As part of a new build I'm working on, I just had some wheels built up. The hubs are large flanged Miche Primatos with a double-sided fixed wheel.

The rear wheel, straight out the box, seemed weirdly stiff — to the extent that I could barely move it at all, let alone for it to spin freely — so I gave the workshop a call for advice. They suggested the lock nuts were probably just overtightened, and that backing them off a bit would sort it out.

The Miche hubs have sealed bearings, and each side is held in place by both an outer and an inner lock nut. I tried to loosen the outer nuts a bit, but they wouldn't budge. I had to put in all my effort, wrenching in reverse directions on either side of the hub, to get them to loosen even a little, and it would only be in a quick, jerky motion, not smoothly unscrewing. Rather than gradually getting easier as I backed the nut down the axle's thread, it was still just as stiff as when I started. I'd managed to loosen the outer nut by a few millimetres, as shown below, but it was still really stiff (not the hub, but rather the nut on the axle). The force required was such that I quit until seeking further advice; I don't want to do something silly like strip the threads on my axle.

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Also, you'll notice in the image that the outer nut is still tight against the inner nut and dust cap. These are three separate pieces, that should have to be removed individually. But here it is as though they've been forged out of the same piece of metal. I cannot loosen the outer nut without the inner one coming with it.

If anyone could help diagnose what's going on here, I'd really appreciate the help. Is it at all possible that the hub is in some way fault? Could the axle have damaged threads?

  • You should be able to hold the inner nut with a wrench and undo the outer nut against that. If not, try some WD-40 or similar penetrating oil.
    – arne
    Dec 11, 2013 at 9:30
  • 4
    Uh, you appear to be "loosening" both nuts together, and, as you found, they do not get any looser. You need a "cone wrench" to hold the cone nut from turning while you loosen the locknut. If you don't want to buy cone wrenches (not terribly expensive) then take it to a bike shop and they'll have the nut loose in about 15 seconds. Dec 11, 2013 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


Those counterlocked axle nuts are binding together more tightly than the threads are on each individual nut, and thus staying counterlocked against one another. Usually this isn't the case and when you put a wrench on the outside nut on either side of the hub, one of the outer nuts will break free. As you're seeing now, not always the case.

You need a box wrench and a cone wrench (or two cone wrenches) to break the inside and outside axle nuts on one side free from each other. Then get the bearings properly preloaded and counterlock them again. This process can be tricky as the preload on the bearings will change as you counterlock the two nuts back together. It usually takes a few tries to get the preload set right and the nuts counterlocked firmly. Too tight? back them both off 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn and try again. Too loose? Do just the opposite.

  • Thanks for your response. I shall have to try this when I get home. Seems it may require some patience... Dec 11, 2013 at 23:59
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    @AmatiaLily -- Bike repairs always require a bit of patience, but with the right tools getting the nut loose is literally a 10-15 second job. If it takes much longer you're not doing it right. Dec 12, 2013 at 4:03
  • @DanielRHicks getting it loose isn't (shouldn't be) the issue, it's getting/keeping the preload correct when tightening the nuts that can be a little tricky depending on the hub.
    – joelmdev
    Dec 12, 2013 at 4:12
  • @joelmdev - Of course, with the nut where it is all preload should be removed from the bearings and the wheel should spin freely. If not then the problem is not preload. Dec 12, 2013 at 4:14

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