Road bike hubs: Pawl vs ratchet

Image of a road bike hub
(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

As cyclists, we obsess about the rims of our road bike wheels; their weight, their aerodynamic properties and stiffness, not to mention the ever-present debate around tubeless technology, but we often ignore our road bike hubs, despite it being central to performance. 

With its mechanical components hidden in a shell, the hub is underappreciated – until it goes wrong, and you are stranded at the roadside or your bike becomes a fixie. 

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Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.