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Old 05-02-10, 12:02 PM   #1
John10568 
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Question about Surly Hub Bearings

I am considering buying a Surly Steamroller (fixed gear) complete bike, which uses Surly brand hubs. I posted this in the SS&FG forum, and one of the replies stated that there were problems with these hubs getting out of adjustment and the bearings wearing prematurely. I've read some previous postings and have seen mixed opinions on this issue, so I'm not quite sure what to think. Apparently, they are adjustable and during installation with a solid axle and track nuts, the axle can rotate and the bearing adjustment can change. I know that traditional adjustable cup and cone bearing hubs use a keyed lock washer and a lock nut that when properly tightened against the cone after adjustment will prevent movement alone the axle that would change the adjustment. So, do the Surly's lack this or is there some other reason for them to get out of adjustment. Would I have to carry a cone wrench with me when riding to prevent this problem from occuring if I had to remove the wheel on the road to fix a flat? I don't want to have to constantly adjust the hubs on my bike, and don't want to buy a different set of wheels for this bike, so if indeed the Surly hubs are a PITA, that's pretty much a deal breaker on buying the complete bike. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 05-02-10, 01:46 PM   #2
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Unfortunately keyed axles are going the way of Damascus steel. They've become a lost art form because they require a few extra parts, plus 2 extra machining operations on the axles. To keep things simple many hub have arbitrarily declared them unnecessary (I don't know if Surly is one) and choose to simply jam a locknut against the cone.

I'm not saying this can't work, only that it's not as reliable, especially on bolt-on hubs where dinged threads can often lead to axle rotation when mounting wheels.

The lack of axle key may not disqualify these hubs if they're right in other ways. If you have problems maintaining the adjustment you can resort to a threadlocker for the locknut and/or cone.
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Old 05-02-10, 04:21 PM   #3
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Are they using cup and cone bearings of radial (cartridge) bearings?
If properly adjusted there is no real need for a keyed axle.
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Old 05-02-10, 04:24 PM   #4
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Here's Surley's adjustment and bearing sheet. http://www.surlybikes.com/files/NewHub.pdf
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Old 05-02-10, 05:00 PM   #5
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This is what they say about the bearings:

"Bearings: Adjustable, full-complement, angular-contact, sealed cartridge. All New Hubs use 7901 bearings."

and this is what they say about adjustment:

"Bearing adjustment may be necessary, before your New Hub is put into service. Axles should be free-spinning with no side-to-side play. If you lack proper tools or mechanical aptitude, leave this step to a professional bicycle mechanic."

Pretty lame instructions.
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Old 05-02-10, 06:11 PM   #6
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Not really. With nutted axles the adjustment should be free with little or no drag. The axle does not compress when the nut that holds it on the bike is tightened.
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Old 05-02-10, 06:51 PM   #7
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Oh, I understand that its not necessary to provide slight play to compensate for axle compression with a quick release. What I meant when I said that the instructions were lame is that they said nothing about the specific tools and methodology to be used to accomplish the adjustment. Just, if you don't know how to adjust these specific hubs, which might be different than the way in which loose bearing cup and cones are adjusted, then just go to a pro mechanic. From what I've heard, these hubs can be tricky to adjust properly, and that's what concerns me. Anyway, thanks for the information and help. I'm going to visit my LBS tomorrow to see if they can show me a Surly hub and demonstrate that they will not be a PITA to own and maintain.
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Old 06-11-10, 05:04 PM   #8
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Um, pro mechanic for Surly hubs?

I just picked up some 7901 bearings from a local Surly shop, as an original in the hub shattered and blew out. The mechanic instructed to place blue seal outwards. I guess there was a 50/50 chance of getting this one wrong. Surly's NewHub.pdf states to place black seal facing outwards.
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Old 06-12-10, 01:02 AM   #9
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My surly hub came with black outwards. I have a lot of trouble finding 7901 cartridge bearings locally.
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