How to Grease Bicycle Wheel Bearings

The wheel bearings sit between a cone screwed to the wheel axle and the cup in the wheel hub. They must be properly adjusted and greased. To find out if they need greasing without taking everything apart, simply remove the wheel from the bike, support the axle horizontally with your fingers, and turn the wheel slowly--try not to tilt the axle as it rotates. If the wheel does not turn smoothly or you can feel tiny bumps in your fingers, then you must dismantle the bearing assembly and service the bearings.


  1. Image titled Grease Bicycle Wheel Bearings Step 1
    Get some good, flat, open wrenches. Make sure they are in sizes 13mm and 15mm. Those are the most common sizes. No other size wrench will work, but any type of adjustable wrench will do for the locking nut.
  2. Image titled Grease Bicycle Wheel Bearings Step 2
    Put the flat wrench on the bearing cone between the hub and the locking nut. Put the adjustable wrench on the locking nut. Hold the bearing cone in place and unscrew the locking nut. The best position to do this is hunched over the wheel while it sits on the ground. Whatever you do,do not open the cones at all while in this position. Just unlock it so you can unscrew everything with your fingers later.
    • Some hubs requires thin wrenches for this step, due to limited space between the locking nut and the cassette housing for example.
  3. Image titled Grease Bicycle Wheel Bearings Step 3
    Grab the axle on the side that is still locked in place and point the end that you've just loosened, up. Now it is time to unscrew the locking nut almost completely off the axle. Next, unscrew the bearing cone to expose the wheel bearings to the light of day. Any grease in there?
  4. Image titled Grease Bicycle Wheel Bearings Step 4
    Re-grease. The fast way to re-grease your bearings is by just shooting grease in the bearings, screwing the cone back in, flipping the wheel over, hold the cone of the bearing you've just greased, grab the axle now facing up, unscrew it to reveal the other side's bearings and pack them with grease. But the proper way is by taking everything off, clean all the cones, hub cups, bearings, and repack with grease.
  5. Image titled Grease Bicycle Wheel Bearings Step 5
    Reassemble. Screw the bearing cone back into place, but not too tight. Bearings should be able to roll smoothly without axle play. Tighten the lock nut into place and check again.


  • One great way to pack grease in wheel axles is by using a small feeder syringe.
  • A good grease recipe to try is a 50/50 mix of green axle grease and any type of white teflon based bicycle grease. The teflon grease is very good but isn't very thick and tends to liquify easily. The green axle grease adds muscle to it and allows it to stay in place at higher temps.
  • Make sure the bearing cones are properly torqued down on both sides. The bearings should be loose enough to allow the wheel to spin smoothly and easily, but tight enough so that there is no side-to-side play when the wheel is reinstalled; grasp the fork or frame and push the wheel sideways with your thumb to check.
  • Only undo one side of the axle, this way you are sure that your axle is always centered when you reassemble it.
  • In order to repack rear wheels, you have to remove the gear cogs on them. In order to do this, you need a special tool to unscrew it. Check with your local bike shop for the proper one. There are a few models and types. It is possible to remove the sprockets without any special tools but it is much more difficult and destructive than using the right tools.
  • Another kind of grease that works well for this is called White Lithium Based grease. It is sometimes sold under the trade name Lubriplate┬«.


  • Be careful when mixing greases as not all are compatible.
  • If everything is clean, you might have small pits in your bearing cones or cup. The bearings will still work to some extent but it is best to replace them.
  • If you ever hear crunching noises while turning the axle, dirt has gotten into your bearings and you should start all over again. To avoid this, make sure you work in a clean place.
  • Coaster brake or inner speed hubs are almost bullet proof and very rarely need re-greasing. They're also quite complicated and you should let a professional overhaul those if you aren't confident in your abilities.

Sources and Citations

  • HowToFixBikes Blog - Source of this article. Shared with permission. Visit the site for many others great tips.

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