Introduction: Fix Your Bike. Grease Your Bearings and Change Your Freewheel.

Picture of Fix Your Bike. Grease Your Bearings and Change Your Freewheel.

Most people don't realize this, but your bike needs maintenance. Your axle bearings needs to be cleaned and repacked with grease every 500 miles (100 on a mountain bike).
This instructable shows how to repack your axle bearings and install a new freewheel body (if you need one).

Step 1: Remove the Wheel From Your Bike.

Picture of Remove the Wheel From Your Bike.

If you don't know how to do this much already, this may be too big a job for you at this point.

Step 2: Remove the Quick Release Skewer.

Picture of Remove the Quick Release Skewer.

Remove the quick-release skewer from the axle. Take care not to lose those tiny springs.

Step 3: Remove the Cassette

Picture of Remove the Cassette

You'll need a special tool to remove the cassette from the hub. $6 at a bike shop. You'll also need a wrench to turn the tool.

Step 4: Remove the Cassette...cont.

Picture of Remove the Cassette...cont.

Finally you'll need a chain whip or cog holder to hold the sprockets in place while you unscrew the cassette retaining nut. Once removed, the cog stack will slde off the freewheel body effortlessly.

Step 5: Remove the Axle

Picture of Remove the Axle

Here is the freewheel body and axle in place.
First remove the jam-nut and washer from the axle then remove the bearing cone nut. This holds the bearings in place.

Step 6: Remove the Bearings

Picture of Remove the Bearings

See the bearings within. Remove the bearings and clean everything till it is absolutely spotless. Aerosol brake parts cleaner works very well for this and only costs $1.99 at your local auto parts store.

Step 7: Remove Old Freewheel Body

Picture of Remove Old Freewheel Body

If you're just greasing your bearings, SKIP THIS STEP!
Insert appropriate sized allen wrench into freewheel body and unscrew. Set aside the old freewheel body and place the retaining bolt with all the other stuff you need to clean.

Step 8: Clean Everything.

Picture of Clean Everything.

Clean the cogs, axle, cone nuts, washers, jam-nuts and especially the interior of the bearing cups in the hub. If you see any residue of any kind, you need to clean some more.

Step 9: Replace Freewheel Body...cont.

Picture of Replace Freewheel Body...cont.

Unwrap the new part. View the instructions and take whatever action you see fit. Personally, I found the instructions insulting. They essentially said: "Be sure to install the part correctly." in 8 different languages, but didn't say exactly HOW to do it.

Step 10: Installing the New Freewheel Body.

Picture of Installing the New Freewheel Body.

I recommend Marine Axle Bearing Grease for your bearings. It's for boat trailers and is available cheap at your local auto parts store.
Apply a generous coating of grease to all the mating surfaces like the steel washer between the freewheel body and the hub and the freewheel locking bolt.
Replace the freewheel body and tighten the locking bolt.

Step 11: Re-installing the Axle.

Picture of Re-installing the Axle.

Load up the bearing races with generous helpings of marine axle grease. Load both sides with grease before you replace the bearings. The grease will hold the bearings in place.

Step 12: Insert the Axle.

Picture of Insert the Axle.

Load the bearings into the brake side first and insert the axle. The axle will help hold the bearings in place. On the opposite side, place the axle part way into the hub and load the bearings into the cup area. Once all the bearings are in, push the axle the rest of the way in. Next replace the cone nut that holds the bearings in place.
Finally, tighten the cone nut until you feel some binding then back off the tension until the wheel spins freely with no binding or rough feeling. Finally add the washer and jam-nut and tighten it all down. If it starts binding, loosen it up a little.

Step 13: Replace the Cog Stack.

Picture of Replace the Cog Stack.

Notice there is one small groove on the freewheel body. There is a corresponding slot in the cog stack. This ensures that the cog stack can only go on one way. Replace the cog locking nut.

Step 14: Re-install the Wheel.

Picture of Re-install the Wheel.

Replace the quick release skewer. Note that the springs are cone-shaped. The big end faces away from the hub.
You're now ready top replace the wheel on the bike.


SydT (author)2016-04-28

On my bike somehow the bearing was shredded to pieces and I noticed it when I was riding and the bearing suddenly lost grip... Can you please reference me to some sources to get a new one? This would be greatly appreciated!

Bryce Nesbitt (author)SydT2016-07-25

Any bicycle store can supply a new bearing. Check to make sure the races are not too pitted or damaged.

jsadler1 (author)2015-02-20

I've been using white, lithium, marine, grease and it seems to work nicely. It claims to be impervious to water. I wonder if such greases create any drag that thinner greases might not create. So far i'm happy with the white grease.

RobertT9 (author)2015-01-31

In step two the springs you are talking about, are they hard to re-assemble?

Marsh (author)RobertT92015-02-01

The springs on the quick release skewer? No, they're not even slightly difficult to reassemble.

sdeshaies (author)2012-09-07

I use the new Bearing App for Android its called BearingCalc..You can get it on Google play. Its helps figure out bearings..Well worth the 2 bucks!

jtmax24 (author)2012-08-31

Thanks for this wonderful instructable. This has really helped me a lot.

jorgechoy (author)2012-07-02

Hi Marsh,

The instructions are great. I am wondering whether you can provide a list of recommended tools such as type of spanners and so on.

Looking forward to hearing from you…..


pchretien (author)2012-02-24

This is hell of a great ible! I have to change the bearings on my rear wheel and didn't know where to start! Winter with the snow and salt is terrible on the mechanic! Thanks again for sharing ...

coolpizzadude (author)2009-03-28

will white lithium grease is what I used on my bike is that ok?

white lithium grease if fine.

it doesn't last too long though...

zilcho (author)2011-04-29

I just did this to both wheels on my old bike and it really makes a difference. The marine axle grease i bought was a strange turquoise color so I hope thats ok.

Bearclaw_Michael (author)2008-07-11

I put grease fittings on my wheels a few years ago. I found it makes a huge difference, it keeps my bike roling smooth and quiet by keeping it properly lubricated. (Cell Phone Pic in Poor Lighting) But I'm sure you get the idea.

How did you do that?

Sorry I didn't get back with you sooner but I have been on vacation and that included staying away from the computer.
It was really just a matter of pulling out the axle bolt, then I drilled a hole in the hub housing and threaded it with a tap for the grease fitting.
If there is a trick it's getting in between the spokes with the drill, depending on your wheel and your drill you might need to use a short drill bit or even a right angle drill made for tight spots.
Other than that it is pretty simple and it really does make a big difference.

Thanks for asking

thanks for the info,how do you get grease into their? im guessing a syringe?

Those are zerk grease fittings like on a car, so you use a regular grease gun to pump the grease in.

airsofter1 (author)2009-11-12

 Can you replace a six speed cog with a seven or eight speed cog?

Marsh (author)airsofter12009-11-12

 Probably not because a 6 speed is going to be a freewheel and a 7 or 8 speed is going to be a cassette. You can change the back wheel easily enough, the you'll have to change the derailer and shifter too.

sharlston (author)Marsh2010-10-24

How do i tell between the two?

Marsh (author)sharlston2010-10-24

By counting the number of cogs.

guitarisnice (author)2010-06-15

Great tortal you got here thanks a lot. You done great work on this one. One question: Is there a easy way to find the right casett for my bike? Need a new one but dont know how to find the right one, I guess they are not standar. There are 8 chains holders or what you call it.

mcflyalright (author)2009-12-13

just to note that newer bikes used sealed bearings (like skateboard wheels) so this might not make sense for your bike.

sharlston (author)mcflyalright2010-01-28

wrong theres no such thing as sealed bearings for bikes theyre either like a real bearing with rubber seals which would be shielded or there would be a cone on the thread of the hub which are standard for many bikes now

Marsh (author)mcflyalright2009-12-13

 This is only true for higher quality bikes which make up a very small percentage of what is out there (at this time).

sharlston (author)2009-10-15

my rear wheel makes a really loud ticking noise when im pedalling and its really stiff

Marsh (author)sharlston2009-10-15

 The bearings are way too tight and you may have some broken ballsin there now.

sharlston (author)Marsh2009-10-15

can it still be ridden?

Marsh (author)sharlston2009-10-15

 Yes, but it will destroy the wheel as you ride. Did you follow thelubrication instructions? If so, try loosening the bearing cone nuts.Sounds such as you describe indicate a very bad situation, but if youcatch it soon enough, cleaning, adjustment and lube should take care of it.

sharlston (author)2009-08-29

could you decribe how to remove the nuts near the wheel not the forks in a bit more becuase i havent got the special tools to do it and i dont know how

Marsh (author)sharlston2009-08-29

Step 5 describes this. While not impossible, it is very difficult without the proper tools. The cassette removal tool is only about $7.00 at your local bike shop (if it's much more than that, find a different shop).

sharlston (author)Marsh2009-08-30

i dont need to remove the caseete becuase om greasing them on my front wheel i need to take the nuts off

Marsh (author)sharlston2009-08-30

All that is required for the front are thin wrenches. Once again, very inexpensive at your local bike shop. It occurs to me you may not be dealing with a Quick Release wheel.
This instructable is kinda' short on pix, but may be of some help to you...

sharlston (author)Marsh2009-09-21

i managed with 2 adjustable wrenches ive got a draper bike toolkit how much do i tighten the rear gear stack thing?

sharlston (author)Marsh2009-08-31

no im dealing with my bmx

chat doc (author)2009-09-10

the only close-ups which aren't blured, or shot with a good light are at step 9. Yet, this kind of instructable could be really good, if good pics with the good content.

sharlston (author)2009-09-02

do you really need to do it every 100miles on a mountain bike ive had my bike for 4 years now and traveled inexess of 700 miles and never greased them once and today i eventually greased them and it turns out the old grease is still there so i filled the whole hub with grease

Marsh (author)sharlston2009-09-02

I ride mine a minimum of 20 miles a week and in as little as 50 miles I feel justified in repacking the grease. If I go 300, it's way overdue. You may have better seals and beyond that, sealed cartridge bearings eliminate the need to do anything at all.

sharlston (author)Marsh2009-09-02

well i took it apart today to have a look and its just a standard cone the bikes a appolo fs.26 its a pretty cheeap bike

junkyjunkerson (author)2009-07-10

Pictures 2-4....TOO FUNNY!

Marsh (author)junkyjunkerson2009-07-10

The situation demanded a comment.

pjax (author)2009-02-12

greasy hands on the brake discs. ouch!

Marsh (author)pjax2009-02-13

Ok, we've seen your admonition. What's your resolution? Mine is to clean the rotor (that's what that disc is called) off before putting the wheel back on, but I really want to hear your take on it.

pjax (author)Marsh2009-02-15

oh yeah. rotors. the name slipped my mind yes, one should definitely clean the rotors if you get grease on it (i was hoping you'd mention that on your post.. :D constructive criticism) my take? don't get grease on it on the first place! clean your hands/avoid touching the rotors

double ott (author)2008-08-17

is there any way to improvise with the cog holder? I am taking apart my old bike, and I want the gears and I dont really care if anything gets damaged in the process. I have the freewheel tool but I dont really want to spend money on this cog holder if there is a free way out of it

Marsh (author)double ott2008-08-17

This procedure is for a cassette hub. If you have a freewheel, you don't need to hold the cogs.

double ott (author)Marsh2008-08-17

oh, so I turn to the right not the left? and how far should I stick in the freewheel tool? thanks btw

adrenalynn (author)double ott2008-12-31

Double Ott - I'm sure you already figured everything out, but since I didn't see your question get answered... If you have an older freewheel (like my Campagnolo Super Record hub and Regina freewheel), you get a splined freewheel removal tool (FR-4 for my Regina), and put it in the freewheel. Then put your skewer back in to hold it in place. Clamp the tool in the vice, wheel up, and the grab the wheel however you'll have good "tracktion" and rotate the whole wheel counter-clockwise. Only do less than one turn before you then remove the skewer, or you'll break the skewer! (blush for ancient history's sake, been a long time since I've made that mistake...) Clamp it again in the vice and continue to rotate the wheel and the freewheel will separate from the hub body where it's threaded. Mine's apart right now, maybe I'll shoot some pictures...

adrenalynn (author)adrenalynn2008-12-31

Eek! Make that "traction". Sigh. No edit button...

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an environmentally conscious experimenter who loves to bring people together, build things, and when possible...blow things up! See us on YouTube too ...
More by Marsh:My Injection Molding Project!Make a Propane Forge for $50!Round Tube Center Finder!
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