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  1. #1
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    Vibrating & noise when pedaling - pitted cones?

    Recently acquired an '05 Specialized Allez Sport Triple, and after taking it to REI to get some platform pedals for it, the friendly guy put them on for me and adjusted my cassette free of charge. When I was about to ride home, I noticed that when I started to pedal, I felt my pedals vibrating, which was something that didn't happen before.

    I brought it back into the store and the guy looked at it again, this time looking into the hub and came back and told me that the noise/vibration felt was caused by a pitted cone in my rear wheel.

    Are these common side effects of a pitted cone? At first, I thought the derailleur was off, which was why there was that noise, but when thats happened i've never felt such an intense vibrating before.

    How safe is it to ride on pitted cones?

  2. #2
    Zan
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    Flip your bike upside down. Spin the back wheel, and hold the bottom bracket with your other hand. Is it grinding away? Can you hear anything when you put your ear closer to the hub? You should feel vibrations in the frame if it's coming from the hub.

    If it is coming from the hub, y'might have pitted cones or shot BBs.

    How safe is it to ride on pitted cones? You're not going to kill yourself, but vibration isn't good for the bike. Just replace the cones / BBs. If you have the cone wrenches, y'can do it yourself - just buy new cones / BBs at your LBS.

    I gotta replace replace the cones on my rear wheel too. Bike stores were closed on Sunday . Goin' today.
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  3. #3
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    Alas, I haven't answered your question properly.

    A swap of pedals does not pit your cones. My cones are shot and my pedals don't vibrate.
    -- Zan

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    Hub cones would have to be seriously pitted to cause noticeable vibration, and in any case that didn't suddenly happen when fitting the pedals.

    The problem occurs while pedaling, if only while pedaling that eliminates the hub entirely. You changed pedals, and have vibration you feel through the pedals when pedaling that you didn't feel before. Need I go futher?, What changed between when there wasn't a problem and now?

    Test by re-installing your old pedals, if that solves the problem, return the pedals, and look for a new bike shop. There could also be other issues, like RD trim, or a worn chain, but given the sudden onset, I'd go with the obvious first.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 07-13-10 at 08:50 AM.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=discoattheprom;11101782]Recently acquired an '05 Specialized Allez Sport Triple, and after taking it to REI to get some platform pedals for it, the friendly guy put them on for me and adjusted my cassette free of charge. When I was about to ride home, I noticed that when I started to pedal, I felt my pedals vibrating, which was something that didn't happen before.[Quote]

    If the vibration was coming from pitted cones, you would have felt the vibration before changing pedals.

    My bet is the vibration is a result of the friendly, free "cassette" adjustment. Look to where the top derailleur pulley is relative to your cassette. If you can see it rubbing on your cassette cogs - that's it. Were you having trouble with your cassette or shifting previously? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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    [QUOTE=Retro Grouch;11104729]
    Quote Originally Posted by discoattheprom View Post
    My bet is the vibration is a result of the friendly, free "cassette" adjustment.
    +1 It's NOT the hub cones. I expect the "free adjustment" was poorly done and what you are feeling is the chain rubbing on an adjacent cog. One of my local REI stores happens to have a very good mechanic but most don't.

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    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Yep, hub cones do not just fail from one moment to the next. Figure out what he did and change it back and then never let this excuse making bozo touch your bike ever again.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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    Interesting, yeah it happened all of a sudden after he put the new pedals on. Maybe he did adjust the cassette wrong. It was noticeably crooked though before though. When I pedaled the teeth would wobble to the left and right a little. I'll bring it back today to see if they can put it back on properly.

    Could the cassette being on too tight cause that? He said he just tightened up the cassette.

  9. #9
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    And yes, it was shifting perfectly fine before. *sigh*

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    Quote Originally Posted by discoattheprom View Post

    Could the cassette being on too tight cause that? He said he just tightened up the cassette.
    I guess you've ruled out the pedals themselves. Tightening the cassette by itself wouldn't cause that, but it might have mover it inboard a tad, changing the RD trim. While we're looking at the trim, it's an easy adjustment you can do yourself. There's a threaded barrel (apologies if I assume you know nothing) where the cable meets the RD. Try turning in half turn in either direction and seeing if things get better or worse, both noise, and shifting response in both directions. (Keep track of where you started, so you can return it to the original position) If adjusting the trim helps, continue by half, or quarter turns to find the best position, and run the bike through all the gears to make sure all is OK.

    While you're there, take a look at the RD, chain and cassette from the side, and make sure that there's about 1" or more chain between the upper pulley and cassette in all gears. Sometimes an RD will be adjusted so that the upper pulley touches a sprocket through the chain in certain gears and that could cause your problem. (someone alluded to that earlier) It's a "B" screw adjustment, that being the screw at the top back of the derailleur. If the RD is too high turn that in by degrees until the RD drops enough to clear all the sprockets.

    Hopefully that'll solve things, but in any case, as we've all said, if it suddenly changed with the repair it's related to that somehow, and not a long term chronic problem like hub cones (which I doubt you'd feel anyway.

    Good luck

    BTW- if you go back and he solves the problem, let us know what it was.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    If it was merely that he tightened up the cassette and that moved it in a hair so the chain is making a rough feel then it's still a shocker that the guy diagnosed it as worn or rusted wheel bearing cones. Well unless you didn't tell him that it was fine before. He may have thought you were asking about an existing condition instead of clearly identifying that the bike was fine when you brought it in.

    You may want to spin the pedals. If the bearings are uber tight for preload, a common malady on mid to less expensive pedals, having those bearings too tight can lead to a notchy cogging feel that could be easily mistaken for sudden wheel bearing cone failure..... So spin the pedals slowly so you can feel what the bearing feel like and while you're at it take off the rear wheel and spin the axle between your fingers. If it feels smooth try it again with the QR skewer tightened against a couple of washers to clamp the axle. If all three things are smooth then it has to be your derrailleur being out by a hair and the chain is just catching the next higher gear in a way that makes it vibrate regularly.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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    FBinNY, I tried the first thing you told me to do, twiting the little barrel but that didn't really change anything.

    BCRider, don't think its the pedals. Spun them around and a bit and while they weren't buttery, I didn't feel they were the cause of the vibrating.

    Anyways, brought it back to REI again and had another guy look at it. He diagnosed with pitted cones as well. He took off my wheel and I spun the hub with my hand I could tell at certain points it was grindy and not that smooth.

    He said my options were to either get it replaced (costing $60) or buying a new wheel ($100).

    I am probably going to get a new wheel. Any suggestions for a $80ish nice road wheel?

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    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Ebay is your friend on this count.

    The other possibility is that you just have some grit in the hub. I'd look into riding your spare bike ( You DO have a spare bike for situations such as this don't you?) back to REI and invest in a cone wrench or two and do a strip down, clean, regrease and reassemble LONG before I'd just jump into a new wheel right off. And while you're at it ride around to a bearing supply house and pick up a bag of 100 each of 3/16 and 1/4 inch grade 25 balls. You can easily get away with grade 100 but for the pennys more for grade 25 you may as well splurge. It's wise for the cost of less than a buck to just swap the balls each time you strip the hub for cleaning and re-greasing.

    Once it's apart and the cups and cones are spotlessly clean study them. If they are truly damaged you'll see divots, pits or obvious signs of trouble. If they are even and there's just one slightly more shiney line of even width running around the cup and cone and you can't feel it as a ditch with your fingernail then you're fine and can go ahead and pack 'em with grease and new balls and be good to go for another year.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  14. #14
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    Sometimes the best diagnostic tool is Occams Razor. Find the cause by eliminating things one at a time until there's only one possibility left.

    Don't just feel the pedals, borrow a pair and swap them and test. Same for complete wheel. If changing either doesn't solve the problem you need to look elsewhere. If either do, you've isolated the problem and need to look within. Either way, you've narrowed the field and are closer to solving the problem without great effort, or any expense.

    Also visit a second shop, and get a price for a hub service including new cones. It should be lot's less than $60.00, and unless the wheel is in otherwise poor condition would be better value.
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    Quote Originally Posted by discoattheprom View Post
    He took off my wheel and I spun the hub with my hand I could tell at certain points it was grindy and not that smooth.
    Doing that tells you nothing about the cones. While they could be pitted, more likely the hub is simply adjusted too tight, a common feature on low to mid range wheels.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Sometimes the best diagnostic tool is Occams Razor. Find the cause by eliminating things one at a time until there's only one possibility left.
    I agree Occam's Razor is the best initial approach here, but what you cite is actually more like Sherlock Holmes - "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

    Occam's Razor (the simplest explanation is the best one) would say that something about the adjustment the mechanic did is the cause of the problem. The diagnostic approach usually is Occam first, Sherlock next.

    Even given that the hub cones are pitted, that does not mean it is the source of the vibration. In over 20 years I did not see a case where pitted cones cause the symptoms described.
    Last edited by cny-bikeman; 07-14-10 at 08:33 AM.

  17. #17
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    You're right. Regardless of the fine philosophical details, the point I was trying to get across was that it was foolish to spend money on a possible cure, until he knew for sure what the problem was. I see this all to often, suspected parts replaced before confirmation that they were in fact the problem.

    If he buys a new wheel, and still has the problem, then all he's achieved is a tiny boost to our ailing economy. yet he won't be any better off. I'm old school about this, a competent diagnosis is absolutely necessary before a cure is attempted.

    In any case, since the problem began with replacement of the pedals, that's where he needs to start. Not to do so, would imply a strong belief in coincidence.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Cny', a good point about pitted bearings not being feel'able. While I would still suggest that the hubs need attention, be it a good cleaning out or a preload adjustment, we still come back to the simple (Occam's) fact that the bike was fine when he rode it in for this work and it's making a clicky vibration when it left.

    It's highly likely that a run through the rear derrailleur adjustment procedure at www.parktool.com/repair would fix it and restore the bike to smooth running. In particular the cassette being tightened has possibly made it so the chain is not guided smoothly over the teeth by the derrailleur. A slight adjustment of the cable and it may be back to smoothness. Another item to check would be the "B" screw may not be tight enough to hold the upper jockey pulley off the cassette teeth.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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    Been really busy with work so haven't gotten a chance to get on this forum.

    Decided that I don't have the time or energy right now to deal with all this right now, haha.

    Been riding on it though, commuting 10 miles a day with no issues yet. Also just went on a 2 hr ride, unsure about mileage but went pretty far up highway 9 here in the bay area.

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