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.


Related Links

Discuss this topic in the Help Forums

07/12 A rusty bike? serious repair

After a year of being outside doing nothing, I would love to use it again.

Its a Hawk Paradise, atleast thats what on the frame. When do you know when biting off more than you should? And hand the bike over to the rag & bone man. I'll be able to post photos tomorrow, when I get the weeds, grime off.

The chain will need to be changed, but how can you tell which to get on the gears, its got upto 3 on the left handle, and upto 6 on the right handle.

I have a basic knowledge of bike maintence thanks to my off-road bike loving ex.

Am I bitin...

06/30 Frankenstein bike help

So before I start, understand that I'm new to bike terms and may sound dumb but I need some help!
I recently decided I wanted to buy a bike on Craigslist, it was only $30 (laughs) aand I knew it needed fixing up but after getting it and really looking at it I realize whoever "tried" to fix this bike had no idea what they were doing.

The only identification I have for it is a little duck looking logo sticker thing on the front of the frame that says Raleigh. I found serial number on bottom and one number that was P1013-5. The frame is still in good shape but its been ... Read more >>

06/29 An old frame as replacement

Hi guys, I've just joined this forum having browsed here many times before for ideas and information. If I could cut to the chase, I'm the owner of a now-broken commuter/occasional touring bike, ran into the back of a Benz last month and the bike didn't survive.

I'm contemplating new frames to swap parts and rebuild a commuter. In the meantime, I've found an abandoned KHS Winner, looks to be a mid-80's product: its on the heavier side and not an inspiring frame but rides ok...if the sidepull brakes are repaired or replaced. Its 27" rims are steel and degraded and the bars kill my ... Read more >>

06/25 Clicking noise on each rotation

Hi i have a touring bike it is well looked after but after a routeen weekly wash that i do on the bike there seems to be a clicking noise everytime the rear wheel rotates fully onece. the noise is louder and more frequent the faster i go

I wondered if there is a simple fix or if anyone could hint to what it is

Thanks if you can

Also all i use for cleaning is soapy water and clean water degreaser and lube... Read more >>

06/24 Bike Help

Hi, I know nothing about bikes but recently inherited a harlem toscano mountain bike.

I took it into halfords for a brake & gears service to ensure it was safe to use. They replaced some cables and the break pads, so all good.

I noticed that everytime I went up hill when changing gears the chain would come off. So I took it back and complained and they checked it again and replaced the chain and the back gear cogs. However they said the problem was because its a 6 speed shifter for 7 speed cog. I dont really understand what that means.

There is s...

06/12 Help with wobbely cranks and chainrings


First of all thank you for your advice in advance and I wasnt sure where the thread should go since it's neither cranks nor chainring. So I have been having a problem with my bic and I am determined to fix it myself. I have been riding the bic for a long time, so it's old. Sometimes when I put pressure on the pedals by standing up i hear a creaking sound, although it doesn't come from the gears or the chain ring. This morning I heard the creak again, and after ward the whole chainring and the two pedals started to move left and right horizontally, kind of sliding through the ... Read more >>

06/10 Fix/Upgrade Murray Venom

I pulled this old Murray Venom out from my garage, this was my bike in early high school I had upgraded to a new bike but someone stole it towards the end of high school (I biked to school) well I recently ended up getting a new job close to my house (About 2 miles) so I figured I would commute to work on a bike well my old bike still works but there are a few things wrong with it:

1. No Brakes, they are V brakes by the looks of them but the cabling is all shreded and the brake handles look all worn

2. Shifting is awful and by no means smooth I can hear the chain crea... Read more >>

05/22 Hubby's underside aching after extended ride


We both have Venture 2.0 bybrid bikes. We really like them, but my husband had to switch his seat and ended up with the one here:


This helped his underside greatly, especially the most sensitive parts, but he is finding that after an hour's ride, he has to start standing up for half a minute or so to give his behind a break from hurting before he sits back down. If we approach 2 hours, he has to stand frequently after about 90 min and can hardly wait t... Read more >>

05/14 1 speed to 3 speed Schwinn Grey Ghost


It is my first post here on this great site. I currently have a reproduction Schwinn Grey Ghost. It is currently single speed, but I wanted to know if I could change to 3 or 5 speed? Do I have to buy a new rear wheel with a 3 speed hub or? I added two pictures of the bicycle.

Thank you in advance...

05/03 Axle replacement on exercise bike

Hi All,

The axle of my exercise bike (Colima Pro by Horizon fitness) broke into two recently. I'm attaching some pictures of the bike, to show it's current state. In image#..481, I have marked the broken area.

I received the replacement axle from the manufacturer, but have gotten stuck in removing the current axle. At this stage, I'm not really sure as to how to dismantle it and am looking for some kind assistance.

This is the owner's guide of the bike.

04/24 Newbie

Hi all,
So my father in law gifted me a Schwinn Woodlands 21 speed from 1988. It's been kept in the garage for the last 18 years. Looks good for its age. I was wondering what are some updates that I can make get it to be a more modern ride. Not looking for anything major, I know I'm going to need new wheels due to them dry rotting. Is there any other suggestions of things to swap out or replace? Thanks!!... Read more >>

04/22 Restore Rusted 80s Peugeot Road Bike

I purchased a bicycle to do my first restoration. I do my own maintenance on newer bikes, but this will be my first rebuild. I think it is a 1985 P10NM (http://cyclespeugeot.com/PDFs/1985UK.pdf). I have been reading a lot of relevant posts, but I am looking for some advice.

Is the frame too rusted to restore? I am most worried that if it is too rusted then it will break while someone is riding it or it will continue to rust through. I would also like to remove as much rust as I can and prevent ... Read more >>

03/14 Help restoring ancient tandem

[attachment=4922]I just purchased this ancient tandem for $40 and thought it would be a fun project, especially with summer around the corner and living close to the beach. How ever, I'm not a bike expert . I want to know what I will need to replaced or what can be salvaged. I appreciate any help I can get on the matter.... Read more >>

03/04 Help! I need parts, I just don't know which ones...

Hello everyone!
My friend gave me an old bike with missing parts and a bent up back tire. I am in need of the seat post, a derailer (I think.), and the back tire. I wanted to see if I could replace these items for cheaper than I could buy a new bike. I have gone to mongoose.com with no success to finding these parts or even the size/type/kind that I need to buy. Can I purchase any derailer and install it or does it need to be the same brand? Are there many different KINDS? And the seat post comes in so many different sizes (so I've been told) that I need to know how to measure thi... Read more >>

03/02 Pedals Turn Wheel Does Not

I'm pretty handy, but it has been a LONG time since I took a bike apart. My son's bike is changing gears and the pedals turn, but it is not turning the wheel. What's my problem?... Read more >>

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

Free Email Updates: