Hub How-To - Zipp 182
Written by: Greg Kopecky
Added: Wed Jan 02 2013
Fear not, my friends, as (most) hubs aren’t that complicated. The real issue lies in the nature of the free market – hubs can be designed however a company wishes. There are few standards. As a result, there are a lot of designs, and different tools to work on those designs.
Because of all this, we cannot possibly do a single article called “Hub How-To”. It would be fifty pages long and you’d nod off to sleep before you could even get halfway through. What to do? Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, we plan to offer articles specific to different manufacturers – OR to a general design intent, when applicable. What does that mean? If a manufacturer has enough proprietary parts or steps that it warrants its own article, so be it. If, however, there are three or four manufacturers who have a design that is very similar, we will cover them as a group.
A final note – we will focus primarily on rear hubs. In general, they’re the problem children. They’re more complicated and more failure-prone than front hubs, and always require more maintenance. If you know how to overhaul your rear hub, you can most assuredly figure out how the front works. We will assume that your rear hub already has the cassette removed from it. For instructions on cassette removal, you can reference our article located HERE.
Without further ado, we kick off the series with hubs from Zipp.
First, we’ll show you the 182 rear hub. This hub was sold in model-year 2006, 2007, and 2008 on standard Zipp wheels, such as the 303, 404, 808. It is also still featured on the Sub-9, 840, and 900 discs, which continue to sell today in 2013. The wheel for today's demo is a 2011 900 tubular.
Assuming we want to proceed, the next step is to slide the axle and freehub out of the hub's right side (this should require very little effort). TAKE NOTE: There is a small .25mm shim in here that sandwiches between the left side freehub bearing and the right side hubshell bearing. See it? Don’t lose it.
The freehub is a 3-pawl design. If you don’t speak bike-geek-ese, ‘pawls’ are the little guys that spring up in to your hub’s ratchet ring, and translate all of that pedal power to forward motion. The Zipp 182 hub has a single C-shaped spring that actuates all three pawls.
At this point, we have two options. First is to do “basic hub service”. Most manufacturers of cartridge bearing hubs recommend doing this procedure every six months or so. All you do is wipe the grime off of the freehub pawls, re-lubricate them, and put everything back together. This service does NOT address the bearings – only the drive mechanism. The purpose for doing this is to make sure that the pawls spring up properly and smoothly. If you completely neglect this service, some really interesting things can happen – like a hub that coasts in both directions.
Since we’re the technical types, however, we’re going to do the full hub service. With a cartridge bearing hub, that means replacing the bearings with new ones.
To begin, we need to get the old bearings out of the hub. The 182 has a tube spacer between the hubshell bearings. In order to knock the bearings out, we need to push this tube to the side – so we can access the bearings more easily. I usually wrap an allen wrench in a rag, insert it in the hub, and push on the tube. The result will look like this:
My first bearing is out, along with the tube spacer:
People often ask – how do you know when to replace a bearing? What’s the scientific method? The very unscientific (and true) answer is this: Spin it with your fingers. If it feels smooth as silk, it’s good. If it feels gritty, rough, or generally less-than-silky – replace it. If it takes extra effort to spin with your hand, it takes extra effort to spin while you ride (meaning it’s costing watts). For a racing hub like this, that usually means annual replacement. If you’re training and racing full-time on a single set of race wheels in inclement weather, you might need to replace them as often as every few months.
After both bearings are out, wipe out the inside of the hub with a clean rag. Type-A mechanics might also spray out the ratchet ring area with a solvent such as isopropyl alcohol or acetone.
Turn both handles slowly until you feel the bearings bottom out.
There is a method to check whether you’ve pressed the bearings in correctly. Remove the bearing press and check the tube spacer. If it is loose and flops around easily, the bearings need to be pushed in tighter. If the spacer is clamped in place super tight (i.e. it’s immobile), the bearings were smashed in too tight. You should be able to move the spacer around with your fingers using a moderate amount of effort.
What’s with all this finesse? Weren’t interchangeable parts popularized two centuries ago – with the intention of taking guesswork out of manufacturing? This is true. However, there remain many aspects of mechanical work that require the human touch. There is always a range of tolerance, even for parts that appear identical to the eye. When it comes to hubs, something has to account for this tolerance stack-up. One method is to simply have the individual parts’ width dictate the total width of the hub. If that were the case, however, we’d have some hubs at 129mm spacing, and others at 131mm spacing. We have an industry-standard constraint of 130mm (the width of the rear dropouts of your road or triathlon bike), and hubs need to fit. When overall width is the key constraint, some sort of adjustment feature has to be built in for all of those middle parts. For many hubs, that means a semi-floating bearing design with manual preload adjustment. For the Zipp 182 hub, there is no adjustment, so you must set the preload by pressing the bearings in appropriately. They also get around this problem by using bearings that are specified with looser-than-normal clearance between the ball bearings and races. You may end up with a slight amount of side-to-side play after it’s all said and done – but Zipp claims that this actually leads to slightly improved rolling efficiency, and is not a problem.
End fine print.
Now it’s time to deal with the freehub. The 182 freehub is similar to the hubshell in that it has two bearings separated by a tube spacer. Zipp does NOT recommend attempting to replace these bearings individually. Rather, they say you should replace the entire unit with a new one. Our freehub in this demo did have bad bearings, so we are replacing it.
To lubricate the pawls, Zipp recommends a light oil - not any sort of thick grease. Grease would cause the pawls to stick down, and the hub wouldn’t work. I’m using DuMonde Tech Freehub Oil:
My extra step is to cover the drive side bearing with grease. As you can see, it is completely exposed to the elements, with nothing to protect it (extra seals add weight). The grease is a simple barrier that will help prolong bearing life a little bit.
To reinsert the assembly in to the hub, there is a specific technique. You must push all three pawls down at the same time:
Next, thread the non-drive side end cap back on. The official tightening torque is 88 in/lbs. If you don’t have a torque wrench, it’s about a 7.5 out of 10 – definitely snug, but not super-duper tight.
In the next segment, we will cover the newer 188 model hub, which has been in service on most Zipp wheels since 2009.
All images © Greg Kopecky / slowtwitch.com
We walk through a complete overhaul of the latest Zipp hub, called the 188. This model features adjustable bearings, improved weather sealing, and a more robust drive mechanism. 1.14.13
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Class is in session, so bring your books. We take an in-depth look at the bearings on your bicycle. How do they work? How do we make them faster? What should you buy? For this and much more, read on. 6.07.12
By popular demand, we continue our How-To series, this time on headsets. While often overlooked or thought of as black magic, we attempt to debunk this rather simple piece of equipment. 10.04.12