As you’ve used your bike over the years, you might have heard those scary rattles coming from your ride. The rattles usually mean that something has come loose in the system, and more often than not, the cones will be the culprits.
On most hubs with loose balls, they are the outer bearing surfaces on the hub you can easily adjust. Meaning that they can also loosen due to the impact of your riding, introducing play to the bearings and causing the rattling noise.
To check if they are loose, grab the wheel and try moving it sideways. If the rims move while the hub doesn’t, it means you have a loose one to deal with. You can confirm by bringing out the wheel and wobbling the axle. This way, you’ll be able to clearly feel if there is any play.
A lot of aftermarket hubs make use of replaceable cartridge bearings in place of adjustable cones and loose balls. If the hub develops any play, it usually means you have to replace the bearings, although there are some hubs that have adjustable end-loads.
If they are loose, you can just clean, strip, and re-grease the hub. But before going into that, you have to first adjust them.
This bike component is usually narrow and requires special cone wrenches to reach them. The size you need depends on the hub you are dealing with. For Shimano, the front is 13 mm while the rear is 15 mm. You might also need another spanner for the lockfits. With the right bike cone spanner set, you should get the ideal for your hub.
If you have ascertained they are loose, take out the release skewer from the axle. They practically just get in the way. Next, you should pop the nut and spring back on the shaft because they are likely to roll off.
A lot of hubs have rubber seals around this bike component. You should use small screwdriver to lift it out. Also take care not to spoil it.
After this, you have now exposed them. There is one for each side, although in most cases, you just need to adjust one side. The two are held together by locknuts. So, you should remove them from the locknuts. To do this, place your spanner into the one at the back of the locknut.
Put the spanner on the locknut and have it turned anticlockwise while you use the spanner to hold the cone in place. This should make them come out. If it doesn’t come off easily, put the spanner in a position that you can pull both handles with one hand.
Now you have to deal with the slack. Place the spanner on the locknut and tighten the cone.
To make sure they are in place, you have to snug them up on the locknuts. Tighten the locknut on it. Hold the locknut in position while you back off the cone against it.
Now, you have to check for any play in the hub axle. At this stage, your axle should spin without any strange rattle. If the play is too much or too little, then you need to readjust them again.
When you’re done, put the rubber seal back. After this, put back the skewer and then put back the wheels. Now, check the rim for wobbles by grabbing it. If everything goes on fine, the wheels should spin without any wobble.