What happens if you don’t grease wheel bearings

If you want to keep your bearings greased. You put some grease in bearings and when you spin the axle there is a lot of grease rubbed off onto the inner surface of the dropouts or fork crown. Grease applied to bearing prior to final adjustment with cap removed.

Not greasing your wheel bearings will resultantly creates issues in not only the bearings but all other tools associated with them. You will need to change most of the tools if bearings go in worst condition.

How much grease is required for bike wheel bearings

Only enough grease is required to make up the bearings well.

The long answer: It’s best if we define a few things first:

Grease: Any thick lubricant that contains soap, water or oil can work as a bearing lubricant in a pinch but is not preferable because dirt tends to stick to it more readily than with dedicated bearings greases.

Bearing: A round object in which another rotating object fits so that they rotate independently of each other. It may be necessary to use the term “set” instead when referring to specific types of bearings that are caged in some way, such as a cartridge-style bottom bracket.

Lube: Same idea but without the soap or oil. These lubes tend to be more expensive and less effective at keeping dirt out than greases but work better for plain metal surfaces like chainrings and jockey wheels where dirt can’t get caught up in the mesh of lubricant molecules between them.

The amount of grease required will vary depending on many factors such as rider weight, type of riding (pavement vs trails) and quality/viscosity/type of lubricant used. When in doubt err on using less rather than more because you can always add more after the first ride if necessary.

If you need to overhaul them due to lack of greasing or seized bearings, it’s generally easier to use a thicker lubricant like Phil Woods Tenacious Oil mixed with a lighter lube like Chain or White Lightning because this sort of grease is firm enough to keep dirt out while still being thin enough to squeeze into tight bearing races.

The nice part about using a thicker lubricant is that you only have to use a very small amount and after your first ride you can add more if needed, but it’s much harder to take the grease back out without completely dismantling your bearings.

So how do we determine when we need more grease? It’s pretty simple: Spin it with your fingers by hand and feel for any uneven spots where the axle locks up from excess friction. If there are any spots that catch then add a little bit of oil or grease at a time until they spin freely again. Then wipe off any excess from the outside so that it doesn’t attract dirt.

This is not necessarily a bad thing but will wear out your expensive carbon fibre dropouts or fork crowns much sooner than necessary if you don’t grease them. So, isn’t there simple formula for determining how much grease I need? Yes and no. There are tools available like the Spin Dynamics bearing greaser that works by pumping grease into your hub through one side where it spreads out evenly, then air pressure forces it back through another channel on the other side thus ‘greasing’ your bearings.

So how much grease should I use? For your front and rear hubs, you want between 2 – 3mL of Tenacious Oil or about 4 – 5 teaspoons using a measuring spoon, or ~2-3g for either one. If you need more than that then the amount is excessive and will only make the bearings slower and heavier over time rather than faster and smoother since there is no way to keep your bearings totally sealed from dirt and grime unless they are submerged in oil like when used in submarine applications.

This means that even if you use thick grease like Phil Woods, it will still attract some dirt which will begin to slow down the bearing until it eventually locks up. This video demonstrates this effect:

What about for other parts like the bottom bracket, headset, or freehub body? Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to say how much grease is required here since it depends on the type of lubricant you use and the application. Since I haven’t found a good online resource for what each manufacturer officially recommends, so I’ve decided to do my own research and testing by opening up several different bearings from various manufacturers and brands including Shimano , Sram/Truvativ , Chris King , Enduro, Salt Plus , etc.

The process to grease the bearings

You apply grease, you tighten your axle nuts/bolts (or whatever holds on your hub), you turn your axle by hand with a wrench until it spins smoothly without catching anywhere after wiping away the excess grease. Then you put on your wheel and tighten down your axle nuts so that the bearing feels tight, but not too tight that it squeezes out all the grease.