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Old 06-09-11, 07:09 PM   #1
bobthib
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New Crank, BB, and chain = new bike? Well, it SEEMS so!

When I got my BD bike in May of '09, I was pretty excited. I had started riding in March on a borrowed 54 cm '89 Trek 1200. The bike was light and fast, but it was pretty "bone jarring" ride on some of the rougher streets in town. Besides, it was a bit small, and it was not mine.

After much research and deliberation I ordered a BD Motobecane Immortal Pro, 56 cm. When it arrived I put it together, tuned it up, and took it out for a spin. We had some pretty good rain that AM, and the bike path along the canal was flooded in spots. Rather than turn around I just plowed through. I didn't realize it, but I paid the price for that decision for 2 years.

I've been very happy with the bike, and racked up about 13 k mi on it. It wasn't till I rode a friends bike that I realized "gee, his is smoother." For the longest time I just thought that it was his steel frame that made it smoother. That was until I FINALLY removed my bottom bracket. It seems that I have been "grinding coffee" since that first maiden ride. But it took 2 yrs for a squeak to develop. Meanwhile I have gone though 2 chains. New chains helped, but the crank was never "smooth."

I've put on several new cassettes, an 11-23 for flat So Fla, and an 11-28 for upstate FLA and NY. But despite a new chain and cassette, I started to have some shift problems up front, and I started to drop the chain off the front. One bike wrench told me I was "flexing" the frame too much, causing a chain mis alingment leading to the drops. I thought that was the problem and contemplated a new bike.

But then one day I was cleaning the bike. I cleaned and lubed the recently replaced chain as usual, and when I was spinning the chain to let the lub dry, I notice that the chain was "vibrating" on the top. I had just replaced the BB, and while it did make the ride a lot smoother, it was still not right. Standing and hard cranking was causing chain drop. After thinking about it for a while, I started to focus on the front ring. Close inspection revealed "Sharks teeth."

I could have spent $120 or so for new chain rings for the stock FSA compact crank. But I decided to spend a little more and get and new crank, which would require a new BB. I found a close out new Ultegra 6600 crank on line. Standard, not compact, but brand new. I jumped on it, and a new 6700 BB.

I installed it all when it arrived the next week. WOW! It is SO SMOOTH! And it shifts so nice and crisp! No more dropped chains, or hang ups on FD shifts.

I'm convinced that my old BB was rusted from the first ride. At first it was not too bad, but over time it got worse. Worn chains and chain rings complicated things, and made matters worse.

SO, the lessons learned are:
CLean and lube your bike regularly, esp after wet rides. Avoid puddles!

Check your chain for wear. I spent $9 for a park tool chain tester. A good investment which has already helped find others with worn chains. Replace immediately.

Replace your cassette every few chains. Check the front chain ring teeth for wear. There are a few (every 10 or so) that are Shark's teeth that help shifting. But most of the teeth should be flat on top with even slopes on both sides. When the start to wear due to chain stretch, they will "sharpen." It's a vicious circle where worn chains will ruin cassettes and chain rings, and wornd cassettes and/or chain rings will shorten chain life. And cause other problems.

Meanwhile, I'm really happy with my "NEW" bike!
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Old 06-09-11, 07:54 PM   #2
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Hope you enjoy the smooth miles to come. Sounds like you have a nice ride to it now.
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Old 06-09-11, 08:05 PM   #3
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I'm a fan of the external BB type, such as the Hollowtech II. Not only are the larger diameter bearings smooth, the crank is also more rigid. Enjoy!

Last edited by Barrettscv; 06-10-11 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 06-10-11, 06:51 AM   #4
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Great advise, I usually just ride, wash my bikes and re-lube. One shift better than the other. I'm going to check my chain, crank and cassette right now. Thanks
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Old 06-10-11, 08:31 AM   #5
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Ah-ha! One of the worries I expressed in my "Riding in the Rain" thread was water getting into the bottom bracket. You've confirmed it can. I wonder if removing the BB every now and then to inspect, clean and lube would be in order?
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Old 06-10-11, 09:51 AM   #6
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BBs are a sealed unit. It takes a pressure washer to get water past the seals and for the Bearing to then start depreciaiting. But there are different qualities of Bottom Brackets. Forgotten the nimbers now but Since I got onto the equivavlent of XT BB's I haven't changed one. In fact the last one I bought was forthe Tandem- but that would have been leg power knocking that one out.

But you can't see the BB when you look at a bike. Generaly one of the points where a cheap one is used on the lower range bikes to cut cost. The equivalent of putting a Tiagra Rear Derailler on a Sora Equipped bike. to make it look like an upgrade. Only thing is a cheap BB is definitely a down grade and one of the places you will soon know about.

And water getting into the BB-- Try Mountain biking with the mud possibly getting in aswell- On a quality BB it doesn't happen.
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Old 06-10-11, 11:23 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
BBs are a sealed unit. It takes a pressure washer to get water past the seals and for the Bearing to then start depreciaiting. But there are different qualities of Bottom Brackets. Forgotten the nimbers now but Since I got onto the equivavlent of XT BB's I haven't changed one. In fact the last one I bought was forthe Tandem- but that would have been leg power knocking that one out.

But you can't see the BB when you look at a bike. Generaly one of the points where a cheap one is used on the lower range bikes to cut cost. The equivalent of putting a Tiagra Rear Derailler on a Sora Equipped bike. to make it look like an upgrade. Only thing is a cheap BB is definitely a down grade and one of the places you will soon know about.

And water getting into the BB-- Try Mountain biking with the mud possibly getting in aswell- On a quality BB it doesn't happen.
That's reassuring. I've had an experience with a "low cost" BB already. My first road bike, a Felt F-85, had an FSA BB. The BB loosened up after a few hundred miles, enough to where the whole assembly was rocking back and forth. I'd bet that one could get water in it! My current road bike has an Ultegra BB, and after 4000 miles it feels as solid and smooth as it did the day I bought it.

You get what you pay for, right (unless you don't take care of it)?
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Old 06-10-11, 11:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by sarals View Post
That's reassuring. I've had an experience with a "low cost" BB already. My first road bike, a Felt F-85, had an FSA BB. The BB loosened up after a few hundred miles, enough to where the whole assembly was rocking back and forth. I'd bet that one could get water in it! My current road bike has an Ultegra BB, and after 4000 miles it feels as solid and smooth as it did the day I bought it.

You get what you pay for, right (unless you don't take care of it)?
You do get what you pay for but there comes a point where performance will matter more than reliability. Never got to that stage as the wallet isn't big enough. The start point for me for quality is Shimano 105. Ultegra is better for normally not a great deal more. Dure Ace is better srill but the cost is a bit too high for me. EXCEPT---When I got the 105 triple for the TCR- I reckoned I had got enough of a deal from the LBS to get a Dure Ace BB. Problem is that it doesn't make me any faster.
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Old 06-10-11, 11:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
You do get what you pay for but there comes a point where performance will matter more than reliability. Never got to that stage as the wallet isn't big enough. The start point for me for quality is Shimano 105. Ultegra is better for normally not a great deal more. Dure Ace is better srill but the cost is a bit too high for me. EXCEPT---When I got the 105 triple for the TCR- I reckoned I had got enough of a deal from the LBS to get a Dure Ace BB. Problem is that it doesn't make me any faster.
It DOESN'T make you faster??? Take it back - I thought Dura-Ace was GUARANTEED to make you faster!!! ;~)
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Old 06-10-11, 05:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
You do get what you pay for but there comes a point where performance will matter more than reliability. Never got to that stage as the wallet isn't big enough. The start point for me for quality is Shimano 105. Ultegra is better for normally not a great deal more. Dure Ace is better srill but the cost is a bit too high for me. EXCEPT---When I got the 105 triple for the TCR- I reckoned I had got enough of a deal from the LBS to get a Dure Ace BB. Problem is that it doesn't make me any faster.
I believe (right or wrong) that with Dura Ace & Record you sorta get what you pay for. For those lines your are paying for low weight, not endurance. Those lines are meant for serious racers where the sponsors can afford to replace items when they wear out, for most of us Chorus or Ultegra are the better deal endurance at the cost of a little extra weight.

I also agree with you that sealed bearings are just that - sealed, not to worry about rain, but don't drive water in to them with a pressure washer or garden hose. Where sealed "no maintenance" bearings fall short is that they don't last that long, you can't lube them properly. Over the last year I have replaced all the bearings in my 4 YO mavic wheels and all the bearings in my 3 YO Easton wheels on my race bike need replacement as well, they are not completely smooth when you spin them in your hands.
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Old 06-13-11, 05:21 AM   #11
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I believe (right or wrong) that with Dura Ace & Record you sorta get what you pay for. For those lines your are paying for low weight, not endurance. Those lines are meant for serious racers where the sponsors can afford to replace items when they wear out, for most of us Chorus or Ultegra are the better deal endurance at the cost of a little extra weight.

I also agree with you that sealed bearings are just that - sealed, not to worry about rain, but don't drive water in to them with a pressure washer or garden hose. Where sealed "no maintenance" bearings fall short is that they don't last that long, you can't lube them properly. Over the last year I have replaced all the bearings in my 4 YO mavic wheels and all the bearings in my 3 YO Easton wheels on my race bike need replacement as well, they are not completely smooth when you spin them in your hands.
Well you can always go with a Chris King BB. Easy to clean and lube. They have a rep for quality. Of course they are 3x as much....
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