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Shimano Cassette play / Freehub locknut adjustment problem

EasyToAssembleEasyToAssemble Posts: 8
edited June 2014 in Workshop

I know the cassette problems have been answered in one way or another, but I couldnt seem to find the answer to this particular issue. I'm a newbie when it comes to in-depth maintenance.

I recently noticed some play in my Shimano 8sp cassette, especially feeling the rear wheel "snaking" when coasting at junctions. I recently had the bearings repacked at a shop, and noticed the issue not long after.

I removed the cassette and attempted to adjust the freehub locknuts with cone-wrenches. This stopped the play in the freehub, but consequently meant the wheel ran far less smoothly, freewheeling to an abrupt stop when fastened onto the bike. The wheel seems true and centred when on the bike, but I did notice that when I loosened the quick-release, the wheel ran a bit better, as the locknuts were allowed to turn.


- loosen the locknuts : cassette-play but better freewheeling


- tighten the locknuts: less cassette play but stiffer wheel movement

Is this a locknut adjustment issue, or do I need to get inside the hub? Hopefully I'm just overlooking something simple here. I did try adjusting the locknuts incrementally, but can't seem to find a middle-ground.

Would buying a new wheelset give me less grief, or is there a way to get these running a lot smoother?. My wheels (I have a BTwin Triban 3) are reknowned for being somewhat censored , so I'm ready for a slight upgrade if it simply means an increase in reliability (I've heard good things about the Fulcrum 7's, Mavic Aksiums, and Campagnolo Khamsins).

I intend to commute in bad weather once I get back on the road, so are hub-problems an issue that I would encounter regularly, even if I bought better wheels and looked after them?.


  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    The freehub bearings are non adjustable. The cone and locknut are for the hub bearings which is why the wheel is now running stiff. Get them sorted before any damage is done. A bit of float is normal with Shimano (and many other) cassettes and is nothing to worry about. The freehub is serviceable if you have the tools but not easy. Very few bother. When it starts to growl too much or not pick up properly change it then. You can remove the freehub and lubricate it by removing the seal at the back and oiling. It comes off with a 10mm allen key after you have removed the hub bearings.
  • Thanks for the advice. I hadn't considered that I was putting pressure on the bearings. I should have mentioned, I wasn't riding the bike with a stiff wheel - I had it on a stand at the time.

    I suppose I'm just unsure of how much float/oscillation is supposed to be too-much. I might just adjust again to minimise play, but make sure I've got enough free movement of the bearings. The hub doesn't slip when engaging and I haven't noticed any noise as yet.

    That said, I may just take the wheel into another shop for the sake of getting it sorted out quicker until I have time to learn a bit more about this through trial and error :roll: .
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    The freehub itself is non adjustable and it has its own bearings. Adjustment of the hub bearings has no affect on it. Correct hub bearing adjustment is important.
    It is possible that your wheel is not a Shimano one in which case the adjustments may be different. Not many wheels other than Shimano have cones however.
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