How to Change a Bicycle Wheel Bearing

How to Change a Bicycle Wheel Bearing
Good bearings keep a bicycle wheel spinning smoothly. The bearings are housed on either side of the hub, which occupies the center of the wheel and is the foundation of a properly maintained wheel. Bearings can become damaged when the grease that keeps them from grinding against one another dries. The bearing surface becomes pitted and the overall performance of the wheel suffers. Smooth bearings can sometimes be reused, but pitted bearings will need to be changed.


Difficulty: Moderate

Removal Process

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cone wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Tweezers
  • Bearing grease
Step 1
Remove the wheel from the bicycle. If this is a rear wheel, the cassette will also need to be removed in order to access the hub.
Step 2
Lay the wheel on its side. The right, drive-side of the wheel will be facing down.
Step 3
Fit a cone wrench onto the cone flats. The cone will be located on the axle close to the hub. The flats allow for a cone wrench to be fitted.
Step 4
Fit a second wrench onto the accompanying locknut. While holding the cone in place, loosen the locknut by turning it counter-clockwise. Unthread and remove the locknut and cone.
Step 5
Slide the axle from the other side of the hub. The bearings on both sides of the hub will be visible.
Step 6
Remove the old bearings with the tweezers. Bearings with dry grease will likely fall out on their own.


Step 1
Apply a fresh bead of grease inside the bearings cups. The grease will hold the bearings in place inside the cup.
Step 2
Press each new bearing into the grease inside the cup. The number of new bearings must match the size and number of those removed.
Step 3
Slide the axle back in through the right, drive-side of the hub. Thread the left side cone and locknut back onto the axle. Tighten with your fingers.
Step 4
Lay the wheel on its side as before. Hold the cone in place with your cone wrench, and tighten the locknut with your second wrench.
Step 5
Spin the wheel. The wheel should spin freely, without binding. If binding occurs, back out the locknut, and re-check the adjustment.

Tips & Warnings

Whenever working with bearings, place a towel over your work surface. Fallen bearings will be easier to find.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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