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Star-Ratchet vs Pawls and Springs

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Star-Ratchet vs Pawls and Springs

Old 01-06-23, 09:26 PM
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Bob Dopolina 
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Star-Ratchet vs Pawls and Springs

I'm interested in hearing real-world feedback from those who have ACTUALLY USED both systems. How would you compare them in terms of performance and durability? I am quite familiar with pawls/springs but have never used a star-ratchet system. Are there any concerns or idiosyncrasies with these?

I know AOE can vary from hub to hub so that is pretty easy to understand. Is there anything else that comes into play?
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Old 01-07-23, 01:38 AM
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I'm familiar with King and dt240, vs a nice hub like Dura Ace, Ultegra or Record they're noisier when coasting but have much quicker engagement which matters more in cross and mtb rather than road. Despite the excess noise I've found them to coast better, the design is supposed to be less friction than a pawl system and I tend to believe that, vs a higher pawl system like white industries I find the kings and DTs to be both faster and quieter. Personally I like Kings first, a DA or XTR hub next and White Industry. Not certain how the I9 hubs compare to the White Industries but the ones I've seen being ridden were all the loudest hub I've ever heard though owners have claimed them to be as quick an engagement as a star ratchet system and just as smooth.
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Old 01-07-23, 03:42 AM
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I assume since there are no pawls to worry about sticking you could add more grease to the star ratchet system to quiet them down?
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Old 01-07-23, 07:28 AM
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I have used both systems. Shimano, Campy and Chris King (R45). I find the Shimano the quietest and the Campy and CK equal on noise - just a different type of noise. The CK does engage a bit faster but I don't race so I am not getting the benefit. I really like the Chris King but I need to state that I wore out the helical splines on the driveshell at 15,000 miles - and I am not super strong rider. When the splines wear the ring drive does not release reliably and you get chain slap. On the CK you do not use grease to lube the ratchet mechanism (CK calls it the Ring Drive). You use 10W synthetic oil or CK Ring Drive lube. I lube mine annually - at about 3,500 miles. The process is a bit more work than the pawl system.
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Old 01-07-23, 08:42 AM
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This article sums it up nicely.

It's difficult to compare reliability and durability, since the DTS Star Ratchet system has only been around for a couple years. Just stay away from the Ratchet EXP hubs with known problems.
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Old 01-07-23, 09:38 AM
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Thanks for the links.
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Old 01-07-23, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
It's difficult to compare reliability and durability, since the DTS Star Ratchet system has only been around for a couple years.
Really? The original patent expired in 2015 and even the later one was granted in 2014.

DT Swiss U.S. Patent on star ratchet hub: US8757341B2 - Hub with star ratchet - Google Patents
DT Swiss U.S. Patent on original clutch hub: US5676227A - Free-wheel hub for bicycles - Google Patents
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Old 01-07-23, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Really? The original patent expired in 2015 and even the later one was granted in 2014.

DT Swiss U.S. Patent on star ratchet hub: US8757341B2 - Hub with star ratchet - Google Patents
DT Swiss U.S. Patent on original clutch hub: US5676227A - Free-wheel hub for bicycles - Google Patents
They came out with a new version in 2019.
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Old 01-07-23, 11:50 AM
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DT bought their star ratchet from Hugi, and immediately improved it by using a two spring system. Those were super reliable. Later, they went back to the Hugi design, and have had some problems with the floating ratchet hanging up, causing freewheel only. They said they solved that problem with a recall.

In my shop experience, Chris King's ratchet system works well, but the hubs often need bearing adjustment. None of us saw the value over DT or even White Industries and didn't recommend them when asked.

I have some old Shimano 105 hub wheels from the 9 speed era. They are well finished, slim looking and super quiet.
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Old 01-07-23, 11:56 AM
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So now we need to have a competition for coasting! <grin>
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Old 01-07-23, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
They came out with a new version in 2019.
Oh, you are talking about the EXP, not the prior star ratchet. I also read that the initial batch had issues which are supposedly fixed by now, but as you said, long term durability remains unknown. The ones to get are the recent DT Swiss 350; since 2021, they all come with a 36T ratchet (instead of the prior 18T).
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Old 01-07-23, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Oh, you are talking about the EXP, not the prior star ratchet. I also read that the initial batch had issues which are supposedly fixed by now, but as you said, long term durability remains unknown. The ones to get are the recent DT Swiss 350; since 2021, they all come with a 36T ratchet (instead of the prior 18T).
Yep, that's it. And the problems were apparently only in the 180 and 240 hubs.

I've got the older-style 350 hubs on one wheelset, the newer ones on another. Good hubs: lighter than most, reliable, and (with the 36t) they have pretty quick engagement. Nice price, too.
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Old 01-07-23, 12:07 PM
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I have a King R45 and WI MI5 and I can’t really tell the difference between the two while riding.
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Old 01-07-23, 12:51 PM
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I've used Chris King, Mavic (pawl and spring) and DT Swiss hubs:

Chris King - Generally worked well, but could be finnicky and Chris King recommends their special grease for servicing (at least they used to). I would ocassionally have the hub slip when I mashed the pedals. This was ten years ago, have not tried anything recently, maybe they are improved.

Mavic - pawl and spring. If you don't stay on top of servicing my hub made a terrible noise when freewheeling. Kind of a pain to service. Otherwise worked fine.

DT Swiss - I've been using both 240 and 350 hubs for the last ten years, tens of thousands of miles. Love them. Trouble free and easy to service. When you hear them getting louder on freewheel, just clean and lube to quiet them down.
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Old 01-07-23, 01:52 PM
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I have many road wheelsets, and hubs that include the star ratchet system. I also have many hubs that have Shimano and Campy/Fulcrum hubs. Plus a lot of clone/rebranded stuff based on the Shimano and Campagnolo designs, such as Novatec, Formula etc.

First, whether the hub has 18 'points of engagement' or a million, it makes no difference in the real world. You won't notice it and more points of engagement will not afford a performance advantage, except perhaps if you are a trials rider. Second, more than 2 pawls makes no engineering sense, as only one pawl can transmit rider torque at a time. The only reason for even a second pawl is as backup.

The only serious freehub failure I've ever encountered is with the star ratchet system, where I serviced the freehub is with a medium-weight grease. While honking up a hill, this caused the ratchets to slip against each other, and chip the teeth. Visually, damage was so subtle it was hard to tell, but both ratchets had to be replaced. Expensive mistake: use manufacturer recommended grease (expensive) to service these.

Overall, Shimano hubs are the best hub design and implementation. As much as I'm impressed with Campy hubs, the Shimano hub with the enclosed ratchet mechanism inside the freehub, and load-bearing bearings at each end of the hub is a superior design.
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Old 01-07-23, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
Second, more than 2 pawls makes no engineering sense, as only one pawl can transmit rider torque at a time. The only reason for even a second pawl is as backup.
Really?

Bike Wheel Hub Technology | Road Bike Wheels | Best Road Bike Wheels | Irwin Cycling
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Old 01-07-23, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
Second, more than 2 pawls makes no engineering sense, as only one pawl can transmit rider torque at a time. The only reason for even a second pawl is as backup.
oof.

You really don't understand why a rear hub has more than one pawl? Really?
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Old 01-08-23, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
Second, more than 2 pawls makes no engineering sense, as only one pawl can transmit rider torque at a time. The only reason for even a second pawl is as backup.
That is not accurate. I have a freehub and ratchet ring in my hands and when I slide the ratchet ring on the freehub I can clearly see more than one of them is engaged.
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Old 01-08-23, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina
I assume since there are no pawls to worry about sticking you could add more grease to the star ratchet system to quiet them down?
No. With the star ratchet system, especially the "many" engagement type, you need to strictly adhere to the manufacturer recommended amount and type of lube, or it might slip and destroy the ratchet, and possibly cause you to crash. In that sense its akin to a "one pawl" system, because there is no backup. I an ordinary three pawl system one pawl can stick without the engagement failing. Honestly Is see no particular benefit to the star ratchet system over pawls and it suffers from the same less than optimal bearing system as 90% all rear hubs, having the right hand bearing buried way inside the hub shell, causing the axle to bend and occasionally actually break.
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Old 01-08-23, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan
No. With the star ratchet system, especially the "many" engagement type, you need to strictly adhere to the manufacturer recommended amount and type of lube, or it might slip and destroy the ratchet, and possibly cause you to crash. In that sense its akin to a "one pawl" system, because there is no backup.
For ten years I have been applying a thin coat of this to my DT Swiss 350 ratchet with zero issues: PPL-2 PolyLube 1000™ Lubricant (Tub) | Park Tool. My best regards to DT Swiss and their special grease, but I'm not going to purchase it. When I hear the ratchet getting loud, I pull it apart, clean it and give it another thin coat of grease. I typically ride this hub 5000-7000 miles/year and have had zero issues. Others may have a different experience.
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Old 01-08-23, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan
Honestly Is see no particular benefit to the star ratchet system over pawls and it suffers from the same less than optimal bearing system as 90% all rear hubs, having the right hand bearing buried way inside the hub shell, causing the axle to bend and occasionally actually break.
Now I am curious which freehubs fall into the 10% where the RHS bearing is further outward than the freehub shelf. Please give a couple of examples?
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Old 01-08-23, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by woodway
For ten years I have been applying a thin coat of this to my DT Swiss 350 ratchet with zero issues: PPL-2 PolyLube 1000™ Lubricant (Tub) | Park Tool. My best regards to DT Swiss and their special grease, but I'm not going to purchase it. When I hear the ratchet getting loud, I pull it apart, clean it and give it another thin coat of grease. I typically ride this hub 5000-7000 miles/year and have had zero issues. Others may have a different experience.
Anyone can do as they please to their own wheels, but in the context of adding more grease to silence the hub, as suggested by Bob, its a hard NO. The DT technical manual clearly warns you to exclusively use the special red DT grease in a thin layer applied with a small brush.

"GEFAHR VERLETZUNGSGEFAHR DURCH EINGESCHRÄNKTE FREILAUFFUNKTION INFOLGE FALSCHER SCHMIERUNG!"

https://www.dtswiss.com/pmt/00/00/00...WEB_DE_001.pdf

Page 14.
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Old 01-08-23, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Now I am curious which freehubs fall into the 10% where the RHS bearing is further outward than the freehub shelf. Please give a couple of examples?
Most Shimano hubs have the right hand hub bearing to the right of the freehub. In most other hubs the the right hub bearing is to the left of the freehub and the freehub is a separate unit rolling directly on the axle.
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Old 01-08-23, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan
Anyone can do as they please to their own wheels, but in the context of adding more grease to silence the hub, as suggested by Bob, its a hard NO. The DT technical manual clearly warns you to exclusively use the special red DT grease in a thin layer applied with a small brush.

"GEFAHR VERLETZUNGSGEFAHR DURCH EINGESCHRÄNKTE FREILAUFFUNKTION INFOLGE FALSCHER SCHMIERUNG!"

https://www.dtswiss.com/pmt/00/00/00...WEB_DE_001.pdf

Page 14.
Agree that anyone can do as they please. I've read the manual about the special grease. The Park Tool grease has been a hard YES for me for ten years and it works fine. It also quiets the ratchet down. Cheers!
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Old 01-08-23, 12:22 PM
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Back to the Star Ratchet on the DT 240. Mine needed regular lubing with the recommended lube to keep it quiet under hard efforts. Pretty cool mechanism but I wasn't too sad when the flanges on my front hub broke while the bike was hanging peacefully. Later, the rear hub flange broke while the wheel was hanging. (slotted spoke holes for bladed spokes). In the beginning, I had no idea where the little annoyance was coming from.
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