A comment yesterday on the quick release post got me to revisit another subject I had been meaning to write about. What had originally inspired me to write about this was a new tool I received. Anyone who has used the Park axle vise knows what I'm talking about when I say that even the "heavy duty" axle vise is barely tolerable, even when brand new. There are aspects about it that are usable (pedal jaws and solid axle hubs) which is why I keep one around. However, the J.A. Stein hub axle vise blows away everything else.
I used to frequent a forum or two. Used to. I did it and contributed because I thought I had something to offer. Not that I claim to know everything or be a bike expert, but I know a thing or two. One thing I do know is how to adjust a bicycle hub that uses loose bearings between cones and races. I recall on one forum someone asked about proper hub adjustment. I commented on the proper method and technique and promptly another forum member claimed I was wrong. Now, I'll admit when I'm not correct, but in this instance, it just wasn't true. I think that was a turning point where my interest in these forums and contributing useful information began to wane.
Yesterday, James posted a comment on the Quick Release post asking if it was possible to over-tighten the quick release on loose ball type hubs, thereby compressing the cones and axles and rendering a perfectly smooth feeling hub bearing too tight. The answer to that is yes, but not if this type of hub is properly adjusted.
What is the proper adjustment to a loose-ball hub? The proper adjustment to a loose-ball hub is to adjust the bearings with a slight bit of play when the hub is out of the frame. That play in the bearing is removed when the hub quick release is engaged. If the hub is adjusted so there is no play when it is out of the frame (or fork), the bearings will be over-tight when clamped into the bicycle and on its way to prematurely wearing out. All new hubs out of the box are adjusted like this. However, there is a bit of break in with new hubs so it's best to readjust after a few rides. Higher end hubs don't have as much break-in as a lower end hub. This has to do with the higher quality of bearing used and the higher degree of precision used in the machining of the cones and races.
The J.A. Stein hub axle vise makes this adjustment a breeze. With a standard hub axle vise like the Park version, to get the adjustment perfect, you adjust the hub in the axle vise, remove, install the quick release, install in frame, verify there is no play, and potentially remove and readjust. Pain in the ass. The Stein tool allows all this to be done with the wheel in the vise in one step. Time saved. Better hub adjustment. Longer life in your hub.
The Stein tool also doesn't wear out after 20 hub adjustments like the Park tool. The Stein tool is also incredibly simple with just two steel parts and your own quick release. The quick release is fit through the washer-like part then though the hub and then threaded into the t-shaped piece that is then clamped into the vise. With all these parts installed, the quick release can then be clamped down simulating the hub clamped into the bicycle. The adjustment is made with the qr clamped down. When the adjustment is made in this configuration, you get a perfectly smooth, no bearing play adjustment is achieved. This is one tool I really like and use a lot.
The T-shaped part is to the left. The washer-like part is installed on the qr skewer.
The whole thing installed and held in place in the vise.