The Why - Rear Wheel Durability and Hub Selection

September 10, 2017

We at Ronin Cycling believe hubs have a significant impact in how a wheel performs and feels, but also how durable a wheel is as well.

It’s for this reason we’ve been quite selective in what hubs we’re prepared to offer.

Whilst there are many factors that make an excellent hub, we want to focus this topic on spoke tension difference between the drive side and the non-drive side of the rear wheel.

As drivetrains increased in gearing (i.e. to 11 speed) whilst retaining the same overall hub width. Something had to give and sadly the space available for the drive side flange decreased to make way for wider cassettes.

Boring you say and you're right! I'd rather be riding, but that doesn't mean it's not important. Here are some quick facts:

  • Spokes with low tension are more likely to cause wheels to come untrue due to the nipples loosening over time.
  • Due to the low spoke tension, there is a greater range in cyclic loading which results in premature spoke breakages from fatigue.

When we started testing what we would build our wheels around, we were disappointed that some hubs produced wheels with terrible non-drive side spoke tension in the range of 30-40% of the drive side. This resulted in wheels with unacceptably low spoke tensions on the non drive side.

    What’s the cause of this? The hub geometry in relation to the hub flanges PCD and distance from hub centre. There is not allot a wheel builder can do to rectify an unfavourable geometry, aside from going to asymmetric rims to counter it, or better yet using a hub with a favourable geometry.

    It's for this reason, we utilise hubs that provide a range of 50-60% difference from the drive side and have been very pleased with the positive impact on overall durability.

    The above is a brief insight into our selection process but we also did consider the bearings, sealing, freehub engagement and spoke interface tolerance in our hub selection.

    If you have any questions or want to know more, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss.

    Kind Regards
    Ronin Cycling