It's easy to take mountain bike hubs for granted – they're one of those 'out of sight, out of mind' components that you probably don't think much about until absolutely necessary. It's also not uncommon for a design to stick around for decades or even longer, which means there aren't nearly as many attention-grabbing headlines about hubs as there are for new forks, shocks, and drivetrains.
DT Swiss' star ratchet design is no exception, but there's now a new version of their time-tested internal configuration that's called Ratchet EXP. The basic concept is still the same, except that rather than using two springs with two ratchet rings positioned in between them, the new design has one spring that pushes a single ratchet ring against a ring of teeth that's threaded into the hub shell.
180 Ratchet EXP Hub Details
• SINC Ceramic bearings
• Aluminum hub shell
• 28 spoke holes
• Centerlock rotor mount
• 36 and 54-tooth options
• 15x110mm / 12x148mm spacing
• Weight: 94g (front) / 185g (rear)
• Price: $394.30 (front) / $749.50 (rear)
Why change up such a proven design? Well, the new system is lighter than before, due to the fact that one rather than two springs are required, and DT also claim that it's 15% stiffer. That extra stiffness comes from the increased distance between the bearings, which was made possible by threading one of the ratchet rings into the hub shell. There's also a little notch on each end cap that should make it easier to remove them for maintenance or freehub swaps. On that note, the new design is compatible with the freehub bodies used on current DT hubs, and there are SRAM and Shimano options, including MicroSpline.
For the time being this iteration will only be available on DT's top tier 180 hubs, although it wouldn't be surprising to see it implemented on other models in the future. As the highest end option in the lineup, the 180 hubs have had as many grams as possible shaved off, and come stock with ceramic bearings. The weight for the front hub is a claimed 94 grams, and the rear is only 185 grams. I've been spending time on the new hubs laced to a set of DT's EX 511 rims and the total weight is only 1830 grams, which is impressive for an enduro-ready aluminum wheelset. A 36 tooth ratchet ring is the stock configuration, which creates 10-degrees between engagement points, but there's also a 54-tooth option.
Of course, fancy things like ceramic bearings come at a price, in this case you're looking at $394.30 USD for the front hub, and $749.50 for the rear. The hubs are also only available in a straight pull, centerlock rotor mount configuration in Boost spacing; fans of J-bend spokes and six bolt rotor mounting will need to stick with other models, as least for now.