Instructables

Rebuild a bicycle rear hub

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Yes, the "bitmap-bandit" is back......This project is focused on the typical Shimano Hyperglide hub circa 1997-ish, but covers most mid-level freehubs on the market today. Designs may vary between manufacturers, but the basic principal remains amongst many others. Some information provided here applies to ALL bicycle hub-bearings in general, so this is worth a once-over by those interested in DIY bicycle maintenance.

Since I lack the specialty-tools, and you might not have $25 to spend on each tool required as well, I will demonstrate my method for you to try at your own risk.

Please review the entire project before attempting to start this for the first time, and be meticulously clean with your workspace. Hair, lint, and dust can undermine the whole of this project, so treat this as a surgical procedure. Effort taken now toward perfection saves effort later walking home and getting new parts later on.

The picture will show you a cross-section of the typical Hyperglide freehub used in this project. I will make reference to the color-coding in following steps and reference this image again...

This project is for those serious about longevity of their machine....The careless need not apply...

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USE OF "IMPROPER" TOOLS IS NOT AN APPROVED METHOD IN A COMMERCIAL ENVIRONMENT. NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE OR MISUNDERSTANDING OF THESE STEPS SHALL BE HELD UPON ME, THE AUTHOR. USE THESE METHODS AT YOUR OWN RISK. Many of these parts are made of case-hardened-steel / triple-tempered Chromium-Molybdenum, which is very to extremely brittle. Use eye protection and great care when exerting stress on these parts with the dictated method. Use the minimum force possible and do not put the face or the eyes within view of brittle parts or serious injury will result. Shattering of any such part can result in a spark and a projectile traveling at greater than 2000 feet-per-second, so don't think you have an ice-cube's chance in a fusion-reactor-core's chance at dodging it.

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I thought I had these in focus, but it seems the focus-finder does not have good aim on my camera. My apologies for the blurry pix, but you should get the idea.

As I like to say, "Use care or lose hair" (applied to loose hair around mechanical equipment....same philosophy applies)

If this is your first attempt, I recommend much paranoia of part-explosion and attempting this on a non-valuable part as practice first. Attempt this only with a laced (already complete) wheel. NEVER clamp a freehub in a vice for ANY reason, or any part of it thereof.

If you have read this far, I take it you are serious about doing this as safely as possible without all of the specialty tools, and understand the risks. If so, proceed...Refer to the shown image or save it to your computer for reference as needed...

On to step 1
 
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jmartin403 months ago
"always remember the direction of pedal pressure. this will always be the direction of tightening" Well, not always. The bottom bracket goes the other way and it's just a normal Walmart bike. The pedals tighten in the direction of the drive train, but it seems odd, because one would think the motion of the pedals in relation to the crank would turn them lose.
bigmark2 years ago
It's all so clear now.....thank you!!!!
rdav3 years ago
Hey Prometheus I do like the reassembly and has helped a lot in my doing this, but am surprised you didn't include a section on inspecting bearing surfaces before reassembly!!
Anyway what I do to inspect:
1) "visual inspection" breakout magnifying devices and have a close look at the surfaces and note the pits and holes in the cups and cones!
2) "tactile inspection" drag little finger nail across bearing surface and feel for the scratching of the pits....
After frightening self into realising this hub would very quickly fail  and now convinced that this hub is well and truly broken, explore options for a new hub and wheel rebuild ... and instructable!

IMG_20110117_101422.jpgIMG_20110117_100611.jpgIMG_20110117_095559.jpgIMG_20110117_101205.jpg
ethandawson3 years ago
In the old mini cars that can perform the same operation called: rear hub lubrication.
how odd, that website talks of classic minis yet it shows a new type mini(bmw). It also mentions removing the rear disk to get at the hub but there was no disk on old minis, they were drums. I can't believe a new type mini(bmw) would need this sort of care at 6000 miles. Weird
can I use white lithium grease.
Prometheus (author)  coolpizzadude5 years ago
For the freewheel, you could, but definitely not for the hubs that support your weight. White lithium grease can eventually be washed-away with water, so I'd generally recommend against it if your bike comes in any contact with rain, snow, or water. Don't worry that the wheel-bearing grease is too thick. Once the excess is purged, it'll be fine and last longer. I generally use white lithium to clean bearings rather than for lube, as it is generally too light. to stay put in unsealed bearings.
I used something called bearing grease it's the same color as the grease you're using and it's thick.
Prometheus (author)  coolpizzadude5 years ago
If it's REALLY thick and a dark-coffee color, you might have the same grease. It's best to use new grease though, so you know what you are getting. What I used was "Sta-Lube Hi-Temp Disc-Brake Wheel Bearing Grease". Don't use grease that is too old or it may be rotten. The mineral oil separates and allows the grease to congeal inside the bearing and away from where it counts. If it looks as I described, you're prolly using the right grease...
mines looks identical to carmal and as thick as axle grease.my bike is also a bmx bike.
Prometheus (author)  coolpizzadude5 years ago
Good enough, you are set, it seems to me you are using the right grease. Be sure to overpack the bearings and then pay attention to the excess that will ooze out. Wipe it up immediately and eventually no more will come out. Wipe the excess away or it might draw dirt into the bearing and actually work against you. It shoudl take only about 10 miles of motion for all the excess grease to be purged, and then you can forget about it for another 500 miles at the least, if not 5000 miles... Enjoy
It's the rain that trashes bearing grease. If you only ride in the dry, the grease will outlive the bike :)
I use "Rough Rider" rear end lube, it's also rubber friendly. It works very well on my shaft, balls and seat.
Prometheus (author)  callmeshane4 years ago
I can't resist....You make it sound so kinky! That post could be taken so many ways I had to stop laughing to respond. It may be a bit juvenile of me, but it's just too funny to leave alone. Well done....Post of the month, you win an internet!
patdoherty3 years ago
i have worked in a bike shop for years now, im the head mechanic and i can guarantee pb is not the best thing out there, i personally dont care for it at all. zep 45 is the best, your derailer doesnt work spray it it works. same with shifters cables chains gyros everything really. but otherwise this is a pretty good guide all hubs are different but this is a good general knowledge guide. next try to tackle a kickback internal shift 2 speed coaster brake hub.
Is it possible to respace a sealed bearing hub?
Prometheus (author)  monkeeeee0015 years ago
It is, and the procedure is far more simple. Once you remove the axle, you can simply pull them free and insert new bearings. I prefer cartridge-bearing hubs due to their long life and superb rebuild-ability. Cartridge-bearing hubs are the pinnacle of cycling technology, so if you have them, keep them. They require no adjustment, little service, and the bearings are completely replaceable, making the hub a lifetime investment that is worth more than the bike itself sometimes. A typical hub with cone bearings can last you 5-7 years. A cartridge bearing hub can last you as much as 50 years or at least 10-times the mileage if properly maintained.
Just working out what went wrong here :) The question was 'is is possible to respace (not replace) a sealed bearing hub?' I'd be quite interested to know the answer as well (a project of mine rests on it, hehe.) 
CajunWon4 years ago
Great instructable on tearing down & rebuilding. How to recognize a bad part & will the local bike shop have components? Issue: The bike is 14 years Trek w/ oem cassette. Excess torque (esp in lower gears) causes the rear derailleur to spin with a harsh crunching sound. Mostly operates normally when cruising through the gears. Has the 'cassette locking ring' worn & needs replacement?
Prometheus (author)  CajunWon4 years ago
Sounds more like a broken pawl or pawl spring, which are not engaging positively into the lands of the freewheel (which I would suspect if it "slips" and it's not the chain). If the cluster can move at all in the direction it is not supposed to, that's the likely cause and usually the damage is catastrophic (hardened steel shrapnel in the bearings....sounds kinda like my knees). Just be sure it's the cluster slipping and not the chain. If the derailler is improperly-adjusted or damaged, it won't stay in gear, which can lead to a sprung chain (twisted), and/or tooth-loss. Also check to see that the teeth themselves aren't "hooked" on the derailler pulleys, or that you don't have a sticking link in the chain (both a cause and an effect for a similar issue) I'd tear it down, but from what it sounds like, it's prolly pretty chewed up in there. Spin it backwards and listen: the click should be crisp. The rotation should be smooth without an excess of noise. The "play" in the cluster should be minimal, where no tooth can deviate more than 1-2mm out of the typical chainline. If the lockring is worn, you might as well replace it as a unit anyway as the other parts will be as badly-worn...You might have to take it to the back of the barn and shoot it, but I wish you the best of luck. At the worst, you won't have a reason to put it back together again, but you might get lucky.
thanks!
The pictures really helped in packing my wheel bearings.
Prometheus (author)  cooleoboy10004 years ago
That was my intent, and I'm glad it was helpful to you. With your success, I feel my project was successful by being at least clear and concise enough for someone to "get it" like I was actually there with them. Remember, there is no such thing as doing maintenance "too often". Better to repack bearings more often than not, especially when submerged in water, and even moreso if submerged in salt-water. The only reason why bearings fail is because of improper maintenance, otherwise they should last nearly a lifetime, but only surgical precision makes that possible. Take pride in your work, and in the parts that make the function possible. When you truly appreciate bearings, you will know when and why they need attention, and then they will never fail you. Love them, and they will serve you well. Be thorough and determined for cleanliness and purity, and the results are very rewarding. When you tune it to run like a Swiss watch, it will do so as long as you maintain that perfection with an equal discipline of maintenance to the same standard. To strive for perfectionism is not a vice, it is a virtue, and the journey is quite rewarding to those who appreciate and pursue the effort. Thanks for the comment, I wanted to make sure my images were clearly understood, and apparently they were. I sincerely appreciate your validation and your appreciation. It makes me feel that my project was actually helpful. More projects to come later, with good luck. I will try to be as concise with future projects as well. I am glad I was helpful to yet another with my project. Good luck to your future ventures!
JerryMopar4 years ago
You think PB Blaster is good, try Kroil! I was a PB man before a fellow motorcycle mechanic told me about it! $10/can but worth every penny. Shameless plug...
JonMoser5 years ago
Check this out: try to use a T55 6 point star tip usually used for automotive brake systems..... it fits perfectly inside the inner spindle assembly.... this is a 100% guaranteed way to not damage any of the inner assembly.
Prometheus (author)  JonMoser5 years ago
You mean for the retaining bolt for the freehub, correct? (BTW, for everyone, see step 6 for reference to this bolt). I suppose you mean the Torx for '80's GM caliper bolts, right? If that fits well, then by all means use that instead. I know I have one somewhere, I'll be sure to try it sometime. Thanks very much for the info!!
JonMoser5 years ago
Check this out: try to use a T55 6 point star tip usually used for automotive brake systems..... it fits perfectly inside the inner spindle assembly.... this is a 100% guaranteed way to not damage any of the inner assembly.
Tat26 years ago
As usual Prometheus fantastic instructable. Thanks, I've got a freewheel that is making a very strange noise. Even though I don't have the proper tools I can afford to take a risk with this one.
Prometheus (author)  Tat25 years ago
I'm just happy to have one fan, but it seems I have a few. Glad you like the project, and I hope it remains helpful to you.
hey prometheus any chance you could give some advice on refurbishing my bike's rear cog set (as in the actual teeth etc) and sorting out the massive amount of play in the rear hub, so much so that any time where the front wheel has left the ground i can steer and have to to keep the bike on a straight path. I may have to replace the hub anyway as the bike is ten years old and has suffered 2 years of brutal abuse at my hands (everything from MTB trails, to getting hit by a truck.) Any advice on choosing a hub for a 10yr Raleigh stonefly with the shimano SIS gearsets from that time (can't give much info on them)
Prometheus (author)  killerjackalope6 years ago
Well, there's not much you can do for worn cogs...once they are worn, they aren't worth much anymore. When the teeth start to hook, then they start grabbing the chain and can eventually cost you a derailler. If they are just a bit rusty, soak them in penetrating oil for a day and then hit them with a wire brush (motorized is ideal) until you have removed all the rust. Just remember never to attempt to straighten them because they are brittle, especially the black ones.

As far as the play in the hub, you should try readjusting the bearing cones to take up that slack. If the hub has been ridden a long way this time, you will likely have to replace the cones as the preload can never be set properly again due to improper wear. If the cups are galled or pitted, just get a new hub as they are typically not meant to be replaced. Consider a set of cone wrenches for your hub (forget the locknut as you can get to that with standard tools).

As far as choosing a hub, it's mostly about how much you want to invest, just make sure you get one with the correct number of spoke holes (hyperglide and uniglide require you to specify the number of cogs and the spacing). If you are going to replace the wheel entirely, try to find the highest spoke count you can. Mountain bikes should have no less than 32 spokes, well-built should have 36. A lower budget can get you a Shimano Deore XT, or you can go up to something like a Bulle'seye, which has a large barrel and cartridge bearings that never need adjustment. Go to a cyclery (not a dept. store) to get a better idea of your options if you decide to replace it, and shop around...try eBay even. Finally, aluminum rims are stronger than steel, so don't even think about steel rims.

You can likely try a thrift store or even stalk a residential building's bike rack for unwanted bikes, which is much cheaper than attempting to replace a whole wheel or even labor for replacing a hub.. Often times people just leave bikes behind, costing a great deal for disposal, so you may be doing the manager a favor. The thrift store can turn up some surprising results if you look hard enough, and often buying the whole bike is cheaper than just getting a wheel new, just make sure to match the number of cogs to yours if you use any kind of indexed shifting (Grip-shift, etc). The rest of the bike can be kept for backup parts if needed, or even a backup bike should you manage to break the frame.

If your bike got hit by a car, you should inspect the welds for signs of fatigue. The easy way is to scrub along each weld with a very-stiff plastic-bristle brush....If paint flakes off, the frame has been compromised and may fail. In such case it's best to destroy the frame (so noone else salvages it thinking it's safe) and dispose of it.

Help me get my forum off the ground and ask your advice on my board http://pitchblack4.12.forumer.com/ and I can help you without taking up too much space here.....I am rather....verbose...
Thanks alot, i registered on your forum by the way so I will see how that goes... Yeah theres a good cyclist shop that i know the owner of and he's the one that helped keep the bike alive. yes the frame isn't damaged other than scrapes, I took the brunt of the force when it got hit by the truck as i was in an endo attempting to stop...
Prometheus (author)  killerjackalope6 years ago
With some luck , that forum will get off the ground if more people display interest in it.
Good stuff, I oddly ended up with a new bike and if I ever get the workshop and tools want to experiment with frame building, something more within my end of things.
Prometheus (author)  Prometheus6 years ago
Suggestions for that forum welcome to members. It is intended as a companion-site for instructables.com so people can complain about projects or ask questions about a potential project, without having to post a project first. If you want to speak your mind, but not here, try my forum. I hope to make instructables.com a phenomenon with my meager contribution of a separate forum to add the ability to ask questions from the inventors themselves. It's still beta right now, but with more members, I can make this a better companion to this site if there is enough interest.
cigol6 years ago
I read on Sheldon Brown's site the recommendation against doing this or need. I did it anyways in a manne much like yours (no special tools). The only think was I lost count of the b.b.'s. Def fun and interesting though. So Check: http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html
Cheers!
Prometheus (author)  cigol6 years ago
Yes I saw the site. This would be the correct way to do it with the proper tools. I, however, have to deal with what I can get though. Glad you posted this site as it is an excellent companion reference to this instructable, for those who can afford the right tools. Sadly I lost most of my specialty tools in an interstate move over large masses of water, but I thought I'd post this for those willing to take the risk on a hub, and just not knowing where to start. Besides, there is a sense of pride that comes with a freehub that doesn't shriek or growl when you coast, especially when you successfully complete this project. There is a need though, as leaving it dry can slowly make any repair impossible. Again, this was a spare hub, should I taco a wheel, thus allowing me the time to re-lace a new rim to the existing hub. Also, riding on a broken pawl can be dangerous, as the other pawl can shatter when "hammering" up a steep hill, and you wouldn't know it was broken if you didn't rebuild it in the first place. If you doubt breakage is possible, you should see the cheap hubs I've twisted, the chain links I've sheared between pins, and the result of breaking a pawl under load with the legs I used to have. Worse is the sound, as it (for me) makes me sick to my stomach when a hub sounds like my knees do.
regomodo6 years ago
Good instructable. Just recently cleaned out my own hub but couldn't open the freehub so i gave up. I didn't want to get too committed as i remember the hell of a time getting a freewheel back together when i was 12. Hopefully this should solve my noisy as hell freehub but i fear it may be time to fork out some cash or get a used one from the tip.
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