How To Make Your Mountain Bike Hub Louder

If you love the sound of frenzied bees swarming down the trail when you’re out mountain biking, but don’t have the budget to upgrade to a new expensive noisy MTB hub like a Chris King or similar, then I have some suggestions for you today 🙂

What is the noise from an MTB hub anyway?

While mountain bike hubs have a variety of mechanisms inside them, depending on the brand, essentially what causes the hubs loud clicking or whirr as you ride down the trail is caused by the ratchets inside clicking onto each tooth.

This ratcheting is what allows you to freewheel down the trail while not pedaling, and then push down on the pedal, engage the ratchet, and turn your leg muscle power into chain drive power to the back wheel.

Often the more expensive hubs have more precision machining and more expensive metals used in their internal components, and are designed to have more points of engagement (essentially more teeth in the ratchet).

More teeth means more points of engagement, and fewer degrees that the crank needs to move before your pedal applies force to the drivechain.

It also means that your freewheeling motion down the trail sounds more like a swarm of killer bees.

Some people actually prefer quiet or silent hub designs, because they don’t like the clicking/whirring, or they prefer to be able to hear nature all around them and want a completely quiet bike.

But others (likely including you, if you’re reading this article), prefer their mountain bike hub to scream like a swarm of demon bees from hell….

So how do I make my mountain bike hub louder?

The good news is, on many mountain bike hub designs, the more you ride, the more the thick grease inside the hub that lubricates the internal hub ratchet mechanism will gradually breakdown, and the noisier the hub will become.

I know that was definitely the case with my DT Swiss 350 hub, a decently regarded, moderately expensive mountain bike hub.

DT Swiss 350 mountain bike hub upgraded with ratchet upgrade

Another thing that brought about a more satisfying click noise (louder and faster whirring) with this hub was that I upgraded the internal ratchet from 18 points of engagement to 36 (though now I believe a 56 is available for even better engagement).

Upgrading the ratchet is a pretty easy process on this hub, though I imagine some hubs are a much more difficult job for a mountain biker to to open up and work on in their own garage.

One other option you do have, and that some riders choose to do, is to open up their hub, remove most of the special hub grease, and instead lubricate it with freehub oil.

Naturally a lighter oil will allow the metal ratchet to click much more loudly than a goopy freehub grease does, and consequently, the hub will make a louder noise when you freewheel.

A warning though – I haven’t done this before, and I have heard others warning that this is not how most mountain bike hubs are designed to be run.

Also, that freehub oil will require top ups much more often than hub grease does, by its very nature.

The internal mechanisms of a mountain bike hub have to put up with a tremendous amount of friction and stop/start forces, and it is a really bad idea to run them without adequate lubrication.