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Lakerat 05-14-21 07:25 AM

Skewer tension and bearing adjustment
Is it proper to vary skewer tension on cup and cone hubs to fine tune bearing preload? Or should the skewer always be tensioned the same and bearing preload only be adjusted with the cone nuts?

pdlamb 05-14-21 08:23 AM

You don't ever want a skewer to come loose, so skewer tension is "fixed" and you adjust the cone tightness.

Unca_Sam 05-14-21 08:44 AM

I see two levels of preload when I do adjustable cup and cone bearings. The first is when you initially tighten the cone against the balls. I back off the cone until I have what I think is enough play that I'll have a smooth-rolling hub once I tighten the locknut. I'll tighten the locknut and test for play. If there's more than a trace of play, I'll start over. If there's not enough, I've found that (with the axle or opposite locknut in a vise) that it's easier to try to loosen the cone while keeping the locknut in place. Sometimes it works, sometimes you loosen the locknut and start again. Usually you can find the spot where you can't detect any play in the axle, but the wheel just spins and spins. I haven't found axle nuts to increase bearing preload, while QR's only have a tiny effect.

The bottom line is there shouldn't be any play at the rim on an installed wheel. If you leave a little play before installing, and its still there after you tighten the QR, you have a tiny adjustment to make.

I roll this problem around in my head more than I'd like to admit, but I'd love an explanation about how tightening the locknut against the cone has an effect indistinguishable from compressing the axle between the cones. The axle shouldn't be stretching anywhere except between the locknut and the cone, right? Is the locknut forcing the cone threads against the axle threads ever so slightly to decrease the distance? Can someone draw me the force vectors?

Lakerat 05-16-21 03:51 AM

I found my answer on Sheldon Brown page on cone adjustment: "For very fine tuning of this, you can slightly vary the adjustment of the quick-release skewer, as long as it is good and snug."

Link to article: Cone Adjustment (

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