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Mountain bike hub/wheel maintenance

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Old 10-16-2013, 10:52 PM   #1
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Mountain bike hub/wheel maintenance

I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction on this.

I have a 2011 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er. (Basic 29er hardtail with hydraulic brakes, no other fancy stuff). On average, I ride it about twice a week, five to eight miles or so of cross country type riding. After 2 1/2 years of this, plus a recent jump in use due to a knee injury that's keeping me from running, I am starting to see some wear on it finally. Any suggestions on what I should do about the following?

1. Rear wheel has a wobble to it, I believe it is "slightly out of true". In addition to this, the rear "freehub" is extremely loud when I place the bike upside down and pedal it by hand, then allow it to coast. The cassette has a few millimeters of play when I rock it back and forth by the largest sprocket. I have removed the cassette and determined that at least half of this play is in the freehub itself, the rest seems to be play between the freehub and cassette, I have tightened the cassette, no difference.

Is it worth having the wheel "trued" and possibly replace the "freehub"? I have found what appears to be a basic (stock for my bike) freehub for around 40-50 bucks. Or should I buy a new wheel fully assembled? I do not need/want/can't justify high end wheels on this $1,000 bike, stock should be fine, although part of the reason the wheel is out of true may be from me riding a bit too fast through the rocks on occasion, so maybe a slight upgrade would be justified. What would you experienced guys do?

2. I have read about repacking hub bearings. I do have the type of hub that uses loose ball bearings, not sealed press in bearings. Is this needed? Worth it?

I have managed to remove my drivetrain, clean and reinstall it, replace the bottom bracket (noisy), replace my chain, adjust cables, etc. I do think that trueing a wheel will be a bit much for my level of patience, I would have someone do that. Swapping a freehub is probably doable for me though, I am losing my fear of screwing anything up on this bike, and starting to learn more about it.

I should say that the bike rides and shifts great. My motivation here is maintaining the bike's reliability and not getting stuck hiking five miles home in the dark this winter.

I can't hear any noises from the drivetrain while riding, I don't think. Both wheels do not have any bearing play in them that I can detect (compared to car wheel bearings, they seem fine). I am hearing some clicking on hard uphill climbs that I believe is loose spokes, they are definitely not all tensioned the same.

I am not a hardcore rider by any stretch of the imagination. I just want a safe reliable bike to get my exercise in on, but I do let it fly on the downhill, just a bit at times.
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Old 10-19-2013, 05:15 PM   #2
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Do u see the hub wobbling when u spin the wheel? If so you most likely have a bent axle. I would start by taking the wheel off the bike and checking the axle for play. Take the cassette off the wheel for this to rule out it's not the cassette. Make sure if u remove the nuts (there are two on each side of the axle) you remove the non drive side only. Once axle is removed this is a good time to check the free hub body.

If u don't feel comfortable tearing into the axle just check for play in the hub. I'll bet that's what it is. You will most likely need cone wrenches for this. Unrighteousness the outer nut and frighten the inner nut by hand till hub spins freely and there is no play. Then hold a cone wrench to the inner nut and tighten the outer lock nut. It's easy if you take your time and don't rush.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:16 PM   #3
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Go to your local bike shop and have them true your wheel. Not all of the spokes will be the same tension, they might be close when the wheel is new but as you ride the bike and break everything in the spokes will stretch, or seed the nipples at the end of the spokes may also seed a little better into your wheels. If you are still having this problem I would say have a bike mechanic true it for you. If you are in the black hills I would do it for you.
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