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Old 02-23-11, 11:04 AM   #1
matimeo
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Are new hubs not supposed to roll very smoothly?

I just bought a new set of cheap wheels (Alex R500) from a reputable online bike place. They shipped them free and they arrived in great shape. When I unboxed them I noticed that they don't roll very smoothly. Mounted on the bike I noted that when I spin the tire, they stop rolling much sooner than normal (and brake is not rubbing). I am also comparing them to the exact same set of wheels that came with my bike. For the record they are formula hubs with precision ball bearings (I thought they had cartridge bearings, but seller says otherwise). I contacted the seller and they said that they come adjusted from the factory and that after 30 miles or so they should be rolling smooth. I've never bought new wheels before so I don't know if this is normal. Hoping for a second opinion- mount and ride till they loosen up, or adjust on my own. Thanks!
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Old 02-23-11, 11:16 AM   #2
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Nobody adjusted the hubs, they ship tight, wheel build was mostly automated.
the hub adjustment is up to You, since you went around the people
that would have done that.
Ie the LBS.
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Old 02-23-11, 11:21 AM   #3
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I would take apart the hubs and check for grease and correctly adjusted cones. Sometimes hubs are assembled with less grease than really needed or the adjustments are not correct. They are mass produced so checking them out will save you trouble down the line.
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Old 02-23-11, 11:24 AM   #4
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Nobody adjusted the hubs, they ship tight, wheel build was mostly automated.
the hub adjustment is up to You, since you went around the people
that would have done that.
Ie the LBS.
+1
Once you take into account the extra time and effort needed to properly set up the hubs and if they were mine, re-tension the spokes, Cheap is no longer Cheap.
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Old 02-23-11, 11:44 AM   #5
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Most new cup-and-cone hubs I've dealt with, including Shimano and Campy, come set a bit too tight when received. Cheaper ones are often far worse and department store bikes seem to come with the bearings tightened with a pipe wrench.

I routinely check the grease level and readjust the bearing clearance on any new wheel.
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Old 02-23-11, 12:34 PM   #6
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So it sounds like some adjustment isn't necessary and they won't smooth out on their own. Good to know. I don't want to jack them up by riding them too tight.
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Old 02-23-11, 12:43 PM   #7
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So it sounds like some adjustment isn't necessary and they won't smooth out on their own. Good to know. I don't want to jack them up by riding them too tight.
Let me correct that. "sounds like some adjustment IS necessary and they won't smooth out on their own."
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Old 02-23-11, 12:44 PM   #8
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Let me correct that. "sounds like some adjustment IS necessary and they won't smooth out on their own."
Right. Thanks.
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Old 02-23-11, 01:15 PM   #9
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An overpacked hub will also have excessive drag, even when properly adjusted. The excess grease should wash out after a few hundred miles, restoring free motion.
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Old 02-23-11, 01:35 PM   #10
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I keep bumping into the word "preload" when I search the forums. Could this explain the rough rolling?
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Old 02-23-11, 02:14 PM   #11
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If there is too much bearing Preload, that could cause a rough rolling feeling. Have you looked at park Tools web site for info? http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...and-adjustment

Or Sheldon Brown? http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cone-adjustment.html
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Old 02-23-11, 02:20 PM   #12
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I keep bumping into the word "preload" when I search the forums. Could this explain the rough rolling?
Yes, it does. If you spin the axle by hand and it feels like the axle is "cogging" where it jumps from angle to angle that's a sign of too much preload.

I've had to adjust every cup and cone wheel or hub that I've ever bought. This includes up to multiple numbers of XT level wheels and hubs I've bought. Once set correctly I didn't need to touch anything until a year or two later when I cleaned and re-greased the hubs thanks to the amount of rain and muck I ride in. So yes, tuning the preload is a wise thing to do to ensure a longer life.

You want to get the preload set to where you just feel a slight added drag compared to where it's too loose but not so much that it feels at all "coggy".

As also suggested by others above I've also found that my factory built cheapy wheels benefited a lot from some time spent stress relieving and tension tuning and truing. I seriously doubt that machine built wheels are stress relieved at all so some time spent on new cheapy wheels to do these things is time well spent. Once stress relieved and tuned you've got what amounts to hand built wheels for less than the cost of the components if you were to buy your hubs, spokes and rims separately.

Last edited by BCRider; 02-23-11 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:24 PM   #13
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blamp28, I am familiar with those two articles (but thanks for reminding me of them- especially the park website as it is a good refresher since I haven't worked on hubs in a few years) and I have overhauled and adjusted many different hubs, so I am somewhat familiar with the process. However, I guess I've been reading online some debate about whether or not "preload" is necessary on new or recently overhauled wheels. I have never heard of this before and never put any "preload" on any hubs I have overhauled. This is the first time I have every bought a new set of wheels. I am being reassured by the seller that some preload is normal, but they seem to tight to me. I'd adjust them so they have a little play, then none when mounted with qr skewers. I'm not sure who to trust.

To be more specific, they don't feel rough, just sluggish when mounted on the bike, but they also don't roll very easy when turned by hand off the bike, and they come to a stop much sooner than I would expect and don't have any of the normal rocking back and forth when they do stop- just the slightest (maybe a couple of millimeters) of a drop back. I'm also comparing them to the exact same wheels (this is spare set to easily be able to swap tires) that came on the bike I just bought at my LBS. They roll much smoother- so I don't know if the bike shop adjusted them, they came from a different batch, or they've just worn in more. Bike shop is Performance.

BCRider- thanks for sharing your experiences. Very helpful.

Last edited by matimeo; 02-23-11 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:36 PM   #14
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To be more specific about that slight extra preload drag feel. Yes, you want them to feel that way when the QR skewer is tight. I use a couple of bits to aid me in doing this. One is a block that the QR threads into so I can hold the wheel by this block in my vise as a "third hand" and the other is a thick washer that slips on the QR on the lever end so it butts up against the end of the axle instead of the locking nut. This leaves the one side accessable to let me play with the cone and locking nut. Then I remove it from the vise for a quick check.

Someone mentioned a similar trick where you use a thick washer on one side and put the other end of the axle into an old frame dropout cut from a damage bike frame. You can clamp the dropout in the vise and yet easily take it out to feel the preload all without having to undo the QR all the time.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:40 PM   #15
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An overpacked hub will also have excessive drag, even when properly adjusted. The excess grease should wash out after a few hundred miles, restoring free motion.
I suppose it is always possible that the wheels just come overpacked with grease and will wear in after riding them a bit.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:44 PM   #16
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If the axle feels just stiff and "gooey" when slowly turned by hand then yes, it's likely just overpacked and will mush the extra grease out after a few miles. If the axle feels coggy when the QR is tight then no, it'll "wear" smooth but do some damage along the way.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:47 PM   #17
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I suppose it is always possible that the wheels just come overpacked with grease and will wear in after riding them a bit.
Possible but verify first. I would rather spend that little bit of time confirming that they are right before putting into service than early service needs or worn parts later.

It would also be smart that they be tensioned. Most factory wheels, especially the cheapies, are not tensioned properly. They are usually way under spec and while true when new, are easily damaged and go out of true.
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Old 02-23-11, 03:13 PM   #18
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Overpacked is a different feeling than overtight bearing adjustment. Both can be easily verified with the wheel off the bike.

One is like turning through molasses and the other is rough.
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Old 02-23-11, 03:29 PM   #19
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You can add to "turning through molasses" -- and bearings feel very smooth. Sluggish and very smooth is OK for certain hubs (others can be very smooth and not sluggish). Sluggish and anything other than buttery smooth bearings can mean -- needing to be adjusted. I say "can" beacuse some wheels will never get buttery smooth.
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