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Removing / Replacing cartridge bearings in Rear Wheels, by Trikebldr

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This how-to is aimed primarily at the Shimano-made cartridge-bearing rear hubs used in the majority of Catrikes for the last several years. Speeds, Expeditions and 700’s used the Shimano “Deore” branded hubs mostly, and those have cup/cone hubs, making their bearings easily adjustable for play or preload. Roads, Trails and Pockets used primarily the “Catrike” branded hubs that had cartridge bearings in them. There are many exceptions to which hubs were used in all of the models, but this is what will be found in the majority of cases. Other brands of cartridge-bearing hubs may be the same. 
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Replacing the bearings in a rear wheel hub that uses cartridge bearings is pretty easy, but not without pitfalls. If done correctly using the right tools, it should only take about five minutes.
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Almost all of Catrike’s hubs, either cup/cone or cartridge, came with rubber conical boots over the ends of the axles. These are critical on cup/cone bearings because they keep the dirt out of the bearings. However, they are not necessary on cartridge-bearing-hubs as the bearings have their own seals. For simplicity I have left the rubber covers out of any pics. I also do not run those covers on my own cartridge-bearing-hubs.
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There are two problems that can complicate removal of the cartridge bearings. First, some of the 130mm wide hubs have the inner lock nut on the drive side (the side where the cassette is) recessed so far inside the freehub that you cannot get a wrench on it. The second problem is being sure to remove the washer that spaces the bearing from the axle’s shoulder on the non-drive side. I will address each one of these problems separately.
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First, the picture below shows the inner lock nut so far inside the freehub that you cannot get even a thin cone wrench on it.
The above is on a 130mm wide hub. On a 135mm wide hub, the nut would not be quite so recessed.  A good, thin cone wrench can grab those flats on the 135mm hub, but on the 130mm hub, you must first back the inner lock nut off just a bit on the non-drive side (picture below), ….
…then, using a rubber or plastic-faced hammer, or a press (for ceramic bearings), drive the axle toward the drive side enough to expose the inner lock nut (picture below) so it can be loosened.
This is how to remove the drive side lock nuts first. It is recommended to use a good quality cone wrench (By Park Tools or Pedro’s, for examples) on the inner lock nuts because they are properly hardened to take the abuse of such a thin wrench being used to loosen and tighten these nuts.
Some of you may say, “Well, just remove the non-drive side nuts completely first and drive the axle out toward the drive side.”. This brings us to the second problem. There is a small washer between the non-drive side bearing and a shoulder machined on the axle. The picture below shows the whole assembly laid out as it assembles, with the non-drive side to the right in the picture.
There is no washer on the drive side. The Picture below shows this washer on the non-drive side, and the next picture below hows no washer on the drive side. This washer MUST be kept oriented exactly as it is from the factory!
Non drive side with washer
Drive side with no washer.
The two pictures below show that the washer is not symetrical. One side is convex and one side is flat. The convex side also has a small radius on it’s inner edge that matches the radius next to the shoulder on the axle (picture 10). If it gets flipped over during reassembly it will cause serious problems. Mostly, it will space the bearings farther apart, and this means the bearings’ outer race edges will no longer seat properly against the hub body’s bearing pockets. Under load, the bearings will “walk” side-to-side, slowly wearing the pockets larger until the bearings will be sloppy inside the pockets.
The next pictures show the groove for the washer, the washer assembled correctly on the axle, and a cross section of the axle and the washer, with exaggerated curvature of the washer. 
The picture above show the distance between the bearings being 3.224″, which is correct for this hub, axle, and bearing assembly.
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The pictures below show the washer and axle assembled with the washer reversed, showing a distance between bearings of 3.236″. For precision bearings, this a big difference.
It should be apparent to the reader that this washer MUST be kept oriented correctly during reassembly. The problem is that if you remove the non-drive side lock nuts first and drive the axle out toward the drive side, that washer will then be floating inside the hub body and can be flipped around freely. It is important to keep the axle, washer, bearing and inner lock nut together until the axle is removed and the washer is examined for correct orientation.
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Again, the reader may ask, “Why not just place it with the convex side away from the bearing all the time, then?”. Because sometimes Shimano flips these washers themselves to obtain a correct spacing between the bearings to suit the hub body they will be going into. Both the axle and the hub body have tolerances that are kept within limits during manufacture, but the axles and bodies still have to be matched somehow, and these spacers (washers) are how they make everything fit correctly. Hence, we run into another small problem. Hub bodies, axles and washers must be kept as a “set” to be sure of a correct fit for the bearings, and that washer must be installed the same every time! If the washer is replaced with one that is thinner, you could actually put so much preload on the bearing to burn it out shortly. Ceramic bearings have been crushed from too much preloading due to replacing that washer with a thinner one!
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Once the non-drive side bearing, washer and lock nuts are removed from the axle, the axle can be used to drive the drive-side bearing out of it’s seating.
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Once the bearings are removed, if you want you can pop the coverings, clean out the old grease, put in new grease and reinstall the old bearings. We have experience with relubing ceramic bearings in this way with no ill effects, through at least 3 relubes.  See how to do the relubing step in this article.  
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On reassembly, it is easiest to start by assembling the drive side. Slide the bearing onto the axle, then put the inner lock nut on. Using both lock nuts on the non-drive side, tighten them together for use to hold the axle still while you tighten the inner lock nut on the drive side against the bearing. Then, tighten the outer lock nut against the inner lock nut. The drive side is done. Take both non-drive side lock nuts off the axle. Insert the axle from the drive side. It should now look like the picture below on the drive side, and the second picture below is how the non-drive side should look.
Drive side of hub
Non drive side of hub.
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No need to drive the bearing into it’s pocket at this time. It will slowly be pressed it in as we tighten the inner lock nut on the non-drive side. Now, install the washer (picture below) the bearing (second picture below), and the inner lock nut (third picture below).
Using this lock nut, and a wrench on the outer lock nut of the drive side, tighten this inner nut (picture 18) to draw both bearings into their pockets until this nut is tight against the bearing. Now install the spacer (picture below) and outer lock nut (second picture below) and tighten everything on the non-drive side.
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Be sure that the amount of axle threads showing is even from one side to the other, and that neither side extends outside of the dropouts of the trike/bike. On cartridge bearing axles, the shoulders that the bearings ride against will almost always keep this axle protrusion correct if the correct bearings, original nuts and spacers are used.

4 comments to Removing / Replacing cartridge bearings in Rear Wheels, by Trikebldr

  • What are the bearing numbers for the Catrike rear sealed bearings?

  • Steve Brenner

    VERY GOOD!
    My Catrike was manufactured in 2011 and serial number is CS 1103.
    Please email bearing numbers for this Speed front, rear, and bottom brackets (bb’s).
    Looking foward to a faster and easier rides.

  • I wouldn’t know, but Bruce might. What model is it?

  • trikebldr

    It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed these files, so my apologies for ignoring the questions. I can’t find my files on the bearing numbers right now, but If you do a search on the technical section of the Catrike forum, there are several threads dealing with bearings in the front and rear wheels. Also, the bearings in your wheels right now will have those numbers on them. VXB Bearings carries both the cheaper chrome-steel bearings like the original, or the hybrid ceramic bearings. A full set of ceramics for all three wheels will run about $250.
    Any further questions, email me at rbbspeed@gmail.com
    My old address at rbb@antelecom.net is no longer valid.

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