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Axle is clunky/not spinning smoothly, is this an issue of bearings or cub/cone?
#1
I'm fairly new to bike repair aside from regular maintenance. Lately I've noticed by rear wheel has not been spinning properly--it's a Shimano 105 hub and axle. When I spin it freely on the bike, or when I spin it when the wheel is off, if feels clunky, like the axle is spinning into 'grooves' or 'notches'. I have two videos to show:

On bike: https://imgur.com/a/SQX0I3P

Off bike: https://imgur.com/a/wNWZ4gR

You can see how clunky and non smooth the axle spins.

I have started taking the rear axle/hub apart but not sure I should fiddle with the ball bearings since it's getting into an area I haven't worked on. I want to make sure I am diagnosis properly. Reading online it seems its an issue of either the free hub (which seems to spin and lock fine), the bearings themselves (which I'm not sure is just gritty, what causes this?), or whether the cup/cone needs adjusting. It seem to me it's bearings, since no matter how tight the cup/cone is it's clunky (unless not tight/threaded at all).

I hope someone can advise.

Thanks!
  Reply
#2
(06-28-2020, 07:19 PM)jjef_21 Wrote:  I'm fairly new to bike repair aside from regular maintenance. Lately I've noticed by rear wheel has not been spinning properly--it's a Shimano 105 hub and axle. When I spin it freely on the bike, or when I spin it when the wheel is off, if feels clunky, like the axle is spinning into 'grooves' or 'notches'. I have two videos to show:

On bike: https://imgur.com/a/SQX0I3P

Off bike: https://imgur.com/a/wNWZ4gR

You can see how clunky and non smooth the axle spins.

I have started taking the rear axle/hub apart but not sure I should fiddle with the ball bearings since it's getting into an area I haven't worked on. I want to make sure I am diagnosis properly. Reading online it seems its an issue of either the free hub (which seems to spin and lock fine), the bearings themselves (which I'm not sure is just gritty, what causes this?), or whether the cup/cone needs adjusting. It seem to me it's bearings, since no matter how tight the cup/cone is it's clunky (unless not tight/threaded at all).

I hope someone can advise.

Thanks!

Welcome jeff_21,

Seems to me that the hub is either dirty (grit, debris in bearing assy), cone adjusted too tight (if not sealed bearings), or the bearing itself is bad (whether it has loose bearings/cone/race, or sealed bearings), or a combination. Any of the latter are common, and can be easily repaired except if the race(s) of the hub is shot; then you will have to rebuild the wheel with a new hub. First, dismantle the hub. If it has loose or caged bearings, cone: remove everything and clean them. Inspect cone, race, and bearings for pits, cracks, and/or excessive wear. If there is nothing wrong just repack with grease and re-assemble. adjust the cone(s) to where there is barely any play and tighten up the locknut; the hub usually tightens up a little bit more once the wheel is mounted and tight on the frame, so check the wheel again for any play (should be gone) or rough spinning due to over tightening the cones (re-adjust as required). It should spin cleanly without any "rough feeling; this is best checked with the wheel in your hands since it is much easier to discern a rough or overtightened bearing by holding the axle and spinning it. I would replace the ball bearings even if they "looked" good; cheap parts that sometimes are hard to see the imperfections on. Cones are fairly cheap also, so not a bad idea to replace those also while the hub is apart. If the bearings are a sealed style, then the whole bearing needs replacement; still fairly inexpensive, but you may have to order them since a bike shop might not have your specific size. The most common bearing to go bad in the rear hub is usually the left since it is more exposed to water and dirt than the drive side bearing. The only tools you'll need to complete the work are a pair of cone wrenches (usually 13mm to 15, possibly a 16mm or 17mm for locknut), and a punch or drift for sealed bearings. This is an easy repair/maintenance procedure, and I recommend doing the same work on the front hub since both hubs will have the same amount of miles on them (unless one had been replaced prior). Be careful not to loose the loose ball bearings (usually 10 per side front, 9 per side rear) if they are to be re-used! If you can't get sealed bearings immediately to replace the bad one(s), you may be able to carefully pry out the seals and either clean the bearing in a solvent bath and follow the next advice, and/or squeeze fresh grease through one side of the bearing to hopefully expel the old grease and any contaminants. I have done this many times before, and have on occasion actually rejuvenated the bearing by cleaning out the contaminants and riding that bearing for many more miles until it went completely bad, or I received the new sealed bearings. With proper tools it only takes about 15-30 minutes to do a hub. You can watch the "Repairs" tutorial on this site that might give you a better idea, but I have found some to be incomplete, not updated, or give proper information (Chain cleaning more than any!)

Take care,
Jesper
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#3
(06-28-2020, 07:19 PM)jjef_21 Wrote:  I'm fairly new to bike repair aside from regular maintenance. Lately I've noticed by rear wheel has not been spinning properly--it's a Shimano 105 hub and axle. When I spin it freely on the bike, or when I spin it when the wheel is off, if feels clunky, like the axle is spinning into 'grooves' or 'notches'. I have two videos to show:

On bike: https://imgur.com/a/SQX0I3P

Off bike: https://imgur.com/a/wNWZ4gR

You can see how clunky and non smooth the axle spins.

I have started taking the rear axle/hub apart but not sure I should fiddle with the ball bearings since it's getting into an area I haven't worked on. I want to make sure I am diagnosis properly. Reading online it seems its an issue of either the free hub (which seems to spin and lock fine), the bearings themselves (which I'm not sure is just gritty, what causes this?), or whether the cup/cone needs adjusting. It seem to me it's bearings, since no matter how tight the cup/cone is it's clunky (unless not tight/threaded at all).

I hope someone can advise.

Thanks!

From your second video it sounds very much like the cones on the spindle are pitted with wear, and possibly the hub is damaged / cracked. It sounds like it's been running rough for a while and also dry. 105 hubs should feel silky smooth. If it's the cup and cone type of hub you would probably need to replace the spindle, and bearings. In order to inspect the hub properly you need to remove the cassette. A bike shop will remove it for you if you don't have the cassette removal tool. Once you've got that off you need to dismantle the hub from the adjuster side (leaving the freehub body on). Clean and inspect the cones and cup for pitting and cracks respectively and replace as necessary with identical parts (profile on the cones must be the same) and new bearings and high quality grease. If the cup is cracked you'll need to place the whole wheel or get a new hub built onto the existing rim. If you're not sure I would let the bike shop do the job for you.
If you don't think every day is a good day, just try missing one!
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