How to Replace a Wheel Bearing

Wheel bearings keep your bike wheel spinning smoothly, with small ball bearings reducing friction. If your bike wheel is wobbling or isn't spinning as freely as it should be, then your wheel bearings may be causing the problem. This guide will take you through the steps required to change out your old bike wheel bearing and replace it.

What you'll need:

  • A screwdriver, ideally magnetic to help you remove the bearings
  • A spanner that's the correct size for your bike wheel
  • A cone spanner
  • Some citrus or bearing degreaser
  • An old rag or cloth
  • Protective gloves

If you're missing anything, you can order everything on this list from our bike maintenance and tools sections.

Unlock your wheel

Before you start, you'll need to remove your bike wheel so you can get access to the bearings. Once it's free, remove the rubber washers that sit over the locking nut with your screwdriver, then fit your cone spanner in place under the locking nut. Grab your other spanner, and loosen one of the locking nuts, keeping your cone spanner in place and twisting with the regular spanner. Only loosen one side so you don't need to readjust both when it comes to putting everything back together. Then, remove the spacer and finally the cone nut using your cone spanner.

Top tip: Keep your nuts and spacers in order on a table or flat surface so you know which order to replace them in.

Access your bearings

Once your locking nut and cone nut is out of the way, you'll need to remove the dust cap that protects your bearings from the elements. Lift this out with a bit of help from your screwdriver. Now, you'll be able to see the little ball bearings inside the hub. Lift them out using a magnetic screwdriver or magnetised tool, checking for damage to both the hub and the bearings as you go. Once you've removed the bearings on one side, slide the axle out and repeat on the other side.

Start replacing your bike wheel bearings

Give your wheel hub a good clean with your citrus spray or bearing degreaser and check the inside for wear and tear. If everything looks ok, coat the inside of the hub in grease - the more the better, as it'll help the bearings to stay in place. Then, lay your new bearings in place one at a time, spacing them evenly using your finger. Once they're in place, replace the axle and dust caps and replace the cone nut, spacer then locking nut. At this point, pick up the wheel by the locking nut and give it a wiggle, making sure it rotates freely. Replace your wheel and give it a good spin - if it slows down or doesn't run straight, you'll need to take another look at your bearings. If it spins freely, you're good to go!

If replacing bike wheel bearings sounds complicated, then fear not! Our in-store bike experts can happily change out your wheel bearings or carry out any other bike maintenance for a small fee, before checking your bike is safe to ride. Just pop into any Halfords store and we'll be happy to help!

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