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Not So Smooth Hub. Help(19 posts)

Not So Smooth Hub. Helpsidley
Jun 17, 2001 9:36 PM
How long should an Ultegra hub go between service? I've got about 2000 easy, dry, miles and my front hub and it is now longer rolling smoothly. While spinning it in my hand, I noticed that the hub had a dead spot in the rotation. It will still make complete rotations but with noticeable friction. Is this normal wear or something worse?
re-adjust itHank
Jun 18, 2001 10:28 AM
should be adjusted just a tad loose so when you lock it down with the qr, you remove the play.
re-adjust itgrz mnky
Jun 18, 2001 3:25 PM
Essentialy you need three hands to properly adjust a hub. Here's a trick. Using two cone wrenches tighten two nuts together on one side - what they're desinged to do. Now flip the wheel over and carefuly place the outer most nut in a bench vice and snug. Be careful not to do any damage and make sure that the quick release has been removed. Now use the two cone wrenches on the top set of nuts. Make and adjustment on the cone (the lower nut) then maintain it's position while tightening down the top nut. You will be locking tthe two nuts together while maintaining your setting. There will be a slight amount of compressing due to the backlash ("clearence) in the threads. Remove the wheel and turn the axle feeling for binding or play. It will take several attempts to get the setting just right. What's just right?- no discernable play in the axle and at the same time no binding. Take your time and use some patience.

I'm assuming that the hub has been properly disassembled, cleaned, inspected, regreased and reassembled. If you're missing bearings or note damage to either the ball bearings or the "races" that they contact then you should consider replacement of these items since it becomes very difficult to obtain the correct setting.
re-adjust itHank
Jun 18, 2001 8:36 PM
you do want to leave a small amount of play in the hub - it will go away once you lock down the qr (if it doesn't, you've left too much play). If you want to clamp the hub in a vice, use an axle vice - it's a $5 tool that lets you lock down the axle in a vice without mashing the threads.
Philosophygrz mnky
Jun 19, 2001 1:59 PM
Understand your point about leaving a small amount of play for the QR. However the other side of the coin is that this is all under "no load" conditions and once things go through their normal slight deformation everything is OK again. Personally, I don't buy the QR angle. Yes, I'm fully aware of the phenomenon, but the QR is a pretty weak structural member in comparison to the hardened steel of the axle, cones, and bearings. Ultimately excess play and contamination are the bane of bearing systems and one should do everything to minimize them. If the wimpy little QR can make that big a difference under a loaded condition then you've got bigger problems.

The Axle Vise is nice, but hardly necessary if you grip only the flats of the nut. If you want to get all physical and grip the threads, just insert two blocks of wood between the axle and the vice jaws and keep the fiver in your pocket.
Jun 19, 2001 3:28 PM
The play thing was recommended by Campy back in the 80s, and was considered standard practice for quality bikes at every shop I ever worked at up through the mid 90s (crap hubs you usually leave tight cause they break in so much). And I was talking to someone at Chris King on the phone recently and they recommended it even for their (very stout) hubs. I just checked and it's in the Zinn book, too (not saying it's the bible or anything, but it's there). I use beefy skewers - steel Campy on the road and cross bikes, and a super stout steel Suntour on the front wheel of the mtb, not wimpy Salsas or whatever, so there is some definite compression going on (with Campy and King hubs)--if you're not getting any compression, I'd wonder about the qr (it definitely wouldn't be a qr you'd want on a front wheel of a mtb with a suspension fork). It's easy enough to check and make sure everything is groovy once the wheel is on the bike. In my experience, Shimano hubs break in a bit, even if adjusted perfectly new (and they usually come a bit tight from the factory), so you need to keep on top of them - check 'em again after a thousand miles or so. Record hubs from the 80s are more of a no brainer, as are Kings.

Gripping the axle would be preferrable to gripping the nut, but...I never use a vice anyway.
Philosophygrz mnky
Jun 19, 2001 4:04 PM
Yeah, I used to be in your camp on bearing adjustment, but think about this: There isn't a precision bearing in the world built with play on purpose and these things are rated at 60,000 hrs max. continuous load and get torqued pretty good in all sorts of equipment and harsh environments. Take the concept one step further - what happens when you set your BB up with just a little bit of play? I admit there are some design dfferences between loose balls and cartridge type bearings, but not that much.

I haven't done it yet, but a force analysis would probably show that the QR force component is pretty minor on the axle compared to torquing the lock nuts against each other via the incline plane of the threads then subjected to riding loads. The cross sectional area and modulus of the hardened components blows the wimpy skewer away - a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. You've essentailly got a 3/16" steel (not hardened) rod squeezing down on a much beefier (hardened) set of components - how tight are you going to make this "spring" and why not use a torque wrench instead of a hand lever? If you think that a "beefy" King or Campy skewer is really holding things together and doesn't elongate under load, well.....

I kinda hope we've progressed beyond Campy technology circa 1980 - remember, besides bringing us Ferrari the Italians also are responsible for Fiat. Given that most people don't check their hub bearings on a regualr basis,let along maintain them, things are going to have more play sooner rather than later by setting them up loose to start with. Speaking of loose - how much is a little: 0.01", 0.001", 0.0001" , 0.00001" etc. - and how do you measure that you got it right given that many people don't have the "touch" when setting it up? Given this it may be better to be a tad loose than a tad tight.

When was the last time a bike came into the shop with wheel bearings that were to tight and how does this comapre to the number that were too loose?

Why do you think that the Shimano hubs come a "tad" too tight from the factory? Given the Japanese excellence in quality of mass production how could they have gotten something so simple wrong?

Like I said, it's philosophy, and I look across the Pacific.
Jun 19, 2001 4:53 PM
holy cow. Well, uh, even as a big Dura Ace fan and supporter, I'll take Campy hubs over Shimano hubs any day of the week (my current road bike is DA with Campy hubs (at least 40,000 on one set), my next one will be DA with King or maybe Mavic hubs). And there's nothing wrong with FIAT, either - Americans just don't understand the concept of maintenance--which is maybe your main point. I don't mind maintenance, I wouldn't be scared of buying a Fiat 124 Spider, and I'll continue to set my hubs "a tad" loose, since it's worked for me for many years and that's what the good folks at Campy and King say to do. But I'm no engineer, nor do I play one on TV, so I'm afraid I can't comment on force analysis.
Been Theregrz mnky
Jun 20, 2001 1:25 PM
Well yes, on the maintenance thing, but I'm even a bigger fan of robust designs that require minimal TLC, be they Japanese, American, Italian, French, etc. I'm not looking to change your mind - we're both going to do what we feel is best. My preference is that bearings be setup as close to optimal. If you've got to make an error then maybe a tad loose is preferable to a tad tight, but I haven't seen any info on this. Shimano doesn't advise setting things up loose and seems to prefer a tad tight. I guess the original poster gets to make the final choice.

You should be careful about what you ask for - I lived with a Fiat 124 Spyder for a year and it is one big POS - and this is in comparison to things like my '66 Austin Healy 3000 Mk III! You can not begin to believe the things that are messed up on this car - even Lucas Electrics (the Prince of Darkness) has nothing on these guys. The mechanical stuff is a nightmare all by itself. For example the specified tire, made by Michelin, has a very weak sidewall and must be installed by hand. If you use a standard tire mounting machine the side wall gets stressed and results in the tire simply bulging and then blowing out in the sidewall. This can happen while driving or any time. Imagine trying to ensure that the hourly guys at the tire shop get this right every single time.

Campy is great and has it's place, but Shimano cranks out the volume between road and MTB stuff. There are some solid reasons behind their success, but they aren't all technical.
Been ThereHank
Jun 20, 2001 1:42 PM
man, and after my last post I got all excited about getting a 124 Spider. In high school I had a friend who had one, and another who had a 850 Spider. The price of admission is very low and I think they're better much looking than the Alfa Spiders, but you've sufficiently scared me (though I'm guessing your experience was with a carbureted model - I was thinking of a 1980 or newer with fuel injection). Well, I'm jealous of your Healey, but I'm staying the hell away from British cars (too much time spent working on my friend's MGB in high school while my old Valiant convertible only needed leaded gas and a quart of trany fluid every other week). My main problem is that I'm a sucker for anything with a convertible top (as long as it isn't Japanese - I tried to get excited about the Miata but I just can't). In my curretn income bracket, and since I also lack a garage, I think I should probably just stick to mid 80s Volvos for transportation and 60s Plymouth/Dodge convertibles for fun. Some day, though, I'm getting a late 60s/early 70s Alfa GTV, I don't care if they're a total mess.
They are fun....grz mnky
Jun 20, 2001 2:40 PM
The 124 is fun when it's running - got to drive one my senior year in high school. I used to thrash that thing pretty good - we'd even catch air in it on the back roads. Of course if the tire blew out at that moment and flipped the car I wouldn't be here! At 17 you can't see the potential for your own death even when it's staring you in the face.

The big Healy was cool, but I sold it when I decided that it needed a total restoration and I realized that I'd rather spend my time riding, surfing, skiing, etc. instead of skinning my knuckles on marginal old English parts.

Currently screaming around in a '98 Subaru 2.5RS - it blows the other cars away performance-wise. No doubt, convertables are fun and chicks dig 'em! Take a lookie at the new WRX - total screamer for cheap.
Jun 20, 2001 4:21 PM
I feel vaguely ill when I think about some of the stupid driving stunts I pulled in high school--exploring the outer limits of cars that were barely road worthy. Oh well, lived to tell the tale. Makes me wonder if the driving age should be moved to 18, though.

the new WRX is sick--total sleeper, too. Wonder if that cool IMBA deal would work on that.

Actually, much as I love cars, bike riding still come first, which would explain the cars I've been driving the last few years. If I had money for a new WRX I think I'd be looking at another trip with the bike to Italy. And hell, much more fun driving in Italy, too--had a great time flogging a rental Opel there last summer. That's probably why Italian cars don't do too well over here - hard to get the rpms up between traffic jams.
WRXgrz mnky
Jun 21, 2001 12:32 PM
Point well taken, but it's hard to get over Donner Pass with chain restrictions on a bike to go skiing!

Word is that the stock 227 hp 2.0 turbo motor can easily be tweaked to a lot more. You can eat Porsches for lunch at less than 1/3 the cost - it really pisses off the gold chain crowd.
Jun 21, 2001 1:11 PM
skiing - man, I used to love skiing. But now I'm too paranoid about my knees.

One good (or possibly bad) thing about Subarus is they seem to depreciate faster than, say, Hondas or Toyotas. So I'm sure I'll be looking for a used WRX wagon in a few years.
WRXgrz mnky
Jun 22, 2001 12:13 PM
Things have changed - the new generation of Subes actually hold their value pretty well - assuming it isn't thrashed.

The trick with skiing and knees is to use the best bindings that money can buy (I prefer Marker for their shock resistance) and to ski fast enough that when you do crash the skis blow off and you're not even aware of them releasing. I've observed that most of the nasty ACL injuries (excepting racers) have a couple factors in common: slow twisting/awkward fall and an out of shape skiier of intermediate ability. In 35 years of skiing my worst injury was a broken thumb and it was caused by the older "pistol grip" poles.
re: Not So Smooth Hub. HelpSpiderman
Jun 18, 2001 1:31 PM
you could always open it up and check to see wear lines/divots in the cones or cups. While you are at it switch out the bearings and regrease. A bag of fifty bearings are really cheap, just make sure you get the right size. This response may have not been the simple solution you are looking for, but just one that i would explore.
Similar problem, but includes noise...Rick Bell
Jun 20, 2001 3:29 AM
I use a set of 2000 Cosmic Elites on my road bike, and they have never given me a problem, never gone out of true, and have always been fast rolling and smooth. After a rain ride (and coincidentally also after a recent service of the bike including hub overhauls) the front hub makes a click sound. A series of clicks, uneven and repeating on each rotation. It hasn't seemed to lose any smoothness in rotation (little if any), but the noise cannot be a good thing. Another point is that it's the loudest when on the bike (QR tightened), quieter when it's taken off, and almost silent when (get this) the tire and tube are removed. Any guesses? Thanks for your help.
Hub adjustment techniquesCalvin Jones-Park Tool
Jun 20, 2001 12:31 PM
For overhaul procedures, see our tech page at

It is possible to sometimes feel a catch or "dead spot" in the rotation. This can be dirt, a pit in the cup or cone, or a bent or deformed dustcap.

If you have some spacers around that could simulate dropouts, use these to clamp the skewer on each side. Now turn the axle and you will get an idea of how it feels with the skewer closed.

The adjustment procedure at our site uses the bike as an axle vise. Read carefully and notice the images. Basically, you want the bearings as loose a possible, but without any play or knocking.
Do you lurk here often?.....Len J
Jun 20, 2001 1:48 PM
It would be nice to know we had an expert available.