How to service the hubs on your bike

2022-12-30
How to service the hubs on your bike
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Adjusting and maintaining the bicycle hub is a relatively simple operation. Cleaning and checking it regularly is essential to ensure the proper functioning of the wheels. Both in terms of its position and its importance, the hub is the central component of both wheels. This cylindrical part contains two essential elements for rotation: the bearings and the axle. The hub also includes the brake disc and is connected to the rim through the spokes. Learning how to maintain it will save you a lot of issues. We explain how to do it.

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Tips for adjusting, maintaining and cleaning the hub of your bicycle.

Most bicycle hubs are manufactured from aluminum. Some components, such as pawls and nuts, are made of steel. There are different types of hubs depending on their shape, axle width and dimensions. The advice we are going to give you applies to almost all of them, both for the front and the rear wheel. For this reason, we do not want to go into details regarding the classification of hubs. We will limit ourselves to reminding you of the three main types according to their axle class:

  • Hub with quick-release axle: It is the most conventional. It consists of a rod that crosses the entire hub. It is screwed and fixed by means of a lever at the end.
  • Bushing with through axle: It is also known as a screw bushing. The axle is assembled on one side, runs through the inside of the hub and is screwed into the other end.
  • Boost hub: This is the most common on MTBs because of its greater stiffness and strength.

Bearings can be sealed or adjustable ball and cone bearings. Sealed bearing bushings do not require maintenance, only replacement when worn. On the other hand, cone and ball bushings do require regular maintenance. We are going to take care of them. Let’s get down to work.

How often should you maintain and clean your bicycle hub?

Cleaning the hub of your bike often, even superficially, will save you work when the time comes for more in-depth maintenance. Obviously, the frequency and intensity of your cycling will affect the condition of your hubs. The weather in your area or the terrain you ride on also influences the amount of dirt accumulated. Depending on these factors, we recommend that you carry out this operation between one and three times a year.

What tools do you need for bicycle hub maintenance?

The first thing you should do is prepare the necessary tools. In the following list, we have included the ones you should have on hand at all times:

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Bicycle hub maintenance in 10 steps

If you pay attention to the following steps and follow them as instructed, you will have your bike’s hubs ready to ride for many miles.

1. Disassemble the cassette

We start with the rear hub. Remove the cassette and disc with the help of the chain wrench and the sprocket puller.

Disassemble the cassette

2. Loosen the lock nut

Remove the dust cap on the left side of the wheel and loosen the outer locknut with a cone wrench of the appropriate size. The most common sizes are 15 and 17 millimeters.

Loosen the lock nut

3. Remove the inner axle

Once you have removed the nut and locknut on the left side, remove the axle from the inside of the hub.

4. Remove the bearing balls

Using a screwdriver, carefully pry the balls out of the bearing and count them. This step is delicate. If due attention is not paid, it is easy to lose some of the balls.

Remove the bearing balls

5. Clean each part

At this point, you have all the components in front of you: the cones, the cylindrical body of the hub, the balls, the central shaft and the dust cap. Carefully wipe each of these parts with a cloth.

Clean each part

6. Grease the hub

Grease the hub body and put the bearing balls back in place. Check first if they are in good condition. If not, you should replace them with new ones.

Grease the hub

7. Insert the center shaft

Once all the bearing balls are in place on both sides, you can reinsert the center shaft from the right side. On the left side, screw on the cone, nut and lock nut.

Insert the center shaft

8. Adjust the center shaft

Adjust the center shaft with the 15 millimeter socket wrench. Try to do it in a balanced way. If you tighten it too much, the wheel will not turn properly. If you leave it too loose, it will not provide adequate stability.

9. Replace the locknut

Replace the outer locknut with the cone wrench.

10. Check that everything is correct

Finally, check that all the components you have just adjusted are in place. It is especially important that the cones do not move.

These ten steps for bicycle hub maintenance apply to both wheels. Obviously, the front one is simpler, since it has no cassette. If you perform this operation regularly, your bike’s wheels will always turn smoothly and with maximum efficiency.

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