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  1. #1
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    Tight Hubs = Slow Bike?

    After three slow, miserable trips riding to work on my new Trek 7500 hybrid, I was ready to sell it on craigslist and give up commuting forever. Then my roommate told me to check out her Trek mountain bike. It was so fast and easy to ride! So I picked up the back of each bike to spin the back wheels. My back wheel spun sluggishly a few times and stopped. The mountain bike's back wheel spun rapidly for much longer. So I'm guessing my hubs are too tight.

    Has anyone else had an experience like this? I obviously know very little about bikes (a few days ago I didn't even know what a hub was), but I didn't have any idea that this could be a problem. I just thought I was incredibly out of shape. So now I'm wondering if I could be right and if so, if other people know about this potential problem. I've since read that many manufacturers overtighten the hubs.

  2. #2
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    A hub adjustment is a fairly minor operation. Sounds like the hubs are too tight. Try loosening the quick release so that it's just barely tight enough. See if the wheel spins freely.

    This is not a fix, however, for a tight hub. In fact, a perfectly adjusted hub has just a teensy weensy bit of play that disappears when the quick release is clamped down uber-tight. You have the opposite problem.

  3. #3
    Air
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    Destroyer of Wheels Air's Avatar
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    Are you sure the brake pads weren't rubbing?

  4. #4
    500 Watts kill.cactus's Avatar
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    You were going to give up after three bad commutes?

    Geeze

    lol, give it a chance with your fixed-up bike and you'll see how great commuting is!

  5. #5
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    my money would be on the brake pads dragging on the rims like Air said. Those go out of adjustment a lot more often and easier than hubs. The wheel could be out of true or not in the dropouts correctly, or the brakes could just need some adjusting.

    I tend to check the easier stuff and more common trouble points first.
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  6. #6
    M_S
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    I agree with checking the brakes. Hubs don't really sem to need that much servicing. Brake pads sometimes do.

  7. #7
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    Two things:

    1) Hubs usually come from the factory too tight.

    2) Even a very tight hub shouldn't cause the type of friction you describe. As noted above, check for other rubbing.

  8. #8
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    new bike? bring it back to the shop and tell them to make an adjustment.

    tight hubs can and do exhibit that symptom, but I'm putting money on brake rub.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  9. #9
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    yah... regardless of the problem, the bike shop should fix it for free if it's new.
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  10. #10
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    I've been riding the bus instead. It was so much easier than that bike. I used my friend's mtn bike today to ride home from work, and it took less than half the time. Wow. Even riding up hills was no big deal.

    Hmm, I never looked at the brakes. I'll check it out tomorrow.

    I *almost* have the guts to sell my car. I've been using public transportation for the last few months and have saved several hundred on what would have gone to gas. And that's with paying bus fare everyday.

  11. #11
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    It can indeed be hubs that are too tight. Do check the brakes - it's also a likely cause. But don't give up if it's not the brakes. Either way, the bike shop should do the adjustment for you. Make sure you spin the wheel for them and show them that it doesn't spin freely.
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  12. #12
    Laid back bent rider unixpro's Avatar
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    I had exactly the same problem and it was, in fact, that my hubs were too tight. I loosened them up to the point where they'll stay on the bike, but that's about it. Now the wheel spins freely for quite a while, and I have a much better ride.

  13. #13
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    Brakes

    I briefly checked the brakes this morning. One of the pads is completely flush to the rim. I will take it to the LBS tomorrow and show them.

    On a good note, I rode my friend's bike again this morning and it was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

  14. #14
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    PS - Thanks for all the reponses! It's a huge help to know you're all out there and willing to help.

  15. #15
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    give up now, we all need more bicycle-friendly cagers !
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  16. #16
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Have them show you how to adjust it yourself. It is one of the easiest adjustments you can make on a bike.
    Bring the pain.

  17. #17
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    My Dahon has cup and cone bearing retainers front and back. The cones are adjustable on the threaded axle and should be just tight enough to allow a slight amount of play between the wheel and the axle.

    They were HORRIBLY overtightened. You could feel the bearings bind when you turned the wheel.

    I just backed off on the cones and the wheel was fine.

    According to many people that have posted about this problem, it is widespread. Remember, the people that assemble your bike may not be knowledgeable bicycle mechanics.

    ...and I got the Dahon from a LBS that I thought would know better!
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  18. #18
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    I have a similar issue, I believe my hubs are too tight. When I spin backwards, The wheel starts to spin with it, and it is a really loud hub, although I don't think it should be. I think I may need to lube the pawls. Not sure if these two are related, but I'm gonna find out! Maybe back the cones off a bit too.

  19. #19
    Senior Member jputnam's Avatar
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    If your hubs are tight enough to cause significant drag in real-world use, you'll know from the smoke when the grease catches fire, shortly before the bearings split.

    Seriously, bearings that are too tight to spin freely on an unloaded wheel will cause rapid wear, but if they're consuming enough power that you notice the difference in speed, all of that power is going into friction in a very small area.
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  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    In the LBS the Mechanic May have not taken some of the Pre load Out , the hubs were tight as they pass thru the wheel building machine, then to the shipping carton.

    My experience is as the one that checks that, as I Prep A New Bike for sale , in the LBS. Did You Know the QR Tightens the Bearings when its Tight?


    Maybe you are just slower in reality than you are in your Dreams of Glory
    Last edited by fietsbob; 12-10-14 at 04:32 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Paramount1973's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eubi View Post
    My Dahon has cup and cone bearing retainers front and back. The cones are adjustable on the threaded axle and should be just tight enough to allow a slight amount of play between the wheel and the axle.

    They were HORRIBLY overtightened. You could feel the bearings bind when you turned the wheel.

    I just backed off on the cones and the wheel was fine.

    According to many people that have posted about this problem, it is widespread. Remember, the people that assemble your bike may not be knowledgeable bicycle mechanics.

    ...and I got the Dahon from a LBS that I thought would know better!
    There should be no play if the hub is properly adjusted. In fact the bearings should have a small amount of pre-load. Otherwise you are riding on one or two engaged bearings. This will result in faster wear on your cones.
    Wheel Bearing adjustment by Jobst Brandt

  22. #22
    Gammal cyklist Reynolds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paramount1973 View Post
    There should be no play if the hub is properly adjusted. In fact the bearings should have a small amount of pre-load. Otherwise you are riding on one or two engaged bearings. This will result in faster wear on your cones.
    Wheel Bearing adjustment by Jobst Brandt
    Zombie thread alert!
    Interestingly, Sheldon Brown apparently doesn't agree with Jobst Brandt (to which it's linked):
    Cone Adjustment

    "Once you have seen how the wheel turns with the quick release loose, try tightening the QR, then check again. If your bearing adjustment is correct, the play will disappear, but the wheel will turn as freely as it did when it was too loose."

  23. #23
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Is this problem isolated to quick release hubs? Never once ever had a problem with my lugged axles.....

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  24. #24
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    I frequently run into a dime-store MTB wheels with cones so tight that one sometimes can't turn the axles with one's fingers.

    I generally run my cones just slightly tight, but I'm trying to pay more attention to whether the QR causes additional tightening. It seems minimal if the cones and lock nuts are properly tightened.

    I'm not sure if bolt-ons would get that extra tightening that the QR supposedly does as they aren't adding compression to the whole axle. However, there is always the risk of the axle spinning slightly when tightening and messing up the adjustment, especially if the cones/lock nuts are loose.

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Is this problem isolated to quick release hubs?
    Just consider the physics of the 2 , the really basic ..

    1) the whole axle is in compression , from skewer thru it.
    the other the Axle-nut is pulling the axle against the hub-end-locknut, in tension .

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