cup and cone tightness?

how tight should the cone be onto the bearings. i feel like when i screw the cone in too tight it feels like there is a lot of friction between the two parts, but if i screw the cone out just a tad the wheel spins soooooo much better. if it is a little more loose however the wheel can move back and forth a little bit on the axle due to this extra "play" in the bearing area. should i tighten the cone down as much as i can and put the wheel back on? or should i loosen it up just a little when reinstalling the wheel. i feel like when i tighten the very end nut that holds the wheel onto the frame it sometimes tightens the cone onto the bearings a little bit more. should i have the cone out a little more than normal to compensate for this or what? anyone have a "step by step" or some suggestions of how to put a wheel back together and back on a bike?

Re: cup and cone tightness?

you need new bearings, cone and cup. your shit is messed up. to tight and you WILL break axle, too loose and you will break the axle.

Re: cup and cone tightness?

Watch for bent axles that make for difficult adjusting

Re: cup and cone tightness?

Ben Van Zoest /

I am sure you use cone wrenches they are a devil adjusting otherwise.

Re: cup and cone tightness?

"You need new bearings, your shit is messed up."

Sorry, what? How did you get that from Paul's post?

Paul, the "too tight," and "more loose" feeling that you get when you adjust your wheel bearings is exactly right. Who knows, your bearings could be shot to hell, but it doesn't sound like it. If you want, you can always disassemble your wheels to check.

Here is how to adjust cup and cone bearings:

Prep) Ideally, you should remove the wheel from your bike, remove the axle (over a rag to catch loose bearings if you have them) clean and regrease everything, and then loosely re-assemble the axle assembly. Or, you could just begin at step 1.

1) With your wheel off the bike, loosen the nut, and the cone on one side of the axle. You want to be able to spin either of them freely.

2) Make sure the cone and securing nut on the other side of the axle are securely counter-tightened. This is how your adjustments are kept in place; you hold the cone nut with a cone wrench (really just a very flat wrench), and then tighten the securing nut down on top of it (sort of like you are screwing them together).

3) Seat the cone on the "other side" mentioned above, and then return to the cone that you freed in step 1. Using only your hand, screw just the cone down into the cup until it gets hard to turn.

At this point, your axle should be fully installed with the exception of the cone securing nut on one side, and your wheel should be able to spin (but will have that "too tight," crunchy sort of feel you mentioned).

4) Begin unscrewing the cone nut from the unsecured side by half turns. Each time you turn the cone nut around about half of a revolution, feel for side-to-side play in the axle.

This is the only way to find the correct adjustment! You cannot reverse this procedure - e.g. do not screw in the cone until you find a place where it seems to be seated!

5) Eventually, you'll unscrew the cone about halfway, feel for side-to-side play, and find that there is a barely-felt "click" - you've reached the point where the cone is a little bit too loose. This means that you just passed the correct position for the cone - screw the cone in about a quarter turn until you feel as though you've made up for the slight "click."

This is a somewhat subjective adjustment, and a very small one - just go for it.

6) After your last adjustment, your two sets of cups and cones should be in exactly the right adjustment - the trick now is to keep them that way while securing the cone you tightened last. Use a cone wrench, or any kind of flat grasping tool to hold that cone you adjusted last in place.

7) Finally, without turning either of the two cone nuts in relation to each other, screw the securing nut down on top of the cone you adjusted last. At this point you should see why you need a cone wrench, or cone wrench substitution - the cone nut has very thin flats.

If you make the touchy adjustment from step 5 correctly, and then go carefully through the remaining steps to avoid messing up your adjustment, your cup and cone bearings will perform as well as sealed bearings (but will still require more care during service - it's OK, sealed bearing supporters!).

Finally, just another reminder: You cannot tell the correct cone adjustment by screwing the cone IN, only by screwing the cone OUT until you feel some play, and then making that tiny guess to find the correct position. This can be counter-intuitive, and is why most people keep their cones too tight.

Re: cup and cone tightness?

Best answer ever.

Re: cup and cone tightness?

dude... seriously good answer... i'd never really thought about the cone wrench thing. there was one cone that would unscrew and the other was tightened down when i took the wheel off the other day. and so when i went to put it back on i just screwed the cone in, then put the nut on and then was done with it. bad idea. thats probably why my axle broke in the first place on the other one because i did the same thing a while ago on that bike. but yeah i picked up some cone wrenches at the bike shop the other day and went to town on the wheels. they spin soooooo much better and longer than my other ones ever did and i think i've finally got the whole wheel part of this bike right. thanks for the advice. totally appreciate it.

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