Classic & Vintage - Should I convert my bottom bracket?
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04-15-08, 08:55 AM
I've been thinking for a while about converting my cup/cone bottom Bracket to a new sealed cartridge type... what do you guys think?
This is on my 1984 Trek 520, and I love that bike. I bought it brand new in 1983 as soon as the new model hit the floor in my LBS, and I've been riding it ever since. It is my daily commuter and gets about 20 to 25 miles every day rain or shine... so maintenance is an issue for me.
The old girl still has the original Maillard front hub and cup/cone bottom bracket, but I've gotten tired of repacking and adjusting the bearings again and again... so I'm looking at replacing the old BB with a modern one so as to eliminate the maintenance issues.
So I have 2 questions for you folks:
Since the old cup/cone BB still works perfectly with no noise or problems... should I just leave it alone? Should I just shut up and continue to grease and adjust the BB that has served admirably for 25 years?
If I do the conversion... what is involved in doing it? Do I need to modify the BB housing or anything? How do I actually shove a cartridge bearing set in there?
I sure appreciate any input that you guys have...
04-15-08, 09:16 AM
I vote for option 1. How often do you clean and repack? What is the condition of the bearings/cones/old grease when you repack?
I vote for option number 1 as well. Even though I ride my "cup and cone" equipped bike every day, I don't think I need to clean mine more than once every two years.---except, of course, if I get caught in a rainstorm.
I like the old school set up, as it appears to spin more freely and smoothly.
04-15-08, 09:35 AM
Whatever you do, hang onto the cup and cone BB. After you've thrown out a couple of used up cartridge bottom brackets you might want it back. You can repack your old cup and cone BB every 2 years or replace your cartridge BB almost as often. Is it really a tough choice?
04-15-08, 09:50 AM
I can't believe it lasted this long.
You must do top notch service!
Anyway, I have converted a couple of my bikes to cartridge and its worked out very well. And when you figure out how much Suntour BB's are selling for compared to a nice sealed unit it made no sense to keep my old BB in service any longer.
I did keep the old BB's though.
Cartridge unit should slide right in to yours, 68mm I presume, just need to get the length right. You will need a new "special tool" to put it in/take it out, but it is cheap and widely available.
04-15-08, 10:18 AM
Even though I ride my "cup and cone" equipped bike every day, I don't think I need to clean mine more than once every two years.---except, of course, if I get caught in a rainstorm.
Rain doesn't frighten me at all, so I ride in it as long as there is no lightning! :eek:
So I repack my BB and hubs every 4 or 6 months... dunno... maybe that's more often than I need to do it.
What is the condition of the bearings/cones/old grease when you repack?
Everything seems all right in there... no excessive wear on the races or anything. I have replaced the bearings themselves a couple of times over the years... mainly just to ensure that they weren't the source of any undue friction. The grease is not normally gritty or gummy when I clean it out... prolly because I do it too often!
I can't believe it lasted this long.
You must do top notch service!
Yeah... I'm kind of OCD when it comes to this. :rolleyes: I only use Phil Wood Waterproof grease, and clean out ALL of the old grease when I repack. I don't just add new grease to the old stuff... everything gets yanked out and cleaned with solvent before reassembly and adjustment. Maybe I'm going overboard, but she does still spin smoothly after all these years!
Maybe you guys are right... I should just leave it stock. I've made those Suntour Cyclone derailleurs last, so surely I can keep the BB going too!
04-15-08, 10:44 AM
+1 for option 1. At least for me, a well-adjusted and unpitted cup n cone BB feels soooo nice an smooth compared to a generic cartridge unit. If you don't have one of those plastic liners, maybe that will help the bearings last a bit longer by keeping crud from the openings in the BB from falling into the workings, and you may not have to take it apart as often,
I still prefer the old school BB's, although I must admit the new ones are super easy to install and there is no maintenance.
I would say your decision should be based on how much you hate servicing the old BB.
04-15-08, 11:35 AM
Keep it old school.
+ I for keeping it original. Have you tried wrapping pipe cleaners around the spindle to limit the amount of crud that gets into the BB?
04-15-08, 12:32 PM
See in 25 years he's never GOTTEN any crud in his bottom bracket, he's being OCD about repacking with waterproof grease at least twice as often as necessary, and if he's gonna be that way about it he definitely shouldn't use a cartridge bottom bracket. If it's really well sealed the grease pack MIGHT last twice as long as cup and cone, which means what, he's got a year before it no longer meets his OCD standards? You can't add more grease to a cartridge BB, so he's gonna want to throw it out at the first sign of grit. Also the better the seals, the more drag that is introduced by the seals.
On the other hand if he's sick of repacking his BB every six months, he could just try waiting a year.
04-15-08, 02:15 PM
I have no beef with cartridge units. I think the better quality ones are fine. In fact, I thought they were great when they first started to penetrate the market I got over that and now I prefer the serviceability of the old school bottom brackets. I also keep about 50-60 spindles in various lengths and tapers and lots of cups, which is nice (and cheaper) when you want to make crankset changes.
I'm going to take the alternate path here and say go for a good
sealed bearing BB, by that I mean Phil Wood. It will last practically
If this weren't a daily rider/commuter I'd say option 1.
04-15-08, 03:10 PM
I'd stick with servicing the cup & cone set up.
The thing I would do that is different is just stock up on grade 25 BB's and replace with new each time. It saves the cleaning/inspection time. I can get BB's from my LBS for $.05 ea. For $1.10, I don't have to trust my "iffy" vision.
04-16-08, 08:22 AM
I like the old school BB because I like to work on my bikes.
I like the cartridge BB on one of my bikes because it fits my cranks (Octalink).
I like the Bontrager Race-light version with he bearings in the collars, but at first I thought it was missing parts.
I let the cranks I want to use dictate. If they're square taper, I go with the simple old school BB.
I've had a spare one for about a year now, and haven't needed it yet. Mr. Kapaun above is right on the money, 5c per bearing and good grease.
For a C&V bike, there's just more fun in taking apart an old Ofmega or Campy and having a look-see.
I even like taking apart, cleaning, and lubing the skewers. It's all therapy.
In fact, there's a certain BF member who traded me a nasty Bianchi frame for a wheelset, and he promised me a Campy BB.......If you're reading this, maybe you could send it?
I have a Campagnolo cartridge in Capo #1 and old school cups and loose bearings (no cages) in everything else. If anything, one pays a small weight and drag penalty for the low-maintenance convenience of the cartridge system -- I do not see it as mechanically superior in any way.
04-16-08, 10:27 AM
Remember the motto of our local Ford dealer. "If it ain't broke, fix it until it is."
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