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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 04-29-08, 12:05 PM   #1
shayel
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Does Octalink suck?

I bought my road bike used, and it came with a 9-speed 105 group, including the FC-5505 triple crankset. Less then a year riding, and the right crankarm started to develop some play. I took it to the LBS, and they told me a couple of the octalink spline teeth on the arm got broken, and that the crank should be replaced.

Since I bought this bike I've gotten into shape, and feel I'm now strong enough not to need a triple. I got a spare double FD and the 105 shifters are both double and triple compatible, so shifting wise I should be set, and all I need is a new BB and crank.

I thought about getting FC-5502 octalink double, but searching the web and these forums, it seems that Octalink cranks are a bit finicky, and prone to spline breakage. Is that really so?

For about the same price I could either get either Shimano 105 FC-5502 Octalink crank (+BB), Truvativ Elita GXP (+BB cups. But I've found many bad reviews of Truvativ's cranks,) or add a bit and get a RaceFace Cadence crankset. Which would be the wise choice? Consider that I care less about weight, and more about reliability, and ease of maintenance (should require none at all, if possible )

Thanks!

Last edited by shayel; 04-29-08 at 12:11 PM. Reason: fixed a couple of typos.
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Old 04-29-08, 12:40 PM   #2
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Get a Sugino crankset or one of the new Shimano sets with external bottom bracket bearings. Truvativ's quality and parts sizing is very inconsistent--results are short bearing life, incurable noises, and chronic left-arm loosening. Race Face looks too much like a Truvativ or FSA product to be substantially better.
With the new system (external bearings, left arm fastened to spindle end) it seems to work best when the left arm is slotted and clamps around the spindle a'la all of the Shimano cranks and the low end (really good value) FSA Gossamer crankses, also consider the newest Campagnolo cranks and any Sugino or older Campy set (many mail order bargains if you look) that still uses a four-sided tapered spindle. The square spindle has never had anything wrong with it--ISIS and Octalink and external BB's are solutions in search of a problem. Mechanically, Octalink is the worst because it is the easiest with which to mis-load a crank arm and get incomplete engagement between the arm and the spindle.
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Old 04-29-08, 12:57 PM   #3
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3900+ hard miles with Octalink cranks and BB, not one problem.
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Old 04-29-08, 01:15 PM   #4
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^^^+1

I've been on a DA 9-speed Octalink DAILY for 6 years and have only replaced the BB once (just to upgrade).

OP, Installation may have been the problem. Most cranks have some bad reviews because most models/makers have some granted bad and/or quirky issues. Lots of bad reviews are blamed on product when installation should be blamed.
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Old 04-29-08, 01:42 PM   #5
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nothing wrong with the octalink system per say, you just need to check the crank bolts are tight every few hundred miles. there is a problem with BB availability, the double length english thread (109.5x68) are getting rare. if you only use your bike when its nice out the BB will last a long time, but it only takes one seattle cross season to kill one. that said 105 level BBs can be had for #30 and cranks for $50 or less so its hard to beat for the price
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Old 04-29-08, 01:53 PM   #6
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The reason to maybe avoid Octalink is BB availability not the system itself. I like my Octalink Ultegra crank quite a bit.
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Old 04-29-08, 01:55 PM   #7
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I've not used Octalink road components, but I've used Shimano XT Octalink (V2) for years, no problems at all. In fact, they're the most durable cranks/bb I've ever used-
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Old 04-29-08, 02:34 PM   #8
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Octalink, in my opinion, bomb-proof. I'm going to go with the consensus and say that it was a shoddy installation.
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Old 04-29-08, 03:43 PM   #9
Al1943
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I can see that it would be fairly easy to not get the splines fully engaged and this could account for spline failure. My 1998 D-A cranks and BB served me well but when I replaced the BB I thought it was a little bit tricky re-installing the old cranks.
Once the splines are aligned correctly this is a good job for a torque wrench.

Al

Last edited by Al1943; 04-29-08 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 04-29-08, 04:41 PM   #10
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If Octalink has any weaknesses at all, it's not in the splines spindle/crank interface. However, you must make CERTAIN the splines are mated properly. It isn't difficult but it is essential. Done right, the interface is very strong.

I have 12,000 miles on an Ultegra Octalink crank and bottom bracket with no play and no problems.
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