I've just fixed my flat tire on the front wheel and now I found out that if I try to push the wheel to the sides it kind of moves a little. it feels like it's not secured to the hub. How do I fix that?

I tried to remove the wheel from the fork and to tighten a little the bolts from the sides of the hub - but it made the wheel to spin awfully!

  • You tightened cones (bolts from the sides of the hub) too much. Wheel should turn freely but there should be no clearance. Your original problem was caused probably by not tightening the nut, that mount wheel to the fork.
    – krzyski
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 10:57
  • @krzyski actually I tightened the nut that mounts the wheel to the fork. furthermore, I tried to remove the wheel and hold it with my hands and try to push the wheel to the sides (on the axle of the hub) and it moved a little. as I know it shouldn't move...
    – Ami Gold
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 11:05
  • if the axle move in perpendicularly to the wheel and the wheel spins badly I would say there is need for bearings inspection.
    – krzyski
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 11:09
  • @krzyski no, the wheel spins fine! the problem is that the wheel moves horizontally while it shouldn't..
    – Ami Gold
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 11:45
  • So I guess you should tighten cones, but your first try was unsuccessfull. With cone mounted, there should be still little clearance. Then you put counter nut and tighten as far as you feel no clearance. In my opinion, if this is not some "high performance" bike it's not bad to leave some very small clearance at that point. Then you mount wheel in the fork and tighten nuts, keeping cone counter nut to preserve further hub tightening.
    – krzyski
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Your basic bicycle hub is simple yet complex: enter image description here

At each end there are bearings, either loose balls or a set of balls in a "cage". They fit into the "cup" recess in the end of the hub body, then the "cone" is screwed onto the axle shaft to hold everything together. A "lock nut" tightens against the cone to keep things from working apart. (Note that this lock nut is different from the nut used to secure the axle to the frame.)

Adjusting an axle involves screwing one of the cones in or out as needed to achieve smooth motion with neither looseness nor a sort of drag and rough feeling (when the axle is spun by hand). Then the lock nut must be tightened against the cone.

In order to do this adjustment one needs a "cone wrench", an inexpensive, non-adjustable open-end wrench that is very thin. These are available online or from any bike shop that sells tools. (Alas, there are several sizes, and you need to find the right size for your axle.) The cone wrench must be used to hold the cone while the lock nut is tightened against it.

This adjustment is apt to take 3-4 tries to get it right the first time -- the cone must be very slightly loose before the lock nut is tightened, as doing so pushes the cone in slightly.


I would suggest you tighten the inner nuts but not too much, as it would kinda block the wheel. You need to try and find the perfect spot for the nuts by trial and error(the wheel no moving at all horizontally). I had this problem once and all I did was put the wheel on the frame when it's upside down and spin it while I tightened the inner nuts of the axle. Then I would check if the wheel would still be moving horizontally. If in any case you overtightened the inner nuts on the axle and the wheel won't move try untightening them. These nuts have a tendency to untighten themselves so if you see the wheel moving again it the future don't worry, it's normal, just repeat the process I told you.

  • 2
    Having your bearing cones move is not normal and should be fixed by setting the cone right then holding it still with a cone spanner while tightening the lock ring against the cone.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 8:21

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