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Thread: Tight Bearings

  1. #1
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    Tight Bearings

    So I recently purchased a set of wheels online. They're on the cheap side, so I wasn't expecting super quality, but I was excited nonetheless when they arrived. I'm working on my first road bike build (bike build of any kind, for that matter), and all I wanted was a durable set of wheels to get me started. When I took them out of the packaging I gave each of them a spin. The front wheel spins smoothly, however the rear doesn't. It feels kind of bumpy as it turns and comes to a halt after only a few rotations.

    A few customer reviews of these wheels commented on the bearings being "tight" when the wheels arrived, and that loosening them made them spin much more freely. Could this be true, or did I just make a bad purchase? Is there anything else I could try to make them spin a little better?

  2. #2
    don't misunderestimate me BoSoxYacht's Avatar
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    What hubs are you asking about?

    Cup and cone type hubs will feel very rough if they are over tightened.

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    They're Vuelta hubs, on Aeromax rims.

    This morning I tried taking them apart and loosening them up, and it seems to have solved the problem. Thanks!

    Here's another question though, just for understanding's sake. How is the pressure on the bearing from being overtightened different from the pressure that's place on them when a rider is on the bike? Do the bearings roll better under their intended load than when the are too tight?
    Last edited by boshwag; 07-19-12 at 08:14 AM.

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    its an easy fix. i know exactly whats wrong with it, its actually over tightened cones not bearings. the bearings are the actual balls within the hub and dont have a option to be tighten or loosened.

    tools needed:

    chain whip
    cassette removal tool
    1, or 2 spanner wrench depending on the hub.
    medium grease.
    adjustable crescent wrench

    if your planning on building and working on bikes all these (among others) are must haves. all these can be bought at a LBS and if your LBS does not have them leave their and never return because they are **** (then buy them online).

    remove the cassette first:

    -remove wheel and skewer
    -wrap chain counter clockwise around a middle, or larger sprocket on the cassette.
    -insert cassette removal tool into center of cassette
    -grip cassette removal tool with crescent wrench
    -turn the wrench counter clockwise while using the chain wip to hold cassette (give it some muscle.
    -center of cassette will loosen. take off removal tool and finish loosening by hand
    -remove center cassette cap and lift cassette off of free hub (black thing under cassette that the cassette goes on)

    loosen the over tightened cones:
    -remove any black rubber cone shaped covers on the axle.
    -on the drive side notice that there is one place you can place the wrench, on the non drive side notice there are two places you can place it.
    -on the non drive side place one wrench on the outer most bolt and the other wrench on the drive side bolt. (the inner most "bolts" is actually called the cone"
    -turn the outer most bolt counterclockwise while keeping the axle from spinning by holding the drive side bolt.
    -this will loosen the bolt that is screwed against the cone on the non drive side (if it loosens the drive side instead then its not a big deal, the same process is done)
    -after the outer most non drive side bolt is loose then the innermost driveside bolt(cone) will loosen.

    ____________________________________________________________
    THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL but suggested
    -remove all bolts and washers from non drive side and remove the axle from the hub.
    -you will see steel balls stuck to the walls of the hub inside what is called a cup.
    -make sure there is PLENTY of grease inside of the hub as well as on the actual axel.
    -if there isnt then add some. dont worry about putting to much grease on because there is no such thing! every single thing inside the hub should be covered in grease.
    -insert axle back into hub making sure to not bump the balls or jar them loose
    -tighten the parts back onto the axle int he order of cone, washer, bolt
    _____________________________________________________________

    -tighten the cone down against the cup but stop tightening when these three things happen, (1) you need a grippable about of cone to remain sticking out from the hub. (2)the cone is loose enough the wheel spins with absolutely no resistance. (3) there is no horizontal play or wiggle when u move the axle.
    -put both spanner wrenchs on the non drive side outer most bolt and also the inner most cone and with muscle tighten the outer most bolt clockwise, while turning the cone counter clockwise.
    -this will prob result in having some play in the axle.
    -now grip the drive side bolt and the non drive side outer most bolt and turn tighten the non drive side outermost bolt into the cone to tighten it.
    -there should be the same amount of spacing off of each side of the outermost bolts if there is not, screw around with the bolts (loosening and tightening them until you can get them centered.

    -put cassette back on (it only goes on one way because of spines, and grooves on the freehub) and tighten the center cap back on with the crescent wrench.

    all done.

    if my directions were confusing as **** then look up "HUB OVERHAUL" its basicly the same thing as what I just explained only in an overhaul the goal is to clean, and replace worn bearings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrewevolver View Post
    its an easy fix. i know exactly whats wrong with it, its actually over tightened cones not bearings. the bearings are the actual balls within the hub and dont have a option to be tighten or loosened....
    It isn't just cup&cone bearings that can do this.
    Cartridge bearings will do it also (spin rough) if there is excessive lateral force placed upon them,,,,, like if the nuts just outside of the bearings on the axle are too tight. They will also wear out really fast too.

    With either cup & cone or cartridge bearings, you can adjust them for minimal play but you don't ever preload them (torque them down so much that they actually feel "tight" when you try to spin them). The axle should always be a very-tiny bit loose in the wheel when assembled.... The ONLY bearings you normally preload are tapered roller bearings, and I dunno if any bicycles use them for anything(?).

    If the wheels are REALLY cheap, they may also have manufacturing grit/metal chips in the (cup+cone) bearings, which will cause roughness also. In that case it is advisable to clean out the factory grease completely and put in something yourself.


    (You might think that they would be careful enough not to get metal chips inside the bearing grease, but uuuhhh,,,, with any cheap machinery, its worth checking at least as much as your time & money are worth anything. Ive seen machinery that came with CASTING SAND inside the bearing races... )

  6. #6
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    It isn't just cup&cone bearings that can do this.
    Cartridge bearings will do it also (spin rough)
    if there is excessive lateral force placed upon them,,,,, like if the nuts just outside of the bearings on the axle are too tight. They will also wear out really fast too.

    With either cup & cone or cartridge bearings, you can adjust them for minimal play but you don't ever preload them (torque them down so much that they actually feel "tight" when you try to spin them). The axle should always be a very-tiny bit loose in the wheel when assembled.... The ONLY bearings you normally preload are tapered roller bearings, and I dunno if any bicycles use them for anything(?).

    If the wheels are REALLY cheap, they may also have manufacturing grit/metal chips in the (cup+cone) bearings, which will cause roughness also. In that case it is advisable to clean out the factory grease completely and put in something yourself.


    (You might think that they would be careful enough not to get metal chips inside the bearing grease, but uuuhhh,,,, with any cheap machinery, its worth checking at least as much as your time & money are worth anything. Ive seen machinery that came with CASTING SAND inside the bearing races... )
    Thank you. OP read the bold print above. It is rare indeed that I purchase any wheelset where the bearing preload is correct.
    Skewer tension changes lateral bearing preload. All wheelset hubs...cartridge or cone are affected.
    Simple adjustment...but takes a bit of patience to strike the balance between easy spin and no lateral play. No different than dialing in preload on a crankset...also with cartridge bearings.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    OP read the bold print above. It is rare indeed that I purchase any wheelset where the bearing preload is correct.
    Duly noted. I think I better do a hub overhaul as suggested above. Doesn't surprise me at all (unfortunately) that there could be all kinds of nasty stuff inside a cheap bearing. Better safe than sorry I suppose.

    Thank you all for your helpful replies!

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