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Front wheel bolt fully tightened yet wheel feels loose

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Front wheel bolt fully tightened yet wheel feels loose

Old 10-03-12, 03:23 PM
  #1  
thegreatbelow
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Front wheel bolt fully tightened yet wheel feels loose

I have an old Raleigh Medale that I use to get around town, looks a bit like this:



The problem I am having is the nuts holding the front wheel to the fork are fully tightened yet the wheel feels a little bit shaky, when I lift the front wheel up and drop it gently it almost feels slightly clanky, like it's hitting metal and it has a little bit of side to side movement despite being fully tight. This happened right after I took it off to give the brake pads a sanding after they were squeaky. I'm 99% sure it didn't feel like this before I took the wheel off but I'm not sure what it could be as all I did was loosen the bolts as normal, take the wheel out and putit back in then tighten the bolts.


What do you think it could be?
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Old 10-03-12, 03:27 PM
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It sounds like the wheel bearings have come slightly loose. They can be adjusted as detailed here, although the hub may benefit from being overhauled. A link to an article on how to do that is at the bottom of the article on adjusting them.


For your information, those things holding your wheel on are nuts, not bolts.

Edit: It's an old Raleigh, so there's a chance that there's a slightly different process involved in adjusting it. I can't tell from the model, unfortunately.

Last edited by Airburst; 10-03-12 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 10-03-12, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by thegreatbelow View Post
I'm 99% sure it didn't feel like this before I took the wheel off but I'm not sure what it could be as all I did was loosen the bolts as normal....
Odds are very good that a locknut that holds the bearings in adjustment was loose, and moved while you were removing and installing the bike. Do not ride it until you get it adjusted.
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Last edited by cny-bikeman; 10-03-12 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 10-03-12, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post

Odds are very good that a locknut that holds the bearings in adjustment was loose, and moved while you were removing and installing the bike. Do not ride it until you get it adjusted.
It could also be the Raleigh-specific hub issue mentioned in that article. Basically, some Raleigh hubs don't use locknuts, one cone tightens hard against a shoulder on the axle, and the other one is just held in adjustment by the axle nut. Obviously, with the wheel off the bike, there's nothing to keep the cone from moving.

This is a minor issue, since the cone can't loosen up with the axle nut tight, the more important part is the fact that the wheel has to be in the bike in the right direction so that the adjustable cone is being loosened up rather than tightened, because the axle nut can't keep it from tightening. If the wheel's in the wrong way round, the cone can tighten up and jam the hub.

Last edited by Airburst; 10-03-12 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 10-03-12, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
It could also be the Raleigh-specific hub issue mentioned in that article. Basically, some Raleigh hubs don't use locknuts, one cone tightens hard against a shoulder on the axle, and the other one is just held in adjustment by the axle nut. Obviously, with the wheel off the bike, there's nothing to keep the cone from moving.

.
This bike appears to post-date the Philips hubs without locknuts. One clue would be if the front hub is aluminum. The no-lock-nut Philips hub was steel. In any case the hub bearings (cones) need adjusting, or while you're at it an overhaul.
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Old 10-04-12, 04:21 AM
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Thanks for the help! I may have put the wheel back on the wrong way round so I will check that and follow the instructions from that very helpful article. And yes... I am a total noob for calling them bolts not nuts!
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Old 10-04-12, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by thegreatbelow View Post
Thanks for the help! I may have put the wheel back on the wrong way round
It doesn't matter unless it's the Philips hub FB mentioned. A picture of the hub, especially with the wheel off the bike, would settle whether or not it is.
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Old 10-04-12, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
It could also be the Raleigh-specific hub issue mentioned in that article. Basically, some Raleigh hubs don't use locknuts, one cone tightens hard against a shoulder on the axle, and the other one is just held in adjustment by the axle nut. Obviously, with the wheel off the bike, there's nothing to keep the cone from moving.

This is a minor issue, since the cone can't loosen up with the axle nut tight, the more important part is the fact that the wheel has to be in the bike in the right direction so that the adjustable cone is being loosened up rather than tightened, because the axle nut can't keep it from tightening. If the wheel's in the wrong way round, the cone can tighten up and jam the hub.
Seems like a real screw up in the design department or more likely the accounting department. But could not one just add a thin nut to the nut-less side of the hub and then adjust the bearing like on a normal bike. I don't think I have seen a fork that couldn't stretch enough to allow adding that millimeter or 1.5MM to the total OLD distance.
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Old 10-04-12, 02:11 PM
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Another reason I have found for loose feeling wheels is that the wheel has been replaced and the axle sticks out farther than the drop out so the nut only tightens agains the axle. This has been when wheels came off a cast DO bike and installed in a stamped DO bike.
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Old 10-04-12, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
Seems like a real screw up in the design department or more likely the accounting department. But could not one just add a thin nut to the nut-less side of the hub and then adjust the bearing like on a normal bike. I don't think I have seen a fork that couldn't stretch enough to allow adding that millimeter or 1.5MM to the total OLD distance.

They almost certainly had a reason for it. If Raleigh had been trying to make the bikes cheaper, there are an awful lot of things they'd have been able to cheap out on before they did anything as drastic as leaving the locknuts off the front hub. And I seriously doubt Raleigh's design department "screwed up" on something that simple, when the rest of the parts and bikes they came out with were designed to last a century.

Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Another reason I have found for loose feeling wheels is that the wheel has been replaced and the axle sticks out farther than the drop out so the nut only tightens agains the axle. This has been when wheels came off a cast DO bike and installed in a stamped DO bike.
This is completely true, but it's only valid if you're dealing with a quick-release axle, or one with a bolt-through skewer that works in the same way as a quick release. This wheel has come off the same bike, and it's a nutted axle anyway.

Last edited by Airburst; 10-04-12 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 10-05-12, 03:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
It doesn't matter unless it's the Philips hub FB mentioned. A picture of the hub, especially with the wheel off the bike, would settle whether or not it is.







Here are some pictures!
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Old 10-05-12, 06:41 AM
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That seems to have locknuts, the bearings adjust like conventional ones.

Slightly off-topic, what on earth have you been removing your axle nuts with to leave marks like that?
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Old 10-05-12, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
That seems to have locknuts, the bearings adjust like conventional ones.

Slightly off-topic, what on earth have you been removing your axle nuts with to leave marks like that?
Sadly I received the bike in the that state! What is the method for adjusting conventional ones then?
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Old 10-05-12, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by thegreatbelow View Post
Sadly I received the bike in the that state! What is the method for adjusting conventional ones then?
You were given a link in post # 2, but here goes again...http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cone-adjustment.html
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Please respect others by taking the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!
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Old 10-05-12, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by thegreatbelow View Post
I'm 99% sure it didn't feel like this before I took the wheel off but I'm not sure what it could be as all I did was loosen the bolts as normal, take the wheel out and putit back in then tighten the bolts.

What do you think it could be?
With nutted axles, it's a good idea to tighten and loosen them in stages; if you fully undo/do up one side then the other, there's a risk you'll turn the spindle and possibly mess up the bearing adjustment.

So basically, half-tighten one side then the other before fully tightening, and the same in reverse.

Edit: just realised it wasn't clear I'm only referring to removing or replacing the wheel, not adjusting the bearings.

For the bearing adjustment, you'll need a cone wrench; probably the first bike-specific tool a lot of folks buy.

Last edited by Kimmo; 10-05-12 at 11:15 AM.
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