I guess I have more faith in wheel bearings than most people.
But I don't do wheelies or that crazy shit.
I mean, every year ain't a bad thing. It depends on how much and how hard you ride what you -need- to do, but the bearings on my bike are like $180 for a set so I just have new ones machined (for like $100) every 50-100k miles.
I check mine every time I adjust the chain. Grab your tire and try to wiggle it back and forth. If you feel any movement at all replace them. If you feel anything rough when you spin it replace it. If you take them out, don't put it back in buy new ones.
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