Assume a rear hub that consist of an axle, hub, cones, loose bearings, lock-nut, with hub space = 135mm, with bolt-on disc brake

Example hubs

Hub 1: Shimano XT FH-M756 Cost Eur40 enter image description here

Hub 2: Cost Eur23 enter image description here

It seems both hubs are based on the same principle (same tools required to assemble them). But there is a price difference. And the one is branded (Shimano).


  1. Between 2 manufacturers of such hubs, would there be a significant difference in the quality between the individual parts (axles, hub, cone, bearings, lock-nuts)?

  2. Would the manufacturer of the more expensive hub, produce a stronger axle, more spherical bearings or more smoothly polished cones and hubs than the cheaper manufacturer?

  3. Or are these parts all machined to the same standard quality and the Eur17 difference is for owning the Shimano brand?

I find it hard to believe that for such a standard hub there is much difference in quality.

  • 1
    The non-branded part has no reputation of a serious manufacturer to defend.
    – Carel
    Aug 30, 2018 at 7:45
  • The major cost of a wheel is labour in building it. I'd put the best hub and rim and spokes in that I could reasonably afford, with the expectation of a 10+ year lifespan. Getting half that life off a cheaper build is false economy.
    – Criggie
    Aug 30, 2018 at 9:59
  • I can buy kitchen knives that are $5, or $500. Same thing with hubs or anything else. Consistency is expensive. Aug 30, 2018 at 20:12

1 Answer 1


There can indeed be significant differences in the manufacturing tolerances, quality of materials, quality-control processes, etc between manufacturers, or between the lines of a given manufacturer. No one would pretend that Tiagra parts are on par with Dura Ace parts (in fact people have found that Tiagra-grade chains are out of spec when new).

For all we know, the off-brand hub may be on par with Shimano's, but the point is that we don't know. There's a cyclical (heh) relationship between a brand's reputation and the quality of its products. We use the brand name as a shortcut instead of researching a product's materials, reject rates, etc (much of that information being proprietary anyhow); the reputation is built on quality, and if the quality declines, in theory the reputation does too.

There are ISO standards for hubs (and other bike parts) that limit how far out of spec even a shoddy manufacturer could go.

The real question is not whether there is a difference, but whether you're willing to gamble that the difference is unimportant, or that the value of the time you spend researching the cheaper option to reassure yourself is less than the price difference—assuming you accept that the more expensive option is "better."

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