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Old 06-08-08, 08:29 AM   #1
w98seeng
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Sealed bearings Question.

Do sealed bearings in a hub ride better than a hub with loose bearings? If so, is there a set of inexpensive hubs out there that are pretty good for a the average person? I have Sora HB-3300 and FH-3300 hubs and would like to swap these out as I'm not too crazy about these.

Should I bother, or am I just spinning my wheels (or hubs )?

Thanks for the info

Ian
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Old 06-08-08, 10:18 AM   #2
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It is my understanding that loose bearing hubs spin with less resistance than sealed bearing hubs. This is one of the reasons that high shimano stuff still uses "loose" cup-and-cone style bearings for their hubs. I think your Sora stuff is also the old cup-and-cone design. I would leave well enough alone unless you are in the middle of rebuilding your wheels and you have $$$ burning a hole in your pocket.
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Old 06-08-08, 11:35 AM   #3
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Thanks Tabor. I think I will indeed "leave well enough alone".
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Old 06-08-08, 12:18 PM   #4
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Loose ball hubs have seals on the bearing cones instead of being part of a shield mechanism as on "cartridge" (or sometimes called "sealed") bearing hubs. In either case, the seal drag is about the same.

Cartridge bearing hubs typically spin very smoothly when new, more so than low end loose ball hubs like the OP's Sora hubs. The actual balls in the cartridge bearing hubs tend to be smaller than in loose ball hubs though because of packaging reasons within the hubs themselves because the races for the cartridge bearings take up space. For that reason, the loose ball hubs tend to be more durable. They are also easily serviced. One good thing is that cartridge bearings can be changed, but sometimes that requires special tools.

At the end of the day, cartridge bearing hubs are over rated in my opinion. They do spin nicely when new, but tend to be less durable and a pain to service. They are also much easier to fabricate which is the real reason I think, so many manufacturers use them.
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Old 06-08-08, 02:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w98seeng View Post
Do sealed bearings in a hub ride better than a hub with loose bearings? If so, is there a set of inexpensive hubs out there that are pretty good for a the average person? I have Sora HB-3300 and FH-3300 hubs and would like to swap these out as I'm not too crazy about these.
A more difficult question than you probably think.

First of all "sealed bearings" is a term that's poorly defined in bicycle circles. Modern bicycle hubs, like your Sora hubs, have a sealing mechanism. In this case, it's a neoprene o-ring on the cone. It does a pretty good job of keeping the grease in and the water and dirt out. Back in the olden days, we used to overhaul our hubs several times per year. Now I typically go several years between hub overhauls.

Some hubs use pressed in cartridge bearings. When they go bad they're a lot harder to work on but they can go for a very long time without going bad.

Back to your Sora hubs. What makes you "not too crazy" about your bearings? A common problem is being able to wiggle the rim from side-to-side. If you can do that the usual fix is to readjust the bearing preload. If trying to adjust the bearings makes you choose between a "notchy" feeling axie when you turn it with your fingers or a wiggly rim, you probably have pitted cones. If that's the case, replacing the cones and the balls while you're at it (they're cheap) will fix it.

One more thing. Shimano hubs ROCK!
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