Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

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Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby australiantourer » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:23 pm

Do totally silent new hubs/transmissions still exist? Since 1995, I have been riding a Mongoose Crossway 850 (hybrid) with standard Shimano STX-RC groupset, 7 speed cassette. It is completely silent to ride -- a delightful way to move on quiet country roads. Recently I have bought two new bikes -- a Merida Matts 500 10 speed mountain bike, and a Bike Friday 9 speed (both with tripple chainwheels). Both make a very subtle ratchet sort of noise when peddling, and I'm sure it's not a setup issue. Knowing that this sound is not technically necessary, I find it irritating, though based on some posts I've noted in this forum, some cyclists may actually enjoy the extra noise. Some hubs are positively and deliberately noisy, it seems.

I wondered whether thin chains were part of the story, which then led me to speculate on the future supply of reasonable quality parts for 7 speed bikes. I don't need 27/30/33 gears -- 21 is more than enough; in my 30s I went around the world quite happily with only 10 gears. But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish. I do wonder if this will be the case -- who would have predicted the return of single speed bikes or of vinyl records, for that matter. Things often progress in surprising pendulum swings.

Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain rings -- the weight saving probably amounts to less than two pieces of fruit, which to a cycle tourer is five-eighths of total irrelevancy. Fancy having to buy replacement chainwheels as a regular consummable -- what a take by the industry!

I can imagine that some readers will dismiss this line of thought as coming from a middle aged man romanticising his youthful cycling days. Grant Peterson's book 'Just ride' should convince readers that a lot of the trends in cyling that we are drawn into is just so much marketing spin -- I thoroughly recommend this book, which is not to say that I agree with all argument made in it.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable quality drive train setup that is silent? I would happily add it to my shopping list.
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by BNA » Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:00 pm

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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby eeksll » Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:00 pm

I am also generating a dislike for loud hubs ... I have a bloody loud one (dt-swiss).

Shimano hubs are pretty quiet.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby jacks1071 » Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:14 pm

Tried re-greasing your freehub?
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby il padrone » Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:15 pm

Maybe everyone has upgraded to Chris King hubs? (OH&S hearing protection required :shock: :lol: )

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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby jaffaman » Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:20 pm

That's louder than my lawn mower!!
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby eeksll » Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:58 am

jacks1071 wrote:Tried re-greasing your freehub?


I even have the dt-swiss grease and it sounds much better after I have drowned the ratchet in grease. A long way from quiet still (and a fair way from the pro-lite como :wink: ). It just doesn't seem to last very long.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby RonK » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:29 am

It's the size and number of pawls in the freehub that determine the noise output.

Hubs with lots of small pawls are quieter. Big pawls are noisy. Big pawls are usually found in cheap hubs.

It's not a good idea to use heavy lubricants - if the pawls are sticky you can loose drive.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Nobody » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:43 am

australiantourer wrote:Both make a very subtle ratchet sort of noise when [pedaling], and I'm sure it's not a setup issue. Knowing that this sound is not technically necessary, I find it irritating, though based on some posts I've noted in this forum, some cyclists may actually enjoy the extra noise. Some hubs are positively and deliberately noisy, it seems.
So I assume you are talking about the chain meshing noise. You could get a belt drive geared hub. I've heard they are very quiet.

australiantourer wrote:But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish. I do wonder if this will be the case -- who would have predicted the return of single speed bikes or of vinyl records, for that matter. Things often progress in surprising pendulum swings.
I've found 7 speed is starting to get rare and therefore more expensive. I went to 8 speed on my MTB for the reasons of greater choice and less cost. Eventually I can see myself going to 9 speed for the same reason. The trend in MTB is now less chainwheels and more cassette cogs, so I can't see 7 speed coming back in a hurry.

australiantourer wrote:Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain rings -- the weight saving probably amounts to less than two pieces of fruit, which to a cycle tourer is five-eighths of total irrelevancy. Fancy having to buy replacement chainwheels as a regular consummable -- what a take by the industry!
Yes, my last 105 chainrings didn't outlast the cassette. They started to make an irritating rattling noise to the point where peds could hear me coming. It was only slightly more expensive to change the crankset, so I did that.

australiantourer wrote:I can imagine that some readers will dismiss this line of thought as coming from a middle aged man romanticising his youthful cycling days. Grant Peterson's book 'Just ride' should convince readers that a lot of the trends in cycling that we are drawn into is just so much marketing spin...
I haven't read the book, but have read many of his articles and agree with much of it. I'd say in the future when we have just about everything made of carbon and 12 speed or more cogs on the rear, that some will look back and wonder what was so wrong with 9 speed and metals.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Bentnose » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:55 am

I have Hope hubs and the noise of those works better than any bell, pedestrians have to look to see what the noise is!
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby duds2u » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:55 am

I like the stealth of my Fulcrum hubs.
I really don't mind following someone in a bunch ride that has noisy hubs as you know as soon as they have come off the pedal.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby JustJames » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:29 pm

australiantourer wrote:...Grant Peterson's book 'Just ride' should convince readers that a lot of the trends in cyling that we are drawn into is just so much marketing spin -- I thoroughly recommend this book, which is not to say that I agree with all argument made in it.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable quality drive train setup that is silent? I would happily add it to my shopping list.


I've read the book.

Some of it is worthwhile, some of it is accurate, and some of it is somebody's own personal axe grinding going on (which I guess is what you were saying).

Progress is inevitable. Some progress will be worthwhile, some will be dead ends. Bio Pace, anyone? But an awful lot turns out to be worthwhile. Disc brakes, suspension, brifters, freehub cassette gears, compact cranks, electronic shifting, tubeless tyres...all have a lot going for them.

I have Ksyriums that have a healthy dollop of grease on the ratchet pawls, and they're pretty much silent.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby ldrcycles » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:39 pm

I've found Shimano R500s to be so close to silent as makes no difference. I'm one of those people who like noise though, the Maillard freewheel on my Mercier is a great example, it doesn't sound like a fire truck like that King hub but is a little more subdued, it just sounds smooth and lovely and expensive (though it's not really any of those things haha).
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Stuey » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:35 pm

I think most of you have the wrong end of the stick...the OP was referring to noise while pedalling, not freewheeling.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby australiantourer » Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:57 am

yes -- that's correct, Stuey. Coasting is fine and peaceful -- it's the subtle but persistent clicking sound while pedalling that bothers me, deeply sensitive soul that I obviously am! I remember being gobsmacked on my first derailleur bike (entry level, assembled by Hillman in 1984). I got off the train at Dandenong, fully loaded for my first ever tour, and rode off across the Koo Wee Rup swamp area. At some point, as the traffic diminished, I realised that I was gliding silently through the landscape. It was poetry in motion, and I was hooked. Entranced.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Ross » Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:18 am

I notice a similar thing on my Ultegra 6700 equipped bike compared to my other bike with the older Dura Ace 7800. In fact the whole groupset (6700) is so sub-standard to the DA in shifting and general performance that I'm going back to DA 7800.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby singlespeedscott » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:20 pm

Nobody wrote:But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish......

I've found 7 speed is starting to get rare and expensive.........

Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain

I don't know we're people get these misconceived ideas from?

I quick search of the Internet will find all the parts you need to keep your 7 speed setup going for the ready of you life. And for very little outlay of money.

Shimano 7 speed freehub bodies - $20 -
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=79000

Shimano 7 speed cassette - $12 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... himcasm102

7 speed compatible chain - $11 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... 0000000000

As for wearing out alloy rings. That's ridiculous. Alloy rings have been in use for over $70 years. You should get at least 10000-15000 km's of on road use out of them. Maybe 1000km of hardcore MTB single tracking. Particularly if using older 7-8 speed models. - $16 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri300
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby singlespeedscott » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:20 pm

Nobody wrote:But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish......

I've found 7 speed is starting to get rare and expensive.........

Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain

I don't know we're people get these misconceived ideas from?

I quick search of the Internet will find all the parts you need to keep your 7 speed setup going for the ready of you life. And for very little outlay of money.

Shimano 7 speed freehub bodies - $20 -
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=79000

Shimano 7 speed cassette - $12 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... himcasm102

7 speed compatible chain - $11 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... 0000000000

As for wearing out alloy rings. That's ridiculous. Alloy rings have been in use for over $70 years. You should get at least 10000-15000 km's of on road use out of them. Maybe 1000km of hardcore MTB single tracking. Particularly if using older 7-8 speed models. - $16 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri300
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby singlespeedscott » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:22 pm

australiantourer wrote:Do totally silent new hubs/transmissions still exist? Since 1995, I have been riding a Mongoose Crossway 850 (hybrid) with standard Shimano STX-RC groupset, 7 speed cassette. It is completely silent to ride -- a delightful way to move on quiet country roads. Recently I have bought two new bikes -- a Merida Matts 500 10 speed mountain bike, and a Bike Friday 9 speed (both with tripple chainwheels). Both make a very subtle ratchet sort of noise when peddling, and I'm sure it's not a setup issue. Knowing that this sound is not technically necessary, I find it irritating, though based on some posts I've noted in this forum, some cyclists may actually enjoy the extra noise. Some hubs are positively and deliberately noisy, it seems.

I wondered whether thin chains were part of the story, which then led me to speculate on the future supply of reasonable quality parts for 7 speed bikes. I don't need 27/30/33 gears -- 21 is more than enough; in my 30s I went around the world quite happily with only 10 gears. But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish. I do wonder if this will be the case -- who would have predicted the return of single speed bikes or of vinyl records, for that matter. Things often progress in surprising pendulum swings.

Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain rings -- the weight saving probably amounts to less than two pieces of fruit, which to a cycle tourer is five-eighths of total irrelevancy. Fancy having to buy replacement chainwheels as a regular consummable -- what a take by the industry!

I can imagine that some readers will dismiss this line of thought as coming from a middle aged man romanticising his youthful cycling days. Grant Peterson's book 'Just ride' should convince readers that a lot of the trends in cyling that we are drawn into is just so much marketing spin -- I thoroughly recommend this book, which is not to say that I agree with all argument made in it.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable quality drive train setup that is silent? I would happily add it to my shopping list.

/quote]
I quick search of the Internet will find all the parts you need to keep your 7 speed setup going for the ready of you life. And for very little outlay of money.

Shimano 7 speed freehub bodies - $20 -
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=79000

Shimano 7 speed cassette - $12 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... himcasm102

7 speed compatible chain - $11 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... 0000000000

As for wearing out alloy rings. That's ridiculous. Alloy rings have been in use for over $70 years. You should get at least 10000-15000 km's of on road use out of them. Maybe 1000km of hardcore MTB single tracking. Particularly if using older 7-8 speed models. - $16 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri300
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby singlespeedscott » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:23 pm

australiantourer wrote:Do totally silent new hubs/transmissions still exist? Since 1995, I have been riding a Mongoose Crossway 850 (hybrid) with standard Shimano STX-RC groupset, 7 speed cassette. It is completely silent to ride -- a delightful way to move on quiet country roads. Recently I have bought two new bikes -- a Merida Matts 500 10 speed mountain bike, and a Bike Friday 9 speed (both with tripple chainwheels). Both make a very subtle ratchet sort of noise when peddling, and I'm sure it's not a setup issue. Knowing that this sound is not technically necessary, I find it irritating, though based on some posts I've noted in this forum, some cyclists may actually enjoy the extra noise. Some hubs are positively and deliberately noisy, it seems.

I wondered whether thin chains were part of the story, which then led me to speculate on the future supply of reasonable quality parts for 7 speed bikes. I don't need 27/30/33 gears -- 21 is more than enough; in my 30s I went around the world quite happily with only 10 gears. But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish. I do wonder if this will be the case -- who would have predicted the return of single speed bikes or of vinyl records, for that matter. Things often progress in surprising pendulum swings.

Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain rings -- the weight saving probably amounts to less than two pieces of fruit, which to a cycle tourer is five-eighths of total irrelevancy. Fancy having to buy replacement chainwheels as a regular consummable -- what a take by the industry!

I can imagine that some readers will dismiss this line of thought as coming from a middle aged man romanticising his youthful cycling days. Grant Peterson's book 'Just ride' should convince readers that a lot of the trends in cyling that we are drawn into is just so much marketing spin -- I thoroughly recommend this book, which is not to say that I agree with all argument made in it.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable quality drive train setup that is silent? I would happily add it to my shopping list.

I quick search of the Internet will find all the parts you need to keep your 7 speed setup going for the ready of you life. And for very little outlay of money.

Shimano 7 speed freehub bodies - $20 -
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=79000

Shimano 7 speed cassette - $12 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... himcasm102

7 speed compatible chain - $11 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... 0000000000

As for wearing out alloy rings. That's ridiculous. Alloy rings have been in use for over $70 years. You should get at least 10000-15000 km's of on road use out of them. Maybe 1000km of hardcore MTB single tracking. Particularly if using older 7-8 speed models. - $16 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri300
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Nobody » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:13 pm

singlespeedscott wrote:As for wearing out alloy rings. That's ridiculous. Alloy rings have been in use for over $70 years. You should get at least 10000-15000 km's of on road use out of them. Maybe 1000km of hardcore MTB single tracking. Particularly if using older 7-8 speed models. - $16 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri300
Speaking of cheaper chainrings. Does anyone know why there are Campag compatible or Shimano compatible 110 BCD chainrings? What's the difference? Aren't they both 5 bolt 110 BCD? Surely you could make one fit the other...
Eg:
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri370
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri520
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Ozkaban » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:33 pm

I'm unsure about the noise you're referring to. I have ultegra 6700 and it runs silently (unless the chain is due for a lube!). The hubs shouldn't make noise under load. Could there be a pin or something in your chain that is a little more proud than the others that is knocking on something on the way past? Could the BB be creaking (I've heard that on other peoples bikes and it drives me nuts!)?

I've always thought the velominati rules a bit of a funny joke (except Rule #5), but I like rule #65.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Ross » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:59 pm

Chain isn't the problem, used several different ones (all Shimano but some DA 7800, some DA 7900 & some Ult 6700) and always plenty of lube. Noise not a creak.
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby australiantourer » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:10 pm

Ross wrote:I notice a similar thing on my Ultegra 6700 equipped bike compared to my other bike with the older Dura Ace 7800. In fact the whole groupset (6700) is so sub-standard to the DA in shifting and general performance that I'm going back to DA 7800.


That's interesting, Ross. You sound about as disappointed as me! How old, roughly, is the Dura Ace, and where does it sit in the price comparison with the Ultegra?
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby Stuey » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:15 pm

I work in the Perth CBD and am amazed at how many really flash carbon bikes go past (with the rider inevitably in full lycra and expensive cycling sunnies) with the drivetrain needing either adjustment or trimming. I couldn't stand it - click, click, click, with the RD moving in time. Geez, if only they knew how 'uncool' this is!

Or the other pet hate, a chain that's so dry it squeaks. Arrgh! How easy is it to oil a chain?
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Re: Silent hubs -- a lost technology?

Postby australiantourer » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:18 pm

singlespeedscott wrote:
australiantourer wrote:Do totally silent new hubs/transmissions still exist? Since 1995, I have been riding a Mongoose Crossway 850 (hybrid) with standard Shimano STX-RC groupset, 7 speed cassette. It is completely silent to ride -- a delightful way to move on quiet country roads. Recently I have bought two new bikes -- a Merida Matts 500 10 speed mountain bike, and a Bike Friday 9 speed (both with tripple chainwheels). Both make a very subtle ratchet sort of noise when peddling, and I'm sure it's not a setup issue. Knowing that this sound is not technically necessary, I find it irritating, though based on some posts I've noted in this forum, some cyclists may actually enjoy the extra noise. Some hubs are positively and deliberately noisy, it seems.

I wondered whether thin chains were part of the story, which then led me to speculate on the future supply of reasonable quality parts for 7 speed bikes. I don't need 27/30/33 gears -- 21 is more than enough; in my 30s I went around the world quite happily with only 10 gears. But I have been warned that I have no choice, as the supply of parts will diminish. I do wonder if this will be the case -- who would have predicted the return of single speed bikes or of vinyl records, for that matter. Things often progress in surprising pendulum swings.

Don't get me started on alloy versus stainless chain rings -- the weight saving probably amounts to less than two pieces of fruit, which to a cycle tourer is five-eighths of total irrelevancy. Fancy having to buy replacement chainwheels as a regular consummable -- what a take by the industry!

I can imagine that some readers will dismiss this line of thought as coming from a middle aged man romanticising his youthful cycling days. Grant Peterson's book 'Just ride' should convince readers that a lot of the trends in cyling that we are drawn into is just so much marketing spin -- I thoroughly recommend this book, which is not to say that I agree with all argument made in it.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable quality drive train setup that is silent? I would happily add it to my shopping list.

I quick search of the Internet will find all the parts you need to keep your 7 speed setup going for the ready of you life. And for very little outlay of money.

Shimano 7 speed freehub bodies - $20 -
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=79000

Shimano 7 speed cassette - $12 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... himcasm102

7 speed compatible chain - $11 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/mtb-bm ... 0000000000

As for wearing out alloy rings. That's ridiculous. Alloy rings have been in use for over $70 years. You should get at least 10000-15000 km's of on road use out of them. Maybe 1000km of hardcore MTB single tracking. Particularly if using older 7-8 speed models. - $16 -
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... trochri300


Thanks for these comments and links. Yes, it's true -- I could stockpile these parts to "see me and my mongoose out", but I'd much prefer not to have to do that, just for the sake of so-called 'progress'. I know the local mechanic at my lbs is doing just that for his own much-loved bike -- he hasn't bought a new bike in 20 years (and doesn't want to).

My point about steel chain wheels is that I've never had to regard them as a consumable item for my style of riding. Replacing not only the rings but often the cranks with them just seems wrong to me. It's planned obsolesence for questionable returns to my way of thinking.
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