Bike hubs can make or break a great wheelset. Hubs are what connect your spokes to the bike, and are constantly moving to keep your wheels spinning freely. Whether they're loud or quiet, Super Boost or standard, bike hubs come in all shapes and sizes based on your needs.
One key metric on today's modern bike hubs is their points of engagement. Engagement happens when the inner teeth/ridges of the bike hub connect with the outer pawls/ridges of the freehub. That is what makes the classic buzzing sound of a bike coasting by. The more points of engagement, the quicker you can transfer power down; or get a louder buzz when passing your buddies. Both are two very important elements when riding.
When looking to buy the newest and best MTB or road hubs, there are a few considerations to know before purchasing. First, you will want to make sure your hub spacing is correct. Most modern bikes come with thru-axles, and some older road and mountain bikes will come with quick-release skewers. The next feature to look out for is the brake type your bike has; rim, disc 6-bolt, or disc center-lock. Bikes like single-speed fixies will have neither, and some bikes may have a coaster brake. Remember those on your first bike as a kid? Super fun.
The best road bike hubs are not hard to come by. DT Swiss, Chris King, Industry Nine, and Zipp make some of the best bike hubs in general, to name a few. Most commonly, road bikes have hub spacing of 9x100 (front) and 10x130 (rear); these are for quick release skewers. Modern road bikes will have thru-axles in 12x100 (front) and 12x142 (rear). Thru-axles make the bike and wheels stiffer and more receptive to rider inputs.
When looking for road bike hubs, weight and rolling resistance are key. Road bike hubs with ceramic bearings are always a good indicator of a high-quality bike hub that will spin smoothly with little resistance.
MTB hubs are popular and fun components to upgrade. With so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start. Before buying, always double-check you are getting the correct spacing. With so many standards being introduced, it's easy to overlook!
Old MTBs use quick release skewers; 9x100 (front) and 10x135 (rear). The next iteration was the move to thru-axles; 15 or 20x100 front and 12x142 rear. Thru-axles create a stiffer frame and wheel combination that can better handle the harsh impacts and direction changes MTBs go through when riding. Next was the move Boost, this widened the hub-width allowing for shorter stays and an overall better ride quality. These are 15 or 20x110 front and 12x148 rear. Most recently was the move to Super Boost. Super Boost hubs are even wider, creating even shorter stays for an ultra stiff ride that can handle the extreme abuse modern MTBs suffer. This spacing is 15 or 20x110 front and 12x157 rear. DH bikes also vary on rear spacing so before purchasing, always look at your frame and fork specs to make sure you buy the correct size!