How To Adjust Cup & Cone Wheel Bearings On Your Bike – Maintenance Monday

How To Adjust Cup & Cone Wheel Bearings On Your Bike – Maintenance Monday


– Cup and cone bearings. Believe it or not, they’re
not actually a thing of old, because there are a lot of
high-end wheel sets and hubs that still come fitted
with that type of bearing. Now their competitor,
the cartridge bearing, once they wear out, you
just simply remove them and fit them using a specialist tool. However, the cup and cone bearing, that can be adjusted nice and easily, using some pretty basic tools, in fact. So today we’re going to adjust one of my old wheels I had kicking around. (laid back electronic music) How does a cup and cone hub work then? Well, you’ve got here, this is a cone, which threads onto the axle of the hub. Now as you can see on the
inside here of the cone, you’ve got some really
polished hardened surfaces. Now when you thread that onto the axle, it actually meets up
against the ball bearings that are inside of the hub shell. And then inside of the hub
shell, you have a race. Now, the race is kind of
a reverse of the cone. So it’s a very similar surface on the inside of the hub shell that the balls are sandwiched in between. So those ball bearings
are rotating around them. Now, the amount of pressure or tension that you tighten the cone onto the axle determines how smooth or how
badly that wheel is gonna run. So this is where we’re now gonna tackle that adjustment of the cones. So in order to adjust and remove play from the cones on the hub, we’re gonna need a couple of tools. First up, one of these,
which is a cone spanner. They do come in different sizes, depending on the size of the actual flat on your cone that you’re gonna adjust. And then also an adjustable
spanner or a spanner like this to actually tighten the
lock nut against the cone to actually finalize that adjustment. Then also another bit of kit
which I really do recommend, but I do appreciate that not
everybody out there has a vise, is an axle vise which slots on top or inside of your current vise setup. The purpose behind it is that it holds the axle nice and tight, as well as not allowing the
wheel to move around at all, therefore allowing you to
really adjust those cones perfectly to get them
nice and smooth again. So let’s tackle this old wheel then, that I’ve had kicking around for ages and loaned to someone, and it returned in, well, in not very good condition. So as you can see, the actual axle here has become a little bit loose. I have been told that they didn’t ride it once this happened, and
they’ve left it tucked away in their shed before giving it back to me. So the best way of checking this without removing a wheel from a bike is with the quick release skewer or the nuts of the wheel
done up nice and tight, try and actually move the wheel around. If there’s any knocking at all, it means you are going to
need to adjust those cones. Don’t confuse any movement
in the rim with wheel flex, because nearly every wheel out there, you are gonna be able to move slightly. It’s when it’s knocking or
tapping or any real stiff or looseness down here
at the actual hub itself. Now, if you do have any knocking or play, that kind of thing, don’t
ride any more for the moment, because in doing so, you could, in fact, damage the hub shell, and in turn render the parts
totally and utterly useless. Because the bearings can essentially start pitting against the cones, and therefore damaging the hub
shell, the cones, and well, leaving you out of pocket
and having to buy a new hub. So today we’re gonna just
remove a little bit of play. Now at this point, it
doesn’t really matter which side you’re gonna tackle first, providing, of course, you’ve got the same amount of axle showing on either side. If you have a lot more axle showing on one side than the other, then you’re gonna need
to attack, or sorry, adjust that side first, the
side with less axle showing. Because ideally you want to have the same number of threads
showing on either side. Therefore the wheel is gonna remain equal distance from either
side of your chain stays or your fork blades when it’s installed. So in this case, they
are pretty much spot-on. I can see that this side
has slightly fewer threads, or possibly half a thread
less than on that side. So I’m actually just
gonna wind in these cones. So I’m gonna put it into the axle vise. Now I’ve got the wheel
inside of the axle vise. It is gonna make this job a lot easier. When I was a lot younger,
it was pretty difficult to actually do it without
one of these vises, because you would try
and rest it on your knees or in between your legs and
try and do the spanners, and ultimately, things
just wouldn’t really work. So if you can buy one, do. I can’t recommend them enough. Let’s crack on then with the actual nitty gritty of adjustment. As you can see, the cone
spanner, it is really flat. And the reason being is because the flats of the actual cone are
so, so narrow indeed. So you can’t use a traditional
spanner to get in there. So I’m gonna put it in there
and just hold that in place. And then with your standard
spanner or adjustable wrench, just put it over the lock nut. And at this point you kind of want to hold the cone spanner in place, and then work the other spanner in an anti-clockwise direction. You’re just freeing that up, because they have
previously been tightened to ward one another to hold them in place. Once you’ve done that, you are able to really assess how much
movement there is in there, and essentially take up any
slack with the cone spanner. So we’re just gonna turn
that a small amount. And normally you can just pick up the hub and feel any movement there. So it does require a little bit more. At this point, it’s almost a game of little bit tighter, little
bit looser, tighter, looser, until you find that ultimate balance in no friction or a
little friction, rather. The wheel’s spinning nice and smoothly. There’s no gritty feeling. If you like, hold onto
the axle, just, and feel, ’cause your hands can really
sense vibrations very well. And once you’ve found that sweet spot, you’re gonna want to hold that cone in place really, really precisely. Just tighten up that lock nut by hand. And then do the finishing touch. At this point, you really don’t want that cone spanner to move, because if it does, all that hard work of adjustment you’ve just done
is gonna go out the window. We don’t want that. Now, I do appreciate if this is the first time you’ve ever tackled it, it can take quite awhile to
get it absolutely spot-on, because those cones, they do require just tiny little bits of
movement to get them spot-on. However, if you do want to
prolong the life of your hub, it’s certainly worth
investing the time in that. Now for instance, if you were
gonna tackle your rear wheel and it was the locking nut
and cone on the drive side that was the problematic area, you are likely to need to remove either the free wheel or cassette to be able to work on
those components correctly. So just bear that in mind. Now, in the coming weeks I
do hope to actually be able to show you a full rebuild and
regrease of one of these hubs on a little project
that I’ve got going on. So do stay tuned for that. And as ever, give this video
a like, a share, a thumbs up. Share it with a mate of yours who’s rolling on some of
these cup and cone bearings. Don’t forget too, to
check out the GCN shop at shop.globalcyclingnetwork.com, where we have a whole heap of goodies, including, get this, a GCN pizza cutter. How cool is that? And now for another great video, how about clicking just down here?