12. How to Check If Your Bearings Are Worn

Did you know that you can check the health of your bearings by listening to your bike seat?

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Check If Your Bearings Are Worn
DVD Vol. 1 DVD Volume 1
This video is available on DVD

Here's a handy tip that will help you access whether or not any of your bearings are worn out. You'll need to have the wheels suspended in the air somehow, using either a repair stand, hanging it from the roof, or by getting a friend to hold it up for you.

How to Listen

You can listen to your bike by pressing your ear up to the front of the seat. It will act as a speaker, amplifying the bike's internal noises.

Now spin each of your components and listen to the sound. You will hear noise, but it should sound smooth and even. If it sounds loud and/or uneven, it is likely dry or worn out, and your bearings will need either an overhaul or complete replacement.

Bottom Bracket Bearings

When checking the bottom bracket bearings, it's helpful to shift the smallest sprocket and remove the chain to eliminate the noise generated by the chain and chainring.

Rear Wheel Bearings

To hear the rear wheel bearings better, remove the chain from the freewheel by removing and re-installing the wheel, so that you don't hear the ticking as it spins around.

Headset Bearings

Since the headset doesn't spin around as fast, it's more difficult to hear if it's worn. Any dryness or wear in the headset bearings will be very obvious, and you'll feel a notch in the rotation if they're pitted. Pitting usually occurs when the front wheel is pointing directly forward.

Tags

Related Links

Discuss this topic in the Help Forums

05/21 Repair after vandalism

Hi everyone, I recently had someone vandalize my bike. Not sure if they were trying to steal it or not, but it did get damaged. I want to repair it myself, as I don't think it would be too complicated. Just wanted some help with the part names.

First, the part that keeps the handlebars on the bike is missing - any suggestions as to what that part is called and where I can find a suitable replacement?

Also, the cables to the gear shift was also damaged. The thumb shifter itself is in one piece, just the cables were damaged. I think the brake cables are also damaged. ... Read more >>

05/21 Need some info on my new bike

Hello everyone, i got a Specialized 27.5" Pitch Sport 2015 and i was looking to replace all the unsealed ball bearings on the bike with sealed bearings (cartridge type?) like on the wheels, bottom bracket, and head set. I'd like to get a quality bottom bracket, a quality head set, and quality sealed bearings for the wheels. The problem is, is that I don't know what to buy. I dont know if my head set is a threaded, tapered or whatever. Yes, im new to all this so im trying to learn, but thats why i know nothing, lol... I'd appreciate any help you guy's can give me. Thanks

Kevin... Read more >>

04/29 Bike won't work

My sons bike works fine if the
front fork / handlebar is reversed
but will hardly move at all when is
it is turned in the right direction -
I know nothing about bikes - is
something simple?... Read more >>

04/28 Preparing bikes for the summer

Hey all,

I run my early college high school's bike share program, and I'm worried about this summer. Despite the Dallas heat, we might have to leave the bikes locked outdoors until school is back in session. The bikes are $100 Wal-Mart single speed bikes, and some are rusted in various places. What can I do to make sure the bikes can survive the summer?... Read more >>

04/27 I need suggestions! Components

We just got a bike from our uncle that he won at a storage locker auction. Its a Giant Revel. I believe its the original Revel. It has a front disc brake, but it was missing the caliper assemble. The rear brake a standard brake with pads. The rear derailer was broken along with the front derailer. They are the Shimano FD-TX51 and RD-TX55. The front shifters/brake handles are both Shimano, but are different and are in rough shape.

So, I need to replace the front and rear derailer, front brake caliper, and the shift/brake mechanism. Can anyone direct me in the proper direction for ... Read more >>

04/18 Derailleur adjustment.

Have I got this right. Turning the high or low screws counter clock wise increases the amount of travel of the derailleur mechanism on both the front and back? and turning them clock wise decrease travel? Is this the easiest way to think about it?

One other thing I have noticed when replacing both brake and derailleur cables is the new thinner stainless steel cables run much smoother in the Jagwire then the thicker ones they sell do and are much easier to thread through grip shifters etc. as the cable ends seem to be treated so they do not unravel or fray. Well worth the extra ... Read more >>

03/19 My bike has been in storage for awhile—is it safe to ride?

My bike has been in storage for awhile—is it safe to ride.... Read more >>

03/16 Refurbishment help needed (PLEASE)

Hello,

Can someone please clarify that I am on the right track regarding my bike restore.

I have a second hand Orbea Carpe that I am in the process of restoring and I need some help to clarify which parts I need to purchase (Bike link below). The previous owner had experienced some troubles during a ride resulting in the rear derailleur and chain being destroyed / twisted. This also damaged the rear break cables. The rear cassette is 9 speed, however the destroyed rear derailleur is a 10 speed. I will also be putting the bike in for a general service to have the rea... Read more >>

03/11 Health Benefits of Cycling For Women.

Cycling is a physical activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is one of the best ways to reduce risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Regular cycling can help you lose weight, reduce stress and improve your overall fitness, it also gives your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and nerves a good workout. Cycling is a fun and time-efficient activity when you combine regular exercise with your daily routine. Compared to other modes of transport, cycling does not pollute the atmosphere which is certainly good for the environmen... Read more >>

02/23 Refurb help for a newbie

Hello all. I am riding around on a 10-12 year old Schwinn Voyageur. In the past i have taken the bike to a shop whenever I need to tune it up and have any work done. Circumstances have changed and I can't really afford to pay anyone to work on things that I should be able to learn how to do.

I've ridden bikes all my life, but have never had to learn how to repair or maintain one. I don't own any tools other than a few basics like a hammer or a screwdriver.

From what I can tell, my bike is in desperate need of a new chain. Also a good number of the gear sprockets that... Read more >>

02/14 What is wrong with my bike?

Could someone help me out? I recently purchased a new single speed bike sprocket. I put it on my bike and I had to make the chain smaller. Anyways I got everything put together and its as if the bike doesn't have enough tension when you pedal. like when you pedal it feels like the chain isn't even on. the cranks spin almost to freely.... Read more >>

01/21 My Huffy Superia

I have a Huffy Superia and it is kind of messed up right now with the parts on it currently. Is there any way I can get good parts on it and make it a better bike? I know there's some people that find this bike kind of rip off but I love mine, I just need to put good parts on it. Here is a listing of the parts that are on it right now: For the thumb shifters they are Power (same as derailleur which is a Power Index System) a Power model front derailleur or chain guard whatever you call it, and 26 inch wheels. I don't know if the piece over the front crank is called the chain guard or front mou... Read more >>

01/21 How Do You Tell if a bike is from retail or actual bike shop

I know some bikes come from retails like Walmart, and some others from quality shops. But my question is how do you tell one bike is from retail? And how do you tell if the other is from a bike shop? I also read a few months ago these two different buying choices have slight differences in its quality. Is that true?... Read more >>

01/20 Squeak

I have a squeak that seems to occur on every third rotation only when I'm applying real pressure such as climbing or accelerating hard. Seems to be from the rear but hard to tell. Had the bike (2014 Tarmac w/ultegra)serviced and it was quiet for about 100 miles and now the squeak has returned. Any ideas? Thanks!... Read more >>

01/14 Back peddling grinding noise

What's failing?
Under power I don't hear or feel anything unusual
But if I rotate the crank backwards I feel roughness and more noise than I believe is normal
I ride frequently with a headset on and haven't noticed this noise until a recent ride without the headset on
Back peddling isn't something I'm conscience of doing either until I first noticed that something is amiss

Can someone tell me what's failing?

Ive taken the rear wheel of and spun in both direction but can not detect anything unusual but maybe it needs weight on the wheel?
I... Read more >>

New Thread
How to Check If Your Bearings Are Worn
Repair Guide / Help Forums

Free Email Updates: