How to Tighten Rear Hub on Mountain Bike

Last Updated on August 7, 2022

Mountain bikes have multiple parts and components. And one of the most important of them is the rear hub. This lets you transfer your pedaling force to your wheels, which then moves the bike.

The rear hub also absorbs a lot of impact and stress especially if you ride on gnarly trails. This is why they usually become loose. You need to tighten it at once to prevent accidents and injuries.

But doing so requires a lot of technical knowledge. Not to mention that you need to do additional servicing and maintenance on surrounding parts.

That’s what this article is about, as we are going to show you how to tighten rear hub on a mountain bike.

Tools to Prepare

Have the right tools and equipment needed when doing adjustments and maintenance on your mountain bike. This improves the bike’s performance and ensures they stay in pristine condition.

Here are the tools you will need for your work on your rear hub:

  • Cone wrenches
  • Axle vise
  • Bench vise
  • Combination wrenches
  • Rags
  • Solvent
  • Wire tires
  • Pencil magnet
  • Grease

You’ll find the cup fitted permanently into the hub shell in a basic bearing system. You’ll also notice that the cone is trapping the ball bearing.

There is a lock nut tightened against the cone. This prevents it from moving or slipping. Adjust the cone and bring it closer to the cup if you find loose bearings.

Newer free hubs are more complicated, though. They have a free hub mechanism with cassette cogs attached to their body.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Tighten Rear Hub on a Mountain Bike

Knowing the exact process of tightening the rear hub is necessary to make sure it’s properly installed later on. The last thing you want is to find your rear wheel detached to your bike, right?

Step 1: Remove the cogs

Start by removing the cogs on the drive side. Do this by first removing the quick release skewer Remove the axle nuts if it’s an axle type. Check the axle ends and measure the axle excess from the lock nut. You can adequately measure the excess by counting the number of threads in a quick-release hub.

Then remove the rubber cover. You can use a string to hold the small parts for easy remounting. This also maintains its exact sequence. Hold the cone and slowly loosen the lock nut in a counter-clockwise rotation using your cone wrench.

Step 2: Remove the rear wheel

First, remove the cone by turning it counter-clockwise. Then slowly lift the wheel up by supporting it with your arms. Catch any bearings that might fall off. Place the wheel on the side.

Remember to count and note the number of bearings on each side. Use your pencil magnet in removing the bearings.

Always keep the dust caps when you overhaul. Dust caps are fragile and placing pressure on them may lead to damages. Work your way around when you are cleaning or inspecting them to make sure they’re not lost.

Step 3: Clean and re-grease

Use a damp cloth to wipe and clean all the parts you’ve just removed. Don’t mix up any cleaning agent or solution to your free hub as this can corrode its surface. A thorough wipe is enough! All parts must be dry before you assemble it. Then lubricate your free hub body lightly.

Step 4: Inspect your loose rear hub

Use a ballpoint pen to trace around the bearing part when checking your hub cones and cups. You’ll notice any damages, scratches, or deformities by feeling it with your pen.

Make sure that the ball bearings are smooth. It’s best to replace them if they’re already very rough and dull. Inspect your axle by placing it flat on the surface and inspecting it.

Take notice if there are any gaps as you roll the axle because you cannot fix a damaged axle.

Step 5: Re-assemble the rear hub

Start your assembly by greasing lightly on the axle thread and heavily on the inside of the hub shell cups. Place the bearings inside while covering it with more grease. Make sure that the balls are properly seated inside.

It is best to start on the right side if all parts were removed. Carefully install the parts from its original orientation. Do not forget to refer to your earlier measurements when placing back the axle.

It is important to tighten the cone lock nut fully once you get everything in place

Step 6: Adjust and re-install the rear hub

Quick-release hubs have a hollow design on its axle. This means that the extra pressure on the lock affects the bearing adjustment. A hub that is not locked tight to the frame may lead to a slight play on the axle. The hub and wheel should also be clamped well together.

Turn the wheel from side to side and let it roll stationary at once to check if all is in their designated place. You’ll hear a knocking sound if it’s not placed properly.

Note that there’ll be a play in your axle when you move it outside the bike. But it should have no play when attached to the bike. And you’re done.

Visually Inspecting the Rear Hub

Bearings are small round metal objects that help your wheel rotate smoothly. You can not check your bearings by just evaluating its smoothness. There are lots of hub brands that have different textures!

It is instead best to check on it closely through a magnifying glass. It is also advisable to adjust bearings in a loose setting so it will not knock or play.


Many mountain bike users sometimes take for granted one of the most used and crucial parts — rear hubs.

regularly check this to ensure a smooth ride and without worrying it would break. This will also help you save your costs of replacement or when damaged.

Always seek professional help from bike shops in case you encounter difficulties in tightening it. This helps you avoid any unnecessary damage you might do when tinkering with the hubs or other parts.

Also, make it a habit to have a clean and well-maintained mountain bike so you can have a more enjoyable ride.

conclusion - mountain bike rear hub

It’s not all about the fun, because maintaining your bike also keeps you safe and away from injuries. Note that having a bike isn’t just about riding it. It’s also about knowing how to maintain it.

And one good example of that is by knowing how to tighten rear hub on a mountain bike.

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