Top 5 MTB Hubs | Spank, i9, Onyx, DT Swiss, Hope

spencer doing a cool turn down on a mountain bike with industry nine hydra mountain bike hubs

The Lost Co's 4 Favorite Rear Hubs

At the heart of those expensive hoops and rims we’re spinning on sits our hubs.

Always a silent assassin in the front but with a range of mannuerisms in the back, the rear hub is what we’re exploring today. Inside of that hub shell sits one of a few kinds of systems to let your freehub spin freely in one direction but lock into place when you put the pedals down. In the DT Swiss 350, you’ll find their star ratchet system, while in the Industry Nine Hydra, there’s a ratchet and pawl system that drowns out every other sound on the trail. Or, going in the complete opposite direction, the Onyx Vesper is quiet as a church mouse with its sprag clutch that disengages from the freehub when coasting but instantly engages when you start pedalling. That engagement is the main differentiator between the rear hubs that we carry here at The Lost Co, and every single hub we have comes in both XD and Microspline options to fit everyone’s needs.

Engagement of the rear hub is measured in degrees, and is the distance the hub rotates between each click you hear. Faster engagement means more clicks, but not necessarily louder. How loud your freehub is depends on its design as well as what kind of grease you pack in there to keep everything spinning smooth. A lighter grease will let that hub sing while a heavier duty grease will keep the racket down if that’s your preference.

No matter which you pick, your hub will engage as soon as you start pedalling, so it just comes down to whether you want an agitated beehive or a gentle whir seranading your next descent.

1) Spank Hex J-Type

Spank Hex J-Type Specs

  • $249.99

  • User servicable

  • 3.5° of engagement

  • Black, Red, Green, Orange, Purple, Silver, Blue

  • 310g (148x12, 6 bolt, XD driver)

spank hex j-type mountain bike hub on a table

While the Spank Hex J-Type isn’t as well known as the other options on this list, its quickly become a favorite here at The Lost Co. The term “hex” doesn’t mean curse in this case, but instead refers to the 6 pawls biting into the 102 tooth drive ring. Each of those pawls engages on three teeth, meaning there are 18 points of engagement at all times, giving a rock solid platform to pedal against. While it might seem like there’s way less engagement than the Hydra on paper, it’s not a noticeable difference on trail and there is almost no dead space in your pedal stroke. Another sweet feature of this hub is being able to switch out axle sizing really quickly and easily just by switching end caps, so for example, you can switch your wheels from your 110x20 downhill bike to your 110x15 trail bike in 2 seconds just by popping new endcaps on.

2) Industry Nine Hydra

  I9 Hydra Specs

  • $460
  • User servicable
  • 0.52° of engagement

  • Black, Turquoise, Orange, Purple, Lime, Silver, Blue

  • 288g (148x12, 6 bolt, XD driver)

purple industry nine hydra hub laced to a mountain bike wheel from above

Famous for its constant buzz so fierce it’s hard to hear individual clicks, the Industry Nine Hydra has 690 points of engagement, meaning there’s a click every 0.52 degrees! By using 6 pawls that engage one at a time on a 115t drive ring, Industry Nine maximize the engagement by just pressing against one pawl a time. The Hydra is made from start to finish in Asheville, North Carolina, starting with machining the aluminum pieces and finishing with anodizing the flashy colors that make them instantly recognizable. When packed with a light freehub grease, this hub is certainly one of the loudest on this list, but can be quieted down considerably when you throw a heavier grease on the pawls to dampen them.

3) Onyx Vesper

  Onyx Vesper Specs

  • $485
  • User Servicable
  • Infinite engagement

  • Silent assassin

  • Too many colors to list

  • 390g (148x12, 6 bolt, XD driver)

black onyx vesper mountain bike hub on a ferny background

Our highest engagement hub is the Onyx Vesper, which uses a sprag clutch in its freehub body to allow you to coast completely silently and instantly engage the pedals whenever you’d like. The Vesper is different from every other hub on the market because it is always completely silent and because of the design of the sprag clutch, there are infinite points of engagement, meaning there isn’t any dead space between pushing on the pedals and putting power down to the dirt. If you’re a fan of customization, you’ll love the Vesper, with 24 different hubshell colors to choose from, and 10 end cap colors, there are 240 color combinations of this hub, making the Vesper the most customizable rear hub you can buy. Paired with a nicely put together and quiet bike, just hearing your tires on the dirt is a fantastic experience that is almost impossible to match.

4) DT Swiss 350

  DT Swiss 350 Specs

  • $310.90
  • User Servicable
  • 20°, 15°, 10°, or 6.67° of engagement
  • Black

  • 269g (148x12, 6 bolt, XD driver)
dt swiss 350 mountain bike hib with a rockshox zeb in the foreground

No article on mountain bike hubs is complete without the DT Swiss DT 350.

With its upgradeable star ratchet system that provides some of the highest reliability we’ve seen in a freehub system, this might not be the flashiest hub out there, but dang does it get the job done! Unfortunately, the DT 350 has the least engagement of any on our list, and with the stock 36 tooth star ratchet providing 10° of engagement, that is definitely going to be a noticeable amount of dead space when you go to engage the drivetrain. You are able to upgrade to the 54 tooth star ratchet to bring engagement to a more desirable 6.67°, but we wish DT Swiss could pack a little more engagement into this consistent performer.

5) Hope Pro 5

Hope Pro 5 Specs

  • $265
  • User Servicable
  • 3.33° of engagement
  • Red, Orange, Black, Purple, Silver, Blue

  • 312g (148x12, 6 bolt, XD driver)


Hope’s Pro 5 hub builds off their vast experience with making some of the best hubs on the market, and take another step forward with the Pro 5. 108 points of engagement from their offset 6 pawl freehub design gives you amazing engagement paired with reliable performance that has developed a cult like following for Hope hubs. These hubs are also made in just about every axle configuration and are available with either 24, 28, 32, or 36 holes to fit on just about every bike imaginable, from road to trials. No matter which bike you’ve got in the garage, the Pro 5 is almost guaranteed to come in a size that is perfect for you!

Unforunately, we do not yet have the Pro 5 in stock, but hope to very shortly!

Which Hub Is Best For You?

All of the hubs on this list are worthy contenders for your next wheel build, and we’ve had great experiences with all of them, but which is the best for you?

If you want maximum value from your rear hub, the Spank Hex is your best bet. With a $249.99 price tag, great engagement, and no reliability issues, this hub has to be towards the top of the list.

If you’re looking for a more premium option, the Industry Nine Hydra caters to those looking for the attention that buzz garners, while the Onyx Vesper is perfect for anyone trying to stay under the radar.

For the weight weenies amongst us, the DT Swiss DT 350 does shave a few grams compared to the competition, and when upgraded to the 54t star ratchet, has high enough engagement to get you through those technical climbs with ease.

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Got questions? Feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call!

(360) 306-8827



Tor Weiland



Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: Transition Spire Custom Build

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Oriental Express, Galbraith

About Me: Hailing from the sunny landscape of California, Tor headed north and landed here in the cloudy town of Bellingham, WA. His riding style is "PINNED" and he loves to scope out those seemingly impossible triples. He loves riding and also loves sharing his experiences with others. You can catch Tor in front of the camera or behind the keyboard, but best of luck catching him on the trail!