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I just finished building a new gravel/commuting bike. For this build, I have bought a pair of DT Swiss Spline C 1800.

However as I switched from an early 80's Peugeot bike to this new gravel, I noticed the big noise made by the ratchet when coasting.

Discretion is very important to me, especially because I really enjoy to hear the nature around me when off-road.

My Peugeot bike is equipped with a road pair of Bontrager that are totally silent. The sound of the rubber of my tires are much louder than the freehub!

What do you suggest to make this less noisy? Changing the wheels? Changing the freehub? Do you have any references? I'm not really fond of the grease fix as it is not a permanent fix.

Cheers!

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    Well, you could always not coast and keep pedaling! I had a Chris King rear hub on my road bike years ago and that thing was deafening. I was more motivated to pedal and keep the peace vs. coast and broadcast far and wide that I was not pedaling. That hub has long since left the building.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 18, 2022 at 23:19
  • Some people prefer noisy ratchets when in a city as the noise alerts pedestrians without having to use the bell.
    – user52778
    May 19, 2022 at 5:46
  • TBH, I love my bell (Knog Oi) so I don't mind use it!
    – mrzob
    May 19, 2022 at 7:16

3 Answers 3

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For the most part you've bought the wrong hub for your stated priorities. You might be able to bring down the noise a bit by running a more viscous lubricant inside the freehub body or a greater quantity of it, but don't expect a huge difference. There's also a limit to how much you can push that before possibly creating problems with the hub's engagement.

Switching freehub bodies on the same wheelset isn't a solution here. All the other DT 3-pawl freehub bodies that could plug in will be the same thing.

As others have pointed out, you can change the 370 hub to the DT ratchet system. I'm personally a little ambivalent that doing this to address noise is a solution. Note that there's two components to hub noise: the frequency of engagement and how loud the individual clicks are. I have an old 18 POE DT 240 hub and I would classify it as loud enough to bug someone that's out to get a quiet experience riding in nature.

If you want quiet you basically have a choice between the high-end quiet/silent ones (Onyx, True Precision) and much lower end hubs with weaker engagement springs and lower point of enagement numbers.

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    Shimano hubs, IME, are quiet but high quality. (Dura Ace hubs from the mid-00's being one exception I know)
    – Paul H
    May 19, 2022 at 0:19
  • I really love the comfort of the DTSwiss spline, is there any "equivalent" model even with another brand that could reduce the hub noise? What about other brands? (Mavic...)
    – mrzob
    May 19, 2022 at 7:18
  • It is possible to change the freehub body to one with the star ratchet system. The 18t ratchet is in my experience pretty quiet.
    – airace3
    May 19, 2022 at 9:19
  • @PaulH quiet, but I've had trouble with them on a rough-road tourer so with this being a gravel (dirty) and commuter (all-weather) bike I wouldn't choose them for a new build
    – Chris H
    May 19, 2022 at 11:08
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    @Criggie It's possible but I wouldn't want to bet on it. May 19, 2022 at 23:31
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The hubs in your wheels are DT Swiss 370 using an 3 pawl system. It is possible to upgrade the 3 pawl hub to the star ratchet system. The 18 tooth ratchet is pretty quiet.

Here is the official tutorial from DT Swiss on how to do it:

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  • I haven't heard of this conversion before, and I did not know that it was possible. This should be helpful to myself and others.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 20, 2022 at 16:54
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I would assume that these hubs use DT Swiss’ star-ratchet engagement system.

From research, ensuring they are greased is the ONLY method I am have come across. Many sources recommend not over-greasing the star ratchet engagement faces for fear that it may affect the actual engagement, but others have been able load up some additional grease and still avoid this issue while providing some additional quieting. Regardless, it would be prudent to use the actual star ratchet grease, or a suitable substitute.

One other area you may play with is the number of engagement points your star ratchet system has. Many stock DT Swiss hubs come with 18-tooth star ratchets. However, You can swap these out for 24, 36, and even 54-tooth versions as well. You can easily determine what the tooth count of your current star ratchets are by counting the number of clicks your cassette makes in one complete turn of the freehub. The different number of engagement points per rotation will definitely change the pitch you hear, and possibly the volume. The audible harmonics of your wheel could influence this as well, but I believe that is mostly wishful thinking. The 18’s are more of a click whereas the 54’s will be more of a buzz. They are pricey, however, roughly $100 a set, so I would see if you could try a set from a buddy and ensuring that the pitch changes more to your liking before committing to a purchase.

A bonus for the higher number of engagement teeth is that there is less of a dead/flat spot before the freewheel engages (I swapped out for some 36 tooth star ratchets for the road and gravel steeds, and like the quicker engagement there, and I am not as sensitive to the noise as you are, but I cannot claim that they are loud nor silent). Wish I had a more definitive solution.

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    These are 3-pawl hubs
    – Paul H
    May 19, 2022 at 0:19
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    @PaulH Converting a DT 370 to star ratchet is trivial. It's the same body as a 350, just with pawl system instead of star ratchet.
    – MaplePanda
    May 19, 2022 at 0:47
  • 1) is more engagement points quieter? I was under the impression that more points generally = louder. 2) faster engagement is generally considered unnecessary outside of MTBs.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 19, 2022 at 22:00
  • @WeiwenNg, 1). I think it is a matter of perspective. More contact points makes it a higher pitch, moving toward a "buzz" and away from a "click." When I went 18 --> 36 I expected more noise, but it was not louder, just different. My previous experience was with a Chris King rear hub which has >40 tooth engagement for sure and that sucker was loud! 2). That is an opinion. I personally like the change to my road and gravel bikes with the 36's over the stock 18's. 10 degrees to engage vs. the old 20 is a noticeable difference to me, which I would miss I returned to the 18's (my opinion).
    – Ted Hohl
    May 20, 2022 at 0:01

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