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What brand rear hub and cassette has the lowest noise level for a road bike ?

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  • All derailleur-style hubs should be silent while actually pedaling. Some freewheel/freehub hubs make a clicking noise while coasting, and I can recall that Shimano freewheels at one time had a reputation for being quite noisy in this mode. Jun 10, 2016 at 17:26
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    To avoid any kind of superfluous noise at the rear wheel the cyclist should be pedalling at all times! ;-) velominati.com/the-rules/#65
    – Carel
    Jun 10, 2016 at 18:31
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    There have been "silent" rear hubs that use a roller clutch for more than a century. When well-adjusted they also feature low "lash." From a functional standpoint, when they work they work very well. The problem is that sometimes the roller clutch mechanism can fail. Here is a discussion of roller clutches and their characteristics.
    – R. Chung
    Jun 10, 2016 at 19:02
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    See related question: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/14194/…
    – Benzo
    Jun 10, 2016 at 19:09
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    I wanna say a fixie :p
    – Nic
    Jun 10, 2016 at 20:54

3 Answers 3

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In my experience, the most silent combination has been Shimano freehub and cheap cassette with pinned together cogs. The one I have is XT, but road hubs below Dura-Ace have similar mechanism. A cassette with loose cogs can vibrate more freely and is louder.

Other brands that I have been riding myself or have had the joy of listening on group rides include Campagnolo/Fulcrum, Chris King, Mavic, DT Swiss and so on. All of these have their own distinctive rackets.

As described in comment, completely silent roller clutch hubs have been produced. They have other, more serious problems.

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  • I have three Mavic, one 3T and one Campagnolo to compare where the Campa is definitely the quietest, a mere whisper, although its' a Zonda which is not top-range.
    – Carel
    Jun 11, 2016 at 9:48
  • How old is the Campa wheel? I have a Fulcrum Racing 3 that was suspiciously quiet as new but after a couple of thousands of kilometers it developed the trademark noise. And yes, I am aware that Mavic is even louder.
    – ojs
    Jun 11, 2016 at 10:04
  • The Campa is 9000km+ old and mainly used as a winter wheel, so it gets lot of salt and bad weather.
    – Carel
    Jun 11, 2016 at 12:49
  • Interesting. From spare parts catalogue it looks like Zonda has the exact same hub as Racing 3.
    – ojs
    Jun 12, 2016 at 15:15
  • Campa and Fulcrum share also the spoke lacing pattern. Could well be that they share also development and manufacturing. Who knows?
    – Carel
    Jun 13, 2016 at 15:58
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To be honest, I'd not be too worried about the noise level on your hub. I'm an mtb rider and the trend is towards a noisier hub at the moment

You often get more noise when the spring around the pawls is stronger and gives a faster return and confident engagement. I did at one point quieten mine down when servicing by adding a little more and heavier weight oil. I didn't like the silence and quickly cleaned things up and added a small dash of 2.5wt oil to bring back the signature clack.

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It depends on your cassette as well as your freehub body.

If your hub uses a ratchet and pawl system, then, theoretically, the "quieter" freehub will be the one with less pawls - but there are many other factors that would make that not the case.

Also, higher quality hubs are associated with more pawls and more noise (think Chris King buzz). But, this changes as the freehub breaks in, it gets quieter over time.

A lot depends on the cassette paired to the freehub, it's material, and construction. The cassette amplifies the sound, so, for instance, a hollow dome cassette is going to be louder than the same hub paired with a heavier, more solid cassette.

I'd say if you're looking for something relatively quiet, look to buy a higher quality hub, with more pawls, thats used and broken in, and pair it with a cheaper, heavier cassette (I'd go high quality on the cassette for a stiffer gear cluster but there will probably be more noise). Not sure what your price range is but there are many options across the board. Some brands I'd look at would be:

  • White Industries
  • Chris King
  • DT Swiss
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    I don't think noise is a function of quality. For instance, my DT Swiss hubs (~6k miles) have a very distinct and solid click to them...definitely not quiet!
    – Ealhmund
    Jun 10, 2016 at 19:17
  • @altomnr so we agree
    – ebrohman
    Jun 10, 2016 at 20:27
  • Yet you're recommending such a hub to someone looking for exceptionally quiet hubs?
    – Ealhmund
    Jun 10, 2016 at 20:52
  • @altomnr yup, paired with the right cassette, as explained in the answer. I wouldn't recommend a low quality freehub for any bike.
    – ebrohman
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:02

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