Our "Rider Review" article series features the honest reviews from verified purchasers of Worldwide Cyclery. They contain the photos, thoughts, feedback & overall review you are looking for.
For around $100, the DT Swiss 54T ratchet upgrade kit is the best option possible when looking to increase hub engagement. If you own a set of DT Swiss wheels and do not have this kit, get on it! This customer has been upgrading his bike and is here to share his thoughts on the ratchet kit. Check it out!
Like many riders, I preferred to buy my new bike preconfigured and not build one from the ground up. The Pivot Mach 429 Trail that I purchased came with DT Swiss hubs. From the manufacturer, these ratchet star hubs have 18t and less than optimal engagement. A company like Pivot wants their bike to perform well, so they upgrade the ratchet hub to 36t straight from the factory. I have ridden the bike in this configuration for two years and I have been pleased with its performance. Considering what I had upgraded from, this was the best engagement I had ever had.
I am an avid reader and consumer of information. New hub models have flooded the internet and advertising space describing their many increased degrees of engagement. I was not oblivious to the sound of high-end bikes speeding by me with the loud hum of a high-end hub. I was not a fan of that sound.
As my riding got better and technical climbs became possible, I sometimes lost a pedal stroke while clipped in and had several hilarious track stand falls. Finally, after many reports of the improvement in crank ratcheting that the additional teeth provided, I gave in and purchased the upgrade.
I must admit, I enjoy working on my bike almost as much as riding it. To that fact, I have collected a serious mechanic’s collection of tools. I watched two YouTube videos on installation and knew I could perform this easily. The product arrives with the new star ratchets, springs, and a small tub of grease. I could easily see the quality of the parts and was glad I had purchased the name brand option and not a cheap knock-off.
I removed the wheel off then I pulled the freehub off with the cassette. There was no special tool required and it was easier than I even though it would be. I made sure to remember the spring and ratchet configuration for replacement. I removed the 36t ratchets and compared them with the new and you could easily see the closer configuration of the teeth. I cleaned, regreased, and replaced the parts in a matter of minutes. I replaced the cassette and the wheel on the bike.
My first impressions were of the sound that I knew was going to be different. I had used a moderate amount of grease, so the sound was attenuated enough that I could appreciate the difference, but not be annoyed on the trail. I next jumped in the saddle and clicked away at the ratchets. The improved engagement was very nice and the cranks had a more solid feel. My initial impression, as I pedaled around the neighborhood, was there was only a minimal improvement. I was not disappointed though because the monetary investment had been minimal.
That weekend I took the bike to the local trails and that’s when my mind changed. The ability to backpedal and move forward confidently without losing balance clipped in was worth its weight in gold. I climbed rocky and rooted sections with more aggressiveness. When I made a mistake in my line and suffered a stalling moment, I ratcheted the crank (sometimes several times) and powered through the section. I felt more confident moving into tough sections with speed knowing I could pull myself out after hard braking. I was pleased with the upgrade after that ride and felt I had received a quality product for a good value.
In all honesty, I still have times were my bike can’t save me from poor choices, but I don’t think the best hub in the world can do that. All I can say is that if you have trails with technical sections and you want to climb them better, this upgrade will help you do that. I highly endorse it for value, performance, and ease of installation.