Every MTB hub has its unique voice and sound. While some are loud, others have very soft and obnoxious sounds.
In addition, the sound often rises and falls as the intensity of cyclists pedaling together becomes strong.
This chatter is linked to the freehub body of the drive mechanism. So, many MTB users wonder why certain cassettes are so loud.
Most MTB cassettes are made to be loud. They could either have a humming sound or a loud cracking sound. However, some factors such as wearing off cassette parts, improper part installation, dryness, dirt, and even dust can bring about an abnormal sound in the Mtb cassette.
Why Does My Cassette Make Noise?
A cassette will need servicing every once in a while because they are made of perishable plastic and rubber parts such as capacitors, belts, and idlers.
These parts all drop in value over time, causing your cassette to make noise.
However, this may not always be why your cassette is making so much noise because most cassettes have either a humming or dull sound.
Furthermore, some cassettes are made to sound dull or muddy, especially when they are products of a low budget. So let’s look at the possible reasons why your cassette player is making noise.
The cassette could become noisy when it is not installed properly or fitted properly. It also has a special torque to be used. When this is not used, it results in a loose or creaking sound on the free hubs.
Also, grease or assembly paste is usually applied between the free hub and cassette player in a very small quantity to cause a free flow while paddling or coasting.
However, too much or too little grease can cause the cassette player to creak.
A dry cassette can also cause a cassette to make noise. Another reason why the cassette player makes noise is that the thread on the lockrings is also full of dirt or dust.
The cassette can be easily fixed using simple tools like:
What Makes A MTB Loud?
Mtb is manufactured to be loud, especially for mountain bike hubs. Most cyclists and bikers prefer a loud free-wheel MTB bike to a silent hub.
Aside from being manufactured to sound loud, a couple of reasons enhance its loudness.
The noise produced by a rear hub, regardless of its model or size, results from the tiny, spring-loaded teeth known as the pawl.
They are engineered to go over the ratchet when driving forward. The pawls, however, disengage and grind over the engagement points when cyclists paddle backward.
Hence, high-end hubs have stronger springs and a good number of engagement points and pawls, which causes them to produce more intense sounds.
Other high-end hubs also use a little grease to enhance the friction between their springs.
Why Are Higher End Free-wheels So Much Louder When Coasting?
The buzzing or clicking sound on the high-end free-wheel has nothing to do with its efficiency. Sadly most people believe that a louder bike is the best, which is not entirely true.
The loudness of a bike does not indicate high efficiency.
The noise from the pawls of a high-end cassette when coasting is usually the friction between the pawls on the free wheels and the splines on the engagement drive ring or surfaces, both of which make up the ratchet ring teeth.
Other reasons why higher-end free-wheels make so much noise when coasting include:
- The tension exerted on the pawls can cause the cassette to make more noise while gliding over the drive ring.
- The engagement points and pawls on the high-end free-wheel are always more than those of a lower-end wheel. It is why more drive ridges and pawls glide over the engagement surfaces and splines. This action gives the spring-loaded pawls and engagement surface the ability to paddle faster and engage drive rings better.
- An incompatible grease product used on the high-end free-wheel could also cause it to make loud noises. Less grease could also cause less resistance and viscosity between the spring-loaded pawls, causing more noise as the pawl glides on the splines and engagement surfaces since there is less grease applied to them.
However, there are a few exceptions because some hubs use roller clutches instead of the standard ratchet mechanism.
The roller clutches are less noisy and very quiet yet more prone to develop faults.
- Campagnolo wheels, often used in manufacturing high-end bikes, are very noisy. The materials used in making a high-end bike greatly affect the noise level produced on the wheels. For instance, an aluminum-designed hub would not produce the same amount of noise that a steel, plastic, or titanium material would produce.
- Higher-end free-wheel bikes also use high-profile carbon rims that act as sound inhibitors and boxes. Besides, the free wheels are not the only noise generators in bikes. Bad road pavement also causes bikes to make loud noises.
- Lastly, high-end road bikes are made to have loud noises to signal other bikers who are coasting ahead or behind you.
An example of a high-end free-wheel is the DT Swiss Ratchet which uses two pairs of ratchet Swiss of 18, 36, or 54 ring teeth on each side.
These ratchets are compressed spring pawls on their outer parts.
The ratchet ring teeth are placed side by side during installation and cause a loud buzzing sound. For the ratchet, the more the ratchet ring teeth, the higher the sounds.
Also, the more the teeth, the tighter and stronger the engagements hence a high-pitched buzz or noise.
Do Silent Free-wheels Exist?
Yes, recently, quiet hubs have been introduced into the market by a few manufacturers. Shimano and onyx are high-quality brands that support silent hubs.
They have debunked the notion that the noisier the hub, the more efficient or high-quality it is. Sadly most people still believe that a noisy bike produces better free-wheeling and is engineered better.
Before the invention of the silent hub, the freehub was always built to be noisy. It is engineered to have a ratchet drive ring surrounding the pawls that are made to engage the drive ring.
When free-wheeling or coasting, the noise produced by the clanking sound results from the consistent action of the interlocking wheels over and over each other.
The engagement points made up of the pawls and teeth in the hub also account for its noisiness.
However, technological advancements have made the brakes, proliferation, and internal cable routing of the 1X drivetrain and mountain bike hubs quieter.
In addition, quiet hubs have made it easy for bikers to hear other creaking and squeaking sounds on their bikes.
Hence, it makes bikers more aware of the maintenance level of their bikes and when it needs servicing. It also enables bikers to converse smoothly with their partners when riding.
Quiet bike hubs have less drag and allow bikers to hear loose traction on their tires faster, allowing them time to halt paddling before they lose control quickly.
Unfortunately for silent hubs, it is difficult for oncoming hikers and pedestrians.
Other riders hear you coming around a bend or corner. It also makes bikes sound too dull. Silent bike hubs do exist but are very expensive at the moment.
Mtb bike hubs are loud for convenience while pedaling or coasting. Bike cassettes are also prone to drop in value over time due to the materials used in manufacturing them and will require servicing.
High-end free-wheel bikes are also known to be loud. However, recent technology has made it easy for bikes to support silent hubs.
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