How to Rebuild a Shimano Hub

Written by jason hinkley
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How to Rebuild a Shimano Hub
Regular hub service keeps your wheels spinning smoothly. (bicycle wheel image by Horticulture from

The great thing about Shimano is that, unlike other high-end hub manufacturers, they make all their hubs completely serviceable. When properly maintained, wheels built with Shimano hubs will keep your bike rolling smoothly and reliably for years. Unlike other components, hubs do not need to be regularly adjusted or lubricated. However, from time to time water and dirt can penetrate the grease that protects the bearings inside the hub, causing friction between the bearings and hub body. When this happens it's time to take the hub apart and rebuild it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Set of Cone Wrenches
  • Bicycle Grease
  • Rag

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  1. 1

    Remove the quick-release skewer that runs through the axle. Loosen the locknut assembly. Hold the flattened nut, referred to as a cone, with a cone wrench. Hold another cone wrench on the front of the locknut and unscrew it. Repeat on the opposite side and note the order in which the pieces came off.

  2. 2

    Pull the axle out of the hub. Remove the seal rings on the inside of the hub and pull out the ring of bearings on each side. Wipe away all the old grease and any dirt that has accumulated in the hub. Clean all the parts thoroughly with the rag.

  3. 3

    Check the rings of bearings and the inside of the hub body. The rings should not be cracked and should contain all the bearings. Replace any missing bearings. If the ring is broken, replace that as well. Check the hub body for signs of wear, such as grooves or cracks. If the body is cracked, the hub is not repairable.

  4. 4

    Regrease all the parts and the inside of the hub body. Place a very thick coat of grease on the bearings and a thin coat on everything else. Be liberal with the grease, because it is what protects the moving parts of the hub from dirt and grime.

  5. 5

    Put the bearings and seals back into place on the hub body. Slide the axle back through the hub. Screw the locknut assembly back onto the axle, with the parts in the same order as they were removed. Keep the axle even, with the same amount of threading sticking out of both sides.

  6. 6

    Tighten the locknut assembly. Using the cone wrench, tighten the cone until it is snug, then bring it back a quarter of a turn. Hold the cone in place and tighten the front locknut with another cone wrench.

  7. 7

    Check the tightness. It should be tight enough to prevent any lateral movement, but no tighter. If it is too tight, the bearings will not spin freely. Pick the wheel up and spin it; if there is any resistance, it's too tight. If you can wiggle the axle with your hand, it's too loose.

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