I've got a cheap new rear wheel. Disassembled the cones etc and replaced with my own grease. When trying to adjust the bearings to the correct tension, it gets to a point where the axle will make small movements smoothly, but will suddenly give a lot of resistance. If i turn the axle (not the cone), back to where it was smooth, there is still play in the axle, suggesting the axle should be rotating smoothly the entire 360 degrees. When I remove the cones, I usually see that one of the bearings has 'jumped' out of its position and on top of one of the others. What could be causing this? It's new so there's no pitting or corrosion. I think I used an acceptable amount of grease and there are 9 bearings each side.

  • I would guess the bearings are not the correct size or you have it installed wrong. A bearing should not be able to jump out of position.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 14:20
  • One bearing too many on one side and one missing on the other? Different sizes of bearings for left and right? Both things are possible. So check sizes and recount.
    – Carel
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 18:26
  • It is often fairly difficult to get all the balls back into the races properly, vs getting one jammed in against the axle or some such -- it's often taken me several tries to get it right. And remember that it's not uncommon to have, say, 7 balls on one side and 9 on the other. If you try to put 8 on each side you'll likely jam things up. (Typically a bearing takes an odd number of balls, and will appear to be large enough to take one more. But, unless the bearings are worn, there will not be quite enough space for that extra ball, and jam will result.) Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 4:18

1 Answer 1


You've given the cause in your first sentence. I've got a cheap new rear wheel.

Cheap wheels tend to be not as good as better wheels. So the bearing surfaces are not quite as exact in their tolerances as a more refined hub. Is it possible that you have swapped the cones side-for-side ?

At these scales, its impossible to see visually whether its the cup or the cone which is out.

Lastly - did you change the bearings? Are they the right size? Are they all the same size? You might be better to simply replace all the bearings with new ones, that way they're the same batch and thus size.

Rear wheel hubs should be 1/4" bearings (about 9), and front wheels are 3/16" (about 10) I'm guessing you have loose ones, rather than those in a retainer. Either is fine, loose ones are more fiddly but technically better.

The bearings looking like they are on top of each other is probably happening as you unscrew the cone, not while its spinning. There is simply not room for a whole bearing to jump another one, even when its got a lot of play.

  • 1
    I took the wheel back to the shop where the owner attempted to adjust the bearings. He agreed there was something not right about it and gave me a working replacement. So yes, be careful with cheaper wheels.
    – user34810
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 19:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.