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QR Slowing Wheel Spinning

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QR Slowing Wheel Spinning

Old 10-20-17, 02:34 AM
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QR Slowing Wheel Spinning

I noticed an issue with my wheel. When the quick release is open, the wheel spins very freely. When closed, it slows noticeably. Anyone experienced this? What do you suggest?
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Old 10-20-17, 02:44 AM
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First, post ONE topic under "Bicycle Mechanics". You can get your post moved by clicking on the red "report topic" button.

What type of hub do you have? Cone and loose bearings, or sealed cartridge bearing?

Assuming cone and loose bearing, pull the wheel off the bike. Does the axle spin smoothly without the ability to wobble it? Are the cones tight against the lock nut? Missing lock nuts?

Clamping down on the QR will tighten the cones slightly, so if they were previously tight, they'll become tighter. If the locknut is loose or missing, it could be even worse.
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Old 10-20-17, 07:04 AM
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Tight Hubs = Slow Bike?

I found this interesting thread. He claims his hybrid bike was feeling much slower than a friend's MTB and he noticed that his wheels weren't spinning nearly as freely as those of the MTB. I wonder if some new bikes or freshly serviced bikes tend to be somewhat too tight and naturally loosen up as they are ridden more and the grease works around.
"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."

Also see this: Wheel Bearing adjustment by Jobst Brandt

Bicycle wheel bearings, as most, require a slight preload so that more than one ball under the cone (inner race) will support its load. With proper preload, slight drag should be perceptible. Preload drag is small compared to drag caused by wheel loads, neither of which are significant regardless of adjustment. In contrast bearing life is affected by proper adjustment. Adjusting ball bearings to spin freely unloaded does not reduce operating friction because a bearing with proper preload has lower drag when loaded than one with clearance. For high quality bearings, preload should be just enough to cause light drag when rotating the axle between thumb and forefinger. Low-grade bearings will feel slightly lumpy with proper preload.
Wheels with quick release (QR) axles present an additional problem in that closing the QR alters bearing clearance. Closing the lever requires increasing manual force with a slight over-center feel near the end of the stroke. This lever force arises from compressing the hollow axle and stretching the skewer. The ratio of elastic length change between axle and skewer is that of their cross sectional area and active lengths.
Although small, axle compression on QR hubs is large enough to alter bearing clearance and should be considered when adjusting bearings. Bearings should be adjusted just loose enough so that closing the QR leaves the bearing with a slight preload. Excessive preload from QR closure is the cause of most wheel-bearing failures not caused by water intrusion. Clearance, in contrast, can be felt as disconcerting rattle when encountering road roughness.
To test for proper adjustment, install the wheel and wiggle the rim side-to-side to determine that there is no clearance (rattle), then let the wheel rotate freely to a stop. If the wheel halts with a short (indexed) oscillation, bearing preload is too high.


So it seems that tightening up the QR should slow down the free spinning of the wheels somewhat. There should be a little bit of drag. When my QR levels are released and I spin the wheels, however, the free spinning of them is very impressive at least on the front where there's nothing whatsoever restricting the movement. It goes on forever.

However, this guy disagrees with the above. He says, "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." Cone Adjustment

So he is saying that even when there is no load on the wheels, they should spin just as freely when the QR is tightened as when it's not. What do you think? Who has it right? Someone said that when you get on a bicycle, the weight you put on it causes the cones to separate slightly so that how the wheels spin when you are on it is different than how they spin with no weight on them. I got that here: "A little loose will not cause damage, though it may cause handling to be less than perfect. Generally with hubs, though, you want them just a hair tight (after skewers are tightened, if you use skewers). This is known as "pre-load", and it compensates slightly for the fact that placing weight on the wheel spreads the cones apart. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 9 '14 at 2:13" https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/q...n-damage/32220

Also found this: "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."

For me it's definitely not minimal. I notice a difference between fully loosened QR (extremely easy spinning of the wheels) and softly tightened QR (what would be considered under-tightened) and properly tightened QR. At properly tightened QR there's definitely a noticeable difference in the wheel spinning. You can hear some drag audibly as well.

My shop bill notes my front hub cones have minor play. Maybe this is why the QR is causing noticeable tightening vs the "minimal" that man says should be the case "if the cones and lock nuts are properly tightened"?

I'll have to get back to you about what you suggest as I'm unable just now to inspect those things.

Interestingly, I read also: "You are right about the compression from the quick release but not about the tension on a nutted axle. The tension is only between the outside nut and the locknut inside the dropout. There is no tension across the bearings. Nutted hubs should be adjusted to no play and a tiny bit of preset when off the bike; in other words, exactly what you want to ride. (And, yes, the cone-locknuts must be tight so they do not move and the hub nuts are tightened.)"

I recently had this bike at a shop and on my repair bill it says: service hubs and headset.

I think he tightened them up, maybe slightly too tight when the QR levers are robustly engaged. Is this something I will notice when I am on the bike? I guess I can try riding it around the block with the QR levers loose vs robustly/properly engaged, and see if I notice any drag. Secondly, based on the last quote where he says, "There is no tension across the bearings" I assume that the wheel is spinning less freely simply based on tension away from the bearings, meaning that bearing life shouldn't be affected at all. Agree?

Additionally I assume these things loosen up over time, so I wonder if a shop-fresh bike should be a little tight. I'm new and learning and definitely not a seasoned expert, hence all the questions.

Now I requested that this thread be moved to the Bicycle Mechanics forum.

Thank you.

Last edited by RowdyTI; 10-20-17 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 10-20-17, 08:53 AM
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Thread moved to Mechanics
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Old 10-20-17, 09:22 AM
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as the QR is tightened it compresses the axle, that tightens up the bearing races... a Old Skilled Bike mechanic ..

Gets the bearing adjustment just loose enough, so when the QR is closed the bearing adjustment is perfect.
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Old 10-20-17, 10:22 AM
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What @fietsbob said. If that wasn't clear, he's talking about adjusting the bearings and tightening down locknuts. A good mechanic can do this in a few minutes; a tyro may take a half an hour (and a couple pairs of cone wrenches is needed either way).
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Old 10-20-17, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
A good mechanic can do this in a few minutes; a tyro may take a half an hour (and a couple pairs of cone wrenches is needed either way).
Sheldon Brown's suggestion* to make the final adjustment to bearing play under pre-load makes this a lot easier for those of us who don't do this on a regular basis.

*Here: Cone Adjustment (scroll down to "special tool for rapid cone adjustment under load")

You don't actually need the home-made tool... the wheel can be attached to the *outside* of the bike frame with the quick-release; the cone and locknut being adjusted are located away from the frame. I made a simple jig out of angle iron which mounts in a vise and holds the wheel for easy adjustment.
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Old 10-20-17, 08:40 PM
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My method is Not to adjust based on drag or 'grindyness' -which can be subjective and affected by bearing quality, seals, etc.
But to adjust based on axle play. -can you wiggle it radially in the hub shell?

start with loose cones that have axle play, progressively tighten the adjustment in 10degree increments until the point where:
QR open has play, QR closed does not.
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Old 10-21-17, 06:31 AM
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Dear Rowdy - As others have noted, if a non-cartridge bearing q/r hub is adjusted correctly it will have some play when not compressed by the skewer, but none when secured. The wheel should slowly rock to a stop. It may spin slightly slower, but the difference will be minor. It would be very difficult, if even possible, to achieve an adjustment such that the wheel turns just as easily clamped as unclamped, but the small difference in friction when correctly adjusted is insignificant as part of moving the bike forward. In short, stop obsessing about it. Riding with skewers so that they just barely hold on is NOT acceptable/safe.

Park tool instructions: https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...and-adjustment

You are misinterpreting the quote about no tension across bearings. The writer is referring to a nutted hub in that comment. Because a q/r skewer passes through the axle and compresses from both ends it is indeed compressing the bearing.

Yes, bikes and wheels direct from the factory often have too-tight hubs, but the shop should be adjusting them before they're sold, and readjustment is not unusual after putting on quite a few miles. The hub should never be allowed to "break in" from a too-tight adjustment.

If your hub bearings are dirty, pitted, or have hardened grease no amount of adjustment will make them free of play and easy spinning. Simply remove the wheel and twirl the axle, then hold both axle ends while the wheel turns. If things feel rough then the bearing needs to be overhauled. Even if they feel OK, if you have a lot of miles/weather/years on the bike then an overhaul is a good idea.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 10-21-17 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 10-21-17, 11:40 AM
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Did you answer all your questions?

I can't answer for cartridge, but if they are cone and ball bearings then you found the articles that should explain everything.

The play they are talking about is sometimes hard to feel until you get some experience. It's when the bearings are so loose they don't hold the wheel securely perpendicular on the axle. You can push the rim side to side and feel the bearings bump.

I have to adjust mine to have a little of that play, then when I clamp it in the frame, the QR takes up the slack so there is little if any detectable play. The wheel will still spin "forever".

Just takes practice, patience and a lot of cussing if you don't have the proper wrenches. I found a nut that is just the right size so I can use my skewer to preload it off the bike while adjusting. But only for my older bike. My bike with the newer Shimano 105 hubs I have not figured out how to preload it. The adjustment requires the skewer to be out of the hub.
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Old 10-25-17, 02:46 PM
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Useful responses. Thank you. Based on what I've read, I'm of the belief "pre load" should be avoided and that one should err on the side of a touch loose. The forum user rydabent insists pre-load destroys bearings. He has 55 years of experience and his current bike has 15,000 miles on the original bearings.
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