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Been adjusting my hubs wrong all along

Old 02-28-12, 03:41 PM
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Been adjusting my hubs wrong all along

Basically I've been adjusting my hubs without properly tightening the locknut. I've been just setting the proper cone adjustment by hand, backing off a bit, then tightening the locknut down by hand, which pushes the cone into the proper position. I'd been reading through various threads here and caught on to how important using cone wrenches is to lock the adjustment in. Needless to say I'm a bit embarrassed about it, and am going out to get some cone wrenches today.

Amazingly, though, my hand adjustments seemed to hold fine at least for the period of time I've been doing it. I do ride multiple bikes, however, and often take the wheels off, always checking and readjusting the hubs. I guess if I had a dedicated bike that I put lots of miles on, and never checked it they would get loose.

Just wanted to vent about this little embarrassment, and hopefully inform other people who are doing the same thing.
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Old 02-28-12, 09:07 PM
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Don't feel too bad. I just bought two used bikes off Craigslist from two different folks - one mtb and one road bike. Both had not only their cones and lock nuts loose, but the QR skewers were tightened by axial rotation and not by flipping them concave down closed and both axles were loose. Of course, I mentioned nothing during the transactions, and they both seemed happy to get what cash they could for bikes that had such poor handling and wobbling on the wheels, which never seemed to stay set, one guy said. The guy who sold me the road bike, admitted the rear wheel was misaligned, and it could be that the frame was bent. I checked it out and he didn't know that on old classic steel bikes with nice pantographed rear horizontal dropouts, there are adjuster screws that set the position of the rear wheel axle to center it in the frame.

And the guy who sold me the MTB tried to upgrade his bike with nice Deore/DeoreXT components, but ordered a bunch of parts, got some of it on, but lacked the tools and couldn't get it riding ever again. So he gave up and went to the LBS and got himself a full CF 29'er with a service contract and loves his new "sweet" ride. He works at a local graphics company that supplies chips to that fruit-computer company with stock prices over $500/share and is single with too much disposable income. He either needs a wife quick to spend his money for him, or he needs to buy a house and pay for a monster mortgage in Silicon Valley. But meanwhile, I was happy to part him with his old ride and parts.
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Old 02-28-12, 09:58 PM
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You've been really lucky. A loose locknut often lets the cone tighten as the wheel roatates until it badly damages the cone and the hub race. Once I get the bearing adjustment correct I tighten the locknut against the cone VERY tight as I don't want anything to change until it's time for the next relubing thousands of miles later. There is no substitute for the proper size cone wrench.
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Old 02-28-12, 10:37 PM
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If you really want to do a proper job, you make sure the adjustment is spot on - just tight enough take away all play and knock in the bearing - with the skewer tightened. This typically requires some trial/error.

- Mark
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Old 02-28-12, 11:25 PM
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i've often wondered how many people do their own wheel maintenance (and even participate in this forum) and don't understand how a locknut works. i know that in my case i was way into adulthood before i realized i'd been doing it wrong. it's surprising i got away with it for so long!!!! i thank you for sharing.
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Old 02-28-12, 11:32 PM
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That's ok, everyone who knows how to adjust a hub had to learn at some point. At least you didn't make an instructable teaching people the wrong way to do it.
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Old 02-29-12, 06:40 AM
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Remember on thin hollow axles the quick release clamp can bow the axle a tiny bit - it pays to do a final check of adjustment with the QR done up.

My MTB hubs (Shimano - cup and cone) have an allen key locknut on each end - I need 3 hands to do both allen keys and a cone spanner. After many times pestering wife to hold one of the allen keys it has finally occured to me to clamp an allen key pointing upward out of a bench vise - then plonk the wheel onto the clamped key - leaving me to adjust without having to rush because someone else is bored by all this. hth
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Old 02-29-12, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by gyozadude View Post
Don't feel too bad. I just bought two used bikes off Craigslist from two different folks - one mtb and one road bike. Both had not only their cones and lock nuts loose, but the QR skewers were tightened by axial rotation and not by flipping them concave down closed and both axles were loose. Of course, I mentioned nothing during the transactions, and they both seemed happy to get what cash they could for bikes that had such poor handling and wobbling on the wheels, which never seemed to stay set, one guy said. The guy who sold me the road bike, admitted the rear wheel was misaligned, and it could be that the frame was bent. I checked it out and he didn't know that on old classic steel bikes with nice pantographed rear horizontal dropouts, there are adjuster screws that set the position of the rear wheel axle to center it in the frame.

And the guy who sold me the MTB tried to upgrade his bike with nice Deore/DeoreXT components, but ordered a bunch of parts, got some of it on, but lacked the tools and couldn't get it riding ever again. So he gave up and went to the LBS and got himself a full CF 29'er with a service contract and loves his new "sweet" ride. He works at a local graphics company that supplies chips to that fruit-computer company with stock prices over $500/share and is single with too much disposable income. He either needs a wife quick to spend his money for him, or he needs to buy a house and pay for a monster mortgage in Silicon Valley. But meanwhile, I was happy to part him with his old ride and parts.
You could have done them a favor and showed them how qr skewers work, so they don't kill themselves on their next bike.
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Old 03-01-12, 08:06 AM
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From the instructable site: "Tip: The locknuts should not be too tight. All they need to do is to make sure the cone nuts don't slide. Screwing them on too tight will push the cone nuts in toward the bearings. This allows the biker to adjust the tightness of the cones without having to disassembling the hub. Cone wrenches cost around $10. Personally, I believe they are unnecessary." Eureka: I've found my problem, sliding cone nuts!

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Old 03-01-12, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by okane View Post
From the "Tip: The locknuts should not be too tight. All they need to do is to make sure the cone nuts don't slide. Screwing them on too tight will push the cone nuts in toward the bearings.
I want the locknut to cone interface very tight when I'm done adjusting the hub. A way to avoid the problem you describe is to make the final adjustment by "loosening' the cone against the stationary locknut.
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Old 03-01-12, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by okane View Post
The locknuts should not be too tight. All they need to do is to make sure the cone nuts don't slide. Screwing them on too tight will push the cone nuts in toward the bearings. This allows the biker to adjust the tightness of the cones without having to disassembling the hub. Cone wrenches cost around $10. Personally, I believe they are unnecessary."
That's an interesting theory.
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Old 03-01-12, 08:09 PM
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Heh, I checked the bearings on my new bike today, and of course, this is the site I went to first.
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There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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Old 02-28-13, 12:34 PM
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I suddenly feel fortunate I discovered Sheldon Brown and Park Tools before I discovered Instructables.
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Old 02-28-13, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
You could have done them a favor and showed them how qr skewers work, so they don't kill themselves on their next bike.
Go back now and tell them.....
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 02-28-13, 12:39 PM
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2 wrencges, 1 of them a thin Cone Wrench, 2 cone wrenches actually needed ,
1 for each side of the hub to get them , not too close together, and so, binding too tight.

NB: QR compresses the axle, further tightening the bearing adjustment.
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Old 02-28-13, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gyozadude View Post
but the QR skewers were tightened by axial rotation and not by flipping them concave down closed
That is not that uncommon since most QR on front wheels have to be lossened more than flipping the level to get the wheel off, lots of people will just stick the wheel back on and spin the qr lever untill it is tight, never bothering to close it. Blame lawyer lips. (I grind them off my bikes.)
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Old 02-28-13, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SumoMuffin View Post
Basically I've been adjusting my hubs without properly tightening the locknut. I've been just setting the proper cone adjustment by hand, backing off a bit, then tightening the locknut down by hand, which pushes the cone into the proper position. I'd been reading through various threads here and caught on to how important using cone wrenches is to lock the adjustment in. Needless to say I'm a bit embarrassed about it, and am going out to get some cone wrenches today.

Amazingly, though, my hand adjustments seemed to hold fine at least for the period of time I've been doing it. I do ride multiple bikes, however, and often take the wheels off, always checking and readjusting the hubs. I guess if I had a dedicated bike that I put lots of miles on, and never checked it they would get loose. Just wanted to vent about this little embarrassment, and hopefully inform other people who are doing the same thing.
OP; Suspect you may have been the singular inventor of the method you have described. Hope you now have it skilled in. If not, almost any bike website, any youtube, any park tools or any sheldon link or any LBS visit will take you to enough how to do to get by.
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Old 02-28-13, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
2 wrencges, 1 of them a thin Cone Wrench, 2 cone wrenches actually needed ,
1 for each side of the hub to get them , not too close together, and so, binding too tight.

NB: QR compresses the axle, further tightening the bearing adjustment.
Fietsbob; Did you over stretch here...or over compress I should say? Compressing a 10mm thickwall tube on end would take a lot more pressure than a silly Q/R could provide. Pretty sure the Q/R just sucks the dropouts in tight onto the locknut/cone stack. It does take advantage of the convenient hole in the axle to be about to find something on the other side of the bike to pull against. One could argue that the locknut/cone stacks move inward under Q/R pressure, but I doubt that also. If the Locknut and the cone are tightened against each other (for everyone except the OP in the past) properly then they will taking up any slack in the thread to bolt tolerances...wouldn't they. Please correct me if I have (again) gotten my head stuck way up between the cheeks... /k
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Old 02-28-13, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
That's ok, everyone who knows how to adjust a hub had to learn at some point. At least you didn't make an instructable teaching people the wrong way to do it.
Ha ha. I liked this line."All modern bicycle wheel hubs are the same" And that is where I stopped reading.
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Old 02-28-13, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
Fietsbob; Did you over stretch here...or over compress I should say? Compressing a 10mm thickwall tube on end would take a lot more pressure than a silly Q/R could provide. Pretty sure the Q/R just sucks the dropouts in tight onto the locknut/cone stack.
Two things. First, you don't have to compress the axle very far to remove or over-remove bearing slack. Set up properly the "play" in the bearings before the wheel is installed is extremely small so it takes very little axle compression to reduce it to zero, or less. Second, a properly designed (read internal cam) qr skewer does generate a lot of force if tightened properly so it can, and will, over tighten improperly set hub bearings.

I like to clamp my wheels in an axle vise on my workbench and set the adjusting cone and locknut so I can feel just a very slight play in the axle. I place my fingers on the axle stub and on the hub shell and wiggle the wheel by the rim. I want to feel just the slightest motion between them at the hub. Then when the wheel is installed in the frame or fork, that motion disappears and there is no play at the rim but the bearings are smooth and free enough that the wheel will "pendulum" to a stop if spun by hand.
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Old 02-28-13, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
That's ok, everyone who knows how to adjust a hub had to learn at some point. At least you didn't make an instructable teaching people the wrong way to do it.
I just wish there were a way to get an instructable removed. Bad information is worse than no information.
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Old 02-28-13, 02:05 PM
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Pro Race Team mechanics , when cup and cone Hubs were the norm, [ like Merckx career]
had a pair of dropouts on hand ,
just like on the bikes the team rode, in order to get the hub adjustment, Just Right,
For, After the skewers were closed.

old people know stuff
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Old 02-28-13, 02:05 PM
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Here's my method (follow the links to see how Park Tool recommend doing it, and you'll see why my method is easier, yet just as effective!)

- Wil
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Old 02-28-13, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
Fietsbob; Did you over stretch here...or over compress I should say? Compressing a 10mm thickwall tube on end would take a lot more pressure than a silly Q/R could provide. Pretty sure the Q/R just sucks the dropouts in tight onto the locknut/cone stack. It does take advantage of the convenient hole in the axle to be about to find something on the other side of the bike to pull against. One could argue that the locknut/cone stacks move inward under Q/R pressure, but I doubt that also. If the Locknut and the cone are tightened against each other (for everyone except the OP in the past) properly then they will taking up any slack in the thread to bolt tolerances...wouldn't they. Please correct me if I have (again) gotten my head stuck way up between the cheeks... /k
Fietsbob is correct about axle compression.

Just for fun, I just cad modeled a 10mm OD, 5mm ID axle from 4130 normalized, at 130mm length.
Applying a 500 pound axial compression results in .000945" reduction in length. That's equivalent to adjusting a bearing to zero clearance then turning the cone about another 1/20 turn.
That's too tight for a cup and cone bearing arrangement.

And this agrees with experience, adjust a bearing to net and close the skewer, it'll be too tight. Adjust with a small bit of play, close the skewer and the play will vanish.
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Old 02-28-13, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
I want the locknut to cone interface very tight when I'm done adjusting the hub. A way to avoid the problem you describe is to make the final adjustment by "loosening' the cone against the stationary locknut.
This is exactly what I do. I've found that when tightening the locknut that the cone is actually "loosening". To get the adjustment right, I tighten the cone too tight at first. The loosening action of the cone when tightening the locknut dials it in. I hope what I said makes sense.
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