Time on his hands: Rear hub maintenance?

Hey Lee,

A little bike maintainance question concerning the hub/pawl drive assembly on modern mtb wheels like mavics or azonic outlaws, etc. Since these wheels have sealed bearings, should you put any lubrication inside the freewheel or on the drive pawls? If so, should I use grease, oil, or what? (It seems like the lubricant just attacts dirt to me) Or should I just clean everything and leave it dry? After all the bearings in the wheel are sealed. Also, what about the skewers? Grease them or leave them clean and dry? Hope you can solve this mystery for me?


Hey Walt,

It looks like you have some time on your hands! Dude — I keep the chain semi-clean and the tires aired up, and I just ride. Quickly:

– Every hub is different, and I suggest checking with your manufacturer. Some freehubs are rebuildable; some aren’t.

– If you have sealed wheel bearings, leave them alone.

– You should probably leave your freehub alone as well. Don’t spray water in there, and don’t take it apart unless you have to. This is where a good bike shop pays off. Again, read your manual.

– Most freehubs use grease. But this is tricky. Too much or too thick of grease, and the moving parts don’t move correctly. Here in Colorado, when it gets really cold, my cheaper rear hubs start to skip. Funny: My Chris Kings and Hadleys are always perfect.

– If your freehub is sticking really badly, you can set your bike on its side and drip oil (Triflow) into the outside of the freehub body. Spin your wheel to let the oil work its way in there. I’m not proud of this, but it works. I have kept many an ancient XT hub alive this way.

– Cover your skewers with a very thin layer of grease. This prevents rust.

– Keep your bike reasonably clean, and just ride it!

— Lee

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