/ Failing hubs

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noteviljoe on 06 Jun 2017
After some advice apologies if I get any of the tech' details wrong/muddled - still new is to enthusiastic cycling.

I bought my first 'spend a bit of money' bike last summer - a Specialized Diverge A1 sport 'gravel'/'adventure' type road bike. It has been great in many ways and I love it, perfect for my find of back path riding.

Unfortunately the rear hub went last December - on a dark night requiring a long push back to work. I think ratchet teeth locked down and wouldn't engage at all - so just span freely. Evans bike shop in Nottingham (where I had purchased the bike) spent ages trying to see if Specialized would replace it under warranty but ended up giving me a new one as gesture of good will (probably in part because of other thing they had messed up which in fact did end up getting resolved with a whole new frame!).

Anyway, on the weekend it went again - peddles spinning freely no forward motion happening! Couldn't get it to work at all. Booked it in with evans for the next day. Then some how the next day some how it is working again! But ever present fear that it will fail at any minute.

This time Evans bike shop saying that whilst they fixed it before as 'good will gesture' as it is a moving part - and thus will naturally wear - it is not covered under warranty. Bit pissed off as only replace 5 months ago which is a bloody quick failure. Anyways, t'is what it t'is.

The mechanic who I spoke to says basically water is getting into the hub (and also the front hub which is says is in quite bad shape too). Which can happen if you pressure wash it. I don't pressure wash it but do use a light hose. I do ride through tons of mud and grime. Rather than just replace the hubs with same again - which are apparently 'loose bearing' ones which are prone to failing in this way - the mechanic suggested that it could well be a better option to replace the wheels with ones with better quality 'cartridge bearings' - he suggested Mavic Aksium set (he said if I got them to price match should be able to get for under £150).

So any thoughts anyone? These better hubs supposedly are much more durable because they are fully sealed (and current ones aren't). Also he claimed that if they do fail they are also much more fixable as you can just slot out the cartridge hub without replacing the whole body - so he claimed it would likely work out cheaper in long run.Any thoughts anyone? Am I just being sold something for selling sake or does this seem worth it?*

* Note: I may be mis-remembering some of these tech' details - should have got him to write it all down.
tjin - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:
So is it the hub or freewheelie? Because it sounds like the latter, which is not related to bearings.

If it is the bearing;
Do you degrease the chain while it's on the bike? I used to do this and some of the degreaser would end up in bearings and they would end up running without grease and get destroyed. (i now remove the chain and degrease it in a bucket).

Sounds to me like you have two choices:
- Have a well-sealed unit (which generally cannot be serviced well and is replaced)
- Grease the unit often (the Shimano Conus type is not as well sealed but much more serviceable)
Post edited at 09:54
noteviljoe on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to tjin:

Ok so I think I am (as you say) mixing up two issues.

Basically the main issue (for me) is that the freewheel is failing. But having listened to the sounds the wheels make when spinning I think that mechanic is right that the bearings are also in poor shape.

I guess how I am cleaning them is stripping the grease out of both. I am doing what you say and spraying degreeser on the chain while it is on. I also spray it on the gears which I am now thinking it a big mistake?

I asked whether I (or they) couldn't just add more grease but he (claimed) that the type of hub it is makes it hard to service like that and also something about something being 'pitted' which I didn't really understand.

The most irritating thing about whole thing for me is that my cheap old sit up and beg bike, that I never clean, just works (or at least doesn't break like this it just cronks on)
SanchoPascoe - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

Just had a quick scan of the specilized website and the spec for this bike is interesting. it uses a Claris groupset but it would appear that the wheels and hubs are inhouse products and possibly not repairable. it also sounds like the freewheel mechanism which is failing due to poor design as its only a three caw rachet. This bike is meant to be ridden in slightly more challenging conditions than your standard road bike, its styled as a cyclocross but I suspect the accountants have had the final word and its got budget wheels. Have a look at the usual sites for a cyclocross rear wheel, it may be a bit of a hit on the wallet as its still early days in this world of disc braking and your choice will be a bit limited but if you can find a wheel a bit higher up in the Shimano family such as the Sora then you will have much greater peace of mind!
tjin - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:
>I guess how I am cleaning them is stripping the grease out of both. I am doing what you say and spraying degreeser on the chain while it is on. I also spray it on the gears which I am now thinking it a big mistake?

NEVER do that! My degreasing issue is simply a wet chain with degreaser causing it to run into bearings, spraying degreaser on parts which have grease in them is simple stripping them of grease. No wonder they run dry. No grease = no joy. When the grease is gone, the bearings wear down and cause play and other issues.

Strip the cassette, chain and front sprockets and degrease separately. I actually have better experience with leaving my bike dirtier, as excessive cleaning and degreasing cause lube issues.

Also; lube a lot.
LastBoyScout on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

> Ok so I think I am (as you say) mixing up two issues. Basically the main issue (for me) is that the freewheel is failing. But having listened to the sounds the wheels make when spinning I think that mechanic is right that the bearings are also in poor shape. I guess how I am cleaning them is stripping the grease out of both. I am doing what you say and spraying degreeser on the chain while it is on. I also spray it on the gears which I am now thinking it a big mistake? I asked whether I (or they) couldn't just add more grease but he (claimed) that the type of hub it is makes it hard to service like that and also something about something being 'pitted' which I didn't really understand.The most irritating thing about whole thing for me is that my cheap old sit up and beg bike, that I never clean, just works (or at least doesn't break like this it just cronks on)

"Pitting" is when the bearing surfaces get damaged and are no longer smooth, meaning the wheel feels "rough" when you spin it. Often caused by failed bearings, but can also be caused by rust spots if you've washed the grease out and they've stayed wet, or by over-tightening the cones and damaging the surfaces.

If it's on the cones, then they can be replaced. If it's on the race on the front hub or non-drive side of the rear hub, it usually means a new hub, although on some hubs you can (with the right tools) replace the races. On the drive side of the rear hub, the race is usually part of the freehub, so can be replaced.

Not sure why the mechanic thinks it's hard to service the hub to re-grease it, but I'm not familiar with that specific hub. For general cup and cone style bearings, it should just be a case of removing the cassette so you can get at the nuts (you'll need specific cone spanners), then un-screwing one side and pulling the spindle out. Bearings in hubs are usually loose and so cheap that it's worth replacing whenever you strip a hub. Once you've cleaned the old grease out, apply plenty of new, waterproof, grease and re-assemble - the bit I hate is adjusting the cones.

Sounds to me like there wasn't much grease in the hubs to start with and you're, perhaps, over-washing with too much degreasing.

He is right that cartridge bearings are easier to live with, as you just need to knock them out and put new ones in, but you'll need specific tools for doing it.

Either way, you shouldn't need to be replacing the freehub on a bike less than a year old, so keep plugging away at Evans until they sort it.
Martin W on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

In my experience - a Specialized Tricross Sport about six years old - the wheels on the entry level price point Specialized bikes are where they scrimp the most in order to hit the target price. The front hub on mine failed due to water ingress, leaving the non-replaceable cups badly pitted. I may have power washed them, I honestly can't recall, but it was clear when I disassembled the hub that any seal that was supposed to exist was largely ineffectual. I ended up buying a new wheel from my LBS for not a lot of money, and a new hub with the intention of rebuilding the old wheel with a much better hub. (That plan fell by the wayside when I later decided to upgrade to a disc brake front end.)

All that said: as others have pointed out, the free hub really shouldn't be failing within 12 months unless it's been really badly abused in some way. If Evans are resistant to repairing it under warranty then I would expect them to provide reasonable evidence that the failure is not down to a manufacturing fault.
noteviljoe on 06 Jun 2017
Thanks for all the replies.

Though I agree that the parts ought not to have worn out I'm not confident in getting Evans to stump up so currently thinking about best option to upgrade - which, combined with more careful cleaning, will hopefully also mean that this doesn't happen straight away again!

Run_Ross_Run - on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

I have Mavic Aksiums on my cyclo cross and have given them a battering with no issues. Ok, not the lightest wheels but very strong. Clean the bike after every use with a hose (not pressure washer) and they've been fine. Have done over 5000km (use it as a winter road bike too) on them since new and no issues.
gethin_allen on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:
So the "sport" badge on a specialized bike indicates that it's the lower spec of a set model/frame, there is normally a comp and a pro above built with flashier kit on the same frame. The issue with this is that the frame is good so they save cash on the kit. Wheels are a very common place that they save money on, my £1150 carbon road bike came with crap own brand giant wheels but the frame is the same one they use on bikes up to £1900.
saying this the own brand hubs shouldn't fall to bits quite so quickly.

I wouldn't necessarily agree that cartridge bearings are better than loose cup and cone bearings, Shimano use cup and cone on some really expensive stuff because you can take them apart to service them and if designed well they can be sealed as well or better than a lot of cartridge bearings and will last a lot longer. If your cartridge bearings go you'll be paying £15-20 for bearings and you'll need a drift/press to get them in and out. Loose bearings will cost you £2 and you can pack and grease them easily with cheap cone spanners.
I'd get a new, off the shelf shimano rear wheel from someone like chain reaction or wiggle unless your local shop wil price match.
For a basic wheel a wheel will set you back less than £50 and you can probably rescue the front wheel with a pack of bearings and waterproof grease.

Just to add, if you have the tools to take the cassette off you may be able to dismantle the free hub to clean and regrease it.
Post edited at 23:00
MikeSP - on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

From a warranty point of view your contract is with Evans. If they can't get a warranty claim through Specialized it shouldn't be your problem. It sounds like they're fobbing you off with the goodwill.
The new hub will still be under parts warranty even if it has expired on the rest of the bike. Did you get a receipt for the new hub?
Was the new hub the same as the old? if it is you can try and claim that they're not fit for purpose and might be able to get a discount on an upgraded hub.
pwo - on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:
I cycle in excess of 300 miles per week even through the winter in all weather conditions. I clean the chain with a solvent after each ride then hose down and then use a dry lube. I've never ,ever, had a hub fail the way you describe. I have mavic aksiums with a tiagra cassette . Your contract is with the dealer not specialized, take it back.
radar on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

Evans can be a bit hit and miss, their Nottingham branch is one of the better branches I have been in. (Don't even think about asking a hard question such as "have you got any Time ATAC cleats in stock?" in the Manchester branch, without getting looked at as though you are stupid.) I try and avoid them if I can.

The wheels on your bike don't have a particularly good reputation, a quick Google search will find lots of similar issues. I had the same issue with some rear Dura Ace hubs a few years back, so I understand your frustration. Shimano rep looked at the hubs - wear and tear. My choice was getting stressed and arguing the toss, which was pretty much guaranteed to get nowhere or bite the bullet and buy new wheels. I chose Aksiums. Had a few pairs, worn the brake surface out through mega mileage. I still have a couple of pairs in use. If you choose to write them off and replace then the Aksiums are an excellent choice. Don't consider spending a little more for the next one up, as the benefits/cost ratio doesn't kick in until Kysrium Elites. You should be able to pick a pair up fairly cheaply as they are often specc'd as OEM.

You can quite happily use a hose or jetwash to clean your bike just never aim the water at bearings (hubs, bottom bracket, headset). Degreaser is great, but use with care. I tend to not use it on parts in-situ as I can be a bit hamfisted, and the degreaser inevitably gets to where you don't want it (no matter how careful I am).
Jim Lancs on 07 Jun 2017
De-greasing cleaners like MucOff are really powerful and if you spray them anywhere near the hubs or rear gear block, you will strip the grease from both the hub and freehub. Despite my partner winning gallons of the stuff in bike races, we learnt a long time ago to never use the stuff anywhere near a bike. Greasy and dirty is much better for a bike than spotlessly clean and lube free.

Self servicing loose bearing hubs is not too hard, but freehubs in the Shimano style are much harder. However there is one bearing cone in a rear hub which can not be replaced if pitted. Cartridge bearing are easier to live with as the whole bearing can simply be knocked out and replaced. They are also known as 'sealed bearings' but this does not mean they are immune to high pressure hose pipes or MucOff.
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noteviljoe on 10 Jun 2017
Thanks again, to all, for all the advice.

I am totally in favour of the idea that the hubs/freewheel ought not to fail after just just a few months (5! since the back hub was replaced!) but think I'm going to end up letting it go and, as 'radar' says, biting the bullet and getting new hubs.

Long period interest free credit card is currently heading my way in the post. I don't want to go to crazy but now I can spread the cost are there any other upgrade suggestions anyone wants to make that are different to those above?
radar on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:
Upgrades? If you are happy with your bike then nothing needs replacing/upgrading. You will know if something isn't quite right.

Personally, I always change saddles (my bum gets on well with Flites, so all my bikes have Flites), handlebar tape can look scruffy pretty quickly (doesn't cost the world, can change the look of a bike, and some brands can be much more comfortable), you could go for a tarty personalised stem cap. Otherwise check your chain regularly, cables, tyres (Aksiums come with fairly decent tyres). After that upgrades start getting expensive
JLS on 11 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

>"I do ride through tons of mud and grime."

Doesn't surprise me then that relatively cheep free bearing hubs are gubbed. That's what happens unless you are servicing (re-greasing) them every other week.

Personally, I just get the new askiums. You should get a couple years out of them without the servicing hassle of free bearings.
noteviljoe on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to radar:
RE. Upgrades clarification: I just meant upgrades for the wheel set. Very happy with everything else on the bike.

Sounds like the Aksiums are the favoured option, one friend is suggesting I get some wheels built but I feel like surely I'd get less bang for the buck that way.

One thing I'm half thinking about (though worried it will be more faff than fun) is going tubeless - should I look for tubeless ready wheels or is this going to make the price really high?
Post edited at 09:43
LastBoyScout on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

Mavic can be difficult to get spares for, I believe.

For that price, I'd also look at Fulcrum Racing 7
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/fulcrum-racing-7-lg-wheelset-2017/rp-prod126870
or:
https://www.merlincycles.com/shimano-105-5800-hub-on-mavic-open-pro-rim-59395.html

Getting wheels built might be a bit more expensive short term, but you'll end up with a set of wheels that will do exactly what you want and tuned to you with the added bonus that every bit will be replacable.

On a mountain bike, tubeless makes a lot of sense and there's a lot of choice. On a road bike, it's in relative infancy - there's lots of discussion about the benefits of it, but not very much choice in tyres and what there is is expensive as a result. At the price you're looking at, I doubt you'll get tubeless ready rims, but if you can, then great. My best wheels are tubeless ready, but I'm running them with tubes at the moment.
JLS on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

There is a place for hand built wheels from a good builder but I'd suggest riding through "mud and grime" is not it. Tubeless i've no experience with however I would say it all sounds way too unpractical for recreational cyclists and it's a fair bet the Tour de Fance will be won on tubular tires so is even hard to justify on a performance basis.
gethin_allen on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Mavic can be difficult to get spares for, I believe.

> For that price, I'd also look at Fulcrum Racing 7


I wouldn't go for fulcrum 7s, my racing 5LGs have been treated very gently and yet the front bearings are going in 12 months because they are really poorly sealed. Also, the weight quoted is for a campag freehub and the shimano version is about 100 g heavier. I'm not even sure why anyone would buy fulcrum wheels if they run campag as they are the same as the campag wheels but the campag ones are usually cheaper.
Also, the stickers look like they came out of a cereal packet and were applied by a 5 year old.
noteviljoe on 12 Jun 2017
To much googling and dreaming has left me now lusting after some Mavic Ksyrium Pro Disc Allroad Wheel ... not far from the cost of the whole rest of my bike lol.
radar on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

Realised that later.

Mavic Aksiums are fit and forget, once they start to go you replace the whole wheel. To be honest pretty much all factory wheelset are the same - they aren't really repairable apart from replacing the odd spoke or truing them. Wouldn't bother going above Aksiums, as you need to go much higher up the Mavic food chain to really benefit.

if you want something repairable then you'll need hand built wheels. Only as good as the wheel builder. Stainless spokes, a compatible hub and some nice rims. My (now very retro) mountain bike runs Hope ti-glides on Mavic ceramics. Minor truing in 15 years, a new freehub and that's it, still silky smooth.
noteviljoe on 17 Jun 2017
In the end I got a bit carried away and have ordered a set of wheels from local bike shop "keep peddling" with Hope five20 hoops and hope mountain bike hubs - plus a new bottom bracket (also Hope).

So much for being frugal.
Timmd on 17 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:
Buy cheap buy twice. ;-)

A useful tip for anybody else running cup and cone loose bearing hubs is greasing the lips of any seals before refitting them, so that the grease acts as a barrier, helping to stop any water ingress.
Post edited at 15:17
ChrisJD on 17 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

> In the end I got a bit carried away and have ordered a set of wheels from local bike shop "keep peddling" with Hope five20 hoops and hope mountain bike hubs - plus a new bottom bracket (also Hope).


A fine choice - running these wheels on my x-bike. They'll keep you in good stead.

And you can go tubeless easily with these rims.

Timmd on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> If it's on the cones, then they can be replaced. If it's on the race on the front hub or non-drive side of the rear hub, it usually means a new hub, although on some hubs you can (with the right tools) replace the races. On the drive side of the rear hub, the race is usually part of the freehub, so can be replaced.

Do you know/can you remember which hubs you can replace the bearing races on? I hopefully look after my hubs enough to not need to replace the races, but it's nice to know these things.
LastBoyScout on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> Do you know/can you remember which hubs you can replace the bearing races on? I hopefully look after my hubs enough to not need to replace the races, but it's nice to know these things.

Sorry - there's such a myriad of hubs out there and even within the same hub you might get variations due to model year. I'm afraid you'd need to do your own searching.
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gethin_allen on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to noteviljoe:

Further to my comment about my dodgy fulcrum hubs. While cleaning the bike on Saturday I noticed significant play in the rear cassette. A bit of investigation shows that the freehub bearings (which are absolutely tiny) have had water in them and are shot and overall the freehub is poorly designed with the bearings both situated, for no good reason, very close together and not central on the cassette so that you'll get uneven loading. I'm not looking at about £20 for new bearings (+ a tool to extract and fit them), which at the current rate of wear with be £20 a year.
sleavesley on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:

Fulcrum do a CX version on racing 7, racing 5 and Quattro wheel sets.
I know they used to come with double seal bearings to help prolong the hubs.
JFI if you can get the CX bearings to fit your Racing 5's?
Timmd on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:
> Sorry - there's such a myriad of hubs out there and even within the same hub you might get variations due to model year. I'm afraid you'd need to do your own searching.

Ah, I thought you'd personal experience of such a hub. I know that silver oversized Campagnolo Record, Chorus, Centaur and Daytona hubs had races you could replace, and their current Record hubs still do.

I now have a set of 28 hole Record hubs after much searching on ebay for the front and rear individually.

Campag and Fulcrum wheels with adjustable bearings in do, too.
Post edited at 15:27
LastBoyScout on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Sorry for being vague. The Whyte ones on my hybrid are "supposedly" replaceable and I need to try that, or I'll have to get the wheel re-built on a new hub, but that's the extent of my personal direct experience.
gethin_allen on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to sleavesley:

> Fulcrum do a CX version on racing 7, racing 5 and Quattro wheel sets.

> I know they used to come with double seal bearings to help prolong the hubs.

> JFI if you can get the CX bearings to fit your Racing 5's?

That's interesting, I'll have a look. I was considering otherwise just buying better branded bearings like SKS and using a heavier waterproof grease as the stock bearings appear to be non brand cheapo things packed with very thin grease.
Timmd on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:
> Sorry for being vague. The Whyte ones on my hybrid are "supposedly" replaceable and I need to try that, or I'll have to get the wheel re-built on a new hub, but that's the extent of my personal direct experience.

No worries.

The internet is a great resource for technical bike problems, I spent quite a lot of time getting my head around Campag hubs from different years and what could be replaced, and spares available etc. Without the internet things would be much harder. It's probably unhelpful for obsessives tho.
Post edited at 23:41

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