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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tunnelrat81's Avatar
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    Cup and Cone vs. Cartridge bearing hubs??

    Doing some research on wheel parts to build a set out of. I've gotten some recommendations and ideas from here in BF, but would like to know a bit more about what the advantages/negatives there are between the two. Cartridge bearing hubs I've seen are lighter weight, and I assume will have a "replacement" interval. Cupe and Cone hubs (i.e. Ultegra hubs) tend to be heavier (partly due to the steel cassette body) but are very much a tried and true hub design, and will likely involve a "service" interval.

    I know that the cup and cone style can be easily 'snugged' down to proper tension as well as re-greased. Sealed cartridge bearings can't be regreased, and I assume cannot be 're-tentioned' if they ever develop adverse movement.

    How much of a concern are these issues? I apologize if this has been fully discussed before, and if you know of a truly thorough explanation in another thread or website, please link me to it. I appreciate your help. The build that I'm wanting to do is going to be a somewhat budget build, so paying $200+ for a good rear hub isn't really an option for me. I know wheel builders such as neuvation have been able to produce trusted wheels on imported cartridge bearing hubs, but if I want to build my own, the opportunity for good reviews on these cheaper hubs isn't as convenient.

    -Jeremy

  2. #2
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    advantages of cup-and-cone is serviceability adjustibility of the bearings (as you noted), and the other big one is that they may deal better with sideways forces (since you have curved surfaces against the bearings, whereas cartridge bearings are mainly just in the vertical plane. But I don't think this last one is a big deal.

    I would say that you don't stand to gain much, other than small loss of weight, by paying more for an expensive cartridge-bearing hub.
    It's been said here before, but basic cup-and-cone hubs (especially those made by Shimano) are a great value for your money.
    And if you're building a budget wheel, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't start with a standard cup-and-cone hub.

  3. #3
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    The radial (cartridge) bearing hub is an advantage to the manufacturer. It's easier for them to build. The bearings should be serviced as often as cup and cone.
    They can be serviced by removing one of the dust seals and cleaning and relubing them.

  4. #4
    Senior Member canopus's Avatar
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    I will add that if you ride in the rain or otherwise sandy, gritty area you might be better off with cartridge bearings just simply from the standpoint of maintenance, especially if the cartridge bearing is a protected one. While some relish getting to know their bearings once every six months to a year, I would rather ride. Where I live it is very sandy and water carries that sand into my my bearings regularly during rain. With cartridge bearings i don't have to worry about this as much (or at all) and that means more time riding...

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidad View Post
    The radial (cartridge) bearing hub is an advantage to the manufacturer. It's easier for them to build. The bearings should be serviced as often as cup and cone.
    They can be serviced by removing one of the dust seals and cleaning and relubing them.
    I wouldn't say that a cartridge bearing is easier to build than a cup and cone. Especially since you find cartridge bearings on high end hubs and cup and cone on low end hubs. You have to machine out more of the hub for cartridge bearings and the hub has to be designed to take the cartridge (which is larger than standard bearings). The bearing also have to be pressed into place, not necessarily a cheaper alternative either.

    As for servicing, here's what Phil Wood has to say

    Can I repack the bearings in my Phil Wood hubs or bottom bracket?
    We do not recommend this. There is only one way to properly service cartridge bearings: replacement. Removing the seals from our bearings can do more harm than good. If you bearings are rough or dry, please contact your local bike shop or [us].
    Sealed cartridge bearings can run for years and years without trouble or replacement. If you do have an issue with them, just replace them. And they are silky smooth without messing with bearing preloads or cones.

    The Phil Woods field servicable hubs can be taken completely apart with a 5 mm allen wrench. Makes fixing broken spokes on a touring bike a trivial (almost) affair.
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  6. #6
    cab horn
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    The OP needs to tell us what he plans on doing with this wheelset, his proposed budget and the conditions he'll be typicaly riding in for any recommendation to be vaguely useful.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    From a theoretical viewpoint, cup-and-cones are superior for bicycle hub use, which is why all high end Campagnolo, and all Shimano wheels uses this technology. But it also requires expensive in-house expertise to do well, so many manufacturers uses cartridge bearings where all the hard technological issues can be outsourced to the bearing manufacturer.

    From a more practical viewpoint it is hard to find a better deal than Shimano hubs, everything from: price, high quality, easily obtainable spare parts, top notch skewers, and requires only cheap tools to (dis)assemble, are where their hubs excell. These points are worth considering when choosing a hub: Some brands are difficult to get spare parts for (Joytec/Novatech), others may require expensive proprietary tools to service (DT Swiss), others are just very expensive.

    Shimano Ultegra or 105 hubs are excellent choices for your first wheel build, and the bearing qualities are superior to most factory made wheels on the market.

    Unless you source and install the cartridge bearings yourself, I think cup-and-cones designs are cheaper to service since grade 25 steel balls, grease and perhaps some new cones (rare) are cheap.

    It requires some skills to repack and adjust a cup-and-cone hub, but so does removing and installing cartridge bearings. And hub sealings have improved tremendously the last 30 years, so cup-and-cone hubs simply doesn't require that much repacking nowadays.

    All in all I don't think the different bearing system in themselves determines whether a certain hub is a good hub. Things like spare part support and price are also important factors.

    --
    Regards

  8. #8
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    If the object here is low cost, cup and cone is the way to go. Low cost, easily serviceable, adjustable for wear, and long lasting. What more do you want? bk

  9. #9
    Gammal cyklist Reynolds's Avatar
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    I think you get what you pay for. Both are good if at least mid-range. My personal preference is cup and cone, though.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tunnelrat81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    The OP needs to tell us what he plans on doing with this wheelset, his proposed budget and the conditions he'll be typicaly riding in for any recommendation to be vaguely useful.
    Thanks for all the input so far. It's good to hear pro's for either side. Takes some of the 'narrowing view' pressure off of me.

    To answer the above question. I'm a road only rider, 145 lbs and 5'8" tall. I'm currently on my second set of Bonty Races (first ones eventually developed rim cracks and were replaced by Trek...) This second set has lasted me well over 2 years of maybe 3-4k miles per year in all conditions. I'm an occasional racer who typically gets my "race" experience through the local race-type group rides rather than spending $ on real races. So perhaps a bit on the faster end of enthusiast.

    I've fallen into my social group's bike mechanic position, and have been doing basic tune-ups etc...for many friends for the last couple years, including wheel truing etc..

    My motivation for building this set is split between an interest in building and riding my own wheels, and preparing for the inevitable failure of my second set of Bontrager wheels. I tend to be frugal with unnecessary expenditures, but I was recently given the chance to make an extra $200 in a medical study at my local Hosp., which I'll be able to repeat in another 3 months for another $200. I've decided to earmark this money for something fun and "extra" that I wouldn't have otherwise done. And hence, the wheelset idea. So once I make a decision, I'll be ordering the parts and buliding up the set myself at home.

    I have pondered just buying some Neuvations, since I have multiple friends who've had great luck with them, but they don't offer the spoke count I'm looking for, and obviously wouldn't allow me the experience of doing the build myself.

    I'm planning for 24 spokes front, 28 rear, which should be plenty for a strong wheelset at my weight, but this unfortunately rules out Ultegra hubs, since they only go down to 28 front, 32 rear. Plus, I think I can safely go with a lighter weight hubset than Ultegra. So now you know where I'm coming from.

    -Jeremy

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    I think cost would rule out ultegra more than the availability of 24 hole front hubs. They can be found. Going for Ultegra hubs wouldn't leave much of your budget to buy decent spokes and rims, I think. Seriously consider Novatech hubs. There is almost always a group buy going on through Bob Dopolina here at bike forums.

    Their basic road hubset weighs as much or less than Ultegras and I can't imagine that changing the cartridge bearings on these hubs (if you ever wear them out, with your riding style and weight) would be more difficult than changing bearings on any cartridge bearing hub. They come in multiple drillings and are also dirt cheap, which leaves more money for a qood quality rimset and spokes.
    You fixed my flat tire and now my light doesn't work, so...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Tunnelrat81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batavus View Post
    I think cost would rule out ultegra more than the availability of 24 hole front hubs. They can be found. Going for Ultegra hubs wouldn't leave much of your budget to buy decent spokes and rims, I think. Seriously consider Novatech hubs. There is almost always a group buy going on through Bob Dopolina here at bike forums.

    Their basic road hubset weighs as much or less than Ultegras and I can't imagine that changing the cartridge bearings on these hubs (if you ever wear them out, with your riding style and weight) would be more difficult than changing bearings on any cartridge bearing hub. They come in multiple drillings and are also dirt cheap, which leaves more money for a qood quality rimset and spokes.

    As a matter of fact, the weight difference is HEAVILY favoring the Novatec hubs. Ultegra's may be tested workhorses, but they weigh significantly more than the Novatec hubs I've been considering. Then add the weight of the extra spokes/nipples and the difference grows. The simple fact that there's so little information out there on a weight weenie style hubset has caused me more pause than anything else. I like that they are completely serviceable, convertible to Campy (not that I'll ever need it), and have easily replaceable cartridge bearings. Everything about the set is encouraging, I just REALLY like to have proof, and for me the proof is often in the user reviews, of which there are very few.

    -Jeremy

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