Wheels

Quite a lot of bike-wheel-related things to update: the wheels I mentioned ordering have arrived and look perfect; my rear Tiagra hub probably isn’t rusting; I have significantly reduced the amount of noise from the freehub on my Zonda rear wheel; and I have learnt a lot about how hubs and freewheels actually work.

The wheels for my new bike look perfect: silver-hubs, 32-spoke 3-cross lacing, and silver rims with matte braking surfaces. They look like what I remember racing bikes having when I was a child. Since the frame and so forth should also fit that look, the whole should be nicely co-ordinated once it’s together. There were two reasons why I wanted that style: the first is that, as it was what all bikes looked like for about 80 years, it has a quality of timelessness; the second is that at the time I was planning it I was feeling rather negative about all the EPO cheats from the 1990s and 2000s, so I wanted a bike which was not visually associated with the bikes from that era.

I dismantled the rear hub of my Open Pro/Tiagra wheels, removed the bearing balls, cleaned off all the old grease and inspected all the metal parts for corrosion: I was concerned because I had seen what looked like rust-in-grease on the QR skewer when I chanced to remove it. As it turns out it was not rust; the drive-side bearing had very little remaining grease and a small amount of brownish dirt inside it. I cleaned everything very thoroughly and re-assembled it with plenty of fresh grease; a test-ride on Sunday went without a hitch, so I assume the problem is actually fixed now. The bearing balls in the Tiagra hub are loose in the cups, held there only by the grease: when I first opened it some fell out because the bearings were too dry. I didn’t really expect that I would be able to fix that wheel: I decided to service it as practice before servicing the rear wheel of my Zonda wheelset, because that also needed to be done and I didn’t want it to be my first attempt.

The Zonda hub, which I believe has the same internals as any other Campagnolo Record hub, is quite different to the Tiagra hub: it is clearly more sophisticated in its operation. For example the Tiagra hub has a single nut to both hold the hub together and set the amount of play in the bearings, on the Record hub there are two separate systems for these two distinct purposes. This makes it easier to set them up correctly. Another refinement is a plastic carrier for the bearings, to keep them at optimal spacing. Unfortunately this impeded my attempt to service the system because I could not remove the bearings without removing the spacer and a relatively-fragile-looking dust seal which protects them: I thought that I would destroy the dust seal in attempting to move it which, lacking any spare, would render me unable to re-assemble the hub correctly. Unable to do a complete job I satisfied myself with cleaning the hub internals to the extent I could reach them, added a load more grease and then put everything back together. While I was there I decided to ensure that the freewheel ratchet had the recommended amount of grease in it: now that it does, the super-loud click when free-wheeling has gone. Another difference is that in the Tiagra hub the drive-side bearing is outboard, under the freehub body, whereas the Zonda hub places both bearings just inboard of the spoke flanges.

In both of the rear hubs I serviced the non-drive-side bearings appeared almost unused when compared to the drive-side bearings. I do not really understand why this should be the case.

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