While inspecting a used road bike ($200) I pulled the rear wheel off to check the hub. I twisted the axle to see if there was any damage.

It wasn't at all difficult to turn it, but there was a bit of "indexing" feel as though the hub was adjusted a little too tight.

The guy told me that bike had been ridden for a long time (at least 5k miles) without having any maintenance done on the hubs.

If the hub was overtightened originally it's impressive that it lasted this long.

If I take the hub apart, can I expect to find damage on the races? (more importantly the cups)


I got the guy to let me take the hub apart. The cones have some damage. The cups have damage too, but it's so, so slight that I didn't find it on the first round of inspection. It just so happened that I had time to look at it again, and noticed tiny pits, barely visible (I have better than 20/20 vision).

I think I'm still going to buy the bike, considering that the hub body must be made of good stuff to stand up as well as it did to the non-maintenence it received. I'll probably have to change the hub in another year or so. I think it's worth it.

  • 1
    Why not just take the hub apart. Even if it is fine it has not had maintenance for a log time so it needs service.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 18:18
  • 2
    I will take the hub apart and service it, no doubt. But if it has cup damage I don't want to buy the bike in the first place.
    – BSO rider
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


If the cones were too tight, the hub would have died a long time ago. Based on what you're describing, the grease is definitely contaminated and most likely the cones are pitted to some degree. Cups tend to be more durable than cones, but there's no guarantee that they won't be pitted too. You'll find out for sure when you disassemble it.

A proper overhaul would include new cones if the old ones are pitted, new ball bearings and fresh grease. Pitted cups would probably mean it's time for a new hub.


Thou it almost unnoticeable, it exists. It mean, the wheel will last for some (decades) thousands of kilometers until it get very bad. Than you will need a new wheel. If it worth it, take it.

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