Which hub is better, a loud one or a silent one? Going by what is on most cyclists’ forums, you will realize that people have divided opinions. All the same, among all the bike hubs, why are BMX hubs so loud?
The BMX hub is loud because it has more engagement points in its ratchet ring and more pawls on its driver body than other hubs. Therefore, when coasting or backpedaling, the contact between the ratchet teeth and the pawls is the reason behind the loud sound.
When the teeth go past the pawls, the pawls are pushed into their bed; then, a strong spring pushes the pawl open once again. However, when you start pedaling, the ratchet teeth engage the pawls, and the hub goes silent.
Why Are BMX Hubs So Loud? Detailed Explanation
Basically, the main purpose of having a freewheeled hub is to disconnect the rear wheel and the cranks when the rider stops pedaling. Once the rider starts pedaling, a good hub should reconnect the drivetrain seamlessly.
As mentioned in the introduction, a rear hub works on a ratchet mechanism that features a ratchet (engagement) ring and a pawl driver.
Specifically, the pawls have springs that push them out of the driver’s body. So, when a cyclist pedals forwards, the pawls spring out and bite against the teeth of the ratchet ring.
As a result, the set-up becomes one unit, and the force from pedaling is transmitted to the wheel.
However, when the cyclist stops pedaling, the cassette and the driver body stop spinning. All the same, the ratchet ring keeps turning, and the teeth press the pawls down.
Consequently, the pawls’ spring press them open immediately the ratchet teeth go past them. As a result, the rapidly repeated contact between the ratchet rings teeth and the pawls in a BMX bicycle are the reason behind the loud sound from the hub.
Are More Engagement Points And Pawls Efficient?
A bike’s efficiency means a lot in the biking world. Therefore, every feature in a bicycle should be worth the effort. So, are more pawls, and extra engagement points better in terms of efficiency?
The answer here is yes; they minimize wastage of the pedaling power.
Actually, on resuming pedaling after coasting, you only spin the pedals for a few millimeters, and the cranks engage the rear wheel.
This efficiency is most useful when mountain biking or when you have to make tight, slow turns.
Factors that Make BMX Hubs So Loud
Definitely, there are reasons as to why BMX hubs are louder than other brands. The reasons include:
More Ratchet Ring Teeth
When a cog cassette has more ratchet ring teeth, it automatically has more points of contact with the pawls. In addition, the system will exhibit more friction against the pawls.
Notably, the high number of engagement points is not there to make the hub loud. Instead, the motivation behind the numerous ratchet ring teeth is better drivetrain performance.
When a freewheel has more engagement points, it instantly responds when pedaling restarts. So actually, you can rarely realize that the crankset and the rear hub were disengaged.
Therefore, you will find manufacturers using more teeth on their midrange and high-end bicycles.
All the same, if you would like to replace your current cassette with one that is of high quality, you can go for the LITEONE 8 Speed Cassette. It has a cog ratio of 11-42T and is compatible with SRAM, MTB, BMX, and Shimano systems.
More Pawls In The Drive
Another reason why BMX hubs are so loud is the use of more pawls in the drive. Actually, an increased number of ratchet ring teeth is nothing if the pawls are few.
You need to more pawls so that they can bite efficiently into the ratchet engagement points.
Therefore, to ensure that the freewheel engages the drive train instantly, manufacturers utilize more pawls. Not only that, but they also use strong springs in the pawl beds to push the pawls out strongly against the ratchet ring teeth.
Loud Hubs Are BMX’s Culture
If the loud hubs were not by design, the manufacturers would have definitely done away with them. But, on the contrary, going through bike forums, you will be surprised to find out that there are riders who actually love the loud hubs.
For example, MTB Project 321 hubs have as many as 216 points of engagement and come in two versions.
The first version is as loud as any other BMX bike, while the other is silent.
Therefore, if the manufacturers wanted to produce bikes with silent hubs, they have the capacity. All the same, the buzzing sound has become so iconic that it’s easily associated with BMX bikes.
Again, why would they silence the hubs while their customers want them loud?
So why are BMX hubs so loud? It’s part of BMX’s culture and identity.
Why Are Expensive Hubs Louder Than The Cheap Ones
Some folks may get surprised by how loud high-end freewheels can be. Some may take the buzz to be just for show-off.
On the contrary, there are mechanical reasons why the rear hubs of most expensive bikes are so loud.
The first reason why expensive hubs are louder is the high number of ratchet engagements and pawls. Cheap entry-level MTB hubs have as few as 15 points of engagement, while elite bikes such as Project 321 features 216 points.
In addition, high-end hubs use strong pawl springs and use lighter grease that doesn’t restrict their movement.
As a result, expensive BMX bikes will most times produce louder sounds than entry-level bicycles.
Are All Good Hubs Loud?
Is it a must for all high-quality hubs to be so loud? Well, the correct answer here is no.
Many high-end hubs are quiet on purpose. These ratchet sound freehubs are mostly ideal for riders who like concentrating on the ride without distractions from their coasting freewheels.
A good example is the Shimano Ultegra R8000 Cassette, made of nickel-coated steel and has a wide gear range.
Why Do People Like Loud Freehubs?
There are so many reasons why riders use loud freewheels. Surprisingly, some riders get loud hubs by chance while others it’s by choice.
First, as we had mentioned earlier, most high-end freewheels are much louder than entry-level ones.
So as riders go for quality cassettes, they may end up with loud hubs by chance.
On the other hand, there are those cyclists who install loud freewheels by choice. For example, those who ride through parks and trails where pedestrians are, find a loud freehub resourceful.
Practically, pedestrians hear the buzz from the hub and step out the way without any need for the rider to ring bells.
In addition, some riders (though few) use loud hubs for bling. Actually, some riders completely degrease their rear bike hubs to get that loud buzz.
Unfortunately, degreasing the system adversely affects the lifespan of your bike’s freewheel.
Therefore, to keep your freehub adequately lubricated, use lighter grease such as the Park Tool PolyLube 1000 Bicycle Grease.
It repels moisture and protects your hub’s vital parts. In simple, it won’t interfere with how your hub sounds.
Advantages Of A Loud BMX Hub
Earlier in the discussion, we found that some riders like louder hubs. This makes the manufacturers continue with that line of production. So, are there benefits that come with using loud hubs?
Yes, some benefits include:
- Faster engagement on resuming pedaling
- It helps to alert pedestrians as a rider approaches without using bells. Actually, it alerts even those road users you can’t see.
- When riding in a pack or a paceline, a loud freewheel signals the riders behind you when you are coasting.
Disadvantages Of A Loud BMX Hub
A loud hub also has disadvantages that include:
- No Stealth Riding Mode. It is almost impossible to pass unnoticed when your bike has a loud hub. This could be disadvantageous when passing through densely populated areas you would rather pass unnoticed.
- Muting sounds from the surrounding. This could be dangerous since the hub prevents you from hearing other road users. Also, the buzz could camouflage other bike sounds that could signal mechanical issues.
- They are irritating. Factually, it’s not everyone that fancies loud hubs. Some new riders find loud hubs irritating. Also, when pack riding, the buzz from the bikes may irritate other road users.
Also Related:what kind of cassette to get for your bike?
When buying a bike, you need to be keen to ensure that you get what you pay for. So, there are bikes, especially the BMX, with a loud rear hub as their selling point.
Actually, most of the good BMX rear hubs that are worth investing in are quite loud. For this reason, you will find a cyclist degreasing their bike’s hubs to make them louder.
All the same, there are high-quality bike hubs that so loud that they can suit riders who don’t fancy the buzz.
Notably, degreasing your bike’s hub is counterproductive as it leads to rapid wearing of the freewheel. Therefore, the best way to get a louder rear hub is to purchase a new one that will naturally suit your riding style.