I picked a broken bike from the garbage around the block. The bike has some damage. It looks like a stolen bike (spray paint awfully over original color), so it must have had some tough love. I have identified the brand and model from its parts but no one has reported it stolen, yet. It will turn into a restoration job soon.

I am not the sharpest bike wrench so I could use some advice. Most parts are in good state. Obviously it needs new brake pads and new tires, and most probably a new chain, as this one is full or rust. The rear derailleur was so bent into the spokes that it broke. Definitely needs replacement by a new one.

The work that needs to be done on the rear wheel is not clear to me. The spokes are unbroken but it needs truing. I found it with some of its bearings opened, the ones on the non-driving side. When looking inside: not much contamination but some of the balls seem to be missing. I already have grease. Can I just buy any balls bearings? How do I know how many I need? Also the lock ring on these bearings is crooked? See pictures. Will it close? Or do I need a new one? Is it needed to buy a new axle + bearings? Is it simpler?

Here are some pictures https://i.stack.imgur.com/AWN0X.jpg

Many thanks.

  • 1
    Looking at the picks of the bent cones, I would be replacing them. Probably easier and cheaper to get a whole axle assembly, you must replace all the bearings, never a few (they are cheap) to ensure all are the exactly the same size.
    – mattnz
    Nov 7, 2020 at 22:03
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    The chain could be fine, it’s only surface rust. Check if it’s bent or worn below 0.75% elongation. If it’s fine, just clean it with brushes, lube it and ride it.
    – Michael
    Nov 8, 2020 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


As there are balls missing and bent components, you should completely refurbish the hub.

It looks like a freewheel type hub rather than a freehub/cassette type. First thing to do is get the freewheel off. Personally I’d replace the freewheel so I’d be starting with unworn sprockets and chain.

Disassemble the hub, completely degrease and clean and inspect the cups and cones. If the bearing surfaces of the cups are damaged then you’ll need to consider a new hub (or even wheel as the rim is out of true). Check the axle is straight. Check cups, balls etc for wear. Ball bearing come in a few different sizes but presumably there are balls in the drive side which you can use to find out what size they are. The axle, cups, balls etc are all easily replaceable.

There is lots of bike repair glance on the web. I’m a fan of Park Tool Repair Help in general.

For your immediate problem, RJ The Bike Guy YouTube channel has a comprehensive video on refurbishing a freewheel hub that should show you everything you need to know about dealing with your hub.

Good luck with this project, it’s good to hear of someone bringing a bike back to life. You’ll learn a lot going through the process and will get great satisfaction from it.

  • Many thanks for the help. Some more input: the axle look straight, there some bearings missing on the non-drive side. I have measured these to be 1/4 inch + 9 per side. I also notice a lot of grease inside the hub. I am considering buying new bearings, II already have the grease, so cleaning the whole thing and having a new start. Nov 7, 2020 at 15:38
  • Will take a look at the video links later today! Nov 7, 2020 at 15:48

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