A lot of times it's difficult to see potential hazards and issues, especially when it comes to bearings. This part of the bike is essential for your safety and also for good performance of your bike.
In this short blog Alex from Cycling Factory explains where on your bike you have bearings and how to check if they are worn.
Bottom Bracket Bearings
BB (Bottom bracket), these bearings sit in your frame, they may vary in size and standard, but the main purpose is always the same. You have an axle running through your bike, on each side you have your crank arms and on your crank arms you have your pedals. The axle is sitting tight on to the bearings, making it possible to pedal smoothly.
Signs of wear on your BB bearings could be:
Noises (such as creaking)
Play (if you grab one crank arm and try to pull it back and forth, it should not have any movement, should be stiff/fixed)
When pedaling, forward or backwards, it should run smoothly - some small resistance is normal. If it's making noises or running too smooth, this could be a sign of worn bearings.
These bearings normally always come in pairs. So you have the upper bearing (sitting closest to your handlebars and stem) and lower bearing (normally sitting where the fork meets the frame).
Things to look out for when inspecting these bearings are:
Noise. If it is creaking or making scraping noise when moving your handle bars you could be in the need of new bearings.
Play. Place your bike on the ground, stand over it, apply the front brake and try moving the bike back and forth when holding the front brake. If you feel a small movement/play and/or feel a clicking you might need to tighten the headset bearings or even replace them.
Unsmooth steering. Put your bike on the ground, grab the bars, lift the front wheel in the air, keep the rear wheel on the ground. Move your handle bars left/right. It should run smoothly without any resistance. If you have a bike stand, hang your bike in the frame or seatpost, and then move the handlebars. If it's not moving easily and smoothly, you might need to tension your headset bearings or replace them.
If you feel uncertain on how to inspect your bike or if you are experiencing any of the issues above, make sure to book your service :)
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These bearings can take a big hit if you ride all year around. Dust, sand, water, salt (if you're riding during winter) can damage your bearings. Washing your bike can also be a potential bearing destroyer if you're not careful and fail to thoroughly dry your wheels. A bearing that is not working properly can negatively impact on your bikes performance.
Some things you can do and to look out for when checking your wheel bearings are:
Noise (when you spin your wheels and the bike is in the air, it should not make any noises).
Play. When your wheels are on the bike, grab them on the top of the wheel with your palm and move it back and forth. You should not feel any play.
You can also remove the wheels from your bike. And then by placing your fingers on each side of the wheel and with the help of your leg, give it a spin. Your fingers should work like the wheel axle. If you feel or hear some noises or if the wheels aren't spinning easy, you might need to replace your wheel bearings.
You also have bearings in the body (the thing where the cassette sits), they can also take a beating during the bike's life and need to be checked once in a while.
Sometimes a proper cleaning and greasing can do miracles for your bearings!
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