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With the chain detached, when I spin my rear wheel it slows down really quickly (2 turns?) as if the brakes are lightly on. The brakes are well clear of the wheel though. Any idea what it might be? The bike is about 2 years old and I have not done any maintenance to the bearings, so I'm wondering if that might be it. But I have no idea if those are really the symptoms.

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Bad bearings. Or the bearing cups are too tight. If there's a quick release, release it and see if the friction is still there. If not then the bearing cups are a hair too tight. Otherwise hard to say. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 26 '13 at 18:06
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Also check for something stupid like a piece of kite string around the axle. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 26 '13 at 18:06
    
Thank you all for your replies. I'm going to take the plunge and try looking at the bearings then. It will take me a short while to get everything together to analyse and then fix the problem. Will report back when I've done so. –  WestHamster Jun 27 '13 at 10:52
    
@WestHamster Could be brakes are out of tuning! Wheels may need to trued too. Also, your wheel positioning or bearing needs to be checked too. You should do a proper check every year (recommended) for your wheels, brakes, and gears to make sure it is in an appropriate condition. –  hagubear Jun 27 '13 at 11:40
    
Fixed it. Bearings too tight. Thank you all. –  WestHamster Jun 30 '13 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Possible options could be

  • Damaged bearings
  • Bearing closed too tight
  • Bent axle
  • Spoke that touches the axle (I had it once when I put a straightened j spoke instead a straight pull one).
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Sorted it. I was opening the hub to have a look at the bearings and I noticed that I could barely turn the axle. The bearings were closed too tightly. I loosened them and 'Hey Presto': a lovely free turning axle. I recently replaced the rim on this wheel and I must have done this inadvertently when I re-spoked the wheel. Thanks for all the suggestions. –  WestHamster Jun 30 '13 at 15:27

I've had a similar thing happen on an old fixie of mine. It ended up being that the rear axle was every so slightly bent, and that was causing huge amounts of friction. You can try oiling up the bearings. If that fixes the problem, terrific; if not, then you might need to take the rear hub to get looked at more thoroughly. Good luck.

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