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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 08-12-08, 05:44 PM   #1
maddy13
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Surly hub spins slow

Hi guys, I am hopping back on my singlespeed after riding my roadbike for a couple of months. I notice that my rear singlespeed wheel (surly hub laced to aerohead rim) spins MUCH slower and for a shorter amount of time than my roadbike wheel (a not-nice shimano whr500). Is this normal? I swapped out my crappy freewheel for a White Industries, which fixed a nasty gravely sound, but it didn't help the sticky wheel. These wheels are only 1 1/2 years old.
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Old 08-12-08, 07:19 PM   #2
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Are you saying there is more rolling resistance with that wheelset? Somehow the same amount of pedaling force doesnt get you as far or something while coasting? Are the tires low? Are they completely different tread? How do they spin with the bike up in a stand or just upside down? Perhaps the grease is too thick and they spin slower and for a shorter time when youre not riding it, just watching it spin free? You gotta explain a bit more...
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Old 08-12-08, 07:22 PM   #3
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Most likely you need to adjust your bearings with a pair of cone wrenches. Also make sure there is a little slack in your chain. That should allow your wheel to spin freely. The worst case scenario is that you need new bearings...but those are cheap, so its still not a big deal.

Last edited by mihlbach; 08-12-08 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 08-12-08, 07:58 PM   #4
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your cones have most likley come out of adjustment. Its an easy fix with some cone wrenches.
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Old 08-12-08, 08:23 PM   #5
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What they said. Welcome to the wonderful world of Surly hub ownership!
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Old 08-12-08, 10:08 PM   #6
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it could also be that you are used to road hubs with lower resistance road hubs and now you are riding on sealed cartridge bearing hubs which put alot of drag into the mix due to the seals
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Old 08-12-08, 10:28 PM   #7
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Honestly, I was wondering if road hubs spin inherently smoother than ss hubs. I typically ride my ss bike much more than my road bike, but have been primarilly on my road bike this summer. I was shocked when I got back on my ss a few weeks ago and seemed to be working a lot harder to achieve the same speeds.
When I pick the ss up and spin the rear wheel, it spins pretty sticky, while my road bike and gf's road bike wheels spin forever. Just the rear wheel. Anyone have pics or links to instructions on how to take apart and adjust Surly hubs? Am I just being crazy, or are they supposed to spin way stickier than road hubs?
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Old 08-13-08, 01:14 PM   #8
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haven't tried surlys but my formulas are nothing compared to my DA's
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Old 08-13-08, 01:26 PM   #9
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Out of curiosity, if I wanted to changed the bearing cartridge in my IRO hubs to Phil Wood Bearings (or any other), what size cartridge would I need to buy?

Any help appreciated, and thanks.
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Old 08-13-08, 01:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy13 View Post
Honestly, I was wondering if road hubs spin inherently smoother than ss hubs. I typically ride my ss bike much more than my road bike, but have been primarilly on my road bike this summer. I was shocked when I got back on my ss a few weeks ago and seemed to be working a lot harder to achieve the same speeds.
When I pick the ss up and spin the rear wheel, it spins pretty sticky, while my road bike and gf's road bike wheels spin forever. Just the rear wheel. Anyone have pics or links to instructions on how to take apart and adjust Surly hubs? Am I just being crazy, or are they supposed to spin way stickier than road hubs?
The difference in hub drag that you feel or see when spinning your wheel with your hand has little if anything to do with your inability to achieve the same speed on your ss. Small variations in hub/bearing/axle drag hubs have almost no relevance to efficiency, at least not enough to really "feel" the difference. If your ss feels more sluggish it probably has more to do with gearing, tires, aerodynamics, other mechanical factors as well as perceived effort/speed (placebo). Still thats no reason to have improperly adjusted bearings. All you need are a couple of cheap cone wrenches. Holding both the locknut and cone, loosen the locknut, then loosen or tighten the cone,so the bearings are smooth but the axle lacks play. Then retighten the locknut.

Last edited by mihlbach; 08-13-08 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 08-13-08, 09:03 PM   #11
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Thanks guys. Do most shops sell cone wrenches?
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Old 08-13-08, 10:08 PM   #12
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I would be wary of a shop that didn't sell cone wrenches.

Make sure you get the right size.
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Old 08-14-08, 05:07 PM   #13
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it's 15/17 with the original locknut, I believe.
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Old 08-14-08, 05:40 PM   #14
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Lucky for you, if your bearings are indeed toast, new ones are dirt cheap. I don't know the size for Surly but to overhaul a Formula with Phil Woods you'd be out $10/hub, $8 for Enduro (good stuff too).

Edit: to overhaul I follow more or less the method described here: how to replace the bearings in your formula hub. It is a piece of cake and requires only simple tools, not a bearing press.

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Old 08-15-08, 03:21 AM   #15
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I thought cartridge bearings could not be adjusted.
How are you supposed to adjust them?
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Old 08-15-08, 03:34 AM   #16
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Adjust? You can adjust the "cones" on cartridge bearings. You just try to get a sweet spot where there's no play in the axle but the bearings aren't crunched.
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Old 08-15-08, 09:08 AM   #17
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I hate the stupid surly locknut that doesn't have a complete flat and is 17mm.
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Old 08-15-08, 11:53 AM   #18
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Look. Surly hubs are a risky buy. Some will work fine, some will not.

If you want spin, and you are into taking good care of your wheels and you don't have ride in the rain much (or ever! Welcome to SoCal!), then buy hubs without cartridge bearings. They spin up so much faster and, no matter what some road riders here may say, they do make a difference in the quality of the ride on the road.
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Old 08-15-08, 11:59 AM   #19
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By the way. After two weeks of riding and after having my bike shop adjust the cones, the bearings were shot. Somehow the cones tightened over a few days of riding, I noticed it, fixed it ASAP, and presto! the bearings were gritty. I will never waste my money on those hubs again. Its Formula for cartridge, or no cartridge at all.
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Old 08-15-08, 12:50 PM   #20
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i had my wheels trued and had the hubs adjusted a bit too but other than that the surly hubs are holding up great...i am thinking they may need to be serviced before the winter season begins

are the surly hubs cartridge?
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Old 08-15-08, 12:53 PM   #21
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Look. Surly hubs are a risky buy. Some will work fine, some will not.

If you want spin, and you are into taking good care of your wheels and you don't have ride in the rain much (or ever! Welcome to SoCal!), then buy hubs without cartridge bearings. They spin up so much faster and, no matter what some road riders here may say, they do make a difference in the quality of the ride on the road.
Keep in mind that Shimano still does loose ball for the road, so a lot of roadies ride it.
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Old 08-15-08, 02:30 PM   #22
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Look. Surly hubs are a risky buy. Some will work fine, some will not.

If you want spin, and you are into taking good care of your wheels and you don't have ride in the rain much (or ever! Welcome to SoCal!), then buy hubs without cartridge bearings. They spin up so much faster and, no matter what some road riders here may say, they do make a difference in the quality of the ride on the road.
Please clarify what you mean by "quality". While I agree that surly hub bearings aren't the best, such blanket generalizations about cartridge versus looseball are totally baseless. Looseball will not suddenly make you faster or smooth out your ride compared to a good set of sealed bearings. Arguing that the additional drag (if any) introduced by a set of properly adjusted catrtidge bearings will slow you down or decrease ride quality is like trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. The vast majority of high end hubs are not looseball. With the exception of the track/fg subculture (which is irrationally resistant to innovation) no one is even debating this issue. As Andre noted, (some, but not all) Shimano hubs are loose ball, but compared to most modern high end hubs, Shimano road hubs are super old-school in design. How many pro cyclists are riding Shimano or other looseball hubs?...practically no one.

Last edited by mihlbach; 08-15-08 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-15-08, 03:02 PM   #23
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Please clarify what you mean by "quality". While I agree that surly hub bearings aren't the best, such blanket generalizations about cartridge versus looseball are totally baseless. Looseball will not suddenly make you faster or smooth out your ride compared to a good set of sealed bearings. Arguing that the additional drag (if any) introduced by a set of properly adjusted catrtidge bearings will slow you down or decrease ride quality is like trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. The vast majority of high end hubs are not looseball. With the exception of the track/fg subculture (which is irrationally resistant to innovation) no one is even debating this issue. As Andre noted, (some, but not all) Shimano hubs are loose ball, but compared to most modern high end hubs, Shimano road hubs are super old-school in design. How many pro cyclists are riding Shimano or other looseball hubs?...practically no one.
I don't knwo about pro cyclists. I just know that when I slap on a pair of Formula cartridge bearing hubs, my speed maintenance and my ability to pick up a quick burst on a high-cadence sprint is somewhat lower than when I ride my Suntour Superbe pros. the difference is not huge, its not like moving from cheap flimsy cranks to Sugio 75s or something, but there is a difference. Now, maybe if I really shelled out the cash for a nice set of cartridge bearing hubs -- Phils for example -- which I may have to do if I move to a rainy climate, then there may be no difference. But I have no experience with these as of yet. As of now, I'd rather shell out a little less for the Dura Ace hubs which I know will consistently run smooth than pay more for the Phils which may give the same performance.
But, of course, one should always take all my ramblings in this forum with a large chunk of IMO salt.
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Old 08-15-08, 03:45 PM   #24
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I don't knwo about pro cyclists. I just know that when I slap on a pair of Formula cartridge bearing hubs, my speed maintenance and my ability to pick up a quick burst on a high-cadence sprint is somewhat lower than when I ride my Suntour Superbe pros. the difference is not huge, its not like moving from cheap flimsy cranks to Sugio 75s or something, but there is a difference. Now, maybe if I really shelled out the cash for a nice set of cartridge bearing hubs -- Phils for example -- which I may have to do if I move to a rainy climate, then there may be no difference. But I have no experience with these as of yet. As of now, I'd rather shell out a little less for the Dura Ace hubs which I know will consistently run smooth than pay more for the Phils which may give the same performance.
But, of course, one should always take all my ramblings in this forum with a large chunk of IMO salt.
One doesn't normally "slap on a pair of hubs". I don't know if you literally meant that, but changing hubs, usually involves many other factors such as a different wheelset, possibly different tires, different gearing, or in some cases, a different bike altogether, or even riding in a completely different area.

Unless your hubs were severely maladjusted, I doubt they were slowing you down to a degree that you could really feel and attribute to the hubs themselves.

Consider this:
My track bike has a formula rear hub with the original bearings. If I grab the axle with my fingers, it certainly feels slightly more draggy that my high end white industries road hub (which is insanely smooth-smoother than any looseball hub I've ever owned). The tires rims and spokes of these two wheels are the same, so that eliminates several other variables. If I remove the chain (so that the drivetrain of the track bike is disengaged) and spin the wheels with my hand the formula hub wheel stops just barely before the white industries hub wheel.

In the above experiment, only the the rotating momentum of the <1kg wheel was counteracting the drag of the bearings. Now consider that when you are actually on the bike, you have your own bodily mass, in addition to the mass of the bike, and the rotating momentum of the wheel itself counteracting the tiny differences in drag between the two hubs. The real world effect of slight variations in drag would be exceedingly miniscule if even measurable. Other factors, particularly aerodynamics, are much more significant.

Last edited by mihlbach; 08-15-08 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 08-15-08, 04:10 PM   #25
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One doesn't normally "slap on a pair of hubs". I don't know if you literally meant that, but changing hubs, usually involves many other factors such as a different wheelset, possibly different tires, different gearing, or in some cases, a different bike altogether, or even riding in a completely different area.

Unless your hubs were severely maladjusted, I doubt they were slowing you down to a degree that you could really feel and attribute to the hubs themselves.

Consider this:
My track bike has a formula rear hub with the original bearings. If I grab the axle with my fingers, it certainly feels slightly more draggy that my high end white industries road hub (which is insanely smooth-smoother than any looseball hub I've ever owned). The tires rims and spokes of these two wheels are the same, so that eliminates several other variables. If I remove the chain (so that the drivetrain of the track bike is disengaged) and spin the wheels with my hand the formula hub wheel stops just barely before the white industries hub wheel.

In the above experiment, only the the rotating momentum of the <1kg wheel was counteracting the drag of the bearings. Now consider that when you are actually on the bike, you have your own bodily mass, in addition to the mass of the bike, and the rotating momentum of the wheel itself counteracting the tiny differences in drag between the two hubs. The real world effect of slight variations in drag would be exceedingly miniscule if even measurable. Other factors, particularly aerodynamics, are much more significant.
Da*n dude. Do you work for Mythbusters or something? I really like you, Mihlbach. Your name sounds Germanic and you don't accept what you think is sh*t litely.

When I "slap on hubs" I slap them on w/ wheels attached too. .

The Surly wheelset I ran w/ the same gearing: 46:17. A good gear for me to practice high cadence acceleration. But the Surly wheelset was clincher, and I ran a clincher tire on it. The Suntour set has tubulars. The rims on the Suntour set are Araya Aero2. The rims on the Surly were just what comes wiht the complete bike. Everything else was the same. Perhaps the rims made a huge difference. I wouldn't doubt it.


You say that your white industries hub is smoother than any loose-ball. That is one thing, and it may be true. But, as I think that your test demonstrates, smoothness -- a quality of the feel of the wheel as it spins -- is not strictly proportional to efficiency. The issue that I claim is better with the high quality loose balls is that it has better efficiency.

So, have you run this same test against a high-quality loose-ball hub? It would be interesting to see how Formula and White Industry cartridge bearing hubs measure up to, say, Dura Ace or Campy, etc.
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