How to service cup and cone hubs

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Maintenance

How to service cup and cone hubs

Pros and cons of Shimano-favoured bearing system; cleaning, inspecting and replacing


Cup and cone systems – disadvantages

While the internal surfaces of soft, aluminium hub shells are usually reinforced with a hardened steel plate, typically this is not removable. Nor is it impervious to wear. Should moisture enter the system, and the bearings be allowed to ‘stand’ in the moisture, they will create small divots in the shell which generate a ‘rumble’ when used.

Failure to service the bearings when moisture ingress has occurred will see grease replaced with a kind of ‘grinding paste’, says Jon, which, far from lubricating the system, will generate friction likely to damage the internal surface of the hub shell.

The bearing surface – the ‘cup’ of a cup and cone system – can become pitted if bearings are left to stand in moisture

In addition, the hubshell is likely to wear at the same rate as the cone and bearings, and so replacing the replaceables is unlikely to generate the desired effect. Is the system fundamentally flawed then? Not so, says Jon. While cheap, poorly sealed hubs are likely to allow moisture ingress, he singles out Shimano’s 105 and Ultegra offerings, what he describes as the Japanese component giant’s “everyman” groupsets, as able to “just go on and on”, thanks to effective seal mechanisms.

So is it a case of more expensive cup-and-cone hubs being harder wearing? Not necessarily, Jon adds. “When you get to Dura-Ace, you’re talking about equipment that needs servicing to keep it running ‘A1’. It will run forever, but the service intervals are shorter, because you’re employing lightweight, top-of-the-line materials.”

Having dealt with the background, we’ll move to the procedure.

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