Maintain Your Wheels | GMBN Tech How To

Maintain Your Wheels | GMBN Tech How To

– We’re pretty lucky as mountain bikers with respect that the kit is pretty durable and tough these days. But, it still does
require basic maintenance in order to avoid those costly repairs further down the line. Now although wheels are one of the those fundamental parts of the
bike that you can’t ignore, most people do actually ignore them until something happens. So, today we are going to be looking at wheel care, everything you need to do in order to keep on rollin’. (tech music) There are a lot of parts of the wheel that can let you down on a ride, so we’re gonna look at each part of them. So, there are rims, there’s spokes, there’s the freehub body, which
is underneath the cassette. There’s the bearings on the inside. And, of course, there’s
the axles, as well. Now, this is the first
thing you need to have a little feel of before you start looking and inspecting the rims. Now, you want to be feeling your axles, and what you are looking
for is any knocking, any play, or grindy sort of feeling. That would suggest the bearings are worn out or damaged. Now, this particular one is actually quite smooth, but knowing
how this has been ridden, I’m thinking it might have
some damage on the inside. So, we’re going to have
a look at that, shortly. But, most importantly, at this stage is that there is no play. And the reason for that is when you look to see if a wheel is true or not, if it has any play at the axle, it could be misleading
what you see at the rim. And, you need to be a
bit more accurate when you are looking for that
damage at the rim end. So, in this case, it works. It’s not the best, but it’s going ’round. So, we’re gonna put this in a wheel jig, and we’re gonna start
inspecting the rim on here. Now, I’m fully aware
that a lot of you won’t have wheel jigs, or access to wheel jigs. So, you can do this by using your bike, by using the frame, and basically just monitoring the rim as
it rotates around there. But, for ease of use,
I’m gonna show you this in our wheel jig. Okay, so first up, you wanna be inspecting the rims of the actual wheel, itself. So rims, themselves, are very important. Firstly, they form part of the structure of the actual wheel, and of course, they hold your tires on, as well. So, you need to work your way around, and you’re looking for any
sort of scarring to the rim, anything that could be a crack. Look around the eyelets,
make sure the nipples and the eyelets area is not
damaged in any kind of way. And what you’re looking
for is any hop up and down, any side to side movement,
or any actual dents and dings in the sidewall of the rim. Now, if your tires have stayed
inflated in this process, this is a particular thing
to note for tubeless set-up, then you might have got away with it. But, it’s quite common to find dents in the sidewalls of rims. Now, this tends to happen
if you hit rocks, or roots, or anything else very
hard or squarish impact. And, it simply folds those sidewalls over. Now, it’s not really a fault of the rim. This could just happen as a
result of mountain biking, and is something very common in downhill and enduro just because
of the way the bike’s been ridden extremely hard
on quite severe terrain. Now, it’s possible to continue
riding a rim like this, as long as it still enables
your tire to stay inflated. If it doesn’t, and you
have got issues with that, maybe it’s not allowing
the tire to remain seated, and have an airtight seal. Something you can do is straighten
out these dings and dents manually using a flat adjustable spanner. Now it’s really important to note that the rims, themselves, obviously made from aluminium, they are quite soft. Now, aluminium doesn’t like
to be bent around too much. Once it’s been bent, it becomes, or is in danger of becoming, brittle. So, you only really want
to do this if it’s a last resort to make sure your
tire can stay sealed. So, I would recommend
actually leaving it alone, unless there is a problem. Only do this as a last resort, and be extremely careful when you do this. (hip hop music) Now, the key to any wheel
staying properly true and well tensioned is the
fact that all the spokes need to have an equal tension. Equal tension equals a
strong and safe wheel. Now, over time of riding mountain bikes, a certain attribute of riding, can really affect the wheel itself. Just for example, if you
landed a jump sideways, you could buckle the rim. And what that would mean, in
terms of damage to the wheel, is if the rim is twisted in one direction, you’re gonna get some spokes that are pulled incredibly tight, and other spokes that
end up being quite baggy. Now, this can also happen if, for example, your rigged already is
pulled into the spokes, it can damage them,
sticks, there’s a whole number of things that can affect this. So, it’s worth working your
way around a wheel set. And, just checking the spokes feel roughly tensioned all the way around. Make sure they feel fairly similar. If there is anything that
feels extremely loose, or extremely tight, then you
need to take a second look. Now, spoke tension is
something that you really do need to adhere to, and
you do need some specialist tools to get an accurate
reading on spoke tension, on one of these spoke
tension meters from Park. But, well aware, this is
a very specialist tool, and something that a
wheel builder would have. Most people don’t have these at home. So, you’re gonna have to use your good old hands to get a feel of this. Now, something that’s very
important to tell you, with any sort of spokes,
and any sort of wheel advice, is that generally,
when you are adjusting spoke nipples, in order to take the wheel to one side or the
other, you should really be doing this a quarter
of a turn at a time. Now, with a wheel like
this, where the spoke is that loose, really need
to nip it up tight first, and then start doing your
quarter turns from there. Something else to take
into account is you don’t always want to be tightening spokes. Sometimes, you need to loosen the opposite spokes to have the same effect. If you end up just tightening
spokes to eradicate a side to side problem, then
your gonna have the effect of pulling that edge of the rim closer to the hub, and you can actually egg shape the wheel slightly by doing this. It’s a very fine tuning
thing, and wheel building, itself, is quite an advanced skill. We will be looking
directly at doing a wheel truing class at some
point down the line, soon. But for now, this is
just how you make sure that those spokes, you nip
them up tight and they’re not going to cause you
any additional hassle. And the last but final
thing you need to remember when truing wheels, is to
have the correct spoke key. Now, you get different sizes
of spoke nipple like this, so it’s vital that you
have the correct one. Because spoke nipples,
themselves, come in different materials, and they can
be very easily damaged. Now typically, Hamber
wheels tend to have brass nipples, but it is very
common, also, to have aluminium nipples or alloy nipples. Now, those can be very easily rounded off, and if you do round one off, it’s very unlikely you are going
to be able to loosen it. In which case, the way
to get it out again, would be to cut that
spoke, then you are gonna have to put a fresh spoke
in, with a fresh nipple, and do this whole process again. So, start the right way, and get the correct spoke key. You only ever need to
buy these once for your set of wheels, and you
can continue using them. Now you can get some good value for money multi spoke keys that will
do a bunch of different sizes, but they’re never
quite as easy to use as a dedicated single spoke key. So, do a little bit of research. Get the one that fit your wheels, and you’re good to go. Now, as part of the process
of tightening up spokes, there’s also something
you need to do afterwards. Otherwise, they’re just
gonna undo themselves. And, it’s called relieving the tension. Now, when you tighten up the spoke nipple, the actual spoke, itself, can twist. It doesn’t always happen, but on occasion, the spoke will twist, and what will happen if you don’t relieve that tension is you go for a ride it will unravel itself, it would just be back to
where it was to start with. So, there’s a couple of different ways you can relieve that tension. You can do it manually by literally just squashing those spokes together. Work your way around the whole wheel until that’s done. Then, you’re gonna need to
check for trueness again. And, if necessary, make a
few of those quarter turn adjustments just to keep it running true. The other method is a bit more extreme. So, if you’d bear with me, you’re gonna have to come down here for this angle. I want you to do this, is actually laying the actual axle
of the hub on the floor, itself, and putting your
body weight against the rim. Now, take note that it’s okay to do this with the cassette side, but
if you’ve got a disc rotor on, like I have on this side, you might want to remove this first. Otherwise, you could damage that. But, I just wanna accentuate
the point of how you’d do this. You’d work your way around the rim, and what you’re listening for is any, there you go, a little pop, like that. Have those spokes just
unraveling themselves and settling in. Then, it’s a case of
returning it to a work stand, just double checking
it’s still running true. You might need to make a
few minute adjustments, then repeat this process,
then you’re good to go. (hip hop music) Now, this doesn’t apply to
the front wheel, of course, but with the rear wheel, you
have the cassette on there. You have the mechanism on the inside, with either a rachet,
or a system of pulls. You, of course, have the axle
going through with bearings. Now, all of this, takes a lot
of abuse out on the trail. So, I recommend taking the cassette off. Now, this is a really good one to show, because this is a Shimano Passen cassette and free wheel on there, and sometimes you can get damage to the
actual free wheel body where the cassette
actually cuts into that. And, if that’s the case, then A, it’s going to become
very difficult to remove it in the future. And B, it can actually
further damage itself. And, I’ve even heard in extreme cases, of individual teeth actually big enough to spin all the way
around, where they have managed cut all the way through. So, we’re gonna inspect that,
and make sure it’s safe. And, we’re actually going
to take a look at the pulls on the inside of this system, as well. Because, there’s something that can stick, and not only does it add
friction to the drive train, but it means you won’t get that pick up, and it won’t be as accurate
and safe as it should be. If the pulls, themselves, are sticking through maybe gunk and other stuff that’s on the inside there, the little springs aren’t going to allow them to push out and lock into place. And, it’s the locking in place that makes the transmission work, and stops you going over the handle bars. Now, to remove the cassette
is essentially the same on Schramm and Shimano systems. You need the cassette lock ring tool. And, that slots into
this part, right there. Then, you’ll either want
a vice or adjustable spanner in order to hold that. You also need a chain whip. And, the reason for that, is if you just try to undo this, the
cassette naturally rotates. The chain whip is what you use to counter, and hold it in place, like a vice. Make sure you use the
correct tools for the job. There are various different
sizes on the market. In this case, when the levers be changed, you’ve got to make sure
the chain on the chain whip correlates to that cassette. And, of course, you’re using
the correct lock ring tool. There’s various different
options available on the market. So, as you mark that T behind me off, taking of most of the sprockets, will come off in single pieces. And then, you’ve got the
bottom of the cassette here that slides off in a
single sort of spider. Now, you get some cassettes
that are in one big piece, and others are of this design. There’s various on the market. One of the downsides to this design is, because these sprockets are quite narrow, they actually cut into
the surface of the actual freehub body, itself, and
become hard to take off. And, as I mentioned
earlier, in extreme cases, they can actually cut all
the way through, and spin. Which is really, really dangerous. So, if yours starts looking like this, you need to do something about it. This one will actually
be okay for a while, but what I’d recommend doing
is just filing the edges of those sort of little
divets that are left in there, so you can get your
cassette on and off safely, but definitely recommend looking into getting another freehub body. And perhaps, when the time
comes to upgrade your cassette, look at getting something that’s more or less in a single piece. I actually quite like the Schramm system, because you don’t get that
with the Schramm system. It’s just one of the
things that you do get with certain Shimano cassettes on this style of freehub body. Now, next up, you want to be removing your freehub body, so you can clean it, inspect it, and make sure those pulls are clean, and lubricated,
and not terminated in a way that’s going
to stop them working. Now, this particular hub
actually has a ratchet system on the inside,
but I’ve got another hub, just here, with a pull system. So, I’m just going to
show you the two systems, so you can know how to
basically clean them, and make sure they are working nicely. Now, the first thing today,
is getting the end caps off. Now, there’s various different
models on the market, so they will come off in different ways. Some unscrew against the cap that would be on the other side, on the non-drive side. Where some, in the case of this
DT Swiss, I’m gonna push on. Now this one actually was easy to loosen, but more often than not,
you’ll actually need to put these in a vice
to actually get them out. But, make sure you use
soft jaws on that vice, so you don’t damage the end cap. But then, there’s simply
a case of removing things, and I’m very carefully just sliding off that freehub body. You have the body, itself, and you can see the bearings on the inside, there. And, you can see the ratchet. Well, what the ratchet clicks into there, the serrated teeth. It’s pretty dirty, so I’m gonna give that a good bit of a clean. I want to make sure the bearings are still running nice and smoothly. If they need changing, that’s
a whole different detail job, and I’m going to do a
how to change bearings on a whole hub system
in another video soon. But, it’s quite detailed, so
it does warrant it’s own video. This video, we just want to
make sure this is running nice and smoothly, and
doing it’s job correctly. So the next thing to do,
is remove that spring, and note the fact its small
side goes in to the hub. So, remember that from when
you’re putting it back on. Remove those two ratchet rings. And, there’s another spring
just on the inside here, that you may need a screw driver
just to pull out from hub. And, that one goes small
side towards the ratchet. And there we go, you have your axle running through the middle there, which on this bike, is
actually nice and smooth. I don’t need to really be too
concerned about the bearings, but I am concerned about
the gunk that’s around this. I want to clean that out, and make sure it’s running smooth. Now, something that’s
really important to note, because you can see the
edge of the cartridge bearings, in a hub, when you do this, is not to use de-greaser directly on it. Put some de-greaser on a rag. Use that to wipe around and
clean those surfaces up. And then, you want to put some very light lube on the inside, there. So, same goes for the ratchet rings. Give them a decent clean. Make sure there’s no grime stuck in there. And then, they should look good as new. So there we go, just those internal components are nice and clean. The bearings actually in this
freehub body are really nice, so there’s no need to
replace those at this stage. But, I said earlier, we will go and do that in a later video. What you need to do now
is put some very thin grease on those ratchety rings. Reassemble it back together, and then get that cassette back on. If your hub has a more traditional pulls, as opposed to a ratchet
system, similar concept, you wanna make sure that the
serrated ring on the inside is nice and clean and
that those pulls will actually move completely unhindered. Now, with pulls, you don’t want
to be using grease, really. You really want an oil for this, because you want to have the
least resistance possible, so they can spring back into place. If you add a thick oil on those pulls, then they might not, on their springs, return into their locked position, which would mean they’re not
gonna lock into that ratchet, and therefore when you go
to pedal, it could slip. So, make sure that is
always clean and gunk free. Not looking like this one, that means. (hip hop music) So lastly, but not least,
when inspecting your wheels, is checking over your tires. Now, you want to be looking
through your tire tread, making sure it’s not adversely worn out. You want to be looking for
any damage to the casing. Look for things like
slashes, notches, knicks, anything that can grow into
a bigger problem later on. If they’re quite small, put some vulcanizing solution in them. And that can, sort of, keep them at bay. But if it’s gone through
the actual casing, and it’s actually a slash, it’s either throw the tire away, or try and attempt to fix. Now, I made a pretty cool video on stitching up a tire sidewall slash. And, you can keep using that tire and we could even set this
one up tubeless, afterwards. So, click on the link below this video straight to that one. But hopefully, your tire won’t have that. Which means there’s just a
few more things to check. Check the amount of
sealant that’s in there. If your rims, like these
ones, have rim tape, definitely check the condition of that, because it does have a
habit of after awhile starting to peel up or deteriorate, which will mean at some point, your tire will lose pressure. So, that’s really frustrating. So now is your opportunity to, with the tire off, to check that. And also, one final thing, bit of a bug, bear in mind, is when the little cheapest valve stems actually get clogged up. So if you actually remove the valve core, give it a clean with some brake cleaner, isopropyl alcohol, contact cleaner, that sort of thing. Give it a good lube, put it back in place. Everything will be sweet. So, that is the basics of wheel care. Something that all of you, I am sure, will be able to do at
home, just to make sure your wheels are running nice and smoothly. Of course, we will be going
into a bit more depth. We’re gonna be doing a wheel truing video, and also how to change those hub bearings. But, for a couple more
videos, in the mean time, click down here for cheeblers mistakes. It’s all the classics. It’s easy to get wrong. It’s some great information on how to get it right, more importantly. And click down here for
how to stitch up a slash in a tire sidewall. More useful wheel interaction. Of course, click on the round globe, as always, to subscribe to GMBN Tech. And, if you like working on your bikes, and you like getting your wheels straight, give us a thumbs up!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I have recently serviced my dt Swiss hub and I noticed that you used thin wd40 lube but dt Swiss recommended that you use their own grease or does it not matter. Thanks doddy

  2. Watching this after hucking it off a jump, overshooting the landing by a solid 5 feet and completely destroying my back wheel

  3. ask gmbn why haven't companies moved the freewheel to the bottom bracket? it would take weight off the wheel??

  4. Hi Sorry, love your content , but , in this video you stated a chain whip needs to match based on your cassette. I don't believe this is the case
    A 11 spd cassette needed an 11 sp cassette for smooth shifting. No such need with a chain whip. Just need to grip the cassette.

    If I'm wrong let me know.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. I’m having to tighten my spokes about every week or two. Is this normal? I go on a ride every day and am fairly aggressive.

  6. Witchcraft! Burn the Wheelsorceror! Or maybe I am hopeless and should stay away from wheels (and most other bike bits).

  7. Hi Doddy. You never said what tools you need to remove free hub with standard paws ? Any help here is appreciated. Love what you do and thanks

  8. For an old cup & cone freehub, like mine, you'll need a 10mm allen wrench to remove the freehub. 😉

  9. #askgmbn What would be the benefit of converting my 2x hardtail to a 1x. I have found I’m only using the smaller chainring, so keen to look into converting it. Would it just be a case of swapping the chainring or should I also be changing the cassette if I was going to do it?

  10. if you think about how many movements that the pawls make, (every click on your sprocket), a thick grease combined with scurf & dust would "cook" into a thick paste & will eventually clog up, wd for me.

  11. The worst about the wheel maintenance is not having the correct tools, because the ParkTool wheel truing stand costs about ~250€ and the tension tester another ~65€. I love doing maintenance, but the tools are crazy expensive, especially when you are an student.

  12. Hey Doddy..Do you think you could do a show on ALL the different bottom bracket/crank tools needed for bikes..I really want to work on my own bb but find knowing which tools to get confusing as there are sooo many…I have a 2016 Raleigh Redux 1..and a 2017 GT Pantera Comp im wanting to really dig in and mess with..Maybe upgrade etc..Thanks and love the show..Mike

  13. It’s worth mentioning that a guitar tuning app can be used for checking spoke tension. For the average user it’s not perfect but it can get you close. For the master wheel builder it can be quite a useful tool.

  14. When you stress relieve your spokes, don't try to push the wheel with the axle on the ground, this will stress the bearings. Instead, use some sort of ring where the end caps don't take all the pressure. I'm using an old gorilla tape roller (no idea what's to correct name in English is) to place the wheel on.
    I.e. something like this, just the other way around, the roll lies on the ground, and you're pushing the wheel into it:

  15. Buy a spoke tensioner, it`s a great investment. I use mine every time I true my wheels and it takes the guess/ear work out of the equation.

  16. Not the best solution. However, the newer Sunrace cassettes have super wide carriers on them. My previous NX cassette was digging into my brand new dt freehub pretty fast. Swapped to the Sunrace cassette that was laying in my parts bin. Works fine. Ive heard the Sunrace cassettes can wear out faster. Havent run one long enough to confirm for myself. But they shift plenty smooth enough for any hardcore trail riders that arent already running a top end drivetrain.

  17. again a good movie I learn so much from here! I have a tip! if you do not have a wheelgig.

    use your frame or front fork with 2 tyerwraps 1 on the left and 1 right cut them slightly after they hit the wheel direct your wheel straight and always turn the tyerwraps after inside until your wheels are straight

  18. Cut the spoke for a rounded nipple ? All the nipples I've seen have had a slot allowing you to use a flat bladed screwdriver!

  19. Doddy, at 6:20 you mentioned that if you strip a spoke nipple you have to cut the spoke to be able to replace it. I haven't found this to be the case, you can always remove the rim tape and back it put with a screw driver or vice grips. I understand that adhesive rim tape will make this a pain in ass, but you still don't have to cut the spoke. Cheers, Jack

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