Bang for your Buck- BMX hubs
Author: Tim Date Posted:28 January 2020
Hub Buyers Guide
Choosing hubs for your BMX bike can be overwhelming with the number of hubs that are available on the market. Most BMX hubs on the market fall under two categories of rear hub Freecoaster or Cassette, for most riders they will know which they prefer, however, the next step is to choose a matching front hub and this is where considering the following could help you come to a solid decision
Front hubs on BMX bikes vary in colour, weight, brand, and size, however, the majority of freestyle BMX hubs are made to do a very similar job, rolling forward (or backwards). When choosing a front hub the main consideration is weight, look, and brand. The main difference in front hubs is in the axle, whether male or female this decision is mostly personal preference as it makes no difference to how your bike rolls. Another consideration to take into account would be hub guard compatibility on your hub. Most front hubs will be in a set for the corresponding back hub and this can often influence the choice of the hub.
Freecoaster / Cassette
The main difference in BMX is the drive mechanism within the hub. A freecoaster hub allows the rider to move backwards without having to pedal backwards. This is made possible by the clutch system that is built into the hub. Freecoaster hubs traditionally weigh more than cassette hubs due to the increased hardware inside the hub. Aesthetically free coaster hub shells are slightly larger in diameter than a cassette wheel. The advantages of a cassette wheel are more personal preference as it can influence the style of riding. In recent years freecoaster technology has become more accessible, leading to more companies dipping into the freecoaster market.
Cassette hubs are the “traditional” BMX hub, mostly using a similar pawl system inside. This system pushes the spring-loaded ”pawl” into a notch engaging the hub. The difference with a cassette is that when the rider moves backwards they will have to pedal backwards unlike the freecoaster. This type of hub has been tried and tested over the years and proves to be a staple in BMX.
In the past years, companies have engineered a hybrid hub, that incorporates both a free coaster and a cassette within the same hub. Naturally, with the amount of technology and engineering that has gone into developing these hubs, they come in substantially more expensive than the standard cassette hub.
Hub weight can vary from brand to brand, but generally, cassette hubs come in lighter with fewer materials needed during manufacturing. Some brands cassette hubs can come in under 250grams, where free coasters can weigh as much as 700grams. Front hubs naturally weigh less than rear hubs given the amount of material to make them. The weight of your bike really comes down to what you’re wanting to do with it, however with the array of hubs available from your local bike shop, building your dream set of wheels will be a breeze.
Bmx hubs come in a variety of materials and manufacturing processes. Hub shells are made from (mostly) 6061 alloy, the internals range from 7075 alloys for internal female axels, or chromo male axels with both alloy and chromo bolts. Bearings range in size and design dictated by the design of the internals of the hub shell and the driving mechanism.
Many BMX hubs come with interchangeable hub guards, Hub guards are secured between the hub and the frame/fork to help protect the hub flange and spokes of your wheels. Riders that grind ledges and rails would be more inclined to get hub guards. Where riders that don't do grinds wouldn’t need them.
Bmx riders for years have been fascinated by the loud noise their cassette hub can make. In the past, a loud cassette could be achieved by taking all the lubricants out of the hub which caused all sorts of issues. Now with the number of hubs on the market, picking a loud hub is a lot easier and is something to consider if cassette noise is important to you.
Hub costs can start as low as $59.95 for an entry-level cassette wheel and can go to as much as $649.95 for a freecoaster/cassette wheel.
Choosing the right hub for your bike can be daunting and expensive. At the end of the day your hubs are what get you to the skatepark, and choosing the right hub for you is very important. Researching what you want before buying can help but checking out your local store and asking the questions will help you get an understanding of what you are really looking for.