Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Hub Ball bearings

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Hub Ball bearings

Old 01-20-21, 04:17 AM
  #1  
Seb1987
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Hub Ball bearings

Today I opened up my hubs to inspect, clean and grease them for the 1st time in 4 years. I believe I may need to get new ball bearings but are all hub ball bearings the same size?
Seb1987 is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 04:30 AM
  #2  
Geepig
Senior Member
 
Geepig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Eastern Poland
Posts: 736

Bikes: Romet Jubilat x 4, Wigry x 1, Turing x 1

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 194 Post(s)
Liked 193 Times in 146 Posts
Originally Posted by Seb1987 View Post
Today I opened up my hubs to inspect, clean and grease them for the 1st time in 4 years. I believe I may need to get new ball bearings but are all hub ball bearings the same size?
Great! Yes and no.

It really depends on what kind of equipment you have, but generally the balls are larger at the rear and some of the largest I have found were supporting the rear sprocket of a kiddie bike. As I tend to work at the cheaper/older end of the bike spectrum I notice that the cones tend to suffer more damage than the balls, it often looks like damp settles on one side of the cone and begins to corrode them out in that area if left in one position for several years. The balls generally do not show the same level of damage, but I suggest examining the bearing surfaces carefully, maybe with a magnifying glass, to look for pitting. If they look good, then there is no harm in replacing the balls.

The best thing of all is cleaning, regreasing and adjusting.
Geepig is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 04:43 AM
  #3  
FTB
Luke
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by Seb1987 View Post
Today I opened up my hubs to inspect, clean and grease them for the 1st time in 4 years. I believe I may need to get new ball bearings but are all hub ball bearings the same size?
Good idea replacing the ball bearings , can make a big difference especially in conjunction with the fresh grease, but I guess you knew that.
Two things to keep in mind
  1. Bearing size
  2. Bearing grade/tolerance specifications
Ball bearings come in different sizes so you need to mkae sure you purchase the correct ones for your hub. If you have a shimano hub, you can search up the tech docs for your hub here using the product discipline and search function (road hubs > 'road' etc) and often find out the ball bearing size just to be 100% sure otherwise you can often search online. This is different for front and rear hubs even in the same series. https://si.shimano.com/#/en/search/Component
Bearing grades - the lower the number, the better the ball tolerances are, so grade 3 is best and grade 100 is worse etc.
FTB is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 08:03 AM
  #4  
Moe Zhoost
Half way there
 
Moe Zhoost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 2,654

Bikes: Many, and the list changes frequently

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 882 Post(s)
Liked 681 Times in 411 Posts
Buy a digital caliper and measure what you have. These devices are inexpensive and answer a lot of questions. Typically bearing balls are 3/16" front and 1/4" rear, but some hubs don't follow this convention.

Why do you think that you need to replace them? If, after cleaning bearing balls, cones, and cups, you see nice smooth bearing tracks with no chipping or galling, just regrease and adjust.
Moe Zhoost is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 08:14 AM
  #5  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 33,294

Bikes: '96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '20 Surly Midnight Special, All are 3x10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 39 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1839 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 777 Times in 565 Posts
Also, don't overbuy bearing grade. Grade 25 balls are the most commonly used and are far more than good enough but low enough in price to splurge on. Paying a huge premium for Grade 10 or for ceramic balls is a waste of money for no benefit.
HillRider is offline  
Likes For HillRider:
Old 01-20-21, 08:35 AM
  #6  
dedhed
SE Wis
 
dedhed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 8,913

Bikes: '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400, 2013 Novara Randonee, 1990 Trek 970

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2091 Post(s)
Liked 2,061 Times in 1,281 Posts
At $11/hundred or so there is no reason not to stock & replace most bearing balls if you plan to work on bikes.
https://www.bocabearings.com/product...-(100-pcs)-411
dedhed is offline  
Likes For dedhed:
Old 01-20-21, 09:37 AM
  #7  
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,525

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1884 Post(s)
Liked 1,143 Times in 722 Posts
I'm on both sides.

If you've got fresh bearings ready to go (or you need a break, run down to the LBS to get some), put in new bearings.

If the old bearings are clean and shiny, re-use them.

The only time you need to put yourself out to get new bearings is when the old ones are cracked, pitted, or (heaven forbid) rusty. Then you need to get new bearings if you don't have any. Take a couple with you when you go the your LBS, or measure them carefully if you need to mail-order.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 12:24 PM
  #8  
davidad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 6,598
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 553 Post(s)
Liked 153 Times in 123 Posts
If the bearings have their original finish they a good to reuse.
davidad is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 12:50 PM
  #9  
cbrstar
BMX Connoisseur
 
cbrstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Canada
Posts: 774

Bikes: 1988 Kuwahara Newport, 1983 Nishiki, 1984 Diamond Back Viper, 1991 Dyno Compe

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 399 Post(s)
Liked 107 Times in 69 Posts
There's actually quite a few sizes. Go down to your LBS and they will have a special ruler to measure them and they probably have what you need in stock.
cbrstar is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 12:55 PM
  #10  
Russ Roth
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: South Shore of Long Island
Posts: 2,088

Bikes: 2010 Carrera Volans, 2015 C-Dale Trail 2sl, 2017 Raleigh Rush Hour, 2017 Blue Proseccio, 1992 Giant Perigee, 80s Gitane Rallye Tandem

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 789 Post(s)
Liked 631 Times in 478 Posts
Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Also, don't overbuy bearing grade. Grade 25 balls are the most commonly used and are far more than good enough but low enough in price to splurge on. Paying a huge premium for Grade 10 or for ceramic balls is a waste of money for no benefit.
Not really true though the quality of the hubs can have an impact as well. Dura Ace and Record come with higher grade bearings because they spin better and can last longer. Although I think ceramic often costs stupid amounts of money spending a little extra on hubs will help them spin a little better.

OP: Get the park spoke ruler for future such repairs, it has holes for all the sizes of bearings bikes use, which ever hole it barely manages to drop through is the size. When it doubt bring one of each to the LBS and they'll do just that or a good mechanic will just know by sight in all likelihood. Nothing wrong with changing them every few years, even if everything looks good bearings can deform from the pressures on them over time and new bearings will keep everything running smooth.
Russ Roth is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 01:42 PM
  #11  
dedhed
SE Wis
 
dedhed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 8,913

Bikes: '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400, 2013 Novara Randonee, 1990 Trek 970

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2091 Post(s)
Liked 2,061 Times in 1,281 Posts
Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Not really true though the quality of the hubs can have an impact as well. Dura Ace and Record come with higher grade bearings because they spin better and can last longer. Although I think ceramic often costs stupid amounts of money spending a little extra on hubs will help them spin a little better.

OP: Get the park spoke ruler for future such repairs, it has holes for all the sizes of bearings bikes use, which ever hole it barely manages to drop through is the size. When it doubt bring one of each to the LBS and they'll do just that or a good mechanic will just know by sight in all likelihood. Nothing wrong with changing them every few years, even if everything looks good bearings can deform from the pressures on them over time and new bearings will keep everything running smooth.
Really better yet is to get a cheap digital caliper as it is useful in all things bike related. Measuring seatpost diameters, stems, frame spacing, and even bearing diameters for about the same price.
dedhed is offline  
Likes For dedhed:
Old 01-20-21, 01:56 PM
  #12  
Bill Kapaun
Really Old Senior Member
 
Bill Kapaun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Mid Willamette Valley, Orygun
Posts: 13,047

Bikes: 87 RockHopper,2008 Specialized Globe. Both upgraded to 9 speeds.

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1476 Post(s)
Liked 735 Times in 540 Posts
It's easy to measure bearings with a simple 12" ruler.
Line the bearings up along the ruler.
1/4" = 4 per inch or 8 per 2".....
3/16" = 8 per 1.5" or 12 per 2.25" or 16 per 3"......

Why does something that simple require special measuring tools when just a bit of thought......
Bill Kapaun is offline  
Likes For Bill Kapaun:
Old 01-20-21, 02:02 PM
  #13  
Russ Roth
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: South Shore of Long Island
Posts: 2,088

Bikes: 2010 Carrera Volans, 2015 C-Dale Trail 2sl, 2017 Raleigh Rush Hour, 2017 Blue Proseccio, 1992 Giant Perigee, 80s Gitane Rallye Tandem

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 789 Post(s)
Liked 631 Times in 478 Posts
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It's easy to measure bearings with a simple 12" ruler.
Line the bearings up along the ruler.
1/4" = 4 per inch or 8 per 2".....
3/16" = 8 per 1.5" or 12 per 2.25" or 16 per 3"......

Why does something that simple require special measuring tools when just a bit of thought......
1. those puppies just like to roll away on me with the slightest breeze.
2. honestly this method never occurred to me. I can just tell by visual now but used the ruler in the past.
Russ Roth is offline  
Likes For Russ Roth:
Old 01-20-21, 02:22 PM
  #14  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 33,294

Bikes: '96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '20 Surly Midnight Special, All are 3x10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 39 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1839 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 777 Times in 565 Posts
Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Not really true though the quality of the hubs can have an impact as well. Dura Ace and Record come with higher grade bearings because they spin better and can last longer. Although I think ceramic often costs stupid amounts of money spending a little extra on hubs will help them spin a little better.
Anything better than Grade 25 barrs is an absolute waste of money. Cheap hubs may use Grade 100 or Grade 200 balls but the upper level cup-and-cone hubs are served very well with Grade 25. I have a Dura Ace rear hub with over 75,000 miles still in daily use It has never seen anything but Grade 25 balls, redone at 7000 mile intervals, and both the original cones and races are still in excellent shape and smooth as glass. I remember people claiming that Campy Record hubs used "matched sets of Grade 5 balls" which was more hype than any benefit.

Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
OP: Get the park spoke ruler for future such repairs, it has holes for all the sizes of bearings bikes use, which ever hole it barely manages to drop through is the size. When it doubt bring one of each to the LBS and they'll do just that or a good mechanic will just know by sight in all likelihood. Nothing wrong with changing them every few years, even if everything looks good bearings can deform from the pressures on them over time and new bearings will keep everything running smooth.
+1 on that Park ruler and it's useful for more than sizing bearing balls. It has spoke length measuring slots, the somewhat obsolete sizing holes for crank cotters and is a good rigid 12+" ruler for measuring chain "stretch". It's cheap for all that it does.
HillRider is offline  
Old 01-20-21, 03:01 PM
  #15  
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,525

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1884 Post(s)
Liked 1,143 Times in 722 Posts
Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
+1 on that Park ruler and it's useful for more than sizing bearing balls. It has spoke length measuring slots, the somewhat obsolete sizing holes for crank cotters and is a good rigid 12+" ruler for measuring chain "stretch". It's cheap for all that it does.
Seconded.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 01-21-21, 02:58 AM
  #16  
Geepig
Senior Member
 
Geepig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Eastern Poland
Posts: 736

Bikes: Romet Jubilat x 4, Wigry x 1, Turing x 1

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 194 Post(s)
Liked 193 Times in 146 Posts
Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
1. those puppies just like to roll away on me with the slightest breeze.
2. honestly this method never occurred to me. I can just tell by visual now but used the ruler in the past.
A small empty box with an inch marked from one corner, and those balls are not going anywhere.
Geepig is offline  
Old 01-21-21, 03:47 AM
  #17  
grizzly59
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 711
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 281 Post(s)
Liked 262 Times in 164 Posts
If you are going to reuse balls, I would put them back in the same side of the hub they came out of.
grizzly59 is offline  
Old 01-22-21, 12:50 AM
  #18  
bitpuddle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 80

Bikes: Cinelli Nemo Tig / Battaglin Power Plus / Giant TCR SL

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 17 Times in 12 Posts
What hubs are these? Do the bearings appear pitted/worn?

I’d just clean the hub and bearings and add fresh grease, unless something seems worn (there is play or they feel rough).
bitpuddle is offline  
Old 01-22-21, 05:17 PM
  #19  
davidad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 6,598
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 553 Post(s)
Liked 153 Times in 123 Posts
Originally Posted by grizzly59 View Post
If you are going to reuse balls, I would put them back in the same side of the hub they came out of.
It doesn't mater. The tolerances for the balls is too small to make a difference.
davidad is offline  
Likes For davidad:
Old 01-29-21, 07:42 AM
  #20  
Seb1987
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I'm on both sides.

If you've got fresh bearings ready to go (or you need a break, run down to the LBS to get some), put in new bearings.

If the old bearings are clean and shiny, re-use them.

The only time you need to put yourself out to get new bearings is when the old ones are cracked, pitted, or (heaven forbid) rusty. Then you need to get new bearings if you don't have any. Take a couple with you when you go the your LBS, or measure them carefully if you need to mail-order.
I'll go to my LBS then with one of the ball bearings cause just one of them looked like it has a tiny tiny bit og rust on it.
Seb1987 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.