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When I am pushing the bike or (lately) cycling slowly, I can hear/feel a slow squeak/skreech from the front wheel. I can feel it through the handle bars, and it isn’t quite the sound of brake pads rubbing. A while back when I started noticing this noise, I only really heard it when pushing it backwards or when pushing it at an angle. I also noticed that the front wheel has a bit of left/right play when I hold it and push it side to side. It does not make any noise, and rotates freely, when lifted in the air and rotated.

Are the play in the wheel axle and the noise related? Do I need to tighten the cones? Or should I grease them first?

  • my rear disc pads make a noise I would describe the same. sounds like anything but the discs, but the lightest touch of the lever and it disappears – Henry Crun Aug 2 '18 at 6:24
  • I use rim brakes not discs, gonna try to release them and try again. Is there any reason why it would only rub under load and not when elevated? – Karthik T Aug 2 '18 at 7:59
  • Very slightly squeezing the brakes should change it if its brake contact. There is always a little play in the bearings, and flex in the spokes. Bikes squeak'n'creak from a bunch of places, and it always sounds like its somewhere else. Can drive you crazy working out what causes it. – Henry Crun Aug 2 '18 at 8:17
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    If the wheel moves on its axle, it will be in different position when lifted. – ojs Aug 2 '18 at 8:43
  • Left-right play in the rim means bearings need work. Could be a simple adjustment, but a clean, inspection, and repack with grease is a good idea. Not checking it will result in accelerated bearing wear, cone damage, and ultimately cup damage which means a new wheel. – Criggie Aug 2 '18 at 10:36
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If there is noticeable play in the wheel bearings, they are worn or need adjusting. Noise is most likely related to this.

The difference when rotating the wheel forward or back, or off the ground is due to the different loads on it.

You first need to figure out what kind of bearings you have in your hub. Cartridge bearing should just be replaced. Cup and cone style can be disassembled re-greased and adjusted (or replaced if they are worn out).

  • I am assuming not cartridge, given that my BB is non cartridge type. – Karthik T Aug 9 '18 at 6:11

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