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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did some maintenance on my rear hub (formula disc) yesterday. I noticed that it wasn't cartridge bearings, as I had thought, but it is cup and cone bearings. The bearings (1000 or so miles, never been touched) didn't seem to have much grease in them, so I squirted about 1/4 ounce of Finish Line wet lube into them (thickest thing I had). It runs fine, seems a little smoother. However, when the cones are adjusted properly (just tight enough for no play with QR tight), there is a slight noise from the bearings, although it seems less when riding than when testing with the bike stationary. However, if I set the cones too loose (has play), or too tight (tighten past the no-play point) the noise gets quieter. Will this kill the hub (pulled apart after riding a few miles, bearings seemed to be well coated with lube)? Or, is this OK?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok. I've only ridden about 1.75 miles like this, just to see how they felt. I was planning to get some grease soon. The cones and such looked pretty much new. The bearings have never been silent, they are just very slightly louder now.


EDIT: Just went over to the bike and spun the rear wheel. Bearings seem to have quieted down a bit after that short ride. Almost as if stuff has settled. There's enough lube in there now that the bearings shouldn't go dry. I will get some grease ASAP, but will riding for a little while with a thick oil in there damage the hub? Then again, I'm going to retire it soon enough anyway, as it will be replaced by a Hope Pro II.
 

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For the record, some hubs (especially big dollar race stuff) use oil to save on friction.

Some of the upper level mavic stuff comes to mind.
 

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MTB Addict
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I fixed the noise (and brought the freehub noise back to what it originally was). I added more oil until it couldn't keep it in past the seals at high speed (then drained off a tiny bit). Hub has never been this smooth or quiet. Apparently oil bath works well. Anyway, the Finish Line cross country wet lube in there is thicker than a bottle of 75W-90 gear lube I found in my garage! I'll see how the hub holds up over the next few weeks until I retire the wheelset. It'll see 10 miles tomorrow.
 

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Old man on a bike
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It'll "work" for short periods. The bearings are more at risk, though. Do you really want to go in there all the time? The oil won't stay like grease will. My understanding is that oil has been used by velodrome or road racers to get max performance but with the understanding of potential for damage and the need for service after each use. Try reading this discussion for another angle http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-74697.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, Sheldon Brown's website says oil is fine, you will just have to lube it every 1-2 weeks. I'll open it up in a week or 2 and see how it looks. I used thick oil and put in as much as I could without the hub blowing it out past the seals when spinning fast, so it should be good for a while. After 2 miles, everything still looked great, and EVERYTHING in there was very well lubed. By sound, it's even keeping my freehub lubed (and no noticeable extra drag). If it seems to do well, I'll keep it this way, as once I get my new wheelset, this one won't see much, if any, use. I don't plan to buy any non-cartridge bearing hubs in the future, so I'll write it off as an experiment (it's an OEM hub anyway). Either way, should make cleaning the hub guts easy (dump out lube, squirt in more). Too bad the hub isn't better sealed, or I'd just fill it up. My only concern is that the bearings may starve for oil at high speed (40+ mph). I can only spin it up to about 30 or so by hand, and everything sounds good after 5 or so mins at that speed, but once it goes faster, centrifugal force may push too much oil to the outside edges of the hubshell. At lower speeds, it should dump all over the place, keeping the bearings coated with flowing oil (may prevent localized heat in bearing races, as the oil would spread it around and dissipate it better out of the hubshell). The stuff also seems to thicken with use, as the oil built up on the axle (after 2 miles) was thicker than what I put in (but same color, smell, and still clean). I'll report back in a few days. Maybe somebody needs to make an actively lubed oil bath hub?
 

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The Campy Record hubs on my road bike use oil...they have a little port so you can add a few drops occasionally. I've never seen another hub roll better. However, on a MTB a light grease will probably be better and last longer. Phil Wood water proof grease is excelent.

Mikey
 

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If you want to use oil in the hubs, use something with a very high viscosity index, I would say upwards of ISO 600. Grease would work better though, grease, at least the good industrial ones I've used in my plant, is like a sponge which contains the oil, so it keeps the oil where it's supposed to be, in between the bearings and the race, and not going into other places as would happen with oil, even the most viscous ones. It helps to look at a big company which sells a whole range of lubricants to see which one is better in which applications, such as www.mobil.com.
 

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Legend
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Ya, oil will work it's way out very quickly compared to grease if your seals aren't awesome. If you want to keep putting oil in them all the time, they'll be great. However, get some good grease, the hubs will get even quieter, and will stay clean for a very long time comparatively.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, so far the seals seem to hold the oil in alright, as long as I don't over-fill the hubs (can't go full oil bath). If I get above 1/4 full, I start to blow oil all over my rotor once it gets spinning fast (weaker seal on that end). Also, they seem to be doing alright, although I haven't ridden them too much (been busy). I'll keep an eye on them and report back in another few weeks.
 
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