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Huffy single speed cruiser, rear hub noise: FIX!

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Huffy single speed cruiser, rear hub noise: FIX!

Old 11-30-15, 08:22 PM
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Fat Hitchhiker
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Huffy single speed cruiser, rear hub noise: FIX!

The following is not intended for bicycle mechanics, but for customers with a specific problem on a type of Huffy cruiser. I have seen this problem on the Huffy Cranbrook, Nel Lusso, and Panama Jack. These are all sold at Walmart, but I am sure that they are also marketed under different names at other big boxes. This is going to be a long post, so itís probably not worth most people reading. This is mostly for somebody searching Google for a solution to their problem.

There is a very common problem with the Huffy single speed cruisers in which a clicking/grinding noise comes from the rear hub while coasting. In this case, the noise is not present while pedaling or applying the brakes, but only when you stop pedaling and hold your feet still on the pedals while the bike is rolling, then the noise is obvious. Often, but not always, if you begin to pedal backwards like you are beginning to apply the brakes, the noise will subside before the brakes begin to drag. I do not think that this is a safety issue. You could ride your noisy bike for years with no complications. Eventually, the dragging component will shave a minor amount off of the inner hub and the noise should subside.

Essentially, a component within the hub, called the clutch, is a very tiny bit too long, so it rubs on the inner hub when it should not have any contact.

Here are my suggestions for fixing the problem:
1. RETURN IT! I donít care if you spent $70 on the bike, you spent your own money and you should have something that works properly. Take it back to the store and exchange it for one that works. Let it be their problem.

2. Call Huffy. Look under the bottom bracket (the part of the frame where the pedal cranks go into the bike frame), there should be a sticker with two sets of five numbers, possibly followed by a single letter of number. The first set of five is the model number and the second is the date code. Call the phone number on the sticker and tell them that you need a new rear wheel. Bam-o, they should send you a new one, no problem.

The issue that I ran into was that they change the color schemes every year. Because of this, my store was left with about a dozen of last yearís models and there werenít any replacement wheels left out there. Of course, the rep at the Huffy call center didnít know this. We would call and order them and they would tell us 7-10 business days for delivery. After a month we would call and order again. Finally, I had to get the model and date code off of a new one, order that rim and take the parts out of the new brown rim to put into the old green one. I wouldnít consider it to be unethical if a customer were to walk into the store and get the numbers off of a bike on the rack in order to get the needed parts.

3. The solution that I am about to offer. I suggest finding a noiseless donor bike with similar components or getting the previously mentioned mismatched replacement rim. You may be able to repair your parts with minor skills on a grinding wheel, but I have yet to try that.

I began to investigate this problem and I SCOURED the internet for a solution (for at least an hour or two). I found many forum posts going back several years, all with similar suggested fixes (no grease, bad bearings, etc.), but not definite solution. There were a few cases in which the customer could not simply return the bike, such as no transportation back to the store, refusal of exchange because of a lost receipt, or even stranded a Burning Man.

Here is the how-to: I will assume that the reader is somewhat mechanically inclined with little to no knowledge of bicycles. Read through this entire post and be sure you can reassemble everything correctly. It is much better to have a noisy bike than to have something that is actually a safety risk.

Tools needed:
15mm wrench or socket and Philips head screwdriver to remove wheel from frame.
17mm wrench or deep well socket. Both of these are the sizes needed on all Huffys that I have worked on, but it may not me universal
Low profile wrench; this means that the wrench itself is relatively flat. Not too important on disassembly, but necessary on reassembly. Usually a 15mm, sometimes 14mm.
Quality grease. If itís good enough for a carís wheel bearings, itís good enough for your Huffy.

First, remove the wheel from the bike. No need to take off the tire or let out the air; I know that sounds elementary, but you may be surprised by how many people would not know it.
It is easiest to start this disassembly with the wheel standing up as if it were installed on the bike. From the drive side of the rim (The side with the sprocket), loosen and remove the large 17mm retaining nut. On the other side of the hub, there is a large, flat brake arm that attaches to the frame: This keeps the axle from rotating while riding and braking. You can hold that to keep the axle from turning. The black bearing adjustment nut (beneath the silver jam nut in the picture) may turn as well. If there is not too much tension, you can remove them both together, otherwise, hold the adjustment nut with your low-profile wrench and loosen the jam nut.


Remove the bearing adjustment nut. The silver dust cover is supposed to be separate, but they are usually pressed together from too much torque at the factory; no big deal, just leave them together. The first set of bearings will be behind the dust cover, remove those. No grease on them? No Surprise! This is commonly skipped at the factory. Remember to grease them before reassembly.


Still holding the brake arm on the non-drive side, turn the sprocket counter-clockwise and remove the sprocket/drive screw. Catch the next set of bearings. It will look like this with bearings in place:


Lay the rim flat, drive side down. Lift the brake arm attached to the axle and remove from hub. Take out bearings if they are not stuck to the axle/dust cover:


With a screwdriver or needle nosed pliers, pull out the brake shoes and clutch. They should be three separate pieces that may be stuck together with grease:


Congratulations! You have removed the problem piece! Below is a picture of all of the components together without the wheel hub.


When you pedal the bicycle, the sprocket and drive screw pull the clutch against the right end of the hub, creating clamping pressure and turning the hub and wheel. When coasting, the clutch is supposed to move away from the body of the hub and allow the hub and wheel to turn without any interference. The clutches in these problem Huffys are just a little too long and drag against the inside of the hub, creating that annoying clicking/grinding sound. When pedaling backwards, the sprocket/drive screw forces the clutch in the opposite direction, pushing the brake shoes against the body of the hub, stopping the bicycle. There is no need to remove the spring and indexing cap as the new one from the donor hub will still have one attached.
Here is an example of just how little difference the parts can have:

On the left is a clutch that makes no noise and on the right is one that makes the despised commotion. Notice the minute difference between the lengths of the knurled, wider bottom sections (the length of the smooth top part has no effect). The right one slightly longer. This is what makes the difference and the bottom of this section is what you would want to grind down as a last resort. I would use care because failure to get the correct taper and knurled surface could result in slippage while pedaling and possible gouging and ruining the hub.

REASSEMBLY NOTES:
When reassembling, it is good to check all parts for gouges/wear, even though this is probably a brand new bike. Add grease, a similar amount as seen in the pictures, to all internal parts and bearings. All bearings should be installed with the ďball sideĒ facing inward (toward the center of the hub) and the flat side of the bearing retainer facing outward.
When reassembling the left side axle, place the clutch into the hub and set the brake shoes in as see in the above picture (number 5) and also below. The wider lip on the inside of the brake shoe sits on the edge of the index cap on top of the spring.


The index tabs on the spring cap rest inside of the slots on the inside of the left side dust cap. The easiest way is to insert the axle with brake arm and cap attached and give it a turn until you feel it fall into place. See the fourth picture above.

Holding the non-drive side in place, flip the hub and install the inner bearings, sprocket/drive screw, outer bearings and dust cap/bearing adjustment nut. Hand tighten the adjustment nut until you can feel no play in the axle. Hold the adjustment nut with the low-pro wrench and tighten the jam nut into place. This may take a couple of tries as the axle and adjustment nut tend to turn. You need to have no wiggle in the axle, but still be able to spin the axle freely.


Reinstall the wheel onto the bicycle and enjoy your quiet machine!
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Old 04-20-17, 08:26 PM
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Thanks a bunch for posting this! It describes my problem exactly and is well written. I had assumed it was the bearings but this fits the bill. Thanks again!
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Old 04-21-17, 07:23 AM
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Great info, thanks much! I work on coaster brakes from time to time and this is good to know!
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Old 04-21-17, 08:32 AM
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Good information and a great description of coaster brake hub servicing. Only additions I'll say is that this issue is not caused by the bike brand but the manufacturer of the hub. Too bad we don't know that tidbit. Also many brands of Asian made coaster hubs share this internal design, basically a Shimano one. Some interchangeability exists between the different hubs but some parts don't. These parts are not really made available as separately distributed pieces but nearly always have come from a donor hub. Better shops keep old hubs around just for this chance. Last bit is that most hubs I see (from both big box and LBS level bikes) are too tightly adjusted (bearing wise) and the single speed chains too tightly tensioned. Coaster brake hubs in particular like a slight slop in the bearing setting and chains should never have taught tension on them. These two simple steps (which even many LBSs don't take the time to correct) can make a big difference in smooth and long running.


Related story. A couple of weeks ago I fixed a rear flat on a low cost E bike. This bike uses a front wheel hub motor, allowing the rest of the bike to be otherwise "normal". It was a chilly day and the rider was a bit bundled up. As I removed the rear wheel I noted the tight chain and notchy motion of the cog when the wheel was spun. Sure enough the axle was very tight (I could count the number of balls by the number of notches as I rotated the cog). But what was surprising was that the hub was warm to the touch. The rom and spokes were cold as was the rest of the bike. I showed this to the rider who didn't really catch on to the significance to this. That hub was so badly adjusted that it was heating up with simple flat land use. I adjusted the axle and chain properly on reassembly and sent the rider off. he returned a couple of days later to thank me as his bike seemed smoother. I checked the hub's temperature then and is felt nearly as cold as the rim was. Andy.
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Old 09-22-20, 06:44 AM
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No donor hub

If you were to shorten the longer clutch would you attempt to grind it or file it?
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Old 01-28-22, 11:25 PM
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I have been trying to locate a noise in my daughter's Cranbrook. But, I see here that you say the noise occurs when coasting. This bike sounds great for the first 1/2-3/4 of a mile, then the noise starts. Sounds like a rubbing, but it makes it mostly, not always, when peddaling. I removed both fenders and the chain guard with test rides right after. Didn't help. I had removed the front hub and cleaned, inspected, and repacked the bearings not long ago, and that hub spins great with no noise or notchiness. That leaves the crank and rear coaster hub. Just finished going through the one piece crank and bearings. They were dry with some rust. Clened, repacked with grease, and assembled. Still has the stinking noise. However, I am glad I did the crank work, as it was my first time. Now, I am down to the coaster brake hub. Maybe I should order a new rear wheel.
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Old 01-29-22, 11:19 AM
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Or take the hub apart and service it like you did w/ the ft hub and BB. Andy
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Old 01-31-22, 12:18 PM
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And that is next on the agenda, although I took the Cranbrook on about a 13 mile ride, and the noise seemed way better.
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