For a couple weeks now, my commuter bike has been creaking ominously while I pedal, and just the other day, the rear wheel began to wobble up to a full centimeter to either side (rubbing the frame) during a longer ride. At first, I assumed that the cone assembly in the wheel wasn't tightened well enough on this new bike, and it had taken a couple hundred miles to come loose.
So I sat down and adjusted the cone and nut assembly and perfected the spin: the axle isn't bent, the internal bearings are fine, plenty of grease, no scoring. So I put it back on my bike and was astounded to find it still wobbled like crazy!
I've just spent the better part of two hours messing with the hub, and was on the verge of giving up when I noticed that the outer shell of the hub seems to be warped as if someone had twisted the two ends towards each other. The wheel's wobble lines up with this warping perfectly, and the axle pokes out of the drive-side of the hub slightly off-center.
I can accept that the manufacturer might have installed a hub that wasn't parallel (it's a cheap commuter bike) but how would it have taken so long to show up? Should I just replace the wheel?