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Need help with a rear hub

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Need help with a rear hub

Old 10-06-11, 06:23 PM
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RiverHills
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Need help with a rear hub

I took the rear hub apart to grease the bearings. I didn't pay attention to how tight the 17 mm nuts were before I took them off. I'm not sure how tight to make it. If I turn the 17 mm nut any tighter than hand tight, the wheel does not spin freely. But, this just doesn't seem intuitively tight enough. How tight should it be?

One more thing, there does not seem to be any lock nut. Just the 17 mm nut on either side.

The hub is a shimano free hub on a basic Alex wheel.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:32 PM
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Both ends of your axle should have a cone and a locknut (17mm?). Usually there's a washer between them, but not on all hubs. Uf you look at the cone you'll see 2 wrench flats about 2mm wide. You use a cone wrench to hold the cone in proper adjustment while tightening the locknut. With the cone held firm you tighten the locknut tight because the action of the berarings can cause the cone to turn and you don't want that.

Once you've verified that you have the basics, ie a cone and locknut at both ends, search "adjusting hub cones" or similar on the net and you'll find a bunch of tutorials, bith video and print with pictures. that'll get you the rest of the way home.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:11 PM
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Yeah, I do have the lock nut. I hadn't realized this, because I forgot that I removed it. Anyway, how tight to make the hub before the lock nut is tightened is where I am not sure. I did try some net searching, but I didn't find anything that definitively showed how snug to make the cones.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:26 PM
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http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...and-adjustment
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Old 10-06-11, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
Yeah, I do have the lock nut. I hadn't realized this, because I forgot that I removed it. Anyway, how tight to make the hub before the lock nut is tightened is where I am not sure. I did try some net searching, but I didn't find anything that definitively showed how snug to make the cones.
I hate to be churlish, but don't feel like doing a ton of typing to explain something well covered in dozens of tutorials. Start with this one then if it doesn't come together read others. Basically your looking for zero play detectable at the rim with the wheel mounted and tight. At the same time you don't want to be so tight that you feel an increase in drag (some drag is normal). It's a matter of balancing both goals, so tighten the right side, and leave it then do the adjustments trial and error from the left. Don't tighten it super hard until you think you have it.

Note also that QR hubs need to be a hair loose because they tighten up when the QR is tightened.
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Old 10-06-11, 08:34 PM
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Normally you tighten them by hand till the bearings start to bind slightly then back them off till the wheel spins freely.
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Old 10-07-11, 05:11 AM
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So hand tightening is sufficient?
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Old 10-07-11, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
So hand tightening is sufficient?
Of the cones? Yes.
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Old 10-07-11, 06:26 AM
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Then why do all the online tutorials show using wrenches?
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Old 10-07-11, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
Then why do all the online tutorials show using wrenches?
Because you can't tighten the locknut to the cone, without moving the cone, without also using a wrench on the cone as well.
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Old 10-07-11, 07:38 AM
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I don't think anyone has explained this yet, but you don't seem to know:

The wheels have a special setup of nuts on the spindle that need a VERY precise adjustment to work. On each side, there is a cone nut (which touches the bearings), a washer (or spacer on freewheel hubs) and a locknut. There are many tutorials on proper adjustment of these (which needs practice/patience to get perfect) but you'll end up with no play and a smooth turning spindle.
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Old 10-07-11, 07:51 AM
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So if I got this right, I basically adust the cones by hand to fine tune the amount of play in the bearings, then snug the lock nut by wrench?
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Old 10-07-11, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
So if I got this right, I basically adust the cones by hand to fine tune the amount of play in the bearings, then snug the lock nut by wrench?
Yes, but while holding the cones in place with a cone wrench.
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Old 10-07-11, 08:39 PM
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I suggest getting an axle vise, the cheap Park Tool AV-1 will do. Make sure you do lock your cones and locknuts against each other firmly, finger tight is not going to do it.

1. Lock the driveside cone and locknut against eachother, then clamp the driveside end of the axle in the axle vise. Now you have the axle immobilized so you can make adjustments to the non-driveside cone and locknut.

2. Lock the non-driveside cone and locknut against eachother, then evaluate how the bearings feel. You're shooting for a slight trace of play, which will disappear under the compressive force of the quick release (if it's a nutted axle, then never mind).

3. After step 2, unlock the cone and locknut from each other and make another incremental adjustment, and keep repeating this until you have it how you want it.


When I was a kid, I didn't have an axle vise, and had to do this freehand. It's a darn lot easier with an axle vise, so assuming you have access to a bench vise, throw down for an AV-1 and you'll be set for the future.
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Old 10-07-11, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post

When I was a kid, I didn't have an axle vise, and had to do this freehand. It's a darn lot easier with an axle vise, so assuming you have access to a bench vise, throw down for an AV-1 and you'll be set for the future.
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Old 10-08-11, 12:17 AM
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I'm sorry, but how isn't this stuff (with the exception of leaving a little play on QR hubs) not absolutely bleeding obvious?

I mean, look at the thing, for crying out loud!

I'm not trying to be nasty; I'm trying to point out that it's quite easy to see how the majority of bike stuff works, and this example is elementary. If find it hard to believe you're incapable of deducing the salient features of an ordinary hub in order to adjust it, otherwise how on Earth do you manage to operate a computer?

It's satisfying and empowering to figure things out for yourself. Having to ask the Internet is like an admission of defeat for me.

Mind you, I always consult the Net before disassembling miniaturised electronics, that stuff's tricky.
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Old 10-08-11, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
So hand tightening is sufficient?
No, you actually want the cone to be a bit LOOSE before you tighten the locknut against it.
Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
Then why do all the online tutorials show using wrenches?
What they're doing is holding the cone still with one wrench so they could tighten the locknut AGAINST THE CONE with the other wrench.

It's the locknut's job to hold the cone in place. They want the cone to have the best adjustment for the life and performance of the bearing balls instead of torquing the cone down so it would stay in place. I don't even know if it would stay put when there's ball bearings under there.

There's a bit of clearance in the threads so you want to start with a cone that is a degree or two looser than you want it, because the locknut is going to push the cone inward even though you're holding the cone from turning with the cone wrench

Don't think of the cone as a nut on a bolt. You don't torque it down. The reason the cone is on a threaded axle is so you could adjust its location precisely, then lock it in place by holding it with the cone wrench and using another wrench to tighten the locknut against it.

When you're done, you sould freely be able to twirl the axle in your fingertips. If it's a quick release axle, there should even be a tiny bit of play because the quick release will compress the axle a bit when you tighten it in the bike, but the play should go away after the QR is tightened, so that you can't shake the rim from side to side at all. It may flex from side to side, but it shouldn't feel loose on the axle.

+1 on the axle vise, though I get by with a bench vise.

If you torqued your cones down and rode at all, there's a chance you have already ruined your cones and/or hubs. Search google images for "pitted cone". That's a ruined cone and will only crumble more. Excessive tightness ruins bearings. You can ruin a hub even if you overtighten your quick release!

I don't think you need to tighten the locknut against the cone super tight. Give them a firm tightening but bear in mind the locknut is thin and easy to strip. It only has to hold the cone still until you clamp the wheel into the bike. Then, the quick releases or axle nuts will provide plenty of pressure to keep the cones in place.

Last edited by garage sale GT; 10-08-11 at 07:50 AM.
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