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Growling rear hub -- how long can it hold out?

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Growling rear hub -- how long can it hold out?

09 Nov 2017 09:35

I've got a set of lowish-end wheels that I don't feel like replacing just yet. The rear hub has got about 2mm of play in it and it grumbles and growls in a displeasing way -- though it's only noticeable at low speed. I'd prefer to run the wheels until I buy a completely new bike, rather than upgrade the wheels for this one. Question is, what's the worst that can happen? Can the hub disintegrate in a nasty way? Or will the play just become gradually worse? Low-end Shimano hubs. Thanks in advance for your expertise!
Newly Registered Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 07 Nov 2017 10:29

09 Nov 2017 10:10

Hi and welcome. From the description it's pretty clear that the bearings are failing and need replacing, regular maintenance would have prevented this.

The issues you could experience:

Bearing collapse and you collapse, face first, into the road.

That should really be all you need to know. It seems you're under the impression that once the bearings fail you need to replace the whole wheel. This is not the case, although in this case it might be. Shimano road wheels are still cup and cone I believe, so all you need to do is open it up, get rid of the current bearings, clean the cups and cones, replace with new bearings, apply grease liberally and close it up. After that the wheels will be good for another XXXXkm. Doing this yourself will also teach you how to service the bearings, so in future you can just open the hub up, clean, regrease and you're done, without having to replace the bearings. Maintenance rather repairs.

However, you've let the wheels get to the point where they are in a bad way. It's possible the cups and cones are now pitted and the hub is ruined. If that's the case you can still replace the bearings but they'll wear out much quicker and the play probably won't go away.

Either way, get them serviced or do it yourself and see how they are. Cheap wheels are pretty robust these days and they're great to keep lying around for really wet, horrible training rides when you don't want to ruin you nice wheels.
Vincenzo Nibali:
"I know how to ride a bike"

Reduce your carbon footprint, ride steel.
User avatar King Boonen
Posts: 8,053
Joined: 25 Jul 2012 14:38

Re: Growling rear hub -- how long can it hold out?

12 Nov 2017 04:39

Need to get busy then. Many thanks for the reply.
Newly Registered Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 07 Nov 2017 10:29

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