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New bike, rear axle not smooth

Old 05-12-16, 06:13 AM
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striker65
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New bike, rear axle not smooth

New to bicycling, bought an inexpensive Mongoose Dolomite, took the rear wheel off to get familiar with the bike. I noticed the axle, when spinning, feels gritty not smooth. Don't have a lot of experience with the workings of the bike nor the tools. I think I should take the wheel to a bike shop to have the bearings greased. Anyone in the Katy area suggest a shop?
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Old 05-12-16, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by striker65 View Post
New to bicycling, bought an inexpensive Mongoose Dolomite, took the rear wheel off to get familiar with the bike. I noticed the axle, when spinning, feels gritty not smooth. Don't have a lot of experience with the workings of the bike nor the tools. I think I should take the wheel to a bike shop to have the bearings greased. Anyone in the Katy area suggest a shop?
I don't live in the Katy area, but I think your gut feeling is right and you should take it in to get the bearings redone. That or just return the bike for a refund. Unfortunately "inexpensive bikes" come at a cost: low quality.
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Old 05-12-16, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by striker65 View Post
New to bicycling, bought an inexpensive Mongoose Dolomite, took the rear wheel off to get familiar with the bike. I noticed the axle, when spinning, feels gritty not smooth. Don't have a lot of experience with the workings of the bike nor the tools. I think I should take the wheel to a bike shop to have the bearings greased. Anyone in the Katy area suggest a shop?
First, you're not going to get smooth bearings on a $200 bike. A set of hubs with smooth bearings is around $100 all by themselves.

They are likely too tight which will make them feel even worse than they are, so they may be able to be adjusted a little better. They probably have enough grease, it is more likely the cones are too tight.
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Old 05-12-16, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
First, you're not going to get smooth bearings on a $200 bike. A set of hubs with smooth bearings is around $100 all by themselves.

They are likely too tight which will make them feel even worse than they are, so they may be able to be adjusted a little better. They probably have enough grease, it is more likely the cones are too tight.
That could be true but I have read that bikes made in China sometimes don't have grease at all. The wheel looked to have a wobble when mounted on the bike.
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Old 05-12-16, 07:01 AM
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If you have average or better mechanical ability I'd think this might be a project you could tackle yourself. The only special tool you need is a skinny cone wrench. If you can feel a little 'crunchyness" your bearings have a touch too much preload. Loosen them up about 1/8 turn and you'll be good to go. New hubs don't come with very much grease so many riders routinely add a little bit to new hubs anyway. Park tool or Sheldon Brown will have on-line instructions. It's only about a 15 minute job for an experienced mechanic so I'm thinking an hour for a first timer.
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Old 05-12-16, 08:27 AM
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A [properly assembled bike has bearings that are slightly tight, because of course they will only get looser with age, and tight bearings feel gritty.
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Old 05-12-16, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by striker65 View Post
That could be true but I have read that bikes made in China sometimes don't have grease at all. The wheel looked to have a wobble when mounted on the bike.
Wheel wobble is probably a sign of the wheel not being true. If the hub has play (i.e. you can move the wheel from side to side when it's not rotating), then the hubs are not sufficiently tightened.

BTW it's certainly true that almost any bike that comes from a factory has inadequate grease, even from the best factories, in my experience. The guy who put your bike together in the back of Wal-mart/Target/where-ever doesn't have the knowledge not pay level to check that, so it's down to you to do it or take it to someone who can. As others have suggested, it's modestly easy job to repack bearings in a hub with a few cheap tools (cone wrenches) and some marine grease.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
If you have average or better mechanical ability I'd think this might be a project you could tackle yourself. The only special tool you need is a skinny cone wrench. If you can feel a little 'crunchyness" your bearings have a touch too much preload. Loosen them up about 1/8 turn and you'll be good to go. New hubs don't come with very much grease so many riders routinely add a little bit to new hubs anyway. Park tool or Sheldon Brown will have on-line instructions. It's only about a 15 minute job for an
experienced mechanic so I'm thinking an hour for a first timer.
I'm looking for cone wrenches and will give it a try. All of my searches show the wrenches are sold online, was hoping to find one local.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
A [properly assembled bike has bearings that are slightly tight, because of course they will only get looser with age, and tight bearings feel gritty.
Properly adjusted, they should be smooth, and if anything, a tiny bit loose, because they will tighten up a bit when the wheel is tightened into the frame.

The cones probably need 1/4 revolution loosening. If the bike has a freewheel (instead of cassette), it can be difficult to adjust hubs without removing the freewheel first. Sometimes it can be done from the non-drive side only.

Freewheel removal tools (specific to the model of freewheel) aren't very expensive, but you'll need a big wrench or bench vise.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by striker65 View Post
I'm looking for cone wrenches and will give it a try. All of my searches show the wrenches are sold online, was hoping to find one local.
ALL decent bike shops will sell ALL the basic bike tools. If they don't have them in stock they can order them and get them quickly from their distributor. Looks like there are a zillion bike shops in your area too.
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Old 05-12-16, 10:15 AM
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Saw a wheel come without grease in the bearings once. I'd check it out.
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Old 05-12-16, 10:34 AM
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Cone wrenches are very thin wrenches used on bicycles. Regular mechanic'c wrenches are too thick to fit the notches, heads of bolts and nuts on bicycles.

Don't buy inexpensive/cheap wrenches from stores like WalMart. Because cone wrenches are so thin, they can get tweeked. Cheap one bend open open up and become useless. Invest in a set of Park Tool cones wrenches. They cost a little more, but they come with a lifetime warranty. If you have a Performance Bicycle Store near you, buy your tools their. Performance offers a lifetime warranty on everything purchased whether in the store or online. Nashbar is a online seller, and they also offer a lifetime warranty (they also have a outlet store somewhere in the MidWest).

Regardless of how much a new bike costed. the bearings often don't have an adequate amount of grease, and in many cases have not been properly adjusted, regardless of where you bought it. A quality shop will check a new bike from top top bottom when it comes out of the box, as it is assembled. Big Box stores do not have people who take the time to properly assemble (and check) everything on a bike when it comes out of the box.

That's why people have stated that you need to take the time to check everything over, grease the bearings, and adjust them.

If you take the bike to a bike shop to have them grease the bearings you are most likely going to be charged for a tune-up which is going to cost you $75-$125. On top of the cost of the bike? You'd be better off returning the thing and trying to pick another that was better assembled to begin with (that, or learn to service the bike yourself).

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Old 05-12-16, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Properly adjusted, they should be smooth, and if anything, a tiny bit loose, because they will tighten up a bit when the wheel is tightened into the frame.
FWIW, the bike has bolt-on wheels, so the bearings should be adjusted to have no play; they will not tighten up under the compression of a skewer.
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Old 05-12-16, 10:49 AM
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The masses in the Chinese factory can only get so many wheels just right in a work day. Yes, many of them need adjustment. From tuning hundreds of new Huffys over the last few years I see a LOT of stuff wrong from the factory. Dont expect the low budget assembler at the non-LBS store to catch their mistakes either. Make it right yourself or pay a shop to do it right but expect to be shamed for not knowing the difference between a cheap bike and a good bike. Mongoose was good once upon a time.... you know just like Schwinn.

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Old 05-12-16, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by speedy25 View Post
The masses in the Chinese factory can only get so many wheels just right in a work day. Yes, many of them need adjustment. From tuning hundreds of new Huffys over the last few years I see a LOT of stuff wrong from the factory. Dont expect the low budget assembler at the non-LBS store to catch their mistakes either. Make it right yourself or pay a shop to do it right but expect to be shamed for not knowing the difference between a cheap bike and a good bike. Mongoose was good once upon a time.... you know just like Schwinn.
Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
First, you're not going to get smooth bearings on a $200 bike. A set of hubs with smooth bearings is around $100 all by themselves.

They are likely too tight which will make them feel even worse than they are, so they may be able to be adjusted a little better. They probably have enough grease, it is more likely the cones are too tight.
You won't be able to adjust the problem away.

I have a Mongoose Massif that I tore down for a special project (yes, it did go back together after disassembly).



I suppose I'm a bit more of a hacker than an ordinary bike shop.

Anyway, I now always polish my cheap cones. I just put them onto an axle stub, and into a drill press or lathe. Run 400 grit sandpaper (dry) on them for a few minutes, then 600 grit (with oil). Repeat until smooth and shiny.

On the Massif, however, they PAINTED the races. You should take it all apart, then maybe take a wire brush in a drill and get all the paint out. Polish up the cones, and repack.

Or, perhaps ride the bike for a few hundred miles. Then expect to replace the cones and rebuild the hubs after it has worn through the layer of paint. The bottom bracket is probably the same too.

What do they pay the Chinese laborers in the big factories? A few bucks a day? It is not that they are just cutting corners. There is something absolutely wrong with their processing when they do things like paint the bearing races.

Yeah, so they want to churn out as many bikes as possible for as cheap as possible. But this goes beyond belief. It isn't just cheapness, but general sloppiness. How much more would it take the to do superb work? Say pay a laborer $10 a day to do it right? So now you have a $210 bike instead of a $200 bike, and can skip the $100 trip to the LBS.

======================

My advice for the OP is to get the set of cone wrenches and the freewheel tool, and learn to do the tuning yourself. You won't get a pristine job done the first time, but your LBS won't either. Expect to tinker with the wheels and bottom bracket a few time while you break in the bike.
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Old 05-12-16, 11:44 AM
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Mongoose as a Brand name has changed hands over the years , Their Former reputation had resale value..

Then the New Owner Did what they wanted to do With it to make sales ..

Its named after a Kind of Weasel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongoose
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Old 05-12-16, 12:08 PM
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This is very common for new machine built bicycle wheels. Not nearly enough grease and too tight cones. Your front wheel is probably only barely better. If you do nothing, you are sentencing the hub (and almost certainly the front hub also) to a very short life.

You can take the bike to a shop where they will do as I suggested for probably $25 or you can spend the same money on any decent bike maintenance book, a small tube of grease and a couple of cone wrenches. (You will also need a 17 mm box or open wrench or a quality 10" or larger crescent wrench.) If you choose to keep riding, perhaps upgrading bikes in a few years, this will be money very well spent.

The fix is really simple. First: with the 17 mm and a cone wrench, tighten the right hand cone and locknut together firmly. (You may need to remove the freewheel or cassette.) Then, holding the left side cone with the cone wrench, back off the locknut. Then back off the cone. You should see the bearing now. Work some clean grease into the bearings. With a tube, you can often squeeze a circle onto the bearings looking a lot like the line of toothpaste on a toothbrush. I then push this into the balls with a clean finger. Screw the cone down, then the locknut and tighten the two together. If the wheel has a quick release, you want the point of just starting to feel play in the axle. All play gone but no tighter is the place to be for hubs with no quick release. This will take you a few tries to get it right. Don't feel bad. It takes us a few tries also. (Your book will describe all this far better. And bring your bike to the shop when you buy the wrenches. Without seeing it, I cannot tell you exactly what you need. Also, this is a $200 bike. Getting your bearings to the exact, perfect place of no play on the installed wheel and free spinning bearings is almost certainly not possible. More likely, you will be choosing between a little rough and a little play. Play will mess with your head, rough will mess with your bearings.

Welcome to the forum! And welcome to cycling!

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Old 05-12-16, 12:39 PM
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If it is made like my Massif, it can not be fixed by just adding grease and adjusting the cones.

The only way to "fix" it is to take it apart. Strip the paint from all the races. Polish the cones, then repack the grease and reassemble. And still the end result may be mediocre (but much improved).
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Old 05-12-16, 02:09 PM
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Thanks everyone for comments, I went to local bike shop to purchase a cone wrench. They didn't have one and would order one, decided to bring the wheel in. Tech guy adjusted the cones, felt better but still a little rough. Left it for further inspection and grease.
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Old 05-12-16, 05:40 PM
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Almost all hubs come adjusted too tight from the factory on lower end bikes. It's a sign of a poor assembly for it to still be that way. The first step is to take it back to where you bought it and ask that the head mechanic go over the whole bike. If purchase from a dept. store - good luck.
Secondly, hubs on less expensive bikes will feel rougher till they break in - a few hundred miles.
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Old 05-12-16, 08:35 PM
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Machine built hubs are always too tight. You should pull the freewheel to adjust it properly. It's not just Chinese hubs. BITD, we did the same to decent Japanese freewheel and front hubs. But be aware... a lot of those hubs fail really quickly when the inner races break apart, sometimes with almost no miles on them. That, plus the flanges being crooked, makes the rear wheel the first thing you replace if you actually try to ride those cheap bikes. We see this pretty often at the shop.
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Old 05-15-16, 05:28 AM
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Located the correct wrench will be checking the front axle myself. Thanks for all the tips and comments.
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Old 08-26-18, 05:18 AM
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3,800 miles later and I have all the tools for cleaning, greasing and adjusting bearings. Have a bike stand also for working on the bike.
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Old 08-26-18, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by striker65 View Post
3,800 miles later and I have all the tools for cleaning, greasing and adjusting bearings. Have a bike stand also for working on the bike.
3,800 miles... I am sure they are broken in now. A little late for the initial check, but kudos for riding. Now tear it apart and see what you have. Cheers!
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Old 08-26-18, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
3,800 miles... I am sure they are broken in now. A little late for the initial check, but kudos for riding. Now tear it apart and see what you have. Cheers!
I was commenting on my original post from 2 years ago. I now know what I'm doing. I clean and grease in the spring.
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