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  1. #1
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    Rear Axle Overtightened

    I just received a new road bike that I bought online (no lectures please!). Overall I am very pleased with the bike, but the rear hub was making a strange squeal from the get go, but I thought it would break in and go away. I have put about 60 miles on it and it has not gone away and the wheel does not turn for very long when you spin it. I took it off and tried turning the axle by hand it and there was a lot of resistance. I figured that it was overtightened, so I undid the lock nut and backed off on the cone nut and retightened. It is better, but still not great. Could I have damaged the bearings that quickly?

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    maybe, it would be hard to tell unless you opened it up and examined the state of the bearings and bearing races.
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    Junior Member Adam Clark's Avatar
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    Perhaps the wheel was built improperly? Or, a wheel that was returned was inadvertently put on your new bike? Either way, slap some poly lube in there and give it a whirl.
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    Most hubs are over-tight from the factory. I finally checked my Sirrus that i bought in Sept (havnt put a lot of miles on it yet) and the hubs were adjusted rather tight. I correctly adjusted them and they are smooth as buttah now

    You might want to take the bearings out, clean them and look over everything good. If the races are OK and the bearings are a bit odd looking (not evenly shiny) ball bearings are pretty cheap.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttheroux View Post
    so I undid the lock nut and backed off on the cone nut and retightened. It is better, but still not great. Could I have damaged the bearings that quickly?
    What kind of hub? Loose ball or cartridge bearings? These require different amounts of bearing-preload.

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    Yes you can ruin your hubs by overtightening and their life may have been shortened.

    The cones go first. Back the drive side cone off and see if it's got little pits in it. If so, it needs replacing because once the crumbling starts, it's only going to get worse.

    What else can you do besides checking for damage, then assembling correctly?

  7. #7
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    Yes, almost all hubs and often other bearings are too tight from the factory - often holds true even when a shop assembles it, as some assemblers are too lazy (or shops too tight) to adjust them, expecially the rear wheel. As noted, can't tell if you damaged them w/out looking. Don't assume any noise or mechanical problem will just go away. They usually get worse and more expensive with time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nymtber View Post
    Most hubs are over-tight from the factory.
    True. While top line hubs tend to be adjusted fairly spot on, mid-range and lower hubs tend to be overly tight. They do this because they don't want to take the time to dial it in perfectly and given a choice of too tight or too loose opt for tight because loose hubs are a problem for the production wheel building machinery used by their OEM customers.

    Correctly adjusting hub bearings is one of the final assembly jobs of the LBS, or whoever sells the bike. Unfortunately many shops don't check or adjust hubs or bottom brackets during assembly.

    BTW- I doubt you caused any type of serious damage other than maybe some extra wear. Hub bearings are tolerant of some decent loads and the hub would have to have been very overtight to shave suffered much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
    What kind of hub? Loose ball or cartridge bearings? These require different amounts of bearing-preload.
    They are the loose all type. I would figure that you tighten them just enough to get out any play while still spinning freely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    True. While top line hubs tend to be adjusted fairly spot on, mid-range and lower hubs tend to be overly tight. They do this because they don't want to take the time to dial it in perfectly and given a choice of too tight or too loose opt for tight because loose hubs are a problem for the production wheel building machinery used by their OEM customers.

    Correctly adjusting hub bearings is one of the final assembly jobs of the LBS, or whoever sells the bike. Unfortunately many shops don't check or adjust hubs or bottom brackets during assembly.

    BTW- I doubt you caused any type of serious damage other than maybe some extra wear. Hub bearings are tolerant of some decent loads and the hub would have to have been very overtight to shave suffered much.
    I did pull the axle apart and there was a small grove on the cones and what looked like some wear in one spot on some of the bearing. It gave me the impression that the bearing where not rolling as they should and that was the noise I was hearing. I think that I might just replace the bearings and cones to be safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ttheroux View Post
    They are the loose all type. I would figure that you tighten them just enough to get out any play while still spinning freely.
    I usually tighten them to leave a very tiny amount of play, during the initial adjustment. Then, tightening them in the forks/dropouts usually takes that play out, as the axle is compressed.

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    Replace balls and cones - not expensive. When doing final adjustment on non-drive side cone have QR skewer tightened on washers over the ends of the axle to put normal compression on the axle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP View Post
    Replace balls and cones - not expensive. When doing final adjustment on non-drive side cone have QR skewer tightened on washers over the ends of the axle to put normal compression on the axle.
    This is correct for quick-release set-ups. For a solid axle, ajust for "zero" play and smooth rolling. (Not really "zero", but less than you can feel.)
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  14. #14
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttheroux View Post
    I did pull the axle apart and there was a small grove on the cones and what looked like some wear in one spot on some of the bearing. It gave me the impression that the bearing where not rolling as they should and that was the noise I was hearing. I think that I might just replace the bearings and cones to be safe.
    Take a small sharp tool, maybe a very small flat head screwdriver, and lightly scratch it across the grove to determine whether it's just an initial discoloration on the cone, or whether it's indeed a groove that's worn into the metal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vredstein View Post
    Take a small sharp tool, maybe a very small flat head screwdriver, and lightly scratch it across the grove to determine whether it's just an initial discoloration on the cone, or whether it's indeed a groove that's worn into the metal.
    I'd try a ballpoint pen first, because it's less likely to scratch the cone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP View Post
    Replace balls and cones - not expensive. When doing final adjustment on non-drive side cone have QR skewer tightened on washers over the ends of the axle to put normal compression on the axle.
    It's easy to check their condition, but a pain to source the right components.

    I use the washer trick too, but it's important to adjust the skewer to start to tighten at the halfway point of the lever's arc, then readjust when you install the wheel so it still tightens at the halfway point in its arc despite the different thickness of the dropout vs your washer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vredstein View Post
    Take a small sharp tool, maybe a very small flat head screwdriver, and lightly scratch it across the grove to determine whether it's just an initial discoloration on the cone, or whether it's indeed a groove that's worn into the metal.
    If there IS a groove, it's not necessarily ruined; pits mean it's ruined. Only keep an eye on that wheel and check if it's loosening up and if the axle rolls rough even if you twist it while pressing on it(most ball bearings feel rough, but not when there's a load on them). The reason is that the cones should go first, but if you catch it right away, you can save the hub.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    Yes you can ruin your hubs by overtightening and their life may have been shortened.

    The cones go first. Back the drive side cone off and see if it's got little pits in it. If so, it needs replacing because once the crumbling starts, it's only going to get worse.

    What else can you do besides checking for damage, then assembling correctly?
    You were tight. There was some light scoring on this cone. I replaced it and repacked the bearings. Hopefully this will do it. Thanks for the suggestion.

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