Rolling smooth? It’s only when things are not smooth that we seem to notice as it affects the quality of your ride. Most of this smoothness comes from the mechanics of bearings which allow things to rotate in a controlled and fluid manner. Wheel bearings are some of the many bearings found on a bicycle, and also some of the most important.
In most cases your wheels will have cartridge bearings unless you have Shimano wheels that use loose ball bearings and races. A cartridge bearing is a self-contained unit, think roller skate or skateboard bearing. The balls are contained in an inner and outer race then pressed into your wheel. If you do a regular check on how easily your axles on you wheels turn you may find your bearings feel gritty or not so smooth. This is natural wear and can be accelerated by riding in wet conditions and not servicing you gear regularly enough. Depending on when you find this wear, you can either regrease the bearings or have to replace the whole cartridge. From this point I’m going to be referring to cartridge bearings, knowing I had a seemingly dodgy bearing in my rear zipp wheel (it felt rough) I set about to find it and make it better.
Not having a new bearing on hand, all I could hope for was to evaluate what I had there, possibly remove the seals and clean it out and pack in some fresh grease to make it better.
BEFORE: Below shows when the seals are removed and bearing without grease, (turn on the sound) As you can hear, the bearing sounds incredibly bad and rough, Note that some of this is due to the lack of grease and some due to wear of the bearings.
AFTER. I carefully removed the silicone seal using a knife edge (you can see exposed bearings in the first video), taking care not to puncture the seal, I then cleaned the bearings out by flushing them with Clean Streak (a degreasing and cleaning solution) and I packed with fresh Shimano Special Grease made in Germany and replaced the seal. Video below. Still, a bad bearing but bearable for now and will get me through a few weeks of riding while new ones are on order,
A quick reassembly of the bike hub and my wheel feels pretty good, it’s not perfect but has a lot less play, feels much better and rolls.
BELOW: After seals removed, bearings are cleaned and repacked with as much Shimano Premium Grease that I can get thin there. IMHO some of the best grease to use in situations like this.
Drop me a note in the comments and I will answer any questions I can on servicing hubs.