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I have a medium sized Trek Mountain Track/Antelope with a seven speed freewheel. When I tighten the rear quick release, I have to carefully back off on the tightness so that the wheel will actually turn. This is not a brakes issue, I'm dropping the wheel in while the bike is upside down, and I can spin it freely when the quick release is loose. I don't believe its has to do with lateral rim alignment, because that would hit a brake pad in one or a few distinct areas. I'm getting even friction when the q/r is too tight.

My first guess is that I have badly adjusted cones on the axle, and I'm guessing this because I don't know how else the dropouts would apply so much friction.

What should I look to next?

Update I adjusted the left hand cone looser and I was able to get it adjusted to take a normal amount of pressure on the q/r and it still rotates well. The cone races are kinda gravelly by the feel, I think I'll definitely keep this a light duty bike.

  • I think you've pretty much diagnosed it yourself. Try adjusting the cones. It might mean that the hub needs a service, but you may as well see if you can simply fix it by adjusting the cones first since it's quite simple. – Colin Newell Jan 4 '12 at 11:05
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    Yep, either the cones are too tight to begin with or you're wrenching the QR way too tight. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 4 '12 at 12:30
  • Thanks, I'll give it a try. I'll have to dust off my cone wrenches. – memnoch_proxy Jan 4 '12 at 15:36
  • A "gravelly" bearing indicates that the bearings are adjusted a hair too tight. When properly adjusted you should just barely feel a hint of "gravelly" -- the QR makes it tighter, but vertical load (your weight) on the bearing has the opposite effect. Adjusting bearings is tricky, since they need to be a hair loose when you adjust the cone, as the lock nut tightens things up a fair amount. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 7 '12 at 13:24
  • Get a set of Spin Doctor open end wrenches. Beats having to keep removing the wheel over and over to fine tune bearing tightness – user13981 Oct 5 '14 at 4:16
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The hub is adjusted too tight, or there is damage to the bearing track which cause higher than normal friction when the bearings are compressed.

You're on the right track.

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I'd put my money on a broken axle. If the cones were too tight then you'd get the friction even when the q/r was done up loosely.

If it is this, then replacing the axle isn't the hardest job in the world, just a bit time consuming if you've never done it before.

  • Yeah, it's vaguely possible. Easy enough to check -- take the wheel off, remove the skewer, and yank on one end of the axle. If it's broken it'll be loose and may pull all the way out. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 6 '12 at 0:24
  • Well if the axle were broken, wouldn't one side of the threads rotate independently of the other? I took it out, and had to hold the axle bold under the freewheel with a crescent wrench and the opposite cone and bolt together. So, it didn't obviously feel broken. Interesting possibility, I hadn't considered it, thanks. – memnoch_proxy Jan 7 '12 at 5:22
  • Yeah, I've only seen a broken axle once (on a bike donated to a bikes for kids program), and it was obvious right away that it was broken. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 7 '12 at 13:27
  • I've broken an axle, and yes, it was obvious as soon as the wheel came off the bike. – armb Mar 7 '13 at 14:05

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