can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

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jimmynoboat
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can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby jimmynoboat » 7 Jul 2009, 3:15pm

I ask (sheepishly) because I noticed, 2 miles into a run today, that my computer wasn't working. I'd fitted the front wheel the opposite way around and the 'puter magnet thing was too far from the sensor to work. I know some tyres have a direction arrow but what about the wheel itself? :oops:
If a little knowledge is dangerous ... I'm lethal!

neilob
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby neilob » 7 Jul 2009, 4:18pm

To be honest I've seen two answers....yes and no. Some experts say that you should always fit the wheel so that the bearings run the same way while others suggest swapping the direction to equalise the wear. But practically there are three things to suggest leaving them running in one direction. If wheels have a QR mechanism, the convention is to have the lever on the left so the wheel always runs like this. Also rear wheels (which have similar if not identical bearings!!) can't be swapped anyway. And, as you note, tyres are becoming more directional as well. So the balanced answer is 'yes' but there's unlikely to be a major penalty for the ocassional lapse.
Neil
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Mick F
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby Mick F » 7 Jul 2009, 5:01pm

I reckon it makes no difference whatsoever.

The QR skewer is normally on the left to match the rear, but anyway, the QR can come out and go back in the other side easily. Tyres have direction arrows, even mine have and they have no tread! So I think that's a red herring. Anyway, you asked about wheels, not tyres.

There's no reason that a wheel has to rotate one way or the other.

Now, if your forks aren't true, it may be that your wheel could be built to be central. If you then reversed it, it wouldn't be. That's the only reason for picking one direction over the other.
Mick F. Cornwall

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EdinburghFixed
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby EdinburghFixed » 7 Jul 2009, 5:21pm

Flip-flop fixed-wheel wheels obviously run both ways by nature. I swap mine round so often that I couldn't tell you which way is "normal" and which "reverse" without serious examination - so I don't think anything bad can happen :)

Also, don't worry about the direction signal for tyres unless you are riding off road. The rubber treads aren't harder than tarmac so they can't dig in - neither can you hydroplane at under ~80mph. My winter tyres were Marathon Plus and I rode the front one all winter in reverse without noticing :oops:

As you say, the cycle computer magnet is probably the only reason to put your front wheel on one way over the other. There's no apparent difference between what side the QR skewer is as far as I can tell. :)

stewartpratt
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby stewartpratt » 7 Jul 2009, 5:25pm

If you run the wheel the wrong way round, you'll die. Simple and undeniable fact.

Of course, if you run it the right way round, you'll still die. So on the whole I wouldn't really worry about it.

james01
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby james01 » 7 Jul 2009, 5:54pm

What about the braking surfaces? Could it be that the brake blocks polish the rims in a uni-directional way, so that if you reverse it the blocks are faced with microscopic jagged edges?

rogerzilla
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby rogerzilla » 7 Jul 2009, 5:56pm

If it has a hub brake, yes (it would be pretty obvious).

If it has a dynamo hub, yes (the internals can unscrew).

With a normal front hub, no.

thirdcrank
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby thirdcrank » 7 Jul 2009, 6:03pm

IMO, you've already discovered the only real problem with the computer magnet which is hardly a big deal, unless you are a compulsive mileage recorder.

The side your q/r lever is on is only critical if you need a wheel change in the TdeF etc, when the team mechanic arrives with two spare wheels.

In short, don't worry.

ciaopaulo
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby ciaopaulo » 7 Jul 2009, 9:37pm

Ummm. Can't you just unclip the comp magnet and put it on the correct side, closer to the sensor?

gerrythemerc
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby gerrythemerc » 7 Jul 2009, 10:10pm

Hi,
It depends on the effectiveness of the locking nut that abuts the cone if it is a traditional cone type setup. I recall as a kid my bitsa bike (cos in those distant days of the late 50's we made up bikes out of parts scrounged and found) the front axle suddenly exploded sending balls all over the place. I realised that bearing cones had tightened until the axle sheared. Fortunately I was walking with it at the time (with a beautiful 8yr old girl I was trying to impress) but it taught me a lesson I've never forgotten. If there are no locknuts it can be very embarrassing. Even now I always put the wheel in the right way where rotation is trying to undo the cones even though it probably doesn't matter on my 700 quid Mavics where you can adjust the bearings while the wheel is clamped in the forks!
Gerry

random37
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby random37 » 7 Jul 2009, 10:13pm

There's one notable exception in Raleigh front hubs. They had an adjustable cone on the left hand only; if you put them in the wrong way and don't fasten up the wheel properly they tighten up and disintegrate. If you make sure the wheel's fastened up tightly, it'll still be OK.

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DaveP
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby DaveP » 7 Jul 2009, 11:06pm

A variation on Mick's suggestion:
If your wheel isnt exactly centred and gets reversed you might find one brake block rubbing.
Been there, and spent the rest of the week trying to work out what had happened... :oops:
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...

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andrew_s
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby andrew_s » 7 Jul 2009, 11:54pm

gerrythemerc wrote:Hi,
It depends on the effectiveness of the locking nut that abuts the cone if it is a traditional cone type setup. <snip> Even now I always put the wheel in the right way where rotation is trying to undo the cones even though it probably doesn't matter on my 700 quid Mavics where you can adjust the bearings while the wheel is clamped in the forks!
Gerry


Both ends of the axle are right-hand thread, so in the event of loose locknuts the LH side will loosen and the RH side will tighten, regardless of which way round you put the wheel in.
It's normal to do the RH locknut up extra tight, and to carry out all adjustment on the LH side, so that if the locknut doesn't get tightened enough after adjustment it's not a serious problem. Because of this, it's best to keep the wheel the same way round if it's of the traditional cup and cone bearing type.
If the hub uses cartridge bearings, it doesn't matter (apart from dynamo hubs, and brake hubs)

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jimmynoboat
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby jimmynoboat » 8 Jul 2009, 9:43am

Thanks everyone. I really wasn't sure but having read your repiles and thinking about it bit more I guess if the concequences of getting it wrong were dire then there would be an obvious marking on the wheel somewhere. For the person who asked ... yes, I did change the magnet to the other side! I did that right away but mentioned it because it was only because the 'puter was not working that I noticed at all.
If a little knowledge is dangerous ... I'm lethal!

ciaopaulo
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Re: can you put a front wheel on the wrong way around?

Postby ciaopaulo » 11 Jul 2009, 1:02pm

As an afterthought, there are some front wheels that have clips that swing round and clip into the forks (as well as nuts). I've never checked, but I think you can get these the wrong way round. You'd know if you had them, and you'd know if they were the wrong way round.