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Cup and cone vs sealed

Old 04-03-22, 10:11 AM
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Bent4life 
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Cup and cone vs sealed

I have a set of old Dura Ace cup and cone hubs that I maintain by myself. Easy to take care of and replacement bearings and grease are cheap. Gives me something to wrench on in the off season. Is there an advantage to the sealed bearing wheels? How long do they last? Are they even serviceable? I was contemplating another wheelset but not sure which way to go.
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Old 04-03-22, 10:34 AM
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Imo, there is no important advantages to "sealed" bearings. Shimano cup and cone is fine and last a long time if taken care of once a year. newer models are easy to service too. You can gently pry off the cover on "sealed" bearings to clean and add grease, but id argue most non Shimano, sealed bearing hubs are of inferior design. Usually they have soft alloy free hub bodies that tend to gouge and a weird bearing layout with the right hand hub shell bearing located behind the spoke flange. Id take a dura ace or ultegra hub any day of the week.
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Old 04-03-22, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Bent4life View Post
I have a set of old Dura Ace cup and cone hubs that I maintain by myself. Easy to take care of and replacement bearings and grease are cheap. Gives me something to wrench on in the off season. Is there an advantage to the sealed bearing wheels? How long do they last? Are they even serviceable? I was contemplating another wheelset but not sure which way to go.
The advantage is that you don’t need to wrench them in the “off season” …whatever that is.

How long a cartridge bearing lasts depends on several factors but, on a bicycle in general, they will last about as long as the sun. Similar bearings last well over 100,000 miles on cars carrying far higher loads at far higher speeds. Bicycles barely tax them.

They can be serviceable…pry the seal up and put in new grease…but, for the most part, you use them until they start to seize and the replace them. They are cheap and relatively easy to replace. I have several sealed bearings in headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, derailer wheels, and pedals. I’ve replaced only 3 or 4 bearings in hubs over nearly 45 years of using them. One set of Phil Woods hubs I have has over 20,000 service free miles on them. Another set has around 10,000 miles on it.

While I have Phils, my favorite hubs are White Industries. They are among the smoothest rolling hubs I’ve ever used. Price isn’t bad either.
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Old 04-03-22, 11:26 AM
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Terminology is a problem here... I think you are referring to 'cartridge bearings'.

Both cartridge and cup and cone bearings can be well sealed or poorly sealed. In isolation, a simple air dam seal in a standard cart bearing is wholly inadequate when a bike is used in wet conditions. But if this air dam is reinforced with a second outer seal, separated with an air gap, then the sealing is acceptable.

Newer Shimano and Campagnolo (the top end ones) feature cup and cone bearings and are very well sealed indeed. Inner and outer rubber seals with an air gap.

I mountain biked for 5 years with a set of Shimano LX hubs. There were many times that the bike was fully submerged during creek crossings, and several times were the bike was so muddy that the wheels were immobilized. The LX hubs went through hell and back on a weekly basis. Mainly out of curiosity, I cracked them open at the 5 year mark to find minty fresh factory grease. The mid-range Shimano hubs are an amazing bargain.
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Old 04-03-22, 03:44 PM
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Any bearing can become contaminated, and replacing cartridge bearings isn't any easier than replacing loose balls, IMO. I'm pretty sure that Shimano doesn't even make a cartridge bearing rear hub.
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Old 04-03-22, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
One set of Phil Woods hubs I have has over 20,000 service free miles on them. Another set has around 10,000 miles on it.

While I have Phils, my favorite hubs are White Industries. They are among the smoothest rolling hubs I’ve ever used. Price isn’t bad either.
That ain't nothing. I have a set of 7700-series Dura Ace hubs (cup-and-cone obviously) with over 77,000 miles that have been serviced at about 10,000 mile intervals and are still in daily use and perfectly smooth. I also have a pair of Shimano WH-R560 wheels with 45,000 miles, serviced about the same, in equally excellent condition. Neither of these wheelset have had any parts replaced except for new bearing balls occasionally and that's only because the balls are cheap. Cup-and-cone hubs give nothing away to sealed bearings.

BTW, I notice your hubs are top-of-the line, not the much lower quality hubs commonly provided with inexpensive wheels or OEM on many bikes. They really should last a long time.
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Old 04-03-22, 10:15 PM
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I primarily have cup-cone hubs.

In adverse environments, cartridge bearings are probably better. Not because they are better sealed, but because they are generally designed to be disposable.

Provided the cartridge is installed correctly and the aluminum hub shoulder isn’t damaged, you never need to worry about contaminants or poor adjustments ruining the hub’s cups or cones. When the cartridge goes bad you just replace it.

John
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Old 04-03-22, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
That ain't nothing. I have a set of 7700-series Dura Ace hubs (cup-and-cone obviously) with over 77,000 miles that have been serviced at about 10,000 mile intervals and are still in daily use and perfectly smooth. I also have a pair of Shimano WH-R560 wheels with 45,000 miles, serviced about the same, in equally excellent condition. Neither of these wheelset have had any parts replaced except for new bearing balls occasionally and that's only because the balls are cheap. Cup-and-cone hubs give nothing away to sealed bearings.
In my experience, cup and cone have a lot of cone pitting issues. They have to be serviced every 5000 to 10,000 miles just to check the cones, if nothing else. My hubs have zero maintenance since I built the wheels. I donít expect to ever need to do anything with them.

BTW, I notice your hubs are top-of-the line, not the much lower quality hubs commonly provided with inexpensive wheels or OEM on many bikes. They really should last a long time.
The bearings are the cheap part of the hub at about $8 each for steel Enduro sealed bearings. There isnít much difference between the bearings used in a cheap OEM hub (of which there are few) and expensive boutique hubs.
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Old 04-03-22, 11:52 PM
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The stupid thing about the cup and cone design is that when you tighten down on the locknut/ QR you will always change the adjustment of the cones. The reason is because there is a little bit of lateral play between the cone and the threaded axle. When you tighten the cone against the balls, it takes up all the slack towards the outside face. And then when you tighten down the locknut and/or close the QR, it pushes the cone back inwards to take up the slack in the inwards direction.
A smarter design would have the cup outboard and the cone inboard. The cone would look like a T shape top hat. You adjust the bearings by turning the cone outwards. That way it takes up all the slack in the inwards direction. When you tighten the locknut/QR it just pushes against the inwards direction, where there is no slack.
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Old 04-04-22, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Any bearing can become contaminated, and replacing cartridge bearings isn't any easier than replacing loose balls, IMO. I'm pretty sure that Shimano doesn't even make a cartridge bearing rear hub.
Actually they do. The MT410 and MT 401 are cartridge bearing type.https://dassets.shimano.com/content/...MT410-4716.pdf
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Old 04-04-22, 07:18 AM
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I wondered how cup and cone rear hubs supported the freehub.
This Shimano rebuild video has these cross sections.

Cartridge hubs
White industries, Zipp, etc are this design. I colored in the bearings.
Green for the hub bearings.
Purple for the pair of freehub bearings.
Lots of support where the loads occur. And easy to install and adjust.




~~~~~
A Shimano with cup and cone.
Green for the cup and cone bearings.
purple for a pair of cartridge bearings?


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Old 04-04-22, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Actually they do. The MT410 and MT 401 are cartridge bearing type.
I stand corrected.
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Old 04-04-22, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
.

I mountain biked for 5 years with a set of Shimano LX hubs. There were many times that the bike was fully submerged during creek crossings, and several times were the bike was so muddy that the wheels were immobilized. The LX hubs went through hell and back on a weekly basis. Mainly out of curiosity, I cracked them open at the 5 year mark to find minty fresh factory grease. The mid-range Shimano hubs are an amazing bargain.
I like LX hubs too. I think they have laybrinth seals "now" (actually for years).
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Old 04-04-22, 12:11 PM
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I like my boutique hubs in my case WI and CK but I have them because I want them. Iíve never had any issues with Shimano or old Campy it they do require a bit more maintenance. If youíre looking for bang for the buck Iím not sure thereís anything better than Shimano.
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Old 04-04-22, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Germany_chris View Post
I like my boutique hubs in my case WI and CK but I have them because I want them. Iíve never had any issues with Shimano or old Campy it they do require a bit more maintenance. If youíre looking for bang for the buck Iím not sure thereís anything better than Shimano.
For plain jane, everyday riding, Iíll agree that Shimano is okay. There is very little difference, however, between a Shimano Durace and Shimano Sora or Claris. If you are buy wheels for replacement or upgrade, go with Shimano. If you are going to build a wheel, donít do it with a Shimano hub because you really canít beat the price of a prebuilt wheel.

Boutique hubs (and even some cheap cartridge bearing hubs) have some advantages over Shimano. They arenít boring. Or, rather, they can add color to a build. Kind of silly butÖ.

Some cartridge bearing hubs also have the advantage of being able to be disassembled with minimum (or no) tools. Phil Woods, for example, can be disassembled in the field without more than a 5mm wrench. The cassette assembly pulls out which gives you access to the spokes for replacement if needed. Itís a great feature if you happen to do loaded touring. Other hubs dispense with the tools entirely.

If you do happen to have to take a cartridge bearing hub apart, thereís no adjustments that need to be made. Thereís no fiddling with cones and locknuts. Thereís no locknuts coming loose resulting in loose wheels and damage to the cones or cups.
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Old 04-04-22, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
~~~~~
A Shimano with cup and cone.
Green for the cup and cone bearings.
purple for a pair of cartridge bearings?


Hmm, is that an FH-7800 hub? If so, it's not really representative of the usual Shimano freehub. For whatever reason, they tried making this particular generation of freehubs like other brands before reverting back to their traditional approach.

One way to picture the traditional Shimano freehub is that the inner shell of the freehub body locks tightly against the hub shell, forming one unit. The axle bearings run where you expect on the left side of the hub, and against the inner shell of the freehub body on the far right of the axle. Two rows of small bearings run between the inner and outer freehub body shells so that the cassette can spin independently from the rest of the hub.

It would seem that most other brands of cassette hubs are really just improvements of the freewheel hub concept, where the hub shell has axle bearings at each end, but the cassette body now has its own sets of axle bearings. It all works out because the axle has a bigger diameter, and doesn't need to be threaded halfway in on one side.
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Old 04-04-22, 02:34 PM
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That is not a normal Shimano Hub. That drawing appeared in a Bike Rumour article about a new silent ratchet. Normal Shimano hubs has a different bearing layout and the ratchet inside the freehub body.
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Old 04-04-22, 03:37 PM
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Been riding since 1971 and have owned and serviced every conceivable hub configuration out there as I have worked in several bike shops from CA to MI. Without question, cartridge hubs are the lowest maintenance design. They will roll smoothly for 10's of thousands of miles without needing service.

Will never go back to cup and cone as I don't appreciate the maintenance experience anymore.
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Old 04-04-22, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Been riding since 1971 and have owned and serviced every conceivable hub configuration out there as I have worked in several bike shops from CA to MI. Without question, cartridge hubs are the lowest maintenance design. They will roll smoothly for 10's of thousands of miles without needing service.

Will never go back to cup and cone as I don't appreciate the maintenance experience anymore.
Thanks Guys- I'm going with White Industry T-11's!!!!
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Old 07-19-22, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The advantage is that you don’t need to wrench them in the “off season” …whatever that is.

How long a cartridge bearing lasts depends on several factors but, on a bicycle in general, they will last about as long as the sun. Similar bearings last well over 100,000 miles on cars carrying far higher loads at far higher speeds. Bicycles barely tax them.

They can be serviceable…pry the seal up and put in new grease…but, for the most part, you use them until they start to seize and the replace them. They are cheap and relatively easy to replace. I have several sealed bearings in headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, derailer wheels, and pedals. I’ve replaced only 3 or 4 bearings in hubs over nearly 45 years of using them. One set of Phil Woods hubs I have has over 20,000 service free miles on them. Another set has around 10,000 miles on it.

While I have Phils, my favorite hubs are White Industries. They are among the smoothest rolling hubs I’ve ever used. Price isn’t bad either.

Hi Cyccommute!

A local REI Coop mechanic that was giving me an estimate for building a wheel for me said the White Industries hubs are what the round the world cyclists have as they are made so well. The one hub he showed me was $385, which was way out of my price range. That was for a rear hub. What did you pay for yours? Thanks for your input.

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Old 07-19-22, 01:26 PM
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Hi Racing Dan!

Wow! Thanks for the input! You mean it could be a counterfeit hub they sell at the Shimano price?

Thanks!
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Old 07-19-22, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by winfred0000 View Post
Hi Cyccommute!

A local REI Coop mechanic that was giving me an estimate for building a wheel for me said the White Industries hubs are what the round the world cyclists have as they are made so well. The one hub he showed me was $385, which was way out of my price range. That was for a rear hub. What did you pay for yours? Thanks for your input.

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Thatís about the price Iíve paid. You can find older versions on Ebay for less. They are just as good if you can find the features you need. They may not be as shiny but they are still excellent hubs. I have a few of the old ones in service and I donít see having to replace them anytime soon.
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Old 07-19-22, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
The stupid thing about the cup and cone design is that when you tighten down on the locknut/ QR you will always change the adjustment of the cones. The reason is because there is a little bit of lateral play between the cone and the threaded axle. When you tighten the cone against the balls, it takes up all the slack towards the outside face. And then when you tighten down the locknut and/or close the QR, it pushes the cone back inwards to take up the slack in the inwards direction.
It's not as complicated as that.
1) When the locknut is tightened against the cone, there is no further relative movement between them.
2) Tightening the quick release compresses the axle and shortens it slightly, which is why the bearings get tighter. This can be compensated for by leaving in the hub bearings a slight amount of free play which disappears as the quick release is tightened. A more exact way of adjusting the bearings involves using a hub axle vise (LIKE THIS ONE) which allows the bearings to be adjusted while the axle is compressed.
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Old 07-19-22, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
It's not as complicated as that.
1) When the locknut is tightened against the cone, there is no further relative movement between them.
2) Tightening the quick release compresses the axle and shortens it slightly, which is why the bearings get tighter. This can be compensated for by leaving in the hub bearings a slight amount of free play which disappears as the quick release is tightened. A more exact way of adjusting the bearings involves using a hub axle vise (LIKE THIS ONE) which allows the bearings to be adjusted while the axle is compressed.
or use Campag hubs which allow the bearing preload to be set while the wheel is clamped into the frame
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Old 07-19-22, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Been riding since 1971 and have owned and serviced every conceivable hub configuration out there as I have worked in several bike shops from CA to MI. Without question, cartridge hubs are the lowest maintenance design. They will roll smoothly for 10's of thousands of miles without needing service.

Will never go back to cup and cone as I don't appreciate the maintenance experience anymore.
Me too. In the 70s and 80s, I took pride in knowing how to maintain and adjust cup and cone bearings. It used to be a "fun" spring ritual going through the bike (I had only 1) and do the crank and wheels. Rarely messed with the headset. Now, I still like working on bikes,

I guess I still do: I was able to "save" a set of nice Shimano wheels that a young guy I knew was going to literally throw away because the rear hub was gritty. I also built up a set of 90s era campy hubs with similar era campy rims a couple of years ago and was able to rebuild the rear hubs even though it needed new balls and the cones (found some with similar measurements from Wheels Mfg. which worked) and they roll smooth.

But I really don't care if I have to use my cone wrenches again. All of our other bikes have sealed cartridge bearings all around, including headsets, and after many thousands of miles per bike, and many, many thousands of miles in aggregate. I've had to deal with one headset (easy) and one bottom bracket (even easier).
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