Your bicycle is made up of several key components that must all seamlessly work together for you to ride smoothly. There are probably more than you can name yet some, like ball and socket joints, are featured more prominently and, therefore, are more pertinent than other parts.
Although you may be far from a traditional bike mechanic, it’s always good to brush up on your bike anatomy as it can help you troubleshoot any bumps in the road later on.
Ball and sockets can be found in some bike parts, so this guide aims to break down what ball and socket joints are and how to tighten them without a lot of muss and fuss.
What is a “ball and socket” joint in bikes?
Ball and socket joints are made up of two parts, one acting as the ball going into the socket, while the other acts as the receiver on the ball, like how a cue ball goes into a socket when you play billiards.
Your shoulders and hips are two ball and socket joints that occur naturally, allowing for better multi-directional movement. There are a few bike parts that benefit from utilizing a similar mechanism.
Which bike parts use this “ball and socket” joint?
While most bike parts are rigid tubes of metal interconnected by cabling, there are a few bike parts that use ball and socket joints.
For example, the rear mirrors are designed to pivot in multiple directions to navigate around blind spots in traffic. If the mirrors didn’t implement ball and socket joints, they would fail to swivel when needed, possibly leading to disastrous results.Mounted headlights for your bike can also utilize ball and socket joints since the capability to rotate would make them more versatile during late-night rides along winding paths.
It makes sense then that some key parts of your bike must be able to turn for practical purposes. However, what should you do if the ball becomes too loose to stay in place?
How to tighten a ball and socket joint
If you have a joint where the ball gets a bit too wobbly to keep steady in the socket, then it’s high time you fix the problem before it gets worse. The first troubleshooting technique you should try is to push the ball deeper into the socket. Perhaps the issue is that the ball was knocked out of place and only needs to be realigned.
If that does not seem to do the trick, then it’s time to do the opposite, removing the ball from the socket. You want to expose the ball to wrap it in a material that allows it to have a better fit in the socket. To do this, pull the ball gently but firmly out of the socket and then apply a coat of one of the following products onto its end:
Any of these should add more grip to the end of the ball. Just make sure to remove any excess before replacing it into the socket. If not, excess material might make it impossible for the ball to re-enter the socket or render it immobile once replaced.