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I bought a "mystery meat" Peugeot bicycle, it turned out to be 1991 Peugeot "Milano" (couldn't find it in catalogs): 7-speed rear cassette, Shimano 200GS groupset. I disassembled and cleaned everything, replaced the chain and the cassette. I noticed two problems:

  1. The bearing cones and bearing cups have significant pitting on the non-drive side
  2. If I spin the wheel freely while cassette is not spinning, the cassette wobbles ever so slightly, the edge of the largest gear moves maybe 0.5mm back laterally back and forth

For now I've put it all back together, but now that everything has been cleaned and lubed, I can actually hear some noises from rear bearings when riding on a smooth surface; it's synchronous with wheel rotation and I can only hear it when I'm actually on the bicycle.

My question is: what would be the optimal set of components to replace? Should I try to find bearing cups and replace them together with cones? If it's not worth the hassle, what parameters should I take into account when looking for a replacement wheel?

Rear hub is Shimano FH-HG20:

Shimano FH-HG20

Here's a PDF: https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/ev/EV-FH-HG20-1108A.pdf

Bearing cup:

Bearing cup

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    Do you require your new wheel to be also vintage or vintage-like? What exact type is your current hub? Do you have a photo? – Vladimir F Sep 22 at 18:44
  • @VladimirF unfortunately I don't have a disassembled photo, but I've added "outside" photo and also a picture of the bearing cone used in this hub. The closest matching hub (with this type of bearings) I was able to find is this front hub si.shimano.com/pdfs/ev/EV-HB-RM50-0981B.pdf – John Doe Sep 22 at 18:59
  • @VladimirF I don't really need a vintage look because the cassette already doesn't look vintage – John Doe Sep 22 at 19:02
  • I wasn't able to find any documents for a matching rear hub though. – John Doe Sep 22 at 19:35
  • @VladimirF edited to specify the exact model of the hub – John Doe Sep 23 at 7:14
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You should replace the balls for sure. They're cheap, readily available (from any bike shop -- just take in a sample ball), and would very likely solve most of your problems.

You can also fairly easily replace the cones. You might have to order them, but they should be reasonably inexpensive. You may want to replace the axles at the same time (they often come as a set).

Replacing the cups would require replacing the hubs, and, if you hire it done, this is usually more expensive than just replacing the wheels. But you can likely get several years of service out of the bike with the existing hubs.

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  • Concur - bearing balls are cheap. Cones less so, and hubs not at all. A decent amount of quality grease will help extend the race's life too. – Criggie Sep 22 at 23:29
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    "Less expensive" here means that the first hits for the part number were shops selling it at 2 € and 3 GBP. I'm surprised that spare part to 30 year old hub is so widely available. – ojs Sep 23 at 7:22
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    @JohnDoe I have heard about these replaceable cups but never seen one. If it's not in exploded view diagram, it's certainly not available as spare part and probably doesn't exist. The photo doesn't show anything wrong with the cup. – ojs Sep 23 at 11:24
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    @JohnDoe look at the ball track. It is certainly corroded elsewhere, but to me the ball track looks smooth. – ojs Sep 23 at 12:04
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    One trick to get a bit more life out of worn races is to use a slightly bigger bearing (i.e. 5/32 vs 1/4). This will help with the "indexing" in the pits. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Sep 23 at 15:41
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The kind of side-ways wobble is quite normal for freewheels of the period and should not cause trouble. But it's also a sign that the axle is not perfectly straight which also overloads the bearings of the hub. Enough to cause wear.

It may be possible to replace the cones and the ball-bearings but not the races which were rarely replaced. If you also replace the axle, this could solve your problem. Your LBS if it has been there for long could still have cones & bearings. It will probably as expensive in parts and labour as a new cheap rear wheel with a free-hub and fit a 7-speed cassette as they still exist. Free-hub allow for a better load distribution on the rear axle as the bearings are further apart.

Just check whether the rear triangle is for a 130mm spaced hub not 126mm that was also common around the 1990s. Your LBS may easily correct the spacing on a steel frame.

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  • 7 speed cassettes definitely exist, but they're probably an order-in part. There may not be many tooth options either. I have exactly one. – Criggie Sep 22 at 23:28
  • Thanks for mentioning the size difference, so if I replace the wheel, I should look for 7-speed, V-brake wheel with an appropriate sized hub? – John Doe Sep 23 at 6:23
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    @Criggie in a popular European bicycle parts shop, I was able to choose within 6 options for a 7-speed cassette, and there are some on amazon and ebay as well. So that wasn't a problem, true. – John Doe Sep 23 at 6:39
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Extracting the cup is possible, but tedious.

After checking the bearing races, I saw several defects on race lines. Since that means either the wheel or the cup must be replaced, I had nothing to lose by trying to extract it. In this hub, it's impossible to push out the cup with a steel rod from the other side, because the inner diameter is too small. I have cut a slot in the bearing cup with a rotary tool, making it possible to compress it a little bit like a c-clip, and several horizontal slots that where I could put a screwdriver and use it as a leverage. Eventually, the cup was out. I damaged the aluminium body a bit, which is not good. So for everyone attempting this - watch for the line separating steel and aluminium, it's barely visible but it's there, the bottom surface isn't smooth.

This article has some information on replacing bearing cups:

http://bruceteakle.blogspot.com/2017/03/replacing-bicycle-wheel-bearing-hub-cups.html

I will now try to find either a cup or a used hub that uses same type of cups.

Thank you everyone for advice!

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