15. How to Overhaul Wheel Bearings

Overhaul a hub, replace and grease the wheel bearings, and adjust the cones.

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Overhaul Wheel Bearings
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This tutorial will demonstrate how to grease your wheel bearings. For this job you'll need some rags, waterproof grease, and a 17mm open-end wrench. You'll also need a 13mm cone wrench for a front hub, and a 15mm cone wrench for a rear hub. When overhauling a hub, you should always replace the ball bearings. Most front hubs need 10 3/16" bearings per side, while rear hubs usually need 9 1/4" bearings.

Dis-Assemble Hub

If you're overhauling the rear hub, you'll need to remove the cassette or freewheel before you begin. Carefully remove any seals that may be protecting the cone and locknut.

Place the wheel on its side and slide a cone wrench onto the cone flats, and then loosen the left, or non-drive side locknut by turning it counter-clockwise against the cone wrench. Completely un-thread and remove the cone and locknut, and then slide the axle out from the right side of the hub.

Clean Hub Parts

Clean all of the old grease off of the axle and cones and remove all of the bearings from both sides, making sure to count how many you take out. Then clean the inside of the hub and carefully inspect both the cones and the inner bearing races. If there is any damage such as pitting then the cone and/or hub should be replaced.

Grease Hub and Bearings

Apply a generous layer of grease to both of the hub's bearing races. Then carefully insert all of the new bearings by pushing them down in the grease. When all of the bearings are installed, there should be about half a bearing space left. Cover all of the bearings with a layer of grease and lightly grease the axle threads.

Re-Assemble Hub

Once the bearings are installed on both sides, carefully slide the axle into hub, making sure the bearings stay in place. Thread the left side cone, washer (if any) and locknut all the way on finger tight.

Adjust Cone and Locknut

Now lay the wheel back on its side and place the cone wrench on the cone. Tighten the locknut against the cone and check to make sure there is no play in the hub, and that the wheel spins freely. You may have to loosen the locknut and repeat the procedure many times before it is correct. Quick release mechanisms tighten the cones slightly, so if you have a quick release axle, you'll have to leave a slight bit of play in the hub.

Re-install any seals and then put the wheel back on your bike. Finally, check the adjustment again by moving the wheel side to side at the rim. Again, there shouldn't be play in the wheel, and it should spin smoothly.


Related Links

Discuss this topic in the Wheel Forums

10/23 Replacement Axle


I need to find a replacement axle for the one which broke on my 1970's road bike. I've written the specs below, can anyone help me source a replacment? I don't know what to search for:

Length 165.5mm
Thread size 9.2mm
Shaft 8.8mm

Starting from the drive Side
24mm to first nut
First nut 6mm with an incorporated spacer 9mm
Second nut 3mm
Spacer 1.7mm
Cone specification unknown
Gap to second Cone 71mm
Cone Specification unknown
Spacer 1.45mm
Nut 2.8mm
20mm to end of thread

09/15 Schwinn meridian rear drive axle

Recently bought a slightly used 26" meridian trike. While replacing wider tires on the rear, I noticed an issue with the rear drive side wheel hub. The wheel is held on with a nut and single washer. The hub is not held firmly in a location on the axle and is able to slide back and forth on the axle a good half inch even though the nut is tightened all the way down to its bottom threads on the axle. The non drive side hub and wheel has very little play on its axle , perhaps a 1/8 inch and seems to run fine.

While the drive side hub slides back and forth and seems to be creating un... Read more >>

08/02 Any idea what could have happened to my rim?

[Image: IMG_3671.jpg]
So today I got a flat tire (unrelated, it was a nail, extracted, repaired. All good) and when I pulled over to try to find what caused it, I noticed that my rim was rubbing the brakes the way it does when it's out of true because of a broken spoke.
The spoke is fine. It's the RIM that's been damaged, and that has damaged my calm some. I took it to my usual bike shop, guys are pros, figured they'd have an answer, no such luck. They gave me vague language about how it "looked like it h... Read more >>

07/24 Restoring extremely rusted rims on bike


We have a hand me down bike which has been in the family for 30+ years. It's original ower is now in her fourties!!! I'm attached to this bike because the memories I have with my dad riding it.

It has rusted underneath the chrome coating it had so it now all pitted.

I was wondering, can I respray the paint back onto the rim?... Read more >>

07/19 Rear wheel noise - help please

Hi everyone,

I have a very annoying creaky/rubby noise that I cant shift although I have narrowed it down to the rear wheel and not the bike.

I have a Giant Propel Advanced SL 0 Aero Race Road Bike 2016 3 months old and 1,000 miles with the SLR 0 Aero wheels 55mm.

The noise noise only happens (always takes 10 mins to warm up) when I'm seated and putting some power down uphill or on the flats. Now I know its not the BB as I have put my friends Mavic rear wheel on my bike and my SLR r/wheel on his Scott and he gets the same noise on his bike. He's 60kg and... Read more >>

06/27 Wheel size change

Hi all,

Someone just gave me a 32" cruiser bike. Yes, it's a boxstore bike, but they were kind enough to give it to me and I appreciate their generosity. The back tire has a gash in it, and I'm having a hard time finding a replacement. I'm contemplating downsizing the wheel set to a more common size. Seems like it will work as the bike is very simple: single speed, coaster brake. Spatial reasoning isn't my forte so sometimes I look at things like this thinking they will work, only to find out I'm mistaken. What do I need to think through on such a swap? Thanks in advance!!!... Read more >>

06/17 Mystery Spring

I have a 1997 Giant Ferrago.  Great bike, bulletproof.  I was changing the rear tube, and doing a bit of lube to both wheels.  When all was said and done, I had a left over spring that I think came off the bike.  But where?

Any ideas?

[Image: image_zpsoivycnpy.jpeg]...

03/14 Rear wheel keeps shifting

I just tuned my '76 Schwinn cruiser up for spring, and after riding as far as my daughter's bus stop my rear wheel has shifted over far enough that the tire is hard against the frame. So I readjust, tighten it back down, and in the same time my wheel has shifted again. It's gone as tight as it can. I'm wondering if the mounting brackets of the fender are causing the nut to slip. Perhaps moving them to the inside of the frame would help? Any suggestions?

Edit: It only seems to be the drive side that slips. The chain is loose and the tire presses against the non-drive side under the... Read more >>

03/12 HB M960 hub overhaul

So I have this lovely ti tourer with shimano xtr hbm960 hubs, and I am hoping to service these hubs. I see a metal cap on both ends of the hubs both front and back and the metal cap has a space that looks like I can put a flat head screw driver into to pry it off, it has no flats like the other cones I've dealt with. Can't find how to on the internet. Has anyone dealt with these hubs?

http://imgur.com/0uLqgOw...

02/20 Wheels

I have a 1987 Cannondale racing road bike that I have been using to ride on crushed stone and paved trails. The wheels have worn out and need replacing. I was wondering if I could get a slightly wider wheel that could support a wider tire. The crushed stone makes control a bit hard at times. I am looking for more stability from the bike.
I like the feel of the bike and am very comfortable with the road set up. I would rather not have to buy a new bike.
golfguy826...

02/10 What tool is needed to remove this freewheel?


I was wondering if someone could recommend to me which removal tool is needed to remove this freewheel? I recently broke a couple spokes and the freewheel needs to be removed to access the hole to put a new spoke in. I put the ruler there to measure the diameter of the space, it's about 35mm-ish. I was looking at park tools freewheel recommendation site, but don't see one that would necessarily match. Would the FR-6 or FR-8 work? Thanks!

The bi...

01/23 Quick Release Lever Recall

I got this from Consumer Reports. It effects disc equipped bicycles from 1998 -2015. Including major brands like Cannondale, Dimondback and Specialized.

The quick release wheel lever can come open and get jammed against the disc brake.

To see if your bike is effected go to: quickrelease-recall.com... Read more >>

12/03 Replacing rear wheel after patching a flat

Hi, I'm having some trouble reattaching my daughter's rear wheel to the frame after fixing her flat. It's a 20" wheel, single speed, with linear pull brakes. I have it reinstalled and with what seems to be a good tension on the chain, but it's rubbing the brakes and it's a real chore to pedal.

I had to go through this just last week when my son did the same with his. It was a learning curve (lots of youtube help) but I got it right on the third try. But he has horizontal forks where the axle goes on, so it seemed to be just a matter of getting it the right distance and holding it ... Read more >>

10/10 Tyres keep popping off wheels...

Hello guys

Just bought a new pair of 700c hybrid wheelset with an inside rim width of 19mm. I have tried to fit schwalbe 700 x 40c tyres on them but the tyres just pop out from the rim when inflated. It seems to be a loose fit. Somebody please advise.

Thanks...

09/21 Mavic Crossroc wheel


I bought a wheel set of Mavic Crossroc. The rear hub came with a 12 X 135 set up, but I need to a 12 X 142 mm so I got some adaptors and I have disassembled the hub but I can't figure out how to remove the actual end cap on the axle. Do I have to remove them, if yes how ? If no do the 142 mm just slides over these caps ??

Thanks...

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