Author Topic: Reliable rear hub  (Read 5609 times)

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Offline shorecycler

Reliable rear hub
« on: December 07, 2010, 08:58:25 pm »
I just picked up my new bike and it has Formula hubs on it. Nothing special, just stock Formula hubs and although stock they roll beautifully(brand new). I was curious to see what kind of, if any, reliability issues any of you guys have had with an unsealed hub and what I can expect as far as maintenance when I make my trip coast to coast on the TA trail in May
Enjoy the Ride!

Offline whittierider

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2010, 09:13:11 pm »
Shimano (and maybe others too) won't use sealed bearings, because the sealed ones don't last as long.  Cartridge bearings cannot have as many ball bearings in the same space as the loose type.  If the cones are adjusted properly, they will last longer than you.  I have some with 20,000 miles whose insides can hardly be distinguished from brand-new ones when they're cleaned up.  I had to replace the freehub body (like a freewheel) on my Ultegra hub a couple of years ago with 8,000 miles on it, and when I opened up the hub (which you have to do to replace the freehub body), I found the grease was still that yellowish transparent green that Shimano put in.  The proper adjustment will have play in it when the wheel is out of the bike though, and that play will just barely disappear when you squeeze the skewer down.  The axle metal does compress slightly under the clamping force of the skewer, putting the cones slightly closer together.  If there's no play when the skewer is open the bearings will be much, much too tight when you close the skewer, and they will last only a fraction as long as they otherwise would.  Sheldon Brown has a page on it here.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2010, 09:15:55 pm by whittierider »

Offline shorecycler

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2010, 10:05:22 pm »
Thanks Wittie, some good tips on there that I, until now, was unaware of. I have just recently learned some tricks just by doing it to result in a nice frictionless spin for loose bb hubs. I guess my main concern on the tour is getting dirt and grime in the bearings and having it crap out on me in middle America. Am I being overly cautious to think this? Should I be prepared for something like this somewhere along the tour?
Enjoy the Ride!

Offline whittierider

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2010, 12:49:51 am »
My forum name comes from Whittier, a nearby city with some hills that are popular with area cyclists.

Modern cup-and-cone hubs usually have a rubber seal in them, bonded to the inside of the metal cap.  When I opened up my rear hub to replace the freehub body, there was of course some road dirt outside the seal, but inside where the bearings were it was perfectly clean.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 12:51:27 am by whittierider »

Offline DaveB

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2010, 07:49:03 am »
Unless you submerge those hubs completely and often or badly misdajust the cone clearance they are likely to last a very long time with only reasonable care and maintenance.

I have a set of 7700-series (9-speed) Dura Ave hubs with over 50,000 miles on them and the cones and freehub body are all original.  They were overhauled with new bearing balls and relubed about every 6000-8000 miles but that is all. 

I also have and have worked on 105 and Ultegra hubs with 30,000 miles or more that are also in fine condition with about the same maintenence schedule.   So the probability of your hubs failing suddenly on a 3000 mile trip is remote.   

Offline staehpj1

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2010, 07:51:32 am »
Thanks Wittie, some good tips on there that I, until now, was unaware of. I have just recently learned some tricks just by doing it to result in a nice frictionless spin for loose bb hubs. I guess my main concern on the tour is getting dirt and grime in the bearings and having it crap out on me in middle America. Am I being overly cautious to think this? Should I be prepared for something like this somewhere along the tour?
I wouldn't expect any problems for properly adjusted and greased bearings.  They should last the distance of the TA without any attention, but if need be you could easily repack them along the way.

The mode of failure is most often pitted races because the bearings are allowed to run without grease.  This will typically not stop you and leave you stranded.  In most cases you could repack them possibly replacing the balls and continue to ride on them until you can conveniently replace them.  If it came down to it you could ride the whole TA with pitted races.

Other more catastrophic failures are possibly, but not very common.

The bottom line is that even cheap hubs if properly maintained usually last a very long time and that maintenance does not need to be done very frequently.  In all probability your rims will fail before your hubs, but that too is an infrequent occurrence unless you bend a rim in a collision..

Offline Jason

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2010, 08:58:11 am »
For what it's worth, I used a formula hub in excess of 5000 miles - Along the southern tier and up the east coast.  It was sealed but so very basic (in addition to being only a single speed hub.). I would certainly agree to all the points made about the shimano variety hubs, but I think you'd be fine with what you've got.
singlespeed touring - life generally requires just one speed.
Southern Tier, TransAm, tons of places in between.

Offline DaveB

Re: Reliable rear hub
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2010, 09:40:37 am »
I'm not familiar with "Formula" hubs but if they are "sealed bearing" or cartridge bearing hubs, you really can't do much mainrenance on them so.   You just ride them until they develop some side play then you replace the bearing cartridges and repeat.   That should take a long time.

If they are cup-and-cone hubs you can regrease them and adjust the cones periodically.  I overfill this type of hub with excess grease.  It's messy for the first couple of rides after an overhaul as the excess oozes out so I have to wipe them off once or twice but that assures a good grease seal and keeps out dirt and water for a long time.