With so many choices on the market, however, it can be hard to find the parts that are right for you. Occasionally we receive emails asking for our advice and experience with parts over long distances.
The latest question we received focused on which hubs to use for an extended bike tour through Africa (if you don’t want to read the whole post, the hubs on our current bikes are Shimano Deore LX and they also seem to be the preferred hub among most tourers at the moment):
A friend and I are planning a cycle trip through Africa, to some pretty remote places. I’m using Stephen Lord’s Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook and the experience of me and my mates to makes calls on components for our bikes. The one thing I can’t settle on is which hubs to use. The mountain bike guys in our community say Hope or Chris King hubs are the way to go but they are significantly more expensive than Deore XTs or SLX or even XTR. I’ve never had hub problems, but I have some mates who’ve said their Shimano Hubs were a bit troublesome after events like the Cape Epic race. For an 8 month, 10,000km tour, what would you recommend? -Alex
“First things first: we are not mechanical experts. We’re just two people who like to bike tour and pick up tips along the way to share. We’re happy to give our experience but if you’re looking for the mechanic’s expert opinion, we’re not it.
We used Shimano’s Deore XT hubs on our world tour and had no major problems. Our maintenance was limited to:
1. After 15,000km – Cleaning and regreasing the bearings. This is actually a fairly easy job, if you have the correct tools to do it.
2. After 30,000km – Replacing the bearings in the hubs, as part of a wider bike overhaul. We had this done in Bangkok.
3. After 40,000km – Replacing Andrew’s hub but only because one of his wheels failed in Idaho and we had to replace it with a pre-built wheel, so Andrew received a new hub by default. Friedel’s hub ran flawlessly until the end of the tour (48,000km in total).
As for your trip, it’s true that there’s a good chance your hub won’t be running quite as smoothly after 10,000km as it did at the start. That said, when you go on such a long, challenging tour, you tend to become accustomed to your bike not running perfectly smoothly (or at least we did). We doubt that any slight added roughness will really bother you.
If you want a little extra reassurance, invest in some cone spanners and an emergency tool like the NBT2 so that you can take your hubs apart on the road. Ask a bike-savvy friend to show you how to take the hubs apart. It’s really not that hard to pull them apart, regrease and clean everything, and put them back together.”
This is only our opinion, so what’s your experience with hubs? Would you advise Alex to go for more expensive models? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.