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  1. #1
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    Axle has play inside of hub...?

    My front wheel is wobbly. The bike had been stored for 5 years or so until I started riding again this summer. It seems like the front axle is moving around a bit inside of the hub. Is there anything I can do about this, or does the whole hub need to be replaced? (It's a '96 Specialized Rockhopper, so I'm sure not the best parts.)

  2. #2
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    This is an easy but needed fix and do it soon as the play will damage the bearings if allowed to continue.

    The hub should be disassembled, cleaned, greased and reassembled with the proper bearing clearance. The only special tool(s) you will need is a cone wrench to fit the thin flats on the axle cones. See Park Tools web site for a good tutorial on how to do all of this.

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    I know this is a total newb question, but how to I find out which type of hub I have (the Park Tool site has 6 hub how-to's, I've got it down to 2):

    Hub Overhaul (adjustable type)

    OR

    Freehub Service

  4. #4
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    Hub Overhaul. A freehub only applies to rear wheels.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I'd suggest stopping by the LBS and just buying 20 new 3/16" ball bearings. They're inexpensive and you avoid the hassle of cleaning & inspecting the old ones.
    Fresh grease, somewhat liberally applied.

    IF the front has a QR hub, it takes a little practice to get the proper amount of "play". When you tighten the QR, it removes play from the bearings, so it'll take you a couple attempts to get the hang of it. Just stay calm

    Park has a less expensive "double ended" (2 sizes on one wrench) for about $6. A worthy tool for the part timer.

    RockHopper is a decent bike. I ride an 86!

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    This is great. Thanks so much for the help. Bike people are great.

    I've already read over the Park Tool how-to, which made me want to swear loyalty to them whenever I need tools. Fantastic.

    That's good to hear about the Rockhopper. I've never liked mountain bikes with shocks... I've got a full rigid frame. I've thought about putting some smooth tires on because I hardly ever ride trails.

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    Okay, so I did the overhaul tonight. Everything was pretty easy. I tightened the cones with the all-the-way minus a quarter turn rule. The play completely disappeared and the wheel was spinning very smoothly. I took the bike for a very short ride to test it out.

    When I went to store the bike I noticed just a tad bit play again, should I go in and retighten some? I did put quite a bit of grease in there...

  8. #8
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    You likely just backed off the cones a hair too far.

    If it's a quick release type I like to clamp the skewer in the axle using a couple of very thick washers so the skewer is compressing the axle. I then set the cone preload and lock nut and test spin the axle in my fingers. I look for no play first of all and then I tighten just a hair more so only the very first sign of a little bit of stiffness occurs. If you go too far you'll find that it doesn't spin freely and may feel "notchy". If you get that you got it too tight.

    At that point if you release the skewer to remove the thick washers you'll find that the axle actually has a little bit of play. That's how much the pressure from the skewer compresses the axle.

    I seem to remember that I got this trick from Sheldon's website.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  9. #9
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Netdewt View Post
    Okay, so I did the overhaul tonight. Everything was pretty easy. I tightened the cones with the all-the-way minus a quarter turn rule. The play completely disappeared and the wheel was spinning very smoothly. I took the bike for a very short ride to test it out
    Quarter-turn is a little too much. I find most cone-and-cup hubs need about 1/16th to 1/8th turn out from the point where the bearings spin smoothly with no play. The play then disappears when you tighten the QR.

  10. #10
    Philologist
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    You likely just backed off the cones a hair too far.

    If it's a quick release type I like to clamp the skewer in the axle using a couple of very thick washers so the skewer is compressing the axle. I then set the cone preload and lock nut and test spin the axle in my fingers. I look for no play first of all and then I tighten just a hair more so only the very first sign of a little bit of stiffness occurs. If you go too far you'll find that it doesn't spin freely and may feel "notchy". If you get that you got it too tight.

    At that point if you release the skewer to remove the thick washers you'll find that the axle actually has a little bit of play. That's how much the pressure from the skewer compresses the axle.

    I seem to remember that I got this trick from Sheldon's website.
    That's a good trick! I'll have to use it next time. It sounds a lot easier than taking the wheel off and on the bike (especially for a rear wheel). I overhauled my rear hub Saturday and it was a real pain, especially compared to the front hub (which I overhauled a few weeks ago). The front hub took only two or three tries to adjust the cones properly, but that blasted rear wheel had to go on and off at least six or eight times before I got the pressure just right.
    s ofereode, isses swa mg. ("That passed away, this also can.")
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