How to Grease Bike Wheel Bearings? Easiest Solution
The bike wheel bearings reduce friction in the front and rear wheel hubs, enabling the wheels to spin more freely and allow for a smoother ride.
If you try spinning your bike wheels and find out that they don’t turn smoothly (or feels rough; gives you a feeling of tiny bumps in your fingers), this is an indication that the bearings aren’t doing their job well and need serving.
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or experienced biker, this guide will teach you a step by step on how to correctly grease your bike wheel bearings to keep them functioning well.
Things you’ll need:
- Old cloth
- 15 mm cone wrench
- 17mm wrench
- Adjustable wrench
- Bike bearing grease
Step by step guide to greasing bike wheel bearings
Before we get into the details on how to oil your bike, it’s worth keeping in mind that the bearings come in two types—sealed (cartridge) and the non-sealed (cup and cone) bearings. The procedure for greasing each of these bearings is slightly different.
Since the non-sealed bearings are more commonly used in bikes, this guide will focus on how to grease them correctly.
How to Grease Non-sealed (cup and cone bearings)?
Step 1. Remove the wheel
The first step involves removing the wheel off your bicycle and lying it on an old cloth (on a fat ground) where you can easily work on it.
The procedure is usually the same for both the front and wheel rear wheels. If you’re servicing the bearings from both wheels, we suggest that you start with front-wheel as it’s easier to remove.
Once you have taken the wheel apart, head over to the next step.
Step 2. Unscrew the locknut
Next, you’ll need to undo the locknut nut to enable you to access the bearings. For this step, you’ll need two wrenches—a cone wrench to hold the cone-shaped piece in place and the other one to do the unscrewing.
Once unscrewed, you can now remove the locknut and the spacer by hand.
Now hold the locknut on the riverside with the help of a wrench and unscrew the cone with another wrench. When it becomes loose, unscrew it by hand. This will enable you to remove the axle from the hub.
Step 3. Remove the bearings
At this point, the bearings are readily accessible, and all that’s remaining is to remove them for greasing.
If you’re having trouble removing them from the race, you can count on a magnet/magnetic screwdriver to help you lift them out.
Clean the bearings with a degreaser and a paper cloth, ensuring you get rid of all the old grease, grime, and dirt. Clean the hub and cones as well.
Don’t forget to carefully inspect the bearings, the cup, and even the cone. If you notice any signs of wear on them, whether it’s cracks or defects, consider replacing them with new ones.
Step 4. Time to grease them
Apply a generous amount of grease onto the walls that accommodate the bearings. You might also want to coat the bearings with more lubricant to ensure adequate lubrication.
Put the bearings back in place (you can use a magnet to make this task easier) where the grease you applied will hold them in place. Place back the axle and turn it gently to ensure the bearings sit correctly.
Remove the axle and repeat the whole greasing process for the bearings on the opposite side of the hub.
Step 5. Reinstall the bearings
Having greased all the bearings in your bike wheel, you can now embark on reassembling the hub, which is simply the opposite of what you did when taking it apart.
Put back the axle to its place (freehub side) and press it against the bearings and rotate it a bit to ensure it sits correctly. Put back the cone to the non-driver side and tighten it until it contacts the bearings (not too tight though; finger-tight is enough).
Spin the axle a bit to see if it turns smoothly. Also, wiggle it a little to see if the side to side play is still there. In case you notice any play, you might want to adjust the cone tightness, but not too much to the extent of stopping it from spinning freely.
Place back any other spacers, nuts, and seals on the other side of the axle.
While holding the cone in place with one wrench, use another wrench to tighten it against the lock nut.
REMEMBER to check one more time that the axle is still rotating smoothly. Else, you should loosen the cone a bit until the axle rotates freely.
Lastly, put back the cassette to the bike freehub body and reinstall the wheel on your bike.
NOTE: Remember that the same procedure for servicing the front wheel bearings applies to the rear wheels. But you should know that removing the rear wheel might be a bit complicated, and you’ll need additional tools like the socket tool to help you remove the gear cluster.
What grease should use for bike bearings?
This is an oft-debated topic on the right type of grease to use for bike wheel bearings as using the wrong lubricant can affect the performance of your bike and even cause damages.
To avoid these problems, we strongly recommend you to use the best bike grease for bearings, the one specially formulated for lubricating bike wheel bearings.
Avoid using anything else like chain lubricant or any oil as these aren’t meant to serve this purpose and could leave with underperforming bikes and damages to repair.
A lot of work goes into greasing bike wheel bearings, from tearing apart your front and rear wheels to cleaning the bearings, placing the back, and then reassembling everything. With the right tools and instructions, however, servicing your bike bearings at the comfort of your garage should be easy and straightforward. Remember, well-lubricated wheel bearings help reduce friction in the hub for a smoother and effortless ride.