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On Onyx Classic rear hubs...

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3/27/2022 2:29 PM

I am entertaining the thought of getting an Onyx Classic rear hub, but I can't judge whether they are suitable & reliable. On the suitability part, specifically, I enjoy riding technical stuff (let's call it trials). Are they too spongy for that? I understand they are supposedly "instant engagement", but it takes a bit for the sprags to erect from what I understand. Any estimates of how many degrees of pedal movement we are talking? What about longevity, especially considering frequent engagements of the freehub on technical rides and, presumably, a fair amount of torque? Any experience that you can share?

It seems no bike shop in the area has them on a bike for a test ride, reviewers are basically just echoing the marketing induced speech bubbles or providing their opinion after unboxing, and I am reluctant to buy yet another "high-end" hub that is basically useless after less than a year -- my experience with Industry Nine's Hydra.
If you are running them, can you please share your experience?


3/27/2022 6:20 PM

I love mine, I have them on 5 wheelsets over several bikes, some with a few thousand miles on them, I don't do trials and my climb trails are pretty mellow, but I am a heavy rider who puts down a relatively large amount of power doing sprints. And get a fair amount of miles (2500 last year with 400K of climbing) The engangement is near instant, definitely noticeable compared to a dt swiss hub.

The customer service from the team is also top notch, I did the TransBC in 2019, and somehow lost one of the axle spacer caps in shipping the bike, I realized I was missing the piece on a Sunday evening, I called the Minesota office at 5pm sunday night, left a message and got a call back from their customer service guy (maybe Daniel) who promised to call all of their Canada dealers to see if anyone had one they could drive over, he overnighted a replacement and also gave me a work around ( ie 4 pedal washers will do the trick for a rear hub) all on a sunday evening, kept me from missing any days of the race, and made me a customer for life.

Service is super simple, replacement parts are easy to find and the hubs are all backwards and forwards compatible, ie change between 15 and 20mm axle, 11sp and 12 sp shimano etc,

so overall they are really nice hubs, bombproof in my experience, and customer service is excellent. dont think you can go wrong.


9/15/2022 10:51 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/15/2022 10:52 PM

Onyx hubs are a tried & true option. The sprag clutch mechanism is nearly fully free of drag, simple in design, very robust, and easy to service. In addition, there are no parts that are subjected to wear. The instant engagement with its slightly soft feel is something that most riders do not want to be without once getting a taste of it.

On a plus side, the Classic model is up for the task when it comes to E-mtb use, something that is becoming more and more common.


9/16/2022 5:43 AM

while i personally don't own one (yet), the people i know that have them do quite like them, and I haven't heard reports of any issues from them.

they do describe it as a soft engagement as others have mentioned. supposedly the box one stealth hubs are much more of a firm engagement (they use a one way roller bearing). however as far as i can tell those hubs are essentially vaporware, they were announced a couple years back, but i've yet to see them available for sale. side note: box had acquired the stealth design from True Precision I believe.


9/16/2022 6:12 AM

I have two sets. I ride technical trials-like trails too, I like them for that. The softness you mentioned I think of as a feature and is really very slight, IE a fraction of a degree. Coupled with the noiseless coasting the slight initial softness helps the bike feel quiet instead of having freehub pauls catch hard. They engage very solidly.

Like anything, they require maintenance. The Kluber spindle grease is crazy expensive, and the parts aren’t cheap either. I had to replace a sprag clutch assembly on on set of my hubs as the cage holding the sprags had broken. The customer service is excellent, and the every part is extremely high quality; particularly the bearings which seem to last much longer than some other hubs I’ve had. I know with enough use everything needs maintenance, and IMO Onyx has done a good job making sure I can keep my hubs in use for the next decade even if they cost a little more. I like having a bike that I can trust to be repairable, I hate throwing away unrepairable stuff.

There are a lot of quality hubs out there that with a little maintenance can last years and years. I-9, Chris King, and DT all make excellent hubs, so I don’t think Onyx is entirely unique in this regard; for me Onyx’s major advantage is silence; I adore only hearing the wind and the thumping of my tires.


9/16/2022 6:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/16/2022 6:40 AM

It's worth affirming that the silence is something that needs to be experienced to appreciate it in its entirety. Only the sound of tires hugging the trail and the suspension doing its job is an experience of itself.

The softness in the engagement can only be noticed on the very lightest gears. With higher gearing such as in single-speed or dirt jump use (or in BMX race bikes on which the Onyx hubs represented the majority in the last Olympic final), it's not a factor. Not that most people run single-speeds, but the comparison helps to put the effect in the right context.


9/18/2022 3:14 PM

Jukka wrote:

It's worth affirming that the silence is something that needs to be experienced to appreciate it in its entirety. Only the ...more

I don't have an Onyx hub (yet?) but I remember an old Shimano hub I had that was near silent. When I switched it to a Hope I found out I'd been using the sound of my tyres to help me gauge traction.
The Hope buzz took that information away from me, and I missed it.


9/18/2022 8:56 PM

The sponge is a pretty weird feeling. Enough on my test ride to decide to go with a hope hub. Didn’t want a crazy engagement like a i9 but also was kind of weirded out by the sponge and quiet from the onyx. I think something like a hope/350/spank hub is a good balance between those 2 extremes.


9/19/2022 6:02 AM

I had the Onyx to on my Dreadnought. Unreal rolling speed. The engagement is instant, it has to be less than a degree, a fraction of a degree. No complaints, I’d buy again if I was looking for the instant engagement feel.


9/21/2022 11:06 AM

I dont like mine. Blew the freehub bearing multiple times. The axle design is three parts and the threaded end cap on drive side came loose twice. Hub is very spongey when climbing with 52t.


9/21/2022 3:19 PM

I have 3 sets, 2 classics and 1 vesper, I've never had a single issue between the 3 wheelsets on 5 different bikes. One set with Classic hubs are on my Single Speed and I don't feel like the engagement is "spongey" in the slightest, and I absolutely hammer that bike. All 3 sets have ceramic bearings and they spin forever, I've found myself catching up to riding buddies on sections of trails where I'm coasting and they are actually pedaling.


9/21/2022 4:41 PM

carlinojoevideo wrote:

I had the Onyx to on my Dreadnought. Unreal rolling speed. The engagement is instant, it has to be less than a degree, a ...more

The soft engagement is equivalent to about 2 degrees.
I found it frustrating when people described it as almost instant with no figures specced by Onyx and went and found an academic paper where a guy had done the calcs on sprag engagement..
2 degrees is as damn close to instant as you'll ever want or need though!


9/22/2022 9:39 AM

Sean_Hornchek wrote:

I dont like mine. Blew the freehub bearing multiple times. The axle design is three parts and the threaded end cap on drive ...more

The small give on the sprag clutch mechanism can be felt with super low gearing, like when using a 52T in the rear. Seems to be a matter of personal preference and the type of terrain ridden. I've felt that even the old Eagle cassette with its 50T dinner plate was overkill. I've happily settled to older Shimano 11-speed cassettes with 11-46T range and do not feel missing out a bit.

But yes, this is a consideration with Onyx hubs.