How To Check Bicycle Wheel Bearings

It can be tricky to assess the condition of wheel bearings and know what to do if there is an issue. Wheels can spin perfectly well even if there is no grease in a bearing or even if they are totally beyond rescue and have dried up. We’ve put together a guide on how to check your bike’s wheel bearings and some tips for making repairs when needed.

Valve Test

One of the quickest ways to tell if wheel bearings need replacing is to lift the bike so that the wheel is off the ground and place the heaviest part at the three o’clock position. This is usually where the valve is located or can be where a reflector is if your bike has them. The weight of the wheel should make it rotate to the 6 o’clock position if the bearings are in good condition. However, if the bearings are binding, it may move in a stuff manner or seems notchy or slow, this is a sign that the hub needs issues and require maintenance or that the bearings within need to be replaced.

Check for Play

Another fast way to test wheel bearings is to check for lateral play by holding the top of the wheel and gently pushing and pulling it sideways to feel for movement. In properly adjusted hub bearings, there will be no play. If there is a lot of play, however, this could indicate that the bike needs a service as the grease inside the bearings has dried up and so it may need to book in, or if they have bound, the bearings replaced.

Feeling for Bearing Issues

Although the 2 previously mentioned tests can show wheel bearing problems up and are quick, the most effective way to check for issues is to remove the wheels and hold and turn the axle. Turn them against your fingers to make sure that all components are lined up correctly, there should be no metal-on-metal contact if the bearings are correctly greased.

BETD stock a range of wheel bearings on our website ready to be ordered to make your ride smoother.