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Old 01-13-07, 04:01 PM   #1
cuda2k
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How often to regrease loose ball hubs?

Well, I just got finished cleaning and regreasing two headsets between my four bikes. And now I'm sitting here (staying in from the 30 degree rainy weather and not looking forward to the ice coming tonight) wondering if I should repack the bearings on the hubs of my Barracuda Mk.I as well. Hubs are, as far as I know, low end Shimano or something else cheap but effective. (it's a 27" wheel, give me a break ) Purchased them new August of 05, and since have run probably about 1500mi on them. Only thing done to the wheels since purchase has been adjusting the hubs when new. They've been through one short rain shower, otherwise all dry condition riding.
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Old 01-13-07, 04:15 PM   #2
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A lot more often than your headsets! Grease at least once year, or more, especially if you do lots of miles and/or ride in the rain. To check, take the ends of the axle in your hand and spin the wheel if they feel any rougher than normal, adjust and if they are still not normal grease 'em
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Old 01-13-07, 04:28 PM   #3
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The headsets were done because I was starting to get some of that "indexed" feel (forget the proper term for it) when the bars were in the forward position. I think they were slightly mis-adjusted and wanted to give them a good once over before I replaced them to see if they were salvagable. So far so good with the headsets.

Back to the hubs - the front seems like its still quite smooth. The rear isn't bad at all yet, but wondered if I might as well do the job before another year's riding starts up. These wheels probably won't see the bulk of my miles this year (this is my downtube friction shift, 14speed, 25lb, self-painted "sunday morning cruise" bike), but don't want to start dealing with maintance during the summer when I could be riding.
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Old 01-13-07, 04:43 PM   #4
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Repacking hubs once per year is probably a good interval. Don't decide based on feel. If in doubt, repack them anyway.
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Old 01-13-07, 04:49 PM   #5
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Once per riding season is a good time frame for hub overhaul.

In my experience, waiting for the axle to feel gritty before servicing the hub is a bad idea -- damage has already been done, and you'll end up replacing more than just the bearings.

The entire concept of preventative maintenance is to service the component before trouble occurs.
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Old 01-13-07, 05:24 PM   #6
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You'll want to regrease much more frequently than every season if you're going to be commuting all weather. Or if you ride through a lot of rained out areas.
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Old 01-13-07, 09:09 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advise all. I got the front hub taken apart and cleaned and relubed tonight. I'm going to need to find a vice to get the freewheel off the hub to do the rear wheel.
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Old 01-14-07, 12:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supcom
Repacking hubs once per year is probably a good interval. Don't decide based on feel. If in doubt, repack them anyway.
I agree - once per year should do it even if you are putting on a lot of miles in extreme conditions.

99% of all bikes never get any grease maintainance at all, so once a year is way ahead of the pack.
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Old 01-14-07, 06:03 AM   #9
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Look, the man has a bunch of bikes. Given that, it's not necessary to repack the hub bearings for each bike once a year. 1500 miles is a good interval for a repack, but depends on whether (and how well) the hubs are sealed, and of course on riding conditions.
Repack takes about an hour, so it ain't a big chore. But if turning the axle by hand still feels smooth, and the hub is in good adjustment (and you can feel some continuous resistance of the sort that tells you the grease is still there and hasn't disintegrated) then you don't necessarily need to repack the hub. On the other hand, once you can feel non-smoothness, you may already be doing some damage to the races.
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Old 01-14-07, 06:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timcupery
Look, the man has a bunch of bikes. Given that, it's not necessary to repack the hub bearings for each bike once a year. 1500 miles is a good interval for a repack, but depends on whether (and how well) the hubs are sealed, and of course on riding conditions.
Repack takes about an hour, so it ain't a big chore. But if turning the axle by hand still feels smooth, and the hub is in good adjustment (and you can feel some continuous resistance of the sort that tells you the grease is still there and hasn't disintegrated) then you don't necessarily need to repack the hub. On the other hand, once you can feel non-smoothness, you may already be doing some damage to the races.
I would agree with this too. It depends on how much of a perfectionist you are. Tim mentions one every 1500 miles. I was thinking you were putting on more like five or six thousand miles per year.

Like I mentioned above, only a small percentage of lucky bikes ever get regreased at all.
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Old 01-14-07, 06:47 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by mike
I would agree with this too. It depends on how much of a perfectionist you are. Tim mentions one every 1500 miles. I was thinking you were putting on more like five or six thousand miles per year.
Like I mentioned above, only a small percentage of lucky bikes ever get regreased at all.
Cuda mentioned 1500 miles on these wheels in his OP. I agree that intervals could be significantly longer, assuming the hubs are sealed and haven't been ridden in lots of downpours.
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Old 01-14-07, 09:40 AM   #12
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Grease can provide proper lubrication for many years of service if the bearing is sealed. Take your cars hubs for example. About the only time they get repacked with new grease is when the auto shop services the brakes. For your typical bicycle with hubs that are not sealed the hubs should be cleaned and greased at least once a year and more often if there subject to harsh conditions like dusty or muddy conditions. Very few bicycle hubs are sealed from the environment so dust, dirt, and water can infiltrate the bearings and cause damage to the races, cones, and balls. You're not cleaning out old grease because it's worn out, your cleaning out the grease due to crud that has contaminated it. A NOS bike that has been hanging around a bike shop for a year or two would still need the bearings serviced simply because dust would have found it's way to that sticky grease and consequently will become mixed in the grease and bearings the moment you start riding it. I like to go touring for several days and occasionally get caught in the rain. This requires a bearing service even if I had just done it right after the last tour. Last month is a good example (Dec-06). I got wet twice on two tours and ended up doing a service on my touring bike twice that month. The next wheel change I do I will be purchasing hubs with cassette bearings as there permanently sealed!
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Old 01-14-07, 10:26 AM   #13
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Thanks all for the input. These hubs aren't exactly top of the line, and the seals are well, pretty much non-existant. Good old cup and cone with a simple metal dust cap. When I cleaned out the grease in the front a lot of it stilled looked clean, but that which was down around the bearings and the cup was discolored and probably ready for a cleaning. Wish I had a place in this apartment to mount a vice so I could get the freewheel off so I could do the rear. My longest wrench that will fit on the freewheel remover just doesn't have the leverage to free it, even with some blows from a mallet.

I wish I put 5k miles on this bike in a year considering it was my 2nd most used bike in the stable.
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Old 01-14-07, 11:39 AM   #14
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Jon;
Your problem is that you don't have winter!
As I sit here watching the snow fall I'm re-packing the wheels of the 'new' Centurion. Before it (the snow) goes away I'll be able to do the whole fleet.
And buy yourself a 15" adjustable wrench. That'll twist off freewheels and works on BB cups and headsets as well
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Old 01-14-07, 12:13 PM   #15
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I have an old (probably) 40" iron crescent wrench that I use to get the freewheel off. It was in the garage when my parents bought their house in the 1970's.
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Old 01-14-07, 12:29 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by top506
Jon;
Your problem is that you don't have winter!
As I sit here watching the snow fall I'm re-packing the wheels of the 'new' Centurion. Before it (the snow) goes away I'll be able to do the whole fleet.
And buy yourself a 15" adjustable wrench. That'll twist off freewheels and works on BB cups and headsets as well
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Yeah, a bigger adjustable wrench is probably in order. Right now I'm trying to find a way around buying a set of headset tools (removal and installation). Looks like a trip to Home Depot for DIY versions of them may be in order.

As far as winter goes, we are having a nice little taste of it right now. We've had ice warnings for the last 2 days and it isn't going to end any time soon. Sure it's not snow like you all have up there, but its certainly more than enough to keep me off the roads. The downside is that its also keeping me at home instead of driving over to jsharr's place where he's got a vice that would take that freewheel off in a hurry.
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Old 01-14-07, 01:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by pat5319
A lot more often than your headsets! Grease at least once year, or more, especially if you do lots of miles and/or ride in the rain. To check, take the ends of the axle in your hand and spin the wheel if they feel any rougher than normal, adjust and if they are still not normal grease 'em
Ride lots
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Disagree. You should repack your headset much more often than your hubs. Grit is a cause of indexing and your headset bearings are much more exposed to the elements than your hubs are. The bottom bearing assembly of a headset, which takes the all the shock forces from the bike, is right in the path of throw off from the front tire.

I've had hubs that I've finally gotten around to re-packing after years of cinsistent riding and the grease was fine, fairly cleand and still viscous.

Do check ALL your bearings often for loosness and re-adjust if necessary.
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Old 01-14-07, 01:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by cuda2k
Wish I had a place in this apartment to mount a vice so I could get the freewheel off so I could do the rear. My longest wrench that will fit on the freewheel remover just doesn't have the leverage to free it, even with some blows from a mallet.

I have a vice but I much prefer a long pull handle or in this case a push handle. It's nothing more than a long handle with a 1/2" square stub a socket fits on. My freewheel tool has the matching square hole to fit it. I just pump up the tire and place it upright with the tire sitting on the garage floor and a strong wall. Then just push down on the pull handle and the freewheel will loosen up easily as your using your body weight. If it's really stuck you can stand on the wrench handle!
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Old 01-14-07, 03:47 PM   #19
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On that same subject, I have a pair of homemade 'helper bars' that slip over wrench handles- 2' for things that are stuck and 4' for things that are REALLY stuck . Both made from 2" black iron pipe.
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Old 01-14-07, 04:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuda2k
Yeah, a bigger adjustable wrench is probably in order. Right now I'm trying to find a way around buying a set of headset tools (removal and installation). Looks like a trip to Home Depot for DIY versions of them may be in order.
Here is what I use for my headset removal and installation. I vary it a bit, but it's basically the idea. Instead of copper piping, I use some old conduit for the headset remover. I use different size washers for the press depending on the size/type headset I'm installing.
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