I have a limited budget, and I've never bought a new bicycle before.

However, I just bought a 24" Giant XTC from a very bicycle-inept person who's kid had only used it a couple of months.

Anyway, I checked the hubs (which were essentially new), and they were both significantly overtightened, with heavy though "uniform" indexing. Having my cone wrenches with me, I adjusted them, and they spun very nicely. I figured there wasn't damage, so I bought the bike.

Point is, it seems like the hubs were originally tuned in that over-tight fashion.

Is this normal?


I took the hubs apart. It all looked great inside except for the embarrassing fact that one side of the rear hub had only six balls instead of nine. Ouch, Giant.

  • 1
    I just got a similar bike for my son (24", 5 months old, new condition) - most rear wheel spokes were very loose, so would have been that way ex shop. Things like this are too common which is why I now do most of my own bike mechanics.
    – mattnz
    Jan 6, 2015 at 1:44
  • It seems plausible that the "kid" decided to work on the bike himself, and is responsible for what you're finding, or perhaps the seller himself did. The seller it may have been feigning ineptness to avoid discussing this. Jan 6, 2015 at 20:32
  • I don't think he was feigning ineptness. The loose ball bottom bracket was slightly loose, the derailleurs were poorly adjusted, and both tires were at around 10-15 psi.
    – BSO rider
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:08
  • But the loose BB sounds even more like someone was dorking with it. Jan 7, 2015 at 21:50
  • But why would your dork with a BB if it wasn't loose, and if you'd just recently bought the bike?
    – BSO rider
    Jan 8, 2015 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


I wouldn't imagine it is normal for them to be over-tightened - what would be the point? However, its generally advised after buying a machine built bike / wheels to check that spokes / hubs haven't loosening after a breaking in period. This in in comparison with a hand built bike.

  • If one side of the hub only had 6/9 BBs, maybe it was overtightened to try and prevent the inevitable looseness/rattle.
    – Holloway
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:45
  • that just sounds like 'defectiveness by design', poor design, poor build quality. no bicycle wheel bicycles should be overtightened for any reason. Jan 7, 2015 at 15:48

BSOs (bicycle shaped objects) sold by department stores and discount bike retailers are often very poorly manufactured and assembled (both originally at the factory and then final assembly at the store). Missing bearings, overtightened cones, loose brakes, loose steering stems, loose pedals, loose quick releases, missing safety equipment, etc. are all par for the course. It's always safest to have your local (real) bike shop give a BSO or bike of unknown provenance the one over.

  • The components most likely to be misassembled are the ones installed in the store -- the pedals, possibly some reflectors, the handlebar, etc. One wouldn't expect the factory to seriously misassemble a hub (though I'm sure it can happen), and the doofus in the store should never touch those. Jan 7, 2015 at 12:44
  • 1
    The factory in China most likely misassembled the hub. You can't hope to sell a BSO for $99.95 if you have any semblance of quality control. This is amplified by doofus store clerks.
    – RoboKaren
    Jan 7, 2015 at 12:54
  • Well, the Chinese factory is going to "calibrate" quality, since returns are expensive (and can actually cause the factory to lose their contract). But you're right that with the real cheapies they can count on the in-store doofus and the purchaser not being bright enough to notice the problem, most of the time. Jan 7, 2015 at 13:02
  • I didn't know that Giant played the department store game. The bike was made in China however.
    – BSO rider
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:18
  • 2
    @RoboKaren, I'm not sure I'd class a Giant XTC as a BSO
    – Holloway
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:43

I worked in a bike shop around 1990 assembling new bikes. Adjusting the hubs was one of the steps we did. They were typically too tight from the factory. I never heard of missing balls, but I didn't look inside the hubs. It sounds like someone didn't do their job at the original shop and at wherever the hubs were made. We sold a lot of Giants, they were pretty new in the country then. We would always peel off the little Made in Taiwan sticker off the headtube.

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