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.
Ever wanted a hub that was quite but still has insane engagement? Onyx Racing Hubs has you covered. Using a Sprag clutch system, it allows the hub to basically get instant engagement while being completely silent. Our friend, David, just laced up some Onyx hubs on their bike. See what they think!
I was one of the lucky few able to purchase a new bike this year and managed to pick up an Intense Primer 27.5”. I saved a few bucks buying the expert trim, only to find that there were a number of things I wanted to change on the bike after riding it around for a bit. I worked through swapping out the suspension components and drive train. Riding up through many of the techy climbs on my go-to trails was still somewhat of a pain due to the Intense branded rear hubs that come on the expert version, which had some pretty minimal engagement. The rear hub on my last bike, which I rode into the ground over the past ten years also had a pretty low engagement, and I’ve been acutely aware of the need for more. That is to say, I’d never owned a truly “high engagement” hub up to this point.
A couple of months on the bike and I managed to put a pretty nice dent in my back rim. I decided to replace the rim and I figured since I had the wheel apart, I’d might as well finally see what this high engagement thing was all about and upgrade the hub. I looked at all of the offerings from Hope, DT, and I9, and while all seemed to offer superb levels of ratchety glory, they all also sounded like you were riding on a running garbage disposal full of silverware. This is probably what had kept me away from some of the “better” hubs out there up to this point. I get that some people actually like their absurdly loud hubs, and I see the benefit of using it as your bell and if that’s your thing you’ll get no judgment from me, but if I’m going to put the money down for an upgrade, I’d like my bike to become less annoying to ride rather than more.
Enter the Onyx. I was intrigued by the Sprague clutch design, which is totally silent, and by the nature of the design offers unlimited engagement. I did a fair amount of research before pulling the trigger on the Onyx, which I got in a 32 hole / 6 – bolt XD driven/Boost config. After managing to get the while built up and doing battle with my CushCores again, I got it back in and took the bike out for a ride on my go-to rock garden climb. Most of the reviews I found were from people seeking more engagement also but then finding their favorite feature of the hub was the silence of it. Many also noted that the Onyx has a softer feel as the clutch engages, compared to some of the more immediate or firm rachet and pawl type designs. It really all comes down to preference, but I definitely prefer the softer feel of it. I have a number of knee issues and I wouldn’t have expected a new hub to help with any of them, but I swear when I mash down on the pedals and I don’t feel the hub slamming into the tension of the spokes it’s sort of like the difference between walking on carpet, vs walking on a tile floor in dress shoes.
Now I’m not going to tell you that I can feel the difference between 690 points of engagement and the Onyx’s unlimited engagement, because I’m sure I can’t, but the difference between my previous hub and the Onyx is truly transformational to the way the bike rides. I have never been able to just hold a track stand indefinitely, but with this hub, it is so easy. This translates into a number of different ways that you can work the bike around slow and techy stuff. It feels a little awkward when you pedal backward for the first time and you don’t hear the usual ratcheting. There is the natural tendency to see if you’ve dropped your chain. It didn’t take long to get over though. I learned pretty quickly that I can keep propelling myself forward through the gnar and the chunk just by making a few short strokes of the crank back and forth. It is amazing not losing any power in my pedal stroke through that dead zone I had on my prior hubs. Obviously, Onyx isn’t the only name when it comes to high engagement offerings though.
I think what truly sets it apart is the silence. There’s something that’s hard to describe on a product page about shredding your favorite switchbacks and only hearing and feeling your tires ripping through the dirt. A word of caution though. Not hearing your hubs will make you keenly aware of every other sound your bike is making and may send you hunting for that rattling internally routed shifter cable you might have otherwise not heard.
I’m fortunate to own a pretty nice bike that I’ve been able to spec out with some great parts, but I never would have thought that one of my favorite parts would be a rear hub.
It’s going to be hard to not put one of these in any future bike.
I’ve taken my older bike out a couple of times recently and though it’s still a fun bike, its sloppy hub is a lot less fun to push forward now that I’ve gotten used to the Onyx. It is a pretty hefty hub and yes, it is rotational weight, but it’s a rotational weight around the axle, not the outer diameter of the wheel so the weight isn’t as perceptible as it would have been in the tires.
It took a lot to get me to drop $500 on a rear hub, but the dollar to enjoyment ratio is high enough to make it a worthy purchase for me. I was initially sent a hub with the wrong driver due to it being mislabeled from the factory, but World Wide’s communication was great and they overnighted the correct hub to me on the following day, which is pretty damn impressive these days. Props to you guys. Customer for life.