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My wife just bought me a used Electra Townie with aluminum frame and wheels. The previous owner claimed it had been serviced in the past year. Checking the bearings, I can tell it was a poor job of lubrication, probably done by the seller using who knows what for lube. What lube(s) are proper for the various bearings, etc on this bike?

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Thanks for the info. I've dealt with my old $80 'mountain bike' but not a bike like this one, and wasn't sure what would be correct. Also, what grease is in the bearings is near black and seems dirty to me. So a complete flush and new grease is in order. Also have a question on the seat. I've done the simple stand on ground and raise the seat to fit under my bum, no proble. The problem I've noticed from just a couple hours' riding is the front of the seat seems is putting a LOT of pressure under my 'private area'. I have tried tilting the seat forward, but I haven't been able to get what would –  user2318 Sep 5 '11 at 14:12
    
If you're saying that the seat is adjusted such that you can touch the ground while seated, that's far too low. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 6 '11 at 1:25
    
Actually, on the Electra site, they say that you should adjust your seat height while standing even flat footed. It's the system of their Pedal Forward design. It is a bit different than my old mountain bike setup, and a lot better riding position. No more pressure on the shoulders. There is more wind resistance from my upright body, but it is more than made up for with the easier pedalling and decreased pressure on my once-injured left knee. Thanks to all on the lubrication of bearings. Your help is appreciated. That job is done. Bill –  user2328 Sep 6 '11 at 14:31
    
I see -- it's essentially a semi-recumbent design. But the standard seat (from the pictures I can see) doesn't appear to offer much resistance to "back sliding", which could have several consequences. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 6 '11 at 17:39
    
@Daniel - This is true with most bikes, but many cruisers are designed to you can put your foot flat on the ground while seated, so this is normal. Electra calls this "flat-foot technology". –  Neil Fein Sep 9 '11 at 22:22
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4 Answers

I do not want to go into brand recommendations, but any general bike grease should be fine. I have good experience with Motorex Bike Grease 2000 (here goes brand recommendations), but really, this is not rocket science and you cannot do anything really wrong. Just clean it, put enough grease there and you are good to go.

I suspect that the grease used before was too old and had started degrading.

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You don't say wether this bike came equipped with an internally-geared hub. If you have an 8-speed IGH then you should get a tube of Shimano's white grease they make specifically for this hub. There's also a lubricating bath they sell that you would use to flush and lube the guts.

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Any standard bike bearing grease will be fine. There are several premium brands such as Phil Wood, but whatever the LBS has on their rack should be as good in 99% of the cases. More important is removing any traces of dirt, which generally means washing the bearing pieces in solvent.

As stated, properly tightened bearings will feel ever so slightly "gritty" when you turn the axle by hand.

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Cup and cone bearings on a bicycle need 'preload' for them to work properly under load. This is because the balls are tiny spheres of metal that deform under your weight. Hence the bearings must be tightened up slightly beyond feeling smooth when unloaded. Due to quality of parts, i.e. not perfect, a pre-loaded bearing feels 'rough' and requires effort to spin it. There are proper ways of applying the correct pre-load, e.g. with the use of a torque meter, however, 'feel' is a good way to do it. To understand that 'feel', go into a bike shop and try to turn the spindles on the new wheels that are for sale. With rare exceptions all of them will feel rough - this is preload. Now see how your own spindles/axles feel when you turn them without load, chances are that they feel pretty much the same.

If you have rough bearings then you might think the grease is missing. Chances are that it is just the preload and not a grease problem at all. If you are going to dive in there anyway, do get a handle on the preload concept. As for your question on grease, a little grease goes a long way and you don't want it contaminated. The white lithium grease in a tube from your local bike shop will do fine. Yes you can buy posh coloured 'marine' grease but preload is what matters most with bearing setup.

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