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Wheel problems - how tight should the axle bolts be?

pizzaboyEdinburghpizzaboyEdinburgh Posts: 52
edited December 2011 in The workshop
I noticed that my rear wheel was a bit buckled and after a closer look I found there was a broken spoke.I reckoned "dead easy... it's only a spoke... can't be that tricky".

I went to my local bike shop yesterday and bought a couple of new spokes. the bloke there gave me some advice as I've never tried to fix a spoke before.

Went home to fit it then found the broken spoke was on the side as the gears... my plans were scuppered. I looked in a book and saw how to remove the cassette... so went to Halfords today and bought a chain whip and cassette removal tool.

so I took the wheel off. unwound the quick release skewer thingy and removed the metal axle that goes through the wheel using a spanner. After a bit of a fight and a double-check on youtube I finally got the cassette off. I fitted the new spoke(surpisingly simple).

I then tried to put it all back together... put the axle thing through and made the bolts really tight. put the quick release skewer back on. everything looked great. the cassette spun nicely.... I was king of the world!

I put the wheel on the bike, closed the fast release mechanism... and the wheel wouldn't turn.

What had I done wrong? Not sure but the wheel seemed bound to the axle bolts. So I took the wheel off, loosened the axle bolts a little, put them back on and the wheel turned fine.

So after all this, my question is... should the two axle bolts be tight? How should I determine how tight they should be?


  • They're not 'axle-bolts', they're your cone lock-nuts.

    Torqued against the cones they should be tight, best advice is make sure your drive side it f.tight, so that adjustment is pre-load adjustment is done on the non-drive side.
    FCN16 - 1970 BSA Wayfarer

    FCN4 - Fixie Inc
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,164
    You say that you removed the axle that goes through the wheel. You dont need to do this.
    The QR skewer holds the wheel in the frame and you need to open it to remove the wheel.
    The cassette lockring holds the cassette onto the freehub. The cassette tool should fit with the axle in place.

    You only need to remove the axle when you separate the whole freehub from the hub, part of a major service service.

    I have removed the cassette as a roadside repair many times and never touched the axle or cones and lockrings.
  • thanks folks.

    BlueMeanie, I've clicked the link and you're right, judging by the pictures it was definitely the cone lock-nuts I was talking about. I think that luck rather than judgement was the solution yesterday (and got me to work today).

    I'll take the wheel back off and tighten the nuts where they touch each other just to be sure.

    MichaelW, thanks also.... I wish I'd not taken this off. no doubt this also explains why I has to pick a couple of ball bearings off the floor as there was nothing helding them in once I took the axle out, doh!

    thanks for the guidance
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    Be careful when tightening cones, you can damage the bearing races quite easily.
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    On Strava.{/url}
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,810
    Indeed, the cone should just be 'nipped up' so the bearings have no free play but still spin freely, the locknut is then done up tight to stop it turning, as the axle will often turn when doing this (changing the cone adjustment) it's a 3 hand job, one to hold drive side of the axle, one the non drive side cone and then one to tighten the non drive side locknut.

    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • 3 hands?
    Tighten Lock-Nut and drive side cones very tight (as tight is comfortable with little thin cone spanner).
    Place wheel in vice, hold drive-side lock-nut in vice-jaws.
    Adjust non-drive-side to perfection :-)

    tbh, with practice it always takes 2-3 attempts to find 'sweet-spot'
    FCN16 - 1970 BSA Wayfarer

    FCN4 - Fixie Inc
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,810
    So you use the vice as the 3rd hand, unlss you have a vice (ahem) that won't work and it's back to 3 hands!

    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
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