Axle cones keep loosening

Hi guys

I replaced the bearings in my rear wheel about two months ago. Tightened it up and all was good (no play in the wheel).

This morning I noticed that the wheel has developed play, I’m guessing the axle cones have loosened up.

I also notice that the axle slips a little, nothing major, but the chain tension is usually a bit looser at the end of a ride than after I had tightened down the bolts.

I suspect the axle slipping might be causing the axle bolts to loosen, and thus the cones.

Is this a reasonable assumption, and are there any other tips on tightening the axle cones down without stripping the axle?

Any help is appreciated!

I’d guess the same thing, that your cones are loose. Adjust the cones and tighten the locknut up pretty hard against it: but note that tightening the lock nut will push the cone in a little too, and your previously perfectly adjusted cone may now be too tight.

You can tighten the locknut quite hard without worrying about stripping the axle.

As for axle slipping, I suppose that could have been caused by the locknuts not being suffiently tightened against the cones and so the axle nuts weren’t tightening against them suffieciently either. Again, you should do up the axle nuts pretty tight.

Perfectionists will adjust the cones to consider the tightening of the axle nuts as well (if axles hollow) quick release skewers, which means you may feel some play when the wheel is not installed.

Check this, it’s comprehensive:

Yep - tighten the axle nuts more than you are currently doing it

You can loosen bearing adjustment by loosening the cone and keeping the locknut stationary (relative to the axle), which will still tighten the two together but back off the bearing tightness. Ideally you have the other side in a vice to make this job easy.

Slightly loose bearings is for QRs, which compress the axle between the locknuts when closed, axle nuts compress the dropout between locknut and axle nut, which doesn’t affect the bearing adjustment.

i had similar probs, loose bearings developed over a couple of weeks and also axle slip. When i tightened up the locknuts and cones really tight the axle slippage has also stopped. Just be wary when tightening the cones they don’t get too tight, it can take a few cracks at it.

Just read Blakey’s reply, vice idea will get used, i like it.

So is there no amount of axle compression with track hubs? :expressionless:

If you visualise the forces, you’ll see that it can’t.

A QR squeezes the dropouts together, exerting a force on the locknuts, compressing the axle slightly, you can’t tighten one side only.

With a bolted axle, you can tighten each side individually, compressing the dropout and putting the section of axle between locknut and axle nut in tension.

Make sense?

Yep that makes sense - it did have me wondering for a moment, but I didn’t ask the question the way I meant it… is there no amount of cone movement with track hubs, resulting from tightening axle nuts (in the same way that a cone can move slightly when the lock nut is tightened against it)?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: If the axle remains stationary when tightening the axle nut, the cone won’t move relative to the axle, only the axle nut is moving, and clamping the dropout between it and the locknut. The only part of the axle deforming (elastically) is the section between the locknut/axle nut, in the dropout.



Thanks for the replys, especially blakey as I learned something new.

Ok, a bit more information. I’m running a single speed that uses a shimano exage freehub (cassette system). I run a surly single speed cassette sprocket on it, and a DMR spacer kit. I had taken out the hollow quick release axle and replaced it with a solid, nutted axle. This was back in feb.

I worked on it last night (was getting eaten alive my mozzies too, little bastards), and I think the axle is already a bit stripped, none of the spacers or cones turn smoothly on the axle.

One thing I noticed. There is a relationship between the chain tension and the play in the wheel. When the chain is tight, the wheel has no play. When the chain has less tension, there is slight play (better than before, but still).

Any ideas on why this is?

Thanks in advance!

Too tight a chain will put an additional unnecessary load on the bearings, eventually causing damage to your cones.

A loose chain’s a fast chain, just as long as it can’t fall off.

Adjust the play out of your bearings, don’t over tension your chain, all will be swell.

Maybe also take the cones/locknuts off your axle, give it a good clean in degreaser with a scourer or similar, then reinstall them with some grease, might help them move a little smoother. If the threads are damaged, get a new axle / cones / etc.

Definitely, I remember checking the cones after initially having them and the chain tension adjusted too tight, they were shot and that was after a couple of thousand km. I guess I learn lessons the hard way hah

The chainline is perfect (due to spacer kit), so I will loosen the tension a bit.

Thanks for the help, I think a new axle is on the list of things to get!