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Old 07-31-09, 08:37 AM   #1
thenomad
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Continue riding on bad BB cartridge?

I got on the trainer yesterday and noticed that my cranks were a little wobbly. I took them off, tightened what seemed like loose BB cups and reinstalled. The wobble is still there and seems to be inside the BB cartridge so I guess it's dead and will need to be replaced.
It is square taper. I'd previously been on cup/ball BBs so this is my first time on an insert unit. Riding on the trainer let me look down and really see the cranks easily so I'm not sure how long it has been bad. I have been hammering away riding this bike for the past weeks and didn't notice it, so I assume it just let go all of a sudden.


A) So while I wait for a BB to come in, will I kill other things if I get a few trainer rides in?

B) I also have an Ultegra octalink BB and crank i could throw on the bike (they are nice and light) but I'm not sure if it would be a bad idea because the Ultegra crank is 172.5 and I have 167.5 on it right now.
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Old 07-31-09, 10:23 AM   #2
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Could I mount my soapbox and ask why on earth people spend money on so-called "sealed" bottom brackets which, on the admission of the manufacturers, have a finite lifespan, when it's well-known that a fully-serviceable cup and cone bottom bracket, whether with loose or caged balls (the former to be preferred) will probably last indefinitely, given occasional maintenance? These sealed bottom brackets, I read recently, are no better sealed than a regular one. How can they be, when a spindle has to pass through the housing? They're not expensive enough to be sealed to marine or aerospace standards.

I understand why manufacturers wish to sell us these things. They probably feel they don't make enough on after-market spare parts; and, hey, bikes aren't just ridden by poor people nowadays. There's real money out there, they say, and we want some! When I buy a bike, the only things I figure on replacing are brake blocks and cables, the latter very occasionally. Let's not collaborate with these people in making our already expensive bicycles a permanent money pit for us, and a Milchkuh for them. Here endeth the lesson.

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Old 07-31-09, 11:03 AM   #3
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My C&V bike had a beautiful Specialized cup and ball BB. Spins forever.

This Carbon bike was a steal of a price and fits me better but has the cartridge. At $20 I'll probably replace with same but yeah, I hear you.

So anyone think I should just ride it till my parts come or am I now laid up and bikeless...?

I can't see it hurting other parts as the death should be inside the BB right?
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Old 07-31-09, 11:09 AM   #4
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That prior rant was really helpful to the original question.


I would say you'll be safe riding it till the new one comes in. The play should only be ruining (further) the BB anyway, and it's already toast.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:06 PM   #5
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Could I mount my soapbox and ask why on earth people spend money on so-called "sealed" bottom brackets which, on the admission of the manufacturers, have a finite lifespan, when it's well-known that a fully-serviceable cup and cone bottom bracket, whether with loose or caged balls (the former to be preferred) will probably last indefinitely, given occasional maintenance? These sealed bottom brackets, I read recently, are no better sealed than a regular one. How can they be, when a spindle has to pass through the housing? They're not expensive enough to be sealed to marine or aerospace standards.

I understand why manufacturers wish to sell us these things. They probably feel they don't make enough on after-market spare parts; and, hey, bikes aren't just ridden by poor people nowadays. There's real money out there, they say, and we want some! When I buy a bike, the only things I figure on replacing are brake blocks and cables, the latter very occasionally. Let's not collaborate with these people in making our already expensive bicycles a permanent money pit for us, and a Milchkuh for them. Here endeth the lesson.
If you have to take off your crankset every year to service the bottom bracket, the opening on the crank gets a little larger each time. Eventually the cranks will bottom out on the bottom bracket so that they can't be tightened, and you will need new crank arms. A sealed bottom bracket never needs service until it dies, which is usually after many thousands of miles. Therefore, you can leave the crank arms on and they won't wear out. So with a serviceable bottom bracket, your crank arms will have a shorter lifespan. With a sealed bottom bracket, your bottom bracket may have a slightly shorter lifespan. Take your pick, but I think a good quality sealed bottom bracket is best.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:11 PM   #6
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Could I mount my soapbox and ask why on earth people spend money on so-called "sealed" bottom brackets which, on the admission of the manufacturers, have a finite lifespan, when it's well-known that a fully-serviceable cup and cone bottom bracket, whether with loose or caged balls (the former to be preferred) will probably last indefinitely, given occasional maintenance? These sealed bottom brackets, I read recently, are no better sealed than a regular one. How can they be, when a spindle has to pass through the housing? They're not expensive enough to be sealed to marine or aerospace standards.

I understand why manufacturers wish to sell us these things. They probably feel they don't make enough on after-market spare parts; and, hey, bikes aren't just ridden by poor people nowadays. There's real money out there, they say, and we want some! When I buy a bike, the only things I figure on replacing are brake blocks and cables, the latter very occasionally. Let's not collaborate with these people in making our already expensive bicycles a permanent money pit for us, and a Milchkuh for them. Here endeth the lesson.

Who makes cup and cone bottom brackets for tapered cranksets these days? None that I know of. If one buys a new crankset these days, so called sealed BB's are the only choice.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:28 PM   #7
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Ah, gentlemen, but who mentioned tapered cranksets? Here in the land of warm beer, the cotter may still occasionally be found. Especially chez moi. Cotters are so soft that, as long as you replace them from time to time, the rest of the assembly remains unworn. May I ask the chap who objected to my little rant if he has any commercial interest in people using disposable components?
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Old 07-31-09, 12:31 PM   #8
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God, if I never see another cottered crank in my life, it will be too soon. Thank good we got past that technological stage.

To the OP, I think you could probably ride that slightly dead sealed BB for another 10 years, but it would be really annoying. Nothing's going to get hurt. But I'd replace it.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:32 PM   #9
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Who makes cup and cone bottom brackets for tapered cranksets these days?
It's amazing what you can still get hold of, especially in Britain. Have a look at this site.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:46 PM   #10
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cottered cranks belong in he!!. After drilling out the last cotter iI made sure to get rid of t, properly.

I am sure it is strong, but also H E A V Y.

I sometimes think I am going to keep them to keep a bike original, but always end up ditchinh them..
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Old 07-31-09, 01:01 PM   #11
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The bike I'm rebuilding has a 531 frame, and I've decided to go the cottered route. Not only period correct, but good cottered cranks are quite slim and elastic, compared to the sometimes chunky and "dead" alloy ones you see. Campagnolo alloy cranks had a terrible reputation for breaking, but I've never broken a steel crank.
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Old 07-31-09, 01:41 PM   #12
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Who makes cup and cone bottom brackets for tapered cranksets these days? None that I know of. If one buys a new crankset these days, so called sealed BB's are the only choice.
That is almost true, but there are still many NOS BB's out there.

Another option is a BB which uses sealed bearings, but is not an irreparable cartridge.

As to the use of later cranksets, which use the Octalink, only solution I know of is the cartridge.

The even later hollowtech BB's are reparable, but require some mods.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:25 PM   #13
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Ah, gentlemen, but who mentioned tapered cranksets? Here in the land of warm beer, the cotter may still occasionally be found. Especially chez moi. Cotters are so soft that, as long as you replace them from time to time, the rest of the assembly remains unworn. May I ask the chap who objected to my little rant if he has any commercial interest in people using disposable components?
No commercial interest whatsoever my good man. My objection comes from spending time reading two paragraphs and finding that you've not answered the man's question. I read the replies to see if others' experience is similar to mine. In this case, will it do further damage to keep riding until his beautiful new sealed BB arrives? I still say no.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Proofide View Post
Could I mount my soapbox and ask why on earth people spend money on so-called "sealed" bottom brackets which, on the admission of the manufacturers, have a finite lifespan, when it's well-known that a fully-serviceable cup and cone bottom bracket, whether with loose or caged balls (the former to be preferred) will probably last indefinitely, given occasional maintenance? These sealed bottom brackets, I read recently, are no better sealed than a regular one. How can they be, when a spindle has to pass through the housing? They're not expensive enough to be sealed to marine or aerospace standards.

I understand why manufacturers wish to sell us these things. They probably feel they don't make enough on after-market spare parts; and, hey, bikes aren't just ridden by poor people nowadays. There's real money out there, they say, and we want some! When I buy a bike, the only things I figure on replacing are brake blocks and cables, the latter very occasionally. Let's not collaborate with these people in making our already expensive bicycles a permanent money pit for us, and a Milchkuh for them. Here endeth the lesson.
If you do your own work (I do), then cup and cone is the way to go. If you pay someone to do your service, then you can probably get a low end cartridge installed (including the purchase of the parts) for less than the labor to get a cup and cone serviced.
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Old 07-31-09, 03:49 PM   #15
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Its certainly easier to find a cartridge but i do like the cup and cone for how smooth they are. But the problem of loosening over time etc can cause bigger issues.

Previously I just tried to tighten it as it was, so I went ahead and took the whole BB down and cleaned everything really well. The BB looks good. Now I reassembled it all after cleaning and i think it may have just been a torque issue.

So to be sure this time, how much torque should be applied to the BB right and left sides?
Really tight or moderately snugged down?

Last edited by thenomad; 07-31-09 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 07-31-09, 04:51 PM   #16
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To the OP, if you can stand it, I don't think you run the risk of damaging anything but the BB, as long as the wobble isn't so bad that the chainrings or chain start striking other bits they're not supposed to.

The rest of this thread has deviated into a "why modern bottom brackets" question. Or even a "why not cottered" question. In my experience, cottered cranks are a complete pain.

Cup and cone bottom brackets work fine, but require experience in adjusting them properly as with any other cup and cone bearing interface. If you don't get it right, which often takes quite a while to do, you'll be servicing it again very soon.

If for no other reason than the ease of installation, cartridge bottom brackets are far superior from my perspective. The screw in, you use them, you replace them, and the labor to do so is so much cheaper than adjusting a cup and cone setup that it instantly justifies the cost.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:19 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Proofide View Post
Could I mount my soapbox and ask why on earth people spend money on so-called "sealed" bottom brackets which, on the admission of the manufacturers, have a finite lifespan, when it's well-known that a fully-serviceable cup and cone bottom bracket, whether with loose or caged balls (the former to be preferred) will probably last indefinitely, given occasional maintenance? These sealed bottom brackets, I read recently, are no better sealed than a regular one. How can they be, when a spindle has to pass through the housing? They're not expensive enough to be sealed to marine or aerospace standards.

I understand why manufacturers wish to sell us these things. They probably feel they don't make enough on after-market spare parts; and, hey, bikes aren't just ridden by poor people nowadays. There's real money out there, they say, and we want some! When I buy a bike, the only things I figure on replacing are brake blocks and cables, the latter very occasionally. Let's not collaborate with these people in making our already expensive bicycles a permanent money pit for us, and a Milchkuh for them. Here endeth the lesson.

I think it's worth the $15 to save me the several, hour long overhaul sessions that cup and cone bottom bracket overhauls usually entail. Maybe I just value my time more than you

and to the OP, ride it as long as you like, you can only destroy the bottom bracket more
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Old 07-31-09, 06:57 PM   #18
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I'm probably older than some of you chaps. I remember, when I was very small, that we had a man who came to the house to repair the wireless set. He had to figure out what was wrong, then solder in a new component, change a valve or whatever. By the time I was grown up with my own house, the TV set had a series of sub-assemblies. If it went wrong, someone with limited training came and swapped out the appropriate board for a new one. The same result, but do you not understand my philosophical objections to this throwaway mentality? I didn't answer the OP's question directly because, as you may imagine, I have no experience of sealed bottom brackets, so I was reluctant to advise him to keep riding if it might result in catastrophic failure and possible injury. As to the second part of his question, I have absolutely no idea what an Ultegra octalink is. I speak several languages, but clearly not the one that is in.
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Old 08-01-09, 07:31 AM   #19
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Its certainly easier to find a cartridge but i do like the cup and cone for how smooth they are. But the problem of loosening over time etc can cause bigger issues.

Previously I just tried to tighten it as it was, so I went ahead and took the whole BB down and cleaned everything really well. The BB looks good. Now I reassembled it all after cleaning and i think it may have just been a torque issue.

So to be sure this time, how much torque should be applied to the BB right and left sides?
Really tight or moderately snugged down?
Properly installed a cup-and-cone bb should not loosen spontaneously and should not need periodic retightening.

The drive side (fixed) cup should be tightened VERY tight, say 360 inch-pounds (Barnett's Manual) to 610 inch-pounds (Shimano's recommendation). This is essential with an Italian threaded bb but important for an English threaded bb also. The non-drive-side adjustable cup has to be set to the proper bearing adjustment and the lock ring tightened down hard (~300 inch-pounds according to Barnett) while not moving the cup. This is the tricky part and may require several tries to get the lockring tight while the bearing adjustment stays correct.

Done right, the bb should not require any attention until you purposely disassemble it for routine maintenance.

BTW, sealed cartridge bearing bbs are not as "quickly disposable" as some seem to imply. My experience with Shimano 105 and Ultegra in both square taper and Octalink forms is that they have an excellent service life, certainly 30,000 miles or more. The only one I'm aware of that really died took 40,000 miles to do it.
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Old 08-01-09, 08:23 AM   #20
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Good info.

I found the specs on Park tool site for the cartridge BB install.
The drive side should be about 36-40 ft/lb and the non drive side about the same.
For some reason, the BB on my used bike was loose but since I bought it a month or so ago I didn't bother to check it. My fault for not doing a complete overhaul since it all "looked good".

Thanks all. You may return to discussing new vs old.
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