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Bottom Bracket life?

Old 11-23-18, 05:46 PM
  #1  
bikeme
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Bottom Bracket life?

I know this is dependent on riding styles and environmental factors, but after how many miles should a BB be changed out, or rather, how long of a life are you folks getting out of your BBs? Is just spinning it without hearing grinding or detecting friction good enough indicators? I'm interested in both road and mtb life info. Thanks.

EDIT: Upon reading the responses below, I should mention that I have cartridge type on all my bikes.

Last edited by bikeme; 11-24-18 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 11-23-18, 06:26 PM
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Dave Mayer
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Bottom bracket lifespan? Indefinite if serviced at appropriate intervals. Like the Sugino cups and spindle on my 1973 Gitane. Fresh grease and balls roughly yearly.

OTOH, I've seen cartridge BBs fail after a few weeks, when the owner decided to wash his bike with a pressure washer, or drive in the rain at highway speeds with the bike on a rack. Or in the aftermath of a century charity ride in the rain.

Remember that although modern cartridge units keep water out better than the old-style cup and cone units, they also keep water in. And when water does get in, they are difficult to impossible to service.
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Old 11-23-18, 06:42 PM
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There are like 10-15 different kinds/styles of bb types. My winter beater commuter bikes still work with the square taper cartridge shimano un 54 ( I think) Depends on miles. And such. Never kept track of miles on such things. I do not however, ride my mt bike in water over the bb. Just replace as needed.
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Old 11-23-18, 07:43 PM
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I've got 3 bikes from the 80's, one from 90. All with cup n' cone. Cleaned and replaced grease and balls 1-2 years , depending on mileage. Two of those bikes, have been up graded to cartridge and Hollowtech II, do to installing modern cranksets. Other bikes are newer, with Hollowtech II BB, so no data on those and can be replaced inexpensively and easily . KB
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Old 11-23-18, 07:47 PM
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As far as sealed bearing/cartridge ones, my foul weather bike's bb goes for about 10,000 miles before it feels like a coffee grinder. I have a Campy record sealed unit that is around the 65,000 mile mark and is still spinning smooth.
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Old 11-24-18, 06:39 AM
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My old 1996 Novarra saw about 3000 miles a year for the 22 years I owned it. I changed the BB cartridge once, and that was preventively before one of the cross-country trips I took on it.
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Old 11-24-18, 07:14 AM
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I have cup and spindle BBs in use that are close to 50 years old and have many tens of thousands of miles behind them. There were only two reasons I have ever replaced a BB: 1) Cartridge unit that self destructed and 2) I wanted to change a cup and spindle unit from cottered to square taper. As convenient as the sealed cartridge units are, they are disposable like a lot of other things these days.
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Old 11-24-18, 07:23 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
I know this is dependent on riding styles and environmental factors, but after how many miles should a BB be changed out, or rather, how long of a life are you folks getting out of your BBs? Is just spinning it without hearing grinding or detecting friction good enough indicators? I'm interested in both road and mtb life info. Thanks.

EDIT: Upon reading the responses below, I should mention that I have cartridge type on all my bikes.
Donít know. If I ever wear one out, Iíll tell you. Donít wait up, however. Iíve got a couple that have over 10,000 miles on them that never gave up the ghost. One of those had closer to 20,000 miles before I swapped it out for a ďfancierĒ version. I suspect that one will last just as long and it has the ability to change out the bearings if they fail.

I also see a lot of old bottom brackets at my local co-op and few of them are bad.

And, yes, for cartridge types, as long as they are smooth, they are good.

Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Bottom bracket lifespan? Indefinite if serviced at appropriate intervals. Like the Sugino cups and spindle on my 1973 Gitane. Fresh grease and balls roughly yearly.
That was never my experience on loose ball bottom brackets. The number of pitted spindles Iíve replaced is as close to infinite as I ever want to be. With only a little exaggeration, I used to replace spindles after nearly every mountain bike ride, especially in the days before loose ball BBs had seals. The seals that were developed were only slightly better...I got two rides out of a bottom bracket.

OTOH, I've seen cartridge BBs fail after a few weeks, when the owner decided to wash his bike with a pressure washer, or drive in the rain at highway speeds with the bike on a rack. Or in the aftermath of a century charity ride in the rain.
I think you have the type of BB backwards. As I said above, Iíve never seen a cartridge BB fail in my own personal use. In 8 years of wrenching at my local co-op, Iíve seen only a few that didnít spin freely. On the other hand, I trash dozens of loose BB spindles every year. They all have to be inspected for pitting before they are reused and the failure rate is astronomical.

Remember that although modern cartridge units keep water out better than the old-style cup and cone units, they also keep water in. And when water does get in, they are difficult to impossible to service.
You are correct that the loose ball BB let more water in, along with more dirt. Thatís why they need to be serviced and why they fail more often. The same point you are making that water gets in but doesnít get out applys more to loose ball BB then to cartridge type BBs.

Most of the cartridge type bottom brackets arenít meant to be serviced at all. If they seize, they are replaced. The difference is that it takes years of abuse to have one fail so their ďdisposabilityĒ compared to loose ball BB is quite low.
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Old 11-24-18, 11:29 AM
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specifics?

BITD there were zirk kits, grease in center, clean, pushed the contaminated grease out
for loose ball
but as a cartridge BB unstated is which one ?

UN26 lt gets tossed .. your time is not worth time and effort trying to pop it apart
and re grease it..
there are past posts showing how to overhaul and regrease those,
if your down time weighs on you.. and you need a challenge..

Preparatory rather than remedial?
I Put O rings on the spindles of my square taper campagnolo cartridge BB,,
a seal outside, so contamination wont go inside..

Phil Wood Co. now has dust / mud shields to go inside their mounting rings ,
and those can be O ring double sealed that way too..





.....
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Old 11-24-18, 11:56 AM
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I had a bb60 HollowTech go bad after 2500 miles. Knock, knock with every pedal stroke. That was surprising. My cartridge un55 & the like usually get gritty at 2500-5000 miles. I only had 1 that lasted 10,000 and is was so bad the crank arms actually had backlash side to side.

Ymmv.
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Old 11-24-18, 01:23 PM
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Bearing (NTN I think) went bad on Phil Wood at about 75,000 miles. Replaced with over the counter cheap Chinese bearings. We will see how long they last, right now they have about 5,000.
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Old 11-24-18, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
I know this is dependent on riding styles and environmental factors . . .
There's the answer ("There's no place like home").
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Old 11-25-18, 11:10 AM
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A good way to tell if a BB needs replacing is to take the chain off the chainrings, lay your ear on the saddle, and spin the crankset. You'll either hear the bearings whirring smoothly, or you'll get snaps, crackles, and pops.
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Old 11-25-18, 01:38 PM
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Hint...if you ride in foul weather, your BB service life will be much longer with full-coverage fenders.

Short service life says more about how bad a weather/conditions you ride in rather than about the parts themselves....except for those crappy Campag AC-H units that were just junk.
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Old 11-26-18, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
OTOH, I've seen cartridge BBs fail after a few weeks, when the owner decided to wash his bike with a pressure washer, or drive in the rain at highway speeds with the bike on a rack. Or in the aftermath of a century charity ride in the rain.
.
Unless something was seriously defective, there is no way that drivig through the rain with a bike on your rack is going to cause water related failure on a cartridge bearing bb.

Highly dubious about a wet century as well. The bb baering would have had to have already been very compromised.






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Old 11-26-18, 10:22 AM
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Ride 'em until they wear out, and don't worry about them. Or replace them right before a big trip like @andrewclaus.

I replaced two in one year, one at about 30,000 and the other around 9,000 miles. LBS put in UN-52s they had in stock. The experience of doing without each bike while the penetrating oil worked was so upsetting I bought two more, expensive SKF kinds, figuring I'd put them in when those wore out and forget about it for a long while. That was about six years and 42,000 miles ago -- the SKF BBs are still sitting in the box waiting to go in.
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Old 11-26-18, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
EDIT: Upon reading the responses below, I should mention that I have cartridge type on all my bikes.
I have cartridge bearings in all my bikes.
- Square taper cartridges: Last me about a decade.
- External bearing BB's: A couple years.
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Old 11-26-18, 08:08 PM
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Regular maintenance is all it takes. My one and only ride is 34 years old (bought it new) and it still looks and operates as well as it did on day one.
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