This is part PSA, part shame-faced confession.
I really enjoy adjusting cup and cone wheel bearings, I reckon it's one of the most satisfying things you can do on a bike. That moment when you get the adjustment just right and get it spinning freely with no play is ace. I thought it was a skill I had down. This evening, however, my life was changed.
I was quickly repacking a hub that I was worried had some sand in the bearings. I had cleaned and regreased it and got the cone adjustment just where I thought was right; holding the axles as it spun it felt really nice and smooth. I had the QR to hand and it reminded me of a comment in one of Sheldon Brown's pages to the effect that the QR adds enough load to affect the performance of cup and cone wheel bearings. While I had always sort of known that, I'm not sure (with greatest respect to SB) that I'd ever really believed it, but the weather was nice and I had a drink to hand so I decided to test it.
I took the conical springs off the QR, put some 10mm washers over the axle at each ends so the QR load would be transferred to the locknuts, fitted the QR and tightened it up.
Fuck. Me. The bearings would now hardly turn. Backing off the cones until there was clear play in the bearings I refitted and tightened the QR and spun it again. The play was barely perceptible. I never realised what a difference this makes. The final adjustment felt weird, much looser than I'd be used to but absolutely spot on once the QR is fitted. Given that factory-built wheels seem to come a bit over-tightened, I can only imagine what they're like when actually fitted.
So TL;DR Listen to Sheldon, keep a QR to hand when adjusting cup-and-cone wheel bearings. They'll need to be looser than you think.
P.S. inb4 tester, loaded bearings don't perform the same as unloaded ones. I don't know what difference that will make.
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