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I have seen some wheels advertised as having adjustable preload bearings - what does this mean, and how is preload adjusted?
 

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Thorn Bait said:
I have seen some wheels advertised as having adjustable preload bearings - what does this mean, and how is preload adjusted?
All that really means is that you can adjust the bearings. Typically it applies to cartridge bearings and there is some sort of lock nut that can be turned. Properly done, you can build a hub that does not need adjustable pre-load. A typical bottom bracket set does not require any such adjustment.
 

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holy crap...5.5 YEARS? this has to set some kind of a record for bringing a dead thread back to life.
to answer your question, you are basically adjusting the amount of lateral load on a bearing so that there is no play. if the adjustment was too loose, the hub would move back and forth freely on the axle. too tight, the bearings wouldn't spin properly and would wear more quickly.
 

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What he said, and it's called "pre" load because it's the force you are putting on the bearing in the absence of the loads it will experience in actual use -- you're adjusting it without any weight on the wheel.

"Old-fashioned" cup-and-cone bearings (before cartridge bearings became common) necessarily had adjustable pre-load, because they were fully disassembled when overhauled. They worked fine, and some hubs are still being made that way. Many old ones are still in use. Adjusting them is simple, but requires a bit of finesse that must be learned by experience. The main advantage of cartridge bearings is better seals, so they require maintenance less frequently.
 
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