Are sealed bearings the way to go?

Stephen C

Über Member
I commute on my road bike and I seem to wear out rear wheel hubs fairly fast, about 4,000 miles. My current wheels are Shimano RS11's, and they have been fine apart from the rear hub which is now not sounding great.

As it seems to be a recurring problem for me, and I hate overhauling the cup/cone hubs, are sealed bearings a reliable alternative? As they are used for commuting all year, ease of maintenance and general bomb-proofness are priorities.

Any advice welcome!
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
Well what a subject....shimano won't touch sealed bearings in a wheel due to lateral forces,the round bearing and cone system has lateral movement so isn't being twisted under the gforce/gyro effect of a wheel.
The sealed bearing is best in a static environment(starter motor etc...) At high rpm.
NOW THE REALITY in the real world....top quality loose ball hubs are excellent,many of the made in Japan hubs from the 1990s are still going,unfortunately these are few and far between.if you run a loose ball hub until its really rough,the cones and balls can be changed...but not the track in the hub,that will always have wear left.Sealed bearings can be totally destroyed... With no affect on the housing in the hub, just sack them out press new ones in!and they are so cheap these days,and you can get any grade you can afford....
To summarise...top quality loose ball are excellent(duraace,xtr)and adjustable.but not fitted to much,very expensive.
Sealed bearings wheels are relatively cheap,not adjustable,but bearings are so cheap,and easy to deal with,must be a better thing.
 

the_mikey

Legendary Member
Sealed bearings are generally precise and reliable until they break down, when they're arguably easy to replace with another bearing of the same spec. I've replaced ball bearings and sealed bearings and by far the sealed bearing replacement is the simplest and cleanest job. I can't comment on any perceived difference in 'feel' or how they roll, but you can pay a premium for ceramic sealed bearings for example.
 
OP
Stephen C

Stephen C

Über Member
Sealed bearings are generally precise and reliable until they break down, when they're arguably easy to replace with another bearing of the same spec. I've replaced ball bearings and sealed bearings and by far the sealed bearing replacement is the simplest and cleanest job. I can't comment on any perceived difference in 'feel' or how they roll, but you can pay a premium for ceramic sealed bearings for example.
I think this is what I'm looking for, cleaning cup/cone bearings is a messy time consuming job and I never feel completely satisfied with the result (almost certainly down to me!), but if I can just replace the bearings, relatively quickly and cleanly (ie, one evening between commutes), then this is definitely a good thing!
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
I think this is what I'm looking for, cleaning cup/cone bearings is a messy time consuming job and I never feel completely satisfied with the result (almost certainly down to me!), but if I can just replace the bearings, relatively quickly and cleanly (ie, one evening between commutes), then this is definitely a good thing!
Also the freehub body is usually more serviceable on a sealed wheel(unlike shimano closed bodies) often having pawls that are easily cleaned and lubed,and yet another sealed bearing in the end, eg Mavic hubs the bearing in the hubbody is the same as a kids microscooter!!! 99p to replace.
 
OP
Stephen C

Stephen C

Über Member
Also the freehub body is usually more serviceable on a sealed wheel(unlike shimano closed bodies) often having pawls that are easily cleaned and lubed,and yet another sealed bearing in the end, eg Mavic hubs the bearing in the hubbody is the same as a kids microscooter!!! 99p to replace.
I also seem to have issues with freehubs, so this is good news! Mavic seem to be the main option, are there any other good brands to look for around the £150 mark?
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
I also seem to have issues with freehubs, so this is good news! Mavic seem to be the main option, are there any other good brands to look for around the £150 mark?
Fulcrum have some...mavic aksiums seem to be given away for about £150 mainly by decathlon.
 
U

User6179

Guest
Mavic hubs the bearing in the hubbody is the same as a kids microscooter!!! 99p to replace
I like the Mavic free hub , like you say easy to service , they have the scooter bearings like you say but they also have a nylon bush that is quite expensive to replace .
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Qty-2-Mavic-Ksyrium-Freehub-BUSHING-Freewheel-Hub-bearing-/260383985267
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
Right, because the lateral force on a bike wheel is far greater than on a motorbike
Different rpm on a motorbike,different proportion bearing/axle..doubt a motorbike has 1\8th bearings and a 10mm axle!,and different budget!motorbike wheels £140 a pair?...other that that nearly the same!
 
Location
Loch side.
Different rpm on a motorbike,different proportion bearing/axle..doubt a motorbike has 1\8th bearings and a 10mm axle!,and different budget!motorbike wheels £140 a pair?...other that that nearly the same!
No, Dan is right. Cartridge bearings or deep groove ball bearings as they are known, is very poor at dealing with lateral forces. On a motorbike wheel there are none and the bearings last a long time. On a bicycle there are some (when springing side-to-side) and these quickly destroy cartridge bearings.
 
Location
Loch side.
Both cup-and-cone bearings and cartridge bearing can be sealed or unsealed. Sealed bearing is a meaningless way of indicating a specific bearing type. Shimano and Campagnolo uses cup-and-cone bearings (also called angular contact or ACB) bearings and the rest use deep groove cartridge bearings. The latter are a very poor choice for bicycle use but they do have the advantage that if you totally ignore maintenance, the bearing never damages the wheel whereas in Shimano wheels, a rusted cup means you dump the wheel. Campagnolo has a patent for replaceable cups and cones. But as I say, both can be made sealed or unsealed.

Servicing and adjusting cup-and-cone bearings requires some skill, but so does replacing cartridge bearings.

Mavic's nylon bush on the freewheel cannot be replaced from a Mavic spare part. Mavic only sells complete freewheels. Further, the bush runs on the hub's nose and wears that down in time, requiring a new wheel. It is a rubbish system from an engineering point of view. It is easy to service though.
 
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User6179

Guest
Both cup-and-cone bearings and cartridge bearing can be sealed or unsealed. Sealed bearing is a meaningless way of indicating a specific bearing type. Shimano and Campagnolo uses cup-and-cone bearings (also called angular contact or ACB) bearings and the rest use deep groove cartridge bearings. The latter are a very poor choice for bicycle use but they do have the advantage that if you totally ignore maintenance, the bearing never damages the wheel whereas in Shimano wheels, a rusted cup means you dump the wheel. Campagnolo has a patent for replaceable cups and cones. But as I say, both can be made sealed or unsealed.

Servicing and adjusting cup-and-cone bearings requires some skill, but so does replacing cartridge bearings.

Mavic's nylon bush on the freewheel cannot be replaced from a Mavic spare part. Mavic only sells complete freewheels. Further, the bush runs on the hub's nose and wears that down in time, requiring a new wheel. It is a rubbish system from an engineering point of view. It is easy to service though.

I always thought a good idea would be to produce cartridge bearings that fit in cup and cone hubs when they are pitted .
BTW , I love the Mavic hub , I think it is well engineered and once you know what your doing easy to work on .
 
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