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Can hub bearings tighten themselves?

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Can hub bearings tighten themselves?

Old 12-18-19, 05:15 PM
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jreeves 
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Can hub bearings tighten themselves?

When I purchased my latest bike at the LBS, a lightly used 2013 Raleigh with Weinman rims and Raleigh hubs, the owner bounced the front wheel and felt enough vibration that he removed it and adjusted the hub. Once I put some miles on the bike I noticed a unusual noise from the wheel, so I removed it and could tell the bearing was tightened too much. It was binding and felt sorta 'crunchy' when I spun it. I backed off the nuts until it felt free and smooth, but should I expect this to happen? Seems odd that it would be a problem in the first 20 miles or so?
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Old 12-18-19, 05:23 PM
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Over tightening a QR skewer will cause this.

Depending on "how crunchy" the bearings felt, I'd be inclined to service/replace the balls.
It might save a hub/wheel.
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Old 12-18-19, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for the tip Bill, I hadn't considered the skewer pressure. How tight is too tight anyway?
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Old 12-18-19, 07:36 PM
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The skewer would need to be seriously tight to affect it to the point of being crunchy. My guess is that there is something going on with the hub. Disassemble and inspect. Upon reassembly, be certain the cones are backed into the over-locknuts nice and tight. If not, they will do exactly what you have already experienced.
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Old 12-18-19, 08:20 PM
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No, wait, clamping the skewer can "bow" the axle and cause bearings to be too tite.

with conventional cone and cup hubs - you want a tiny bit of play - and then the slack is taken up when you tighten the skewer.

Feel for lateral play at the rim and look for a smooth back and forth oscillation when you let the wheel turn slowly.

Mark Petry
Bainbridge Island, WA USA
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Old 12-18-19, 08:40 PM
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From the OP's description I gather the hub was OK after the LBS readjusted it but tightened as it was ridden. That sounds like: 1) the locknut and cone weren't tightened together sufficiently or 2) the axle or cone or locknut threads are bad and won't hold their adjustment.
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Old 12-18-19, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
From the OP's description I gather the hub was OK after the LBS readjusted it but tightened as it was ridden. That sounds like: 1) the locknut and cone weren't tightened together sufficiently or 2) the axle or cone or locknut threads are bad and won't hold their adjustment.
My first thought also. One of the two cones will tighten under load from the ball bearings if the locknut is not tight. I'm not going to do the mental gymnastics to tell you which one, at least not tonight.

Ben
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Old 12-18-19, 09:44 PM
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In the same way that tightening the quick release stretches the skewer slightly, the same force also compresses the axle, which tightens the bearings slightly. The axle's compression will be less because the axle has a larger cross section; the amount also depends upon the elastic modulus (stiffness) of the two materials. If both are steel it will be roughly in proportion to the ratio of the cross-sections. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young%27s_modulus
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Old 12-18-19, 10:23 PM
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I am under the impression that tensile strength is less then compressive strength for steel. So th axle will under go less dimensional change then that of the QR. How one balances this is the art of adjustment.

To the Op's initial question- Bearing "adjustment" can change for a few reasons. The above additional pre load from the QR, improper lock nut/cone counter tightening that can rotationally migrate, Out of alignment drop outs producing off axial bearing loads, contact surface wear and pitting as well as one's ability to sense bearing "feel". Andy
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Old 12-19-19, 05:53 AM
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[QUOTE=Andrew R Stewart;21250684]I am under the impression that tensile strength is less then compressive strength for steel. So th axle will under go less dimensional change then that of the QR. How one balances this is the art of adjustment.[QUOTE]
Tensile strength and modulus of elasticity are not the same thing; the modulus is the same for tension and compression in the linear stress-strain region. The axle will undergo less deformation due to its larger cross-sectional area. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young%...lus#Definition
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Old 12-19-19, 06:11 AM
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Thanks for the analysis! From what I can tell this is a joytech/novatech front hub. At this point I get the best free spin with the cups nearly loose and the minimum safe QR tension without any noticeable side play. Need to get it out on the road to see how it feels, then to a reputable shop for service!
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Old 12-19-19, 11:54 AM
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If you're already adjusting the cone and lock nut yourself, I don't see what other services you need from a bike shop. All you need to do for servicing is to remove the axle, clean the cups and cones, clean or replace the balls, add grease, put everything back together. If you notice pitting on the cup or cones, then you'll need to replace either the whole hub or just the cones.
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Old 12-19-19, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 View Post
If you're already adjusting the cone and lock nut yourself, I don't see what other services you need from a bike shop. All you need to do for servicing is to remove the axle, clean the cups and cones, clean or replace the balls, add grease, put everything back together. If you notice pitting on the cup or cones, then you'll need to replace either the whole hub or just the cones.
Definitely agree. ^ The good part about doing it yourself is, you'll know it was done right, and you'll know for sure the condition of all those parts, rather than "trusting" the mechanic. Plus you'll develop a feel, for how to tighten those quick releases properly. It's not rocket science, but there's definitely a happy place, where your wheels roll very nicely, not just functionally. 👍

And don't worry, if an idjit like me can do it, anyone can. 😁
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Old 12-20-19, 01:12 PM
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If the right side cones were adjusted and not tightened properly then the cone can tighten and ruin the bearing. I always remove the left side cones when overhauling my hubs for that reason. If the right side cone need replacing I really tighten the lock nut as much as my puny muscles can.
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Old 12-21-19, 11:03 AM
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Crunchy

When i tighten the locknut on cone type hubs, after tightening the inner nut just right, it often comes out crunchy, ie too tight. Not sure if there's a trick to it, but i usually loosen the inner nut a little more than ideal before tightening the lock nuts. If I'm lucky it comes out just right. If not, repeat until perfect. Also, it seems that putting the riders' weight on the bike makes the bearings effectively slightly looser, so a tiny bit of resistance in a non- weighted hub may be just right under load. Not sure why, but it seems so.
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Old 12-21-19, 11:19 AM
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All great tips, thanks!
Disassembled the hub, wiped everything down and degreased, regreased with lithium grease and adjusted just shy of crunchy and it feels MUCH better and rolls smoothly now!
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Old 12-23-19, 10:16 AM
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If it feels like it tightens up again, check to see that the freehub body is tight. I know on Shimano hubs that a loosening freehub body can cause the bearings to tighten up mysteriously.
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