Replacing and Greasing the Bike's Wheel Bearings

Replacing and Greasing the Bike’s Wheel Bearings

The wheel bearings are small steel balls that are held together by a metal ring. Like cars and most vehicles that have wheels, bikes also have wheel bearings. These steel balls help your bike spin fast, particularly the wheels with little friction as possible. The wheel bearings of a bike are enclosed in the wheel hub. Though they are not visible, they can wear out of frequent use over time.

When the time comes that the ride become loose and you can see the wheel rocking side to side on its axle, you have to replace the wheel bearings. If you want to know how to replace wheel bearings, below is the step by step instruction you should follow.

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How to Replace Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings do not wear immediately. They usually give you a long time before you need to replace them.

Although a professional can get this job done in an instant, there is nothing more beneficial than learning a new skill and saving money. With the right tools, you can surely do it like a pro. So below are the steps on how to replace wheel bearings as a beginner.

Tools and materials you will need:

  • 17 mm wrench
  • Cassette removal tools
  • 15 mm wrench
  • 13 mm cone wrench
  • 15 mm cone wrench
  • Rags
  • 20 ball bearings, 3/16 inch
  • 18 ball bearings, 1/4 inch
  • Bicycle or automotive wheel bearing grease

Procedure:

Step 1 – Remove the wheel from the bike frame. Use a 17mm wrench to undo the clamping nuts. You should also release the brakes.

Step 2 – Take the cassette of freewheel off so you can change the wheel bearings more conveniently.

Step 3 – Using two wrenches, undo the locknut and remove the washers, spacers, and dust caps from the axle. One wrench should hold the base while the other unscrews the upper part. For the rear wheels, remove the locknut of the hub opposite the cassette. Take note of the position of each part you remove and secure them in one place. You are going to need them all for reassembling later.

Step 4 – Using the correct size of the wrench, remove the cone from the axle. Position the wheel upright so you can pull the axle out from the opposite side. Be careful with the ball bearings falling out.

Step 5 – Place the wheel bearings on a rag. You should count how many are there on both sides of the hub. Wipe them clean with the rag and inspect each for scratches. You should remove from the group any damaged bearings. Most bikes have front wheels with ten 3/16-inch bearings on each side of the hub. On the other hand, rear wheels have nine 1/4-inch bearings on each side.

Step 6 – Lay the wheel flat again. Clean or wipe the metal ring or cups that held the ball bearings. Coat them with new grease just enough to stick the new bearings firmly in place.

Step 7 – Gently put the correct number of wheel bearings in the designated cup. If the bearings fall out when you flip the wheel, add more grease. Do this on both sides.

Step 8 – Secure the axle back into the hub by holding the wheel again upright.

Step 9 – Return the cone onto the axle, making sure that it does not make contact with the bearings. If it does, rotate the axle. Push it back and forth. This process might take a while, but that is normal to ensure that you set the correct tightness.

Step 10 – Put back the spacers, washer, and locknut in the correct order. Follow the notes you have written if necessary.

Step 11 – Refit the cassette and place the quick release skewer to the bike. Do a few tests like pedaling the wheels to make sure the feel of riding is smoother this time.

Greasing the Wheel Bearings

Like any vehicles and home appliances, maintenance is always advisable so you can use bikes efficiently and for a long period of time. Not only should you know how to replace wheel bearings but also how to maintain it.

If the bike chains need lubricating and cleaning, the wheel bearings also need cleaning and greasing. The process for greasing the bearings is the same as above. The only difference is that you don’t have to buy new steel bearings. If you grease the wheel bearings regularly, it is easier to find out when you should replace them.

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