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  1. #1
    huffy owns
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    Octalink. Thoughts?

    So, I upgraded bikes... Mind you I'm not a hardcore biker, I don't compete or anything... I just like messin around on the trail and pushin myself and my bike as much as I can being an amateur rider.

    I have a 2004 Giant Boulder SE. It did well, but I upgraded to an 08 model Diamondback Response Sport.

    So far, I love this bike. It's friggen tough. I haven't done any hardcore riding though, seeing as though weather lately in PA has been nothing short of pathetic.

    I was googling reviews on it and I was reading about the Octalink Bottom Bracket. My Giant had a square taper, and I replaced it about a year ago. I was reading that "sealed bearing cartridge" style bottom brackets are better designed. The Octalink was one of them, from what I understand.

    But it's weird. I'm reading that the Octalink is a beast, as long as it's installed properly. Yet a lot of people are talking about the end of its lifespan?? Really? What about the Octalink prevents it from excelling more in the future?

    What it comes down to is, I have a new bike here. It'd kind of suck to hear that certain replacement parts for it will be extinct next year.

    Also, say the Octalink magically is just a no go. I can put a new bottom bracket in there, can't I? I just have to size up the width and get a new crankset to match the bottom bracket style I get, right? What I'm getting at is I'm trying to understand whether or not I can mix and match literally ANY bottom bracket on my bike frame.

    Any input?

  2. #2
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    New standards come along, and Octalink lost out to lower weight and higher stiffness of the HollowTech II bottom brackets. There's not really any practical benefit other than the slight weight difference.

    I have bikes with both, and have no preference at all. Octalink is easier to install than square taper, so take the installation complaints with a grain of salt.

  3. #3
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    You can put in an Octalink or ISIS bottom-bracket. Then remove same and use a cups & cones model. Or you can check out the latest addition to the field: Hollowtech outboard BB. And yes - your cranks need to work with the BB you use. Octalink works with octalink cranks. ISIS with ISIS cranks. Etc. Whatever you decide, you have to make sure to get the correct size as determined by the dimensions of your bottom-bracket shell on the frame of the bike, and the basic geometry of the frame - such as chain-line. This to be sure your cranks don't wouldn't be attached in such a way as to hit the frame.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  4. #4
    huffy owns
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    Good stuff. So basically the Octalink and Hollowtech works pretty much the same. I assume both BB's are superior to Square Taper models?

    Is there major difference between Octalink and Hollowtech besides weight?

    Besides Nashbar, is there a decent parts site? Even on PricePoint I'm not finding many Octalink Cranks...
    Last edited by Roasted; 02-07-09 at 01:52 PM.

  5. #5
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Hollowtech is not like Octalink at all - or ISIS for that matter. Octalink has an 8-veined axle-bolt that meshes with another 8-veined center-hole in the cranks. They will be sold as 'Octalink' so people know what kind of BB they are for use with. Octalink's mechanism is a metal pipe that runs through the BB-shell that is a sealed mechanism.

    The Hollowtech design has 2 sealed-bearings that rotate outside the BB-shell, and a hollow tube that fits through the BB-shell. The cranks are 2-peice cranks that have the axle already attached. This makes Hollowtech lighter in weight, easy to install, and very stiff.

    So each design must be used with components that are made for the specific design. Each one is different and can't be used with a dissimilar component. Regards being superior - that war rages on and I won't enlist. I have all 3 designs on various machines.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  6. #6
    huffy owns
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    I'm just hoping that in the future when I need to replace the BB, which I believe regardless of design, it's inevitable due to the amount of torque that's centralized on that one area, that I hope I won't come up short finding an Octalink BB replacement similar to my stock one.

    It's at least somewhat comforting to know I can just swap in another crank with a matching BB, such as a Hollowtech setup. They cost quite a bit though, for a full crank. For what I'm doing I wonder if I can get away with a slightly cheaper crank without sacrificing a truckload of quality.

    Those of you who use Octalink - What's your personal opinion on it? I'm not really talking about Octalink versus (insert BB maker here), I'm talking about the longevitiy of the part itself, is it stable, does it creak under high torque up a steep hill, etc. I guess the reason I'm so concerned about this is because of the BB being the only part I ever had to replace on my older bike. I just want to be as aware of the parts on my bike as possible so I know what I'm looking at for replacements, if need be.

  7. #7
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I find Octalink is not as smooth as the Hollowtech. Or as smooth as my Campy Record BB (cups & cones). But I have a rather inexpensive version of the Octalink. They work fine, but may wear out rather quickly - depending how much, and where, you ride. But that doesn't present much of a problem as replacements are cheap and available. And installation is a 5 minute job - assuming you have the proper tools. They are specific tools for working on BB's and can't really be fudged together out of what you have in your tool-drawer. So you can either invest in some tools (and learn how to use them), or take it to your LBS to do for you. It's, as I said, a 5-minute job. So it shouldn't bankrupt you.

    Creaking indicates something is not right. And not always associated with the BB - even though that's where one thinks it would be. Read Sheldon's article on this matter:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/creaks.html
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  8. #8
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted View Post
    Those of you who use Octalink - What's your personal opinion on it?
    As far as longetivity, durability, etc., Octalink is very, very good from my experience. I've used Octalink (V2) on mountain bikes for years, they're nice cartridge bb's.

  9. #9
    huffy owns
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    Well, I got a 2 year "we cover everything except punctured tires" warranty when I bought my bike for 40 bucks extra. It would have been more but since I bought an 08 model it dropped the overall price to a bracket below, therefore giving me the cheaper warranty... so in reality, I have nothing to worry about for 2 years. Literally take it in, drop it in front of them, walk out with no charge.

    BUT, my concern is this hardtail may not be competition style, but I really dig it and it fits me perfectly. I plan to just keep replacing parts on it while using the same frame and whatever other parts are working. So beyond the 2 years I'm hoping Octalink will still be actively used.

    Despite it being bitter cold, I bundled up and took a hard ride on the bike. I must say, DAAAANG it's pretty nice. The pedaling is ultra smooth and I feel no hesitation or "lagging" or any noises of any kind. I definitely dig the setup here.

    How can I tell if I'm running Octalink V1 or V2?
    Last edited by Roasted; 02-07-09 at 02:52 PM.

  10. #10
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted View Post
    How can I tell if I'm running Octalink V1 or V2?

    Among Shimano's mtb groups, only XTR uses V1; the rest use V2.

  11. #11
    huffy owns
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    Among Shimano's mtb groups, only XTR uses V1; the rest use V2.
    I don't mean to sound like an idiot, but what would I be using? I'm willing to bet V2, but I just don't really know the difference from XTR bikes... that's really what I'm getting at.

  12. #12
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted View Post
    I don't mean to sound like an idiot, but what would I be using? I'm willing to bet V2, but I just don't really know the difference from XTR bikes... that's really what I'm getting at.

    If the crankset doesn't say XTR on it, and it's a Shimano mountain bike crankset (Deore, LX, or XT), and it's Octalink, you're using an Octalink V2 bb. Most of the Shimano Octalink road groups. plus XTR, use V1. The splines are longer on V2.

  13. #13
    huffy owns
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    Yeah... no XTR here. Each crank says Shimano and that's it. There's no other text anywhere on the crank/BB area. SO I take it I'm using V2... good to know for the future, I guess.

    Just for the sake of knowing... my bike is normally noted as "amazing frame with average components." Okay, got that. Can someone link me to a bike parts web site a Hollowtech crank that would in some way shape or form compare to the Octalink crankset I have? Just for sake of comparing and knowing prices for the future if indeed I DO ever switch it out...

    And, not to hark but, can ANY mountain bike take ANY kind of BB? Or is there a specific kind of bottom frame hub that I must have to fit into certain BB's?

  14. #14
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted View Post
    Each crank says Shimano and that's it. There's no other text anywhere on the crank/BB area.
    Are you sure it's not a square taper bb? If it's Deore, Deore LX, Deore XT, or XTR, it should say so on the cranksarms. Those were the mtb groups that were available with Octalink I believe. My wife has an Alivio crankset on her bike that just says "Shimano" on the crankarms, it uses a square taper bb. I don't believe Alivio was offered with Octalink, but I could be mistaken. Or maybe what you have is just an OEM Shimano crankset, not really part of a "group", but with an Octalink bb. I don't know.

  15. #15
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    Are you sure it's not a square taper bb? If it's Deore, Deore LX, Deore XT, or XTR, it should say so on the cranksarms. Those were the mtb groups that were available with Octalink I believe. My wife has an Alivio crankset on her bike that just says "Shimano" on the crankarms, it uses a square taper bb. I don't believe Alivio was offered with Octalink, but I could be mistaken. Or maybe what you have is just an OEM Shimano crankset, not really part of a "group", but with an Octalink bb. I don't know.
    Some Deore just say Shimano on the cranks. I'll bet Alivio or Acera though (which also just say Shimano), which does mean square taper.

    -R

  16. #16
    huffy owns
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    Ever resource I look at tells me it's an Octalink. Here's one with specs laid out in a neat manner.

    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...port&Type=bike

    Every single web site I've looked at has said it's an Octalink. And quite a few reviews actually spoke out about the Octalink BB...

  17. #17
    I have senior moments... bikinfool's Avatar
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    Just some refining points to make. Hollowtech (I) were cranks designed for the octalink cartridge bb interface. Hollowtech (II) is the external bearing type. When you talk about Shimano groups, it's best to be specific with the model number, not just the general group name. XT, for example, has existed as square taper, octalink and external bearing type cranks/bbs. Shimano trickles the technology down normally after introduction at the XTR level, then to XT, to LX/SLX, etc. If you're curious about the timeline of various Shimano introductions, try this http://www.mombat.org/Shimano.htm

    Another point on octalink bb's is that the better ones are no longer being made available as Shimano has focused it's new stuff to be the external type (for now at least), just as they did with their better square tapers when switching everything over to octalink...
    suum quique
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  18. #18
    huffy owns
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    But either way, "should" I have better luck with my current Octalink versus the Square Taper I had on my Boulder SE?

  19. #19
    I have senior moments... bikinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted View Post
    But either way, "should" I have better luck with my current Octalink versus the Square Taper I had on my Boulder SE?
    Can't say I've experienced any problems with my square taper cartridge bbs that my octalinks "solved". Some swear by the stiffness differences but that wasn't an issue for me. I do like the ease of crank removal (without a specific puller) with the new external type, though. On my various bikes I have all three standards; for me the question has been why change out perfectly good cranks just for new bb types? Maybe the newer bb30 standards will address problems with the small shells/bearings overall down the line. Was your old square taper a cartridge type bb or loose bearings?
    suum quique
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  20. #20
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted View Post
    But either way, "should" I have better luck with my current Octalink versus the Square Taper I had on my Boulder SE?
    Since you say you had to replace the square taper cartridge bottom bracket on your old bike after one year, I'll venture to say that you'll probably have better luck with the Octalink bb. I've certainly not had to replace an Octalink bb within a year, and that's using the bike it was on in all sorts of challenging conditons (mud, water, etc).

    I gotta say, though, I think you're overthinking this. It should be a good bb. Have fun with the bike.

  21. #21
    huffy owns
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    Haha, yeah. I know I'm overthinking it. But at the same time, it's a learning process. I learned about bottom bracket types when my first one went out. My BB on my Boulder SE went out after a good 2 and a half years. But I was one of those people who got a bike, was wow'ed over it and rode it for a month, then got caught up with other stuff and only rode on random occasions. As of late last year I got into heavy biking again, which is when I realized that my crank was shifting more and more when I pedaled... hence the BB replacement.

    But anyway, staying on topic, I know I'm overthinking this, but my thing is it's how I learn the difference parts of a bike because it's overwelming to realize how complex it is. There's different types of BB's, okay, what are they? How do they differ? What are the pros and cons of each? Obviously there are or else we'd have 1 almighty design that everybody uses and that's all there is to it. That's what sparks the questions in my head, such as my questions about the Octalink's future... how likely it is to continually see it in future bikes, how likely it is to find replacement parts for it... if no replacement parts are available, can I change to a different one if need be? etc... That's why I ask so many questions, because once I get fixed on a topic I have this gumption to know everything I can about it.

    So, if anybody can offer anymore answers to my ridiculous questions, such as Octalink's future in biking, etc, that'd be great! It kind of sounds based on the comments some people have said that Shimano is already starting to phase it out. Kind of sucks because in my mind that plants the seed of... "Oh, when your BB dies, you can't get a replacement... you simply need to upgrade the crank to Hollowtech... etc"

  22. #22
    Light Makes Right GV27's Avatar
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    Well, the first thing you have to understand is that one overriding factor in bicycle component manufacturing is marketing. Manufacturers are always looking to come out with something "better" though to them "better" just means better selling not necessarily better functioning.

    The big problem with this is that old stuff becomes obsolete even though it may work just as good - and in a few cases better - as the new stuff. The big things these days is stiffness. Stiffness is better because, well, of course it's better, right? More is better, right? In a crank that's probably right but really, how stiff do you need? I'm just not strong enough to flex a good square-taper, let alone anything else. I have Hollowtech II cranks on my MTB but I can't tell any difference. I have an ISIS on another bike. Seems the same to me.

    Your biggest problem is that Shimano only made the Octalink for a few years and they were the only one making it. he day may well come soon when they simply don't make them any more and nobody else can and I can't see Shimano letting anyone else make them for a LONG time. On the scale of decades. So there's a good chance that someday you could be SOL if you need to replace the thing. Maybe you could find one on Ebay. Probably.

    Really, the only thing that looks like it won't be completely replaced by integrated-BB cranks is square-taper. They work fine. Dunno what your issue was with your BB but I have three bikes in my garage with square-tapers that are over 20 years old. A quality square-taper will last as long as anything. The best BBs on the planet are made by Phil Wood. They only make square taper.

    Three basic types: square taper, splined (Octalink and ISIS) and integrated/external bearing. Supposedly going down that list each is stiffer than that that came before. Only advantage of integrated is that they're REALLY easy to pull on and off. Flip side of that is that they're really sensitive to side-load on the bearings. So in that way they're almost a step back. With cartridge bearing square-taper and splined BBs you didn't have to worry about correctly loading the bearings like you did with loose-bearing models. With the new stuff you do. So really if you don't know what you're doing with them they just make it a lot easier to F it up!

    All of this IS confusing and it IS a bummer. Heck, I would be surprised if in the future people aren't throwing out perfectly good integrated-BB cranks simply because they can't get the right bearings anymore. The bike industry views today's latest-and-greatest as tomorrow's useless junk. That's a shame - especially when tomorrow's useless junk is being made to a fantastically high standard by Campy, Shimano, FSA, etc. etc. It's great stuff. It's such a shame that all those companies will try to get you to throw it away next year.

    Chris
    Last edited by GV27; 02-07-09 at 09:29 PM.

  23. #23
    huffy owns
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    Are you saying that Octalinks aren't even made anymore? Or that Shimano, the only maker of them, will stop manufacturing them in the near future?

    That seems like a poor move on Shimano if that's true. After all, if those parts exist, which they do because there are many bikes with them on them, and Shimano (being the only manufacturer) why in the world wouldn't they continue production to gain 100% of replacement funds when existing Octalinks wear out?

    I'm in IT support and I work with computers majority of my day. I've heard it said before and I'm beginning to see it... Shimano is the Microsoft of the biking world. And me, being a Linux user, tend to not like Microsoft.

    What's a good crank set to compare to that on my stock Response Sport? Just so I have a number to throw around in case I want to upgrade the crank someday when my BB wears out. I just like to know what price I COULD be looking at IF anything happens.

  24. #24
    Light Makes Right GV27's Avatar
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    Why would they continue to make them when they could get you to buy a whole new crank AND BB by stopping? They do still make them, but all of their higher-end cranks are Hollowtech II and that technology is migrating all the way down the line. Sorry to be cynical, but I think it's only a matter of time.

    An LX Hollowtech II crank (w/BB of course) is ~$150. It's not a good crank, it's a great crank. You could probably find "last year's model" a lot cheaper.

    edit: don't get me wrong. Shimano BB's are generally of very high quality. So if you have at least a middle-of-the-road Octalink BB, it should last for many, many years. Long enough for Hollowtech II to become obsolete!

    edit 2: you may also guess from what I've written what I think of Microsoft!
    Last edited by GV27; 02-07-09 at 09:40 PM.

  25. #25
    huffy owns
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    Damn. 150? I expected more, to be honest. Then again I guess that's the high end stuff I was seeing. Glad to know that 150 is all it'll take to get a decent crank/bb if I ever upgrade. Shouldn't break the bank too much. Then again I'd probably need tools to install it and... considering I'm not so much a mechanic... maybe a few bucks to have it installed somewhere.

    Now, I asked before but I'm not sure if I got a solid y/n answer to this... When it comes to upgrading the BB/crank with mountain bikes, is there ANYTHING at all that would limit me from throwing any standard BB into my bike? I'm just curious if I have to match up my frames lower hub size with BB's that I get... or if the lower frame hub is 1 standard size/width/height/whatever across all Mt bike models?

    EDIT - Also, what kind of BB is the Hollowtech II? Is that an integrated/external BB or a splined cartridge type?
    Last edited by Roasted; 02-07-09 at 10:33 PM.

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