What lurks beneath (the Campagnolo surface)

Bordeaux is getting closer now. Not literally, like the land masses colliding or the like. But it’s March, and the weather is showing glimpses of warmth. Case in point, after a terrible day yesterday of drizzle and mist, today was blue. So at lunch, I went for a quick 11 mile spin to feel the wind in my hair.

There was an ulterior motive though, and that was to test the bike out after some significant tweaks. As mentioned in previous posts, the bike is a Salsa Casseroll which I specced, bought and built, after I came into a little inheritance cash. I wanted a new road bike, but actively didn’t want Carbon, and wanted something that would last, as long as I did.

So I chose a steel. Mike in Strada Cycles, Bristol, had a Casseroll, built up with full mudguards and fixed gear. I test rode it, and thought it was really cool. IMO, pride of ownership in a bike is the most important emotion when choosing your n+1. And I was willing to sacrifice speed for comfort and something I wanted to be on. Something a little different.

Without dragging on, I built it up in 2008 with Campag Veloce 10 speed, and a selection of handcrafted parts. Here’s some early pics on velospace with a slightly older spec. It’s lasted pretty well, with the only changes have been:

  • Mavic Open Pro replaced when worn with H Plus Son TB14s (my favourite rim)
  • Charge Spoon is now a Specialised Romin
  • I’m on my 2nd pair of Look Keo pedals! after these durable SPDs
  • Handlebars are now 3T Ergonova
  • Seatpost is now Thomson inline (light but unforgiving)

So its 9 years on, and some of the bearings are in need of replacement. The Rear Campag Veloce Hub and the Veloce Ultratorque chainset’s bearings. Incidentally the front bearings are around the smoothest bearing I’ve ever seen on a bike. Spin the wheel and it goes on and on and on. So let’s do the rear wheel… How hard can that be?

Replacing the bearings in a 2007 Campagnolo Veloce Hub

Remove the wheel

With the wheel removed, I set about removing the cassette, with the Campag tool, and examining what I needed to do to get to the bearings.

Being slightly old school, I believe the best hubs are made with the best quality hardened races, expensive (hard and perfectly round) loose ball bearings, regular maintenance and an expert touch with the compression. Sadly these hubs are not of that form, and like most nowadays (apart from XT and Dura Ace), they have pressed in bearings.

So I set about seeing what was what, and getting everything out I could. The steel axle came out easy enough, as did the freehub, which left the main wheel bearings. These were being replaced, so I didn’t worry too much when tapping them out with a screwdriver and hammer.

Feeling good, 6001 1RS bearings on show. And broken pawl spring.

The main bearings are 6001RS, and are a common size. Interestingly the bearings only have a rubber seal on the outside (RS rather than 2RS), which is sensible, and the middle of the hub is saturated with decent grease. That’s nice. Shimano are so sparing with their lube.

I felt good, I’d got the bearings out, and started looking for replacements online.

It was only then I noticed the problem with the freehub.


2 of the 3 pawls were correct, but the third was loose. On inspection the spring had broken. Annoying. Maybe it was the Awesome Power™ I’d been delivering.

I thought the freehub was toast (and £50 was more than the hub was worth!), but luckily found online some ebayers selling the spring alone. Hurrah. I’d forgotten the bearings in the freehub though. So tapped these out too, a bit stiffer these ones, and made a list of what I needed:

  • Campag pawl spring
  • 6001 LLB 2RS x2 main bearings
  • 6901 LLB 2RS x2  freehub bearings
A tale of 3 pawls, a freehub body, and 2 springs.

I then put everything aside, and got on with tinkering with something else until the post came.

Putting it back

The bearings and the spring came in the post together. After almost losing the spring, I was glad to get the freehub back to new, and some light grease on the pawls was all that was needed to set that right. Then onto the job of pressing the bearings in.

I have some bearing faces from Park, coupled to a DIY long bolt with nut, that I use to press assorted bearings in. It’s a bit of a hack, but it works. If I can’t get it to fit, I place an old bearing over the new and carefully tap it in with a small hammer.

Old freehub bearing before removal, with the pipe visible underneath

Getting the inner bearing out/in was painful, as my C-clip pliers weren’t quite long enough to get into the depths of the freehub, and some cunning was required. Got it! I then forgot the spacer pipe and put the other bearing in regardless. Bugger! Pull that out and do it again properly – Getting the bearings pushed in so they don’t bind against each other was actually a bit hit and miss to be honest; Got there in the end though.


Next, the main bearings were pushed in, with the spacer pipe this time, and the hub was reassembled, with a bit of grease on the teeth for the pawls.

I much prefer the Shimano way of doing the bearings (loose bearings and not pressed in races), but it all went back together, and I then put the cassette on and started to check the radial and lateral trueness of the wheel.

Spokey dokey

The wheel was one of my earlier attempts, and to be honest, not one I’m massively proud of. I hadn’t mastered the twist of these thin DT Revolution spokes when building it, and had rushed the tensioning and stress relief. Therefore the wheel was a problem child, needing continual tuning and wasn’t terrible round.

I’ll cover that in more detail another time, but suffice to say, I’ve redone the whole wheel’s tension, and am pretty happy now. It’s not perfect, as the rim is old, slightly worn and untrue, but we’re talking 1-2mm up down and side to side.

I recommend the Roger Musson Professional Guide to Wheelbuilding by the way.

Truing jig is an old fork with a spoke as the measuring device.

That was why I wanted a lunchtime cruise. To test the wheel, and check it was straight. It was, and the click click of the pawls was much nicer, more metallic and purposeful, without the Hope raspness.

I’m glad I took the thing apart. The thought of riding to Bordeaux with broken pawls springs just gives me visions of borrowing someone else’s non-Campag wheel, and having a “fun” time with indexing. Apparently the 11 speed Campag and SRAM/Shimano are a really good match, but 10 speed Shimano v Campag are quite different.

Campag 10 (Top) v thinner Shimano 10 (below)

I’ve also learned 11 speed cassettes will fit on this 2007 design Campag Freehub. That’s pretty cool – maybe something for the future.

Until next time… Might see you on Saturday.

I’m riding to Bordeaux as part of a sponsored event for PROPS in Bristol. Please sponsor me.

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