My rear wheel has some loose, but only at a specific place/angle on the wheel. That means that the wheel is tight everywhere, except for a zone of about 30 degrees, where it's loose.

It's a quick release wheel, and even if I over-tighten it, it's still has the loose at the same place.

I checked the obvious "the axle/bearings is loose" possibility, but nope. The axle is tight in every possible angle, and it doesn't appear to be a bearing problem.

It's only once the wheel is back on the bike that the loose appears.

Any thoughts on this problem will be more than welcomed, because that's a situation I've never encountered before!

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Some pictures, maybe a video, might help. Show the degree of play where it's fine, and compare that to where it's loose. This would also help clarify what you mean by "is loose." Does just the rim move relative to the stays, or does the hub itself move? Is there any motion in the quick release?
    – DavidW
    Oct 4, 2022 at 17:26
  • Troubleshooting - mark the loose spot, then install the wheel in the frame backward. Does the loose spot stay in the same place? Also check to make sure the dropouts are parallel with two nuts/bolts
    – Criggie
    Oct 4, 2022 at 21:30
  • 2
    bent axle? have a look
    – Noise
    Oct 4, 2022 at 21:38
  • @Noise - Good suggestion - I think more likely a broken axle.
    – mattnz
    Oct 5, 2022 at 0:02
  • @Noise the axle looks absolutely fine.
    – Jayman
    Oct 5, 2022 at 14:15

1 Answer 1


For a cup and cone hub, it's likely either the axle is bent, and/or the dropouts are misaligned, and/or the race surfaces are damaged. All can contribute to the effect that when the wheel is installed with QR compression acting on the axle, the axle becomes bowed such that there's a loose area and a tight area (which will correspond to worn areas on the cones/cups if one were able to look close enough).

For cartridge hubs, bearing fitment issues (eg a sufficiently oval shell bore) can cause this problem. Retaining compound can often fix that issue (or mask it, depending on your appetite for perfection).

  • what is the "race surface"? And what kind of damage am I looking for?
    – Jayman
    Oct 5, 2022 at 14:10
  • The race surface refers to the bearing races—the surfaces on which the bearing balls roll. In the case of water/debris contamination, this can result in pitting of the race surfaces in certain places. In a cup and cone wheel bearing, there will be two races on each side—the cup in the wheel hub, and the cone, which is threaded onto the axle. If you're riding a wheel with significant pitting, you may notice a banging coming from it, where the bearings are rumbling over the pitted areas.
    – karolus
    Nov 6, 2022 at 15:47

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