Bearing Maintanence

I was just prepping my muni for a ride and noticed that the bearings were quite dirty and in need of cleaning. I removed the frame and cleaned all the surface dirt and rust (riding through too many mud puddles I guess) from the bearings.

After the cleaning I noticed that my wheel still doesn’t rotate as smoothly as it once did (ie, when it was new). I’m sure with use/age the bearings have lost some of their zest for life. They look pretty well sealed but is there any way I can lubricate them? Any other tips out there for bearing maintenance?

Thanks,

J

No replies from any of the technical types? I’d be happy to know more about this too.

On the whole, I’d say the best strategy is to keep the bearings as clean as possible, rather than letting them deteriorate. If you lay the unicycle on its side and trickle/spray some very fine oil on the bearings, I guess it can’t do any harm, and might even do some good!

Make sure the bearing clamps aren’t too tight as this could distort the bearing causing uneven action.

Failing all that, the bearings are reasonably cheap to replace.

I think lubricating them with oil like Mike said, or any product which claims to prevent rust should be good for the bearings.

I do not suggest purchasing the cheapest bearings. Sealed bearings can be almost twice the price of non-sealed bearings, but it could be worth it if your Unicycle accidentally gets submerged in water. Once I was riding through the park and I tried to ride fast over a bridge which was made from Punga logs. My Unicycle bounced on the rounded logs, and I fell off. The cycle bounced, and bounced, and bounced, and finally landed in the river before I could get to it. Because it had non-sealed bearings they were ruined. The bike shop replaced one of them with a non-sealed bearing, and I got a sealed bearing for the other side from a helpful guy at an engineering shop who put it on for free. Just something to keep in mind, especially for MUni which is more likely to involve water than some other riding situations.

I have just replaced the bearings on my MUni. I got some of these

They seem good, well ive only just got them, and they were only £5.

Cya,

Joe,

Sofa made a FAQ discussing how to regrease sealed hub bearings.
<http://londonunicyclingclub.ca/bearings.htm>

Personally I feel that replacement bearings are cheap enough that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble for me to overhaul a sealed bearing like that. I’m sure that Darren Bedford <http://www.bedfordunicycles.ca/> has replacement bearings for not much $. For the US and UK folks there is unicycle.com. The FAQ gives good info on removing and reinstalling the bearing so it’s a good resource even if you plan on replacing your bearings rather than overhauling them and regreasing them.

When pressing on new bearings it is very important not to put any force on the bearing seal. Putting force on the bearing seal will damage the bearing and the bearing will not spin smoothly after it has been pressed on the hub. Press the bearing on using a short piece of pipe that is the same size as the inner race of the bearing. A short section of 22.2 mm unicycle seatpost works well for the standard unicycle hubs like the Suzue.

Don’t splurge on expensive bearings for a muni. The bearings get gunked up too quickly to be using expensive bearings. Just use the basic bearings.

First thing to check is to verify that your bearing caps are not too tight. Loosen the bearing caps completely and spin the wheel. Note how the wheel spins. Now tighten down the bearing caps so the bearing is snug but not so tight as to bind the bearing and keep it from spinning as well as it did when the bearing caps were completely loose. The ideal situation is that when the bearing caps are tightened the wheel will spin as well as it did when the bearing caps were completely loose. In practice you usually have a little bit of drag once the bearing caps are tightened, but it should not be much.

Do you have a unicycle with good bearings so you can compare the bearings on your muni with the bearings on the good uni? Take the wheel off both unicycles and spin the bearings by hand. Once you know the feel of a good bearing you’ll be able to notice the difference when a bearing is gunked up and not spinning well.

Sealed bearings as used on unicycles do not seal out dirt and water all that well. They are really simple seals. Dirt and water will get in and contaminate the bearing. Eventually you’ll get enough dirt and gunk in there to affect the performance of the bearing. I replace the bearings on my muni at least once a year. If you do a lot of riding in wet or dirty conditions you may have to replace them more often than once per year.

Cool, thanks for all the great info guys!

J

for those of us with 4+ unicycles, the idea of regreasing and packing the bearings is a real cost saver.

I’ll do it over and over. (until I need new ones)

Thanks John, for pointing to my FAQ’s, my comp is on the fritz, and I only get on at my bro’s place. (my new laptop should be here in 2 weeks)