Replacing Wheel Bearings
original article by Richard Martens on 7 August, 2008
There comes a time in every rider’s life when they decide to either fix a bike on their own, or choose to modify their bike. While the professionals will tell you that you are always best off using them for these problems, both our wallets and our curiosity often propel us forward in search of greater understanding of the mechanical universe. In an effort to help you do it yourself several articles will be focused on various mechanical aspects of mountain biking.
What you will need for the following repair/modification
- Correctly sized wrenches.
- Bearing grease (this should be available at any bike store)
- Wheel bearings (most should come pre-assembled in the brace)
Using the correct size wrench remove the wheel from the frame. For front wheels this will be simple, for some rear wheel set ups you may need to remove the derailleur and brake system before removing the wheel.
Using the correct sized wrench remove the retaining nut that is against the outside of the wheel well (where the axle goes through). At this point some bikes may require a flat head screw driver to remove the wheel well plate, while others will simply pull out. If necessary repeat this process on the other side. You know you have done it correctly when the axle of the wheel is completely removed.
Remove the wheel bearing brace. This will be a small circular piece of metal with several ball bearings spaced apart. Also you should find at least some grease to help reduce friction during movement.
After removing the replacement bearings from their package set them on a cardboard box or similar surface you do not mind getting dirty. Then open the wheel grease and scoop out a liberal amount with one hand. Next grab the replacement bearing with you clean hand and begin rubbing the grease into the bearing.
Continue rubbing wheel grease into the bearing for several minutes scooping out more grease as needed. You want to make sure that as much of each ball is coated in grease so that they will function correctly. Repeat this process for the other bearing.
After wiping your hands clean of grease replace the bearings into the wheel well. Most wheels should have groves that they align with, if they don’t, put them in there as well as you can.
Replace the axel assembly and tighten all nuts as needed. Make sure to not over tighten these nuts as doing so could cause problems down the road.
Remount wheel as specified by your particular bike manufacturer.
Take your bike for a ride, listen for any grinding sounds. Also you will want to make sure that your pedaling is as smooth or smoother as it was previously. If you hear either grinding or the pedaling is not smooth repeat the process and apply more wheel grease as it is very likely you did not coat the bearings well enough.
Enjoy the ride.
- copied from MTO Bikes' website - used with permission