lastly, the huge flange increases the brake torque and lowers the stress applied on spokes.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 265 g
  • Bearing Type: Cartridge
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 60 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 690

Pros

  • Strong aluminum construction
  • Tool-free maintenance
  • Creates cool sounds
  • Reduces drag
  • Wide range of colors

Cons

  • Heavy and expensive

7. SRAM 716 X7

At 170 g, the SRAM 716 X7 is one of the smallest mountain bike hubs on this list, and the market entirely. The diminutive lightweight hub is loved by many mountain bikers who are always looking to cut down some weight in their highly accessorized bicycle wheels.

Crafted out of pure aluminum, the SRAM hub has a sealed cartridge bearing that provides the needed friction to shield the front and rear hubs and keep it in good shape through its use.

SRAM as a brand has been growing over the years and has been giving established brands like Shimano a run for their money. With this unique pawl system hub, SRAM is finally getting the attention from the right quarters.

The SRAM 716 X7 is a strong and long-lasting mountain bike hub that everyone should be looking at right now.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 170 g
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge bearings
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 58 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 32

Pros

  • Super lightweight
  • High-quality build
  • Amazing bearing performance
  • Supports radial lacing
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Comes in 32H size
  • Limited color options

8. Project 321

With an impressive 216 engagement point, Project 321 is firmly establishing itself as a game-changer in an industry that has been in the hands of a few big brands for a while now.

The wheel hub is powered by a 72-tooth driver and comes only second to the Industry 9 Hydra when it comes to the degree of engagement. It makes use of magnetic pawls that are super quick when switching gears during difficult climbs.

It is offered in two versions, a quiet one and a loud one. Each can be fine-tuned to a rider’s preference.

The wheel hub also comes with extra holes in the drive ring chamber for an increased oil capacity. This ensures that the bearings are sufficiently lubricated at all times, keeping them at an optimum level of operation round the clock.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 282 g
  • Bearing Type: Cartridge
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 58 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 216

Pros

  • Loud and silent versions
  • Solid construction
  • 216 engagements points
  • Smooth bearings
  • Fast magnetic pawls

Cons

  • Expensive

9. White Industries XMR

White Industries has been in the bike-making business since 1978, so they know a thing or two about mountain bike hubs that most newer companies may not be privy to.

These rear hubs come with two options, boost and non-boost configurations that utilize various components to give the racer the control they need for a comfortable ride.

The hub comes equipped with 24 points of engagement, with the option for an upgrade to 48 at no extra charge from White Industries. Maintaining the wheel hub has also been made easy with the inclusion of a 2m hex tool that you can use to make superficial alterations to the hub.

Another notable feature is the preload adjustment of the bearings that makes the hub last for a long time.

Features

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 306 g
  • Bearing Type: Cartridge
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 60 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement: 48

Pros

  • Strong build
  • Upgradeable engagement points
  • Durable
  • Comes in two options
  • Easy maintenance
  • Tall flanges
  • Looks amazing

Cons

  • Hard to find

10. Talisman DC4 428 Gram Hub

The one area where the Talisman DC4 really excels is the appearance; the hub looks amazing and it’d be hard for any biker to resist the urge to have it on their mountain bike. Behind that beautiful exterior though is a beast that does exactly what it has been designed for without fail.

AT 428 g, the Talisman is a little too heavy, but that doesn’t impact its efficiency in any way. It has 72 points giving the bike the power of seamless gear switches as you tackle tricky mountain climbs.

This wheel hub is ideal for professional cyclists looking for a high-performance rear-wheel device without paying top dollar.

Another endearing aspect of the Talisman DC4 is its tool-free assembly, which makes servicing a quick thing that even a beginner can handle without much help.

Features

  • Material: Anodized Aluminum
  • Weight: 428 g
  • Bearing Type: Dual-Sealed Cartridge
  • Axle Type: Thru-Axle
  • Brake Type: 6-Bolt disc brake
  • Flange Diameter: 56 mm
  • Spoke Interface: J-Bend
  • Points of Engagement:  72

Pros

  • Aesthetic construction
  • Tool-free assembly
  • Fast engagements
  • High performance
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Heavy

What to Consider When Buying Rear Hubs?

Choosing the right hub for your mountain bike wheels can be challenging, whether you’re an experienced mountain biker or not. The sheer numbers of hubs brands that proclaim the best efficiency can leave you confused, so to help you make an informed decision, here’s a buying guide you can use.

Weight

Mountain bikes are generally heavy. They’re equipped with a lot of accessories that are necessary for their operations, given how rough the terrain they’ve been designed for can be.

Therefore, any chance of cutting down that weight should be embraced wholly.

The weight of the wheel hub directly affects the bike’s unsprung mass, which ultimately impacts the performance. The smaller the hub, the better the handling, navigation, and ride quality.

Strength and Durability

You want a wheel hub that will last you years since they never come cheap.

Since they’re positioned in places that involve a lot of movement, they’ll be affected by the wear and tear. However, how fast that happens is what should be of concern to you.

Get MTB hubs that are made using strong materials that can last for a while before the need for change arises.

Bearing Type

Bearings for tires come in two types depending on their covering. You can either go for Cartridge type or the Cup and Cone type.

Each comes at a different budget; the bottom line here, however, is that you ought to go for bearings that are of good quality, that are sealed securely and shielded from the elements, and the type that’s easy to service on your own.

Cup and cone bearings are cheaper but are a bit hard to fine-tune to what you need. Cartridge bearings are more convenient, but they cost more, and replacing them is also costly.

Bike Compatibility

Not just any type of mountain bike hub can go into any set of wheels; there are compatibility issues that have to consider first.

The tires hub has to be compatible with the mountain bikes. You have to look at the axle size, the frame design, and the number of spokes on the rim, and make sure they match up with the number of holes on the hub.

The same applies to the brake rotor; disc brake systems need corresponding MTB hubs for them to attach correctly. Brake rotors can either be Six-Bolt or Centerlock.

Check the braking system on your bike first to avoid the mistake of getting the wrong fit.

Material

Most wheel hubs are made using some form of aluminum because aluminum is strong and light. There’s an option for hubs made of carbon fibre, but they’re priced so high that not many bicycle wheels even consider them in their designs.

On the other hand, steel is stronger and durable, but it’s avoided for the sheer fact that it weighs a lot more, and this will affect efficiency. Maybe in the future, more wheels will embrace carbon fiber hubs.

Engagement Points

Engagement points refer to the number of ‘clicks’ you hear when your rear wheel hubs are moving. It’s the number of times the internal machinery spins to complete one revolution.

The basic principle here is that the more engagement points, the more beneficial the hubs. You get a smoother ride on a higher number of freehub body engagement points compared to a lowly one.

The Bottom Line

No type of bike tires can move without hubs, and it’s for this reason that bike manufacturers are investing a lot in developing their own unique devices. When looking for the best mountain bike wheelset hubs, pay attention to the brand, the weight, and the number of engagement points.

Each of the hubs mentioned above works in its own way. Whether one is superior to the other doesn’t matter much; how you apply them is more important.

Therefore, if you’re a fan of mountain riding and have been putting off buying hubs for your MTB, then this guide should give you the reviews you need to get that done finally.