Nexus 3 speed brake noise

Apr 23, 2011
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Keep us posted on this, My 1 year old bike has started making sounds like it's an old dying dog when I'm breaking with the nexus 3 speed. I'm tempted to take it apart and grease it... but reading this it didn't sound like it would help?

I also get a squeal while pedaling??

I can post a video with the sound of the squeal if requested.
 
Jun 11, 2010
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matthew2000tx said:
Keep us posted on this, My 1 year old bike has started making sounds like it's an old dying dog when I'm breaking with the nexus 3 speed. I'm tempted to take it apart and grease it... but reading this it didn't sound like it would help?

I also get a squeal while pedaling??

I can post a video with the sound of the squeal if requested.

Matthew.........if I were you, I would go ahead and service your hub, as it will most likely cure your issue. Especially, since you say you hear squeals when pedaling, you may have dry areas, as well as corroded/rusted areas. Sure wouldn't hurt to at least try.
 
Jun 11, 2010
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Okay, here's an update. I swapped the hub innards (including brake shoes) between the bike with the problem hub (Electra Hellbilly), and my Townie 3i, which seems to have the smoothest and quietest brakes of all my geared hubs.

While I had the innards pulled, I compared the brake surfaces of both hub shells, and it was pretty clear the hub from the Townie had more wear. There was actually a slight ridge developed which coincides with the retainer ring groove in the brake shoes. I could feel the ridge as I scratch across it with my fingernail. On the problem hub, I can see that a ring of discoloration had started to show, but can't feel a ridge, so it obviously has less wear. Overall, I couldn't really feel if the friction surface was smoother on either hub. If there was a difference, it must be microscopic.

The innards from the good hub had the original black nexus grease. I left it as is and shoved it into the problem hub. Took the bike for a test run, and although there was still a very faint "rough" sound when braking, so far no squealing! I tried hard to get it to squeal, but couldn't.

I then put the innards from the problem hub into the townie. I left all the newly installed white Nexus in place. Took it for a test run, and the brakes are as smooth and quiet, as ever!

So, I'm figuring since the brake pads from the Townie had more wear, they helped quiet down the newer hub shell of the Hellbilly, and I guess time will tell if they actually get even quieter after more wear, or if the squeal returns.

At this point, I'm calling the "break in" myth as "plausible".
 
Apr 23, 2011
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Rooski said:
matthew2000tx said:
Keep us posted on this, My 1 year old bike has started making sounds like it's an old dying dog when I'm breaking with the nexus 3 speed. I'm tempted to take it apart and grease it... but reading this it didn't sound like it would help?

I also get a squeal while pedaling??

I can post a video with the sound of the squeal if requested.

Matthew.........if I were you, I would go ahead and service your hub, as it will most likely cure your issue. Especially, since you say you hear squeals when pedaling, you may have dry areas, as well as corroded/rusted areas. Sure wouldn't hurt to at least try.

I rode it extensively the past four days 5-10 miles per day.... no noise what so ever... I'm going to a trusted bike shop tomorrow that specializes in cruisers and hubs like this I'll ask them about it.
 
Mar 25, 2011
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I'd be curious about this as well. I've worked with three bikes lately with Nexus hubs, two were 3s and one was a 7. All hubs were new, and all make a sort of a scraping noise when the brake is applied. On the other hand, the Shimano single-speed coaster hub that's on my American makes no noise whatsoever, so I wonder if its related to being a geared hub. I will say, though, that the Nexus 7 on my tank bike does seem to have quieted down with use. I don't have that much mileage on it, but I do live on a steep hill, so I give the brake a good workout regardless.
 
Jun 11, 2010
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Here's an update.

So far, after a couple of rides, both hubs are doing well and have not squealed. So, it appears that putting the "broken in" brake shoes into the newer hubshell was a cure, at least for me.


Expjawa,........I too have a few nexus hubs (3's, and 7's)that make a very faint friction noise when applying brake, but not squealing. My Townie, which looks to have much wear on the hubshell's braking surface, is extremely quiet. Time will tell if they all quiet down. BTW, one of my single speed bikes also does this.

I was talking to a mechanic at my LBS, who also has a personal collection of cruisers (many with Nexus). He told me the brakes DO require breaking in, and the most important thing is to not let them get too hot, or the brake surfaces will get goofy. He says to look for a bluish color on the surface. He also said his Shimano rep advised him to NOT use the Nexus white grease, but instead use some certain Park stuff (can't remember which variety) on the whole innards.


Here's something else to consider. From what I've read, Shimano officially says to use the white Nexus grease, even on the brakes in the coaster version. What's interesting is, I have a couple new Nexus 7 internal assemblies, over here, and out of the box, they have the white grease applied to the drive mechanicals, and thicker looking black stuff on the brake section. I'm assuming the black stuff is their brake grease, like what's recommended for roller brakes. I'm thinking of trying the roller brake grease on one of them, to see if it makes much difference. My only concern is if the black grease will eventually migrate to the prawls, and cause them to eventually start sticking.


Here's a pic of a new internal assembly, showing the two different grease types that the factory applies.

 
Apr 20, 2009
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Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't look to me like it would migrate any further than the sprawl ring (or whatever they call it).
Anyway, if it's not that complex to open and repack it, I think I'd be doing that on a regular basis.
 
Apr 23, 2011
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Ok so mine started making the noise again after riding down a large hill and applying break the whole time because it was steep. Then for a while it made a squeeling sound or more of a swiissh sound as a i pedaled this happed for about 1 mile then it was quiet again. I wonder if heat has something to do with it. I'm a big guy 6ft 275lbs so it takes some friction to get my to slow down a steep hill :oops:
 
Jun 11, 2010
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deorman said:
Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't look to me like it would migrate any further than the sprawl ring (or whatever they call it).
Anyway, if it's not that complex to open and repack it, I think I'd be doing that on a regular basis.
Yeah, the NX3's are pretty easy to break all the way down for a complete overhaul, but I think if it's still working fine, you can get away with simply removing the internal assembly, carefully wipe off as much old grease as you can, repack key areas, shove it back in and go :)


matthew2000tx said:
Ok so mine started making the noise again after riding down a large hill and applying break the whole time because it was steep. Then for a while it made a squeeling sound or more of a swiissh sound as a i pedaled this happed for about 1 mile then it was quiet again. I wonder if heat has something to do with it. I'm a big guy 6ft 275lbs so it takes some friction to get my to slow down a steep hill :oops:
Sounds like you are definitely overheating your hub. Next time this happens, as soon as you reach the bottom of the hill, stop and feel the rear hub with your fingers, and see if it's hot to the touch.
 
Sep 30, 2011
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Rooski said:
Here's something else to consider. From what I've read, Shimano officially says to use the white Nexus grease, even on the brakes in the coaster version. What's interesting is, I have a couple new Nexus 7 internal assemblies, over here, and out of the box, they have the white grease applied to the drive mechanicals, and thicker looking black stuff on the brake section. I'm assuming the black stuff is their brake grease, like what's recommended for roller brakes. I'm thinking of trying the roller brake grease on one of them, to see if it makes much difference. My only concern is if the black grease will eventually migrate to the prawls, and cause them to eventually start sticking.
I have to agree with this. I work on these hubs for my bread and butter. I work in a cruiser shop and fixing rental cruisers on the side. The one thing i noticed at first was older hubs had the black grease in the brake area and went for miles as rentals without noise. However, alot of the hubs from the last couple of years come with only white grease in the hubs. These are the ones that squeal. On some of these hubs the squeal went away with a new set of shoes, a dip in shimanos dip solution as per proper shimano procedure, and a re grease with black on the brake, white in the hub.
Some this didnt fix at all, and some came back real soon with the same problem. Swapping for older stock new internals fixed this problem in the few we did this too.

The one warranty hub shimano rebuilt for us we checked out thouroughly and noticed a couple things:
1. The hub had 2 types of grease, black and white.
2. The white grease seemed thicker than the stuff we just got in a tube from shimano and the grease in the bad hubs.
This led us to check and sure enough, our older grease was thicker than the new white grease.

The conclusions i drew were that there may be a combination of possible problems here:

1: Improper greasing of hubs at factory, no black grease.
2: Bad batch of white grease made too thin
3: Bad batch of brake shoes (admitted by shimano, due to improper hardening)
4: Improperly manufactured hub shell, although this seems less likely to me.

Shimano is very tight lipped about this. They did however ship us a bunch of brake shoes at no cost. These are packed in thick white grease when new btw.
 
Sep 30, 2011
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Rooski said:
deorman said:
Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't look to me like it would migrate any further than the sprawl ring (or whatever they call it).
Anyway, if it's not that complex to open and repack it, I think I'd be doing that on a regular basis.
Yeah, the NX3's are pretty easy to break all the way down for a complete overhaul, but I think if it's still working fine, you can get away with simply removing the internal assembly, carefully wipe off as much old grease as you can, repack key areas, shove it back in and go :)
I have come across hubs with a ton of black grease on those pawls that worked fine. BTW shimano has a dip solution that cleans and lubes the hub internals, as per their manual. Good luck finding this and the price is alot if yer just doing one or two hubs.


Rooski said:
matthew2000tx said:
Ok so mine started making the noise again after riding down a large hill and applying break the whole time because it was steep. Then for a while it made a squeeling sound or more of a swiissh sound as a i pedaled this happed for about 1 mile then it was quiet again. I wonder if heat has something to do with it. I'm a big guy 6ft 275lbs so it takes some friction to get my to slow down a steep hill :oops:
Sounds like you are definitely overheating your hub. Next time this happens, as soon as you reach the bottom of the hill, stop and feel the rear hub with your fingers, and see if it's hot to the touch.
I suspect the white grease thins and runs away from the braking surface when the hub gets hot, hence the need for the thicker black grease with what looks like friction modifiers in it (little metallic speckly schtuff)
 
Sep 30, 2011
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Peatbog said:
Several months ago I bought a brand new (but two year old) Schwinn cruiser with the Nexus 3-speed having the howling brake. Everything works fine though, so I'm hoping it may calm down over time.
The hub is working fine, and probably looks brand new inside, however the sound wont go away. Or at least it wont go away before your back teeth vibrate out of your head from the howl. Perhaps we need an oldtimer with no teeth and crappy hearing to do some long term testing.
All i can tell is the problem is a crapshoot.
All my sturmey archer hubs work awesome however. (5-6 new style, 6-7 old/antique)....The old shimano 3 speeds couldnt even come close to the old AW for quality and durability. Perhaps the sturmey archer turmoil of the 90's and 2000's is over and they are back to making better than shimano stuff, (even though the stuff is made in asia now)
 
Jun 11, 2010
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Hey, NotsoFresh!

Welcome to the forums, and thank you for the extremely useful info! It's nice to get input from someone with loads of "hands on" experience!

Regardless of the actual root cause of the "howling" problem, I'm really thinking using the white Nexus grease for coaster brakes is a bad idea. I just recently put together a trike, using the rear end from a 76 Schwinn 3sp Tri-Wheeler. The hub is a Shimano 3CC, and I'm guessing had not been serviced in 35 years. it was working fine until one night, out on a test ride, the coaster brake locked up. I was putting off servicing the hub until I was ready to tear the project down for repaint, but had no choice, now.

Turns out the brake shoes had fused themselves to the shell (there was hardly any grease left). They popped off easily by prying them off with a small screwdriver, and there didn't appear to be any damage or strange discoloration on the surfaces. I decided to rebuild it using the white Nexus grease, even on the brakes (was curious). Well, the hub's been working fine, EXCEPT, now under hard breaking, I'm getting brake howl. And like the Nexus howl, you not only hear it, but can feel it vibrating through the whole bike. Not sure if it's related to the previous brake lock up, the white grease, or both. When I get the chance, I'll redo it with something different, and compare.

Also, I was just recently talking about the issue with a bike mechanic, and he suggested using Park Polylube 1000 for the geared hubs, for the whole internals, even the brakes. He claims it will cure the squeal, and also claims his Shimano rep endorses the use of the Park grease for Nexus hubs, over the white Shimano stuff.
 
Sep 30, 2011
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Rooski said:
Hey, NotsoFresh!

Welcome to the forums, and thank you for the extremely useful info! It's nice to get input from someone with loads of "hands on" experience!

Regardless of the actual root cause of the "howling" problem, I'm really thinking using the white Nexus grease for coaster brakes is a bad idea. I just recently put together a trike, using the rear end from a 76 Schwinn 3sp Tri-Wheeler. The hub is a Shimano 3CC, and I'm guessing had not been serviced in 35 years. it was working fine until one night, out on a test ride, the coaster brake locked up. I was putting off servicing the hub until I was ready to tear the project down for repaint, but had no choice, now.

Turns out the brake shoes had fused themselves to the shell (there was hardly any grease left). They popped off easily by prying them off with a small screwdriver, and there didn't appear to be any damage or strange discoloration on the surfaces. I decided to rebuild it using the white Nexus grease, even on the brakes (was curious). Well, the hub's been working fine, EXCEPT, now under hard breaking, I'm getting brake howl. And like the Nexus howl, you not only hear it, but can feel it vibrating through the whole bike. Not sure if it's related to the previous brake lock up, the white grease, or both. When I get the chance, I'll redo it with something different, and compare.

Also, I was just recently talking about the issue with a bike mechanic, and he suggested using Park Polylube 1000 for the geared hubs, for the whole internals, even the brakes. He claims it will cure the squeal, and also claims his Shimano rep endorses the use of the Park grease for Nexus hubs, over the white Shimano stuff.
Thanx for the welcoming. I will post a few project and some info in the next couple days so keep an eye out.
Shimano rep told us only white grease.
Shimano warranty guy who rebuilt the one hub says black grease is for brakes.

Do you believe the guy with the pencil or with the wrench??
I forgot to meantion earlier, the (possibly bad batch) white grease seems to separate in the tube like natural peanut butter.

Those old shimano hubs are a different ball game from the nexus stuff. If you locked and fused the brake, there is a good chance there is scoring or an out of round condition in the hubshell, which shoes and grease wont fix. With the old shimano 3speed stuff, its usually cheaper to replace with something sturmey than to try to troubleshoot and repair the old shimano. Yours is special.....however. I would suggest finding new shoes, and using an inside set of calipers carefully check the brakeing surface in the hub for out of round or wear sections. stick a foam sanding block in there and spin the hub to fix minor scoring, out of round a small amount can be machined, but all this work is a waste when you price out an older good sturmey and a good welder to weld a sprocket in the middle of the hub for you. Just get it tigged on to reduce hubshell warp. good luck
 
Feb 18, 2018
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So has anyone come up with a definitive answer to the squealing? My wife’s bike started squealing on our last ride and wouldn’t stop!!! I took it apart and it had plenty of grease/ lube in it, no scoring or bluing from heat! Put some grease only on the bearings and reassembled, still squealing I ordered a new set of brake shoes will see it that works? Help !! LOL
 
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I use grease in Nexus hubs only on bearings and a little bit on the hubs case. Then put it together and fill it with oil. Nice, smooth & silent.
 

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I use grease in Nexus hubs only on bearings and a little bit on the hubs case. Then put it together and fill it with oil. Nice, smooth & silent.
I do that on nexus 7/8 hubs, since that is what recommended for them by Shimano.
With my nexus 3 hubs i pack them with lithium grease, and it usually works. Though once i had a case when nothing helped, i tried to apply all existing kinds of oil and grease in all possible combinations, and even swapped the whole guts setup with another hub, no result. The reason for that is some wear on the hub shell, if that is the case, bad news, easiest is just getting a new hub. But otherwise packing it with lithium grease (blue, white or another kind of grease) should work perfectly.