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MTB hubs: the characteristics to look out for

MTB hubs: the characteristics to look out for

An MTB hub should have qualities that improve the setup and performance of your bike. If you're a cyclist you're perfectly aware that the hubs can influence your riding ability and the lifespan of the wheels. 

In this article we'll show you the characteristics to look out for when choosing a hub for your mountain bike.

Why is a MTB hub an essential component?

Mountain bikers look for several specific qualities that will help optimise their race performance.

  1. Responsiveness on sudden changes;
  2. Smooth wheel movement;
  3. Lightness;
  4. Rigid setup.

The bike's wheel hubs affect the setup. To improve responsiveness even on technical terrains, you should consider these hub characteristics:

  • weight: to reduce the weight, it's important that the body of the hub is made in lightweight, resistant materials.
  • smoothness in the ball bearings: these should be well protected by the body of the MTB hub, to avoid the accumulation of dirt and mud, which leads to premature wear and tear.
  • Setup of the spokes: straight pull spokes are suitable if you want greater rigidity, while J-bend spokes are more comfortable for the rider.
  • compatibility with gear changes (in the case of bikes with hub gears).

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MTB hubs for front vs rear wheels

Front and rear wheel hubs for MTBs may vary in some aspects, as they have different functions:

  1. The ball bearings
    The front hub usually has simpler bearings and a straight shaft. This is because the front wheel mainly transmits the vertical load, and is not involved in the transmission of force or gear changes. 
    Rear MTB hubs, on the other hand, need to handle both the vertical load and the transmission of force from the chain to the rear wheel, especially where the gears are in the hub.
    Because of this, it often has more robust bearings and a shaft with a specific setup to house the gears.

  2. The body of an MTB hub
    Rear hubs tend to have longer and more complex bodies to house the gears. This makes them heavier and more complicated than front hubs, which are generally simpler and lighter.

  3. Locking system
    The front hub usually has a simpler locking system, often with quick release hooks or a through spindle. The rear MTB hub, on the other hand, may have a more complex locking system to guarantee the necessary rigidity and stability to transmit force to the ground efficiently;

  4. Cassette or pinion
    Only the rear hub has a cassette or pinion; it is connected to the chain and allows the selection of gears. The front hub does not have this component;

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The advantages of a bike with hub gears

A mountain bike with hub gears operates a transmission system very different to the traditional chain gears, in which the gears are changed by means of a derailleur which shifts the chain onto the different sprockets.

A hub gear is actually housed inside the rear wheel hub. This type of gear offers some distinct advantages for MTB:

  1. Internal gears
    Inside the rear hub are several sprockets (usually between 3 and 14 gears, depending on the hub model), which can be selected by the cyclist. These sprockets offer a range of gears, allowing the rider to adapt better to steep climbs, descents and flat sections;

  2. Durability and maintenance
    Hub gears are more durable because they are inside the hub and thus protected from the weather, mud and dirt. This means they require only ordinary maintenance compared to traditional gears, which are more exposed to the elements.

  3. Standing gear change
    With a hub gear setup, you can change gear when the bike is standing still or moving very slowly, unlike conventional gears which often need the bike to be moving for a smooth shift.

  4. Aesthetics
    The final advantage is aesthetic: MTBs with hub gears have a cleaner design without visible derailleur or sprockets.

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Why to choose an Ursus MTB hub

The central body of an Ursus MTB hub is made in ultra-light, resistant Ergal 7075 aluminium. The design is aggressive yet elegant, a plus for cyclists who care about the aesthetics of their mountain bike.

Thanks to the work of our in-house R&D team, we also selected special ball bearings, designed specifically to:

  1. increase smoothness;
  2. reduce the build-up of mud, dust and dirt;
  3. prolong the life of the hub.

Moreover, all our hubs undergo rigorous checks by CNC, with tolerances of hundredths of millimetres or microns. This ensures that every hub meets a very high standard of quality for all cyclists, amateur or professional. 

The Ursus range of MTB hubs includes several models, which vary in terms of:

  • locking system (centre lock or six bolts);
  • type of spokes (J-bend or straight pull).
  • setup of spokes.

They are compatible with the following gear systems:

  • Shimano;
  • Campagnolo;
  • Sram.

You can buy pairs of hubs individually; but remember that both front and rear MTB hubs are always included when you buy Ursus wheels.


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