If I grab my [suspension] forks tightly and push against the wheel sideways, there is a slight amount (few millimeters on 26" wheel) of play/wobble from the axle/hub. The QR is done up tightly. Is this normal or does it require a hub service?


If you can feel any play ("rattling" sensation) at all in the wheel bearings, headset bearings, or crank bearings, then they need to be adjusted at the very least (and may need rebuilding). (But please do make a distinction between movement due to looseness in the bearings and simple flexing of the wheel or other parts because you're pressing on it so hard.)

Adjusting is something you can do yourself with a few inexpensive tools, a little mechanical ability, and some practice, but you won't get it right the first several times you try, so best go to your local bike shop unless you really want to learn how to do it yourself.

Standard loose-ball wheel bearings need adjustment every 3000 miles or so, and should be rebuilt (cleaned, new grease, and possibly new balls) roughly every 10 thousand (or more often, if subjected to severe conditions).

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  • Agreed. Have in mind, also, that not every bike shop has a competent mechanic, and sometimes some works are best done by the very bike owner (in this case, you ;o). My friends and I have plenty of stories to tell about bad service bringing further mechanical problems. So, it's adviseable to choose a place where you know the mechanic personaly. – heltonbiker Jan 25 '12 at 18:31
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    @heltonbiker: Find a better shop. Someone who has to ask this basic question is not competent to be their own mechanic without a lot of research and education. Advocate "learn and do", but please don't suggest that all mechanics are untrained monkeys. The majority of professional mechanics are highly skilled and often those skills are under appreciated or ignored. You have stories of "poor mechanics" causing you more mechanical damage? I can tell you stories all day about customers who refuse to follow the advice they're given, and then complain and blame the mechanic when it costs them later. – zenbike Jan 26 '12 at 4:36

You probably require some hub service. It's likely that your bearings are worn and / or your cones are loose.

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