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A Grease question

Old 03-03-19, 11:08 AM
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spacelahana 
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A Grease question

I know grease questions create a lot of debate but I'm curious. I recently bought a campy record threaded headset and saw that the ball bearings and the cages already have grease on them, white lithium grease what I'm guessing. I know it's good practice to grease the headset races etc liberally but I don't have any white lithium grease or "special campy grease" lying around, I only have some marine grease and some Phil's. Do you know mixing greases together will cause any trouble? Should I use some sort of degreaser to get the grease on the ball bearings out and regrease them and the races during installation?
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Old 03-03-19, 11:19 AM
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Just use the Phil grease and you will be fine. I wouldn't worry a whole ton about mixing grease unless you actually plan on mixing grease two different greases near each other won't likely cause any issues. I generally use Phil on most everything but at the shop I tend to go either ceramic or crystal cause we generally have the tubs of those and not Phil grease.
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Old 03-03-19, 11:51 AM
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Use the grease Campy was thoughtful enough to provide for your initial installation. When the headset is due for an overhaul in a couple of years, wipe off the then dirty grease thoroughly and replace it with whatever type you choose. Since you already have Phils, use it then and you can't go wrong. I use Phils for all my bike bearings and have had great parts longevity with it.

Grease tend to be badly overthought and overargued here. Just about any decent grease will do fine for bike use since the demands are very low. "Over priced bike specific grease" isn't required but it works well and the extra cost is peanuts in the long run.
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Old 03-03-19, 12:46 PM
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Your headset doesn't spin at 21,000 rpm plus like a turbine engine. So don't overthink it.

IMO...The grease mostly just serves to prevent corrosion in the headset.
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Old 03-03-19, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Use the grease Campy was thoughtful enough to provide for your initial installation. When the headset is due for an overhaul in a couple of years, wipe off the then dirty grease thoroughly and replace it with whatever type you choose. Since you already have Phils, use it then and you can't go wrong. I use Phils for all my bike bearings and have had great parts longevity with it.

Grease tend to be badly overthought and overargued here. Just about any decent grease will do fine for bike use since the demands are very low. "Over priced bike specific grease" isn't required but it works well and the extra cost is peanuts in the long run.
That's what I figured. My only concern is the grease campy put on the bearings seems to be a little less than what I would use or see people use. Thanks for the answer.
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Old 03-03-19, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by spacelahana View Post
That's what I figured. My only concern is the grease campy put on the bearings seems to be a little less than what I would use or see people use. Thanks for the answer.
Less grease equals less friction. Some people love to really paste it on like there is an endless supply and some people are a little more conservative in their application. Either way will work but you really just want enough to coat things so they don't corrode or seize but also aren't gunked up with grease so they don't spin as freely.
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Old 03-03-19, 06:53 PM
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For bikes I've always used Phil because it was readily available in shops back in the 1970s and it works. But it's probably just marine grease and if I needed to use grease more often it'd be cheaper to buy a tub of marine grease and an applicator.

If you check RJ the Bike Guy's YouTube channel he's about as practical as they come, to the extent that he'll use an adjustable wrench sometimes rather than fish around in the toolbox for a specific size wrench. But RJ does use both marine and lithium greases, although I haven't noticed any particular pattern in specific applications for each.

Spring piston airgun aficionados may use several types of greases -- to reduce harsh spring vibration, or to prevent migration of combustible grease/oil into compression chambers, etc. -- but bikes don't seem to be that picky. We don't go fast enough for hub grease to matter, and as someone else noted headset grease is mostly to protect against corrosion -- the bearings hardly move at all compared with hubs and bottom brackets.

Regarding friction, I doubt any of us generate enough power for it to matter how much grease we pack in. And any excess gets forced out anyway. Back in the '70s it was trendy to substitute oil for grease for competition, at least with hubs and bearing surfaces designed for it. Made zero difference in my use and demanded a lot more maintenance. There's also some slight ticking noise from the ball bearings in oil.

Grease lasts longer, occludes entry from water and debris. I fill the cups with grease and wipe off the excess after reassembly, and again after a couple of rides.

The only bike components where I've noticed any differences in lubes and techniques are chains and rear derailleur pulleys. Even those differences are minor, but enough that it would matter to the strongest riders.
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Old 03-03-19, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Use the grease Campy was thoughtful enough to provide for your initial installation. When the headset is due for an overhaul in a couple of years, wipe off the then dirty grease thoroughly and replace it with whatever type you choose. Since you already have Phils, use it then and you can't go wrong. I use Phils for all my bike bearings and have had great parts longevity with it.

Grease tend to be badly overthought and overargued here. Just about any decent grease will do fine for bike use since the demands are very low. "Over priced bike specific grease" isn't required but it works well and the extra cost is peanuts in the long run.
Originally Posted by spacelahana View Post
That's what I figured. My only concern is the grease campy put on the bearings seems to be a little less than what I would use or see people use. Thanks for the answer.
Most people tend to over-lubricate bearings on bikes. It actually takes substantially less than most people put in to provide adequate lubrication. For Campag headsets I wipe out the cups with a clean rag, drop-in the pre-lubed bearings, and assemble it.

Phil grease will work great after you clean out the barium-soap grease Campag uses. If you really want to use Campagnolo grease in the bearings it is Klüber Isoflex Topas NB 52. I picked it up from my local powersports equipment dealer. It is a common lubricant used in engine bearings on snowmobiles and clutches on ATVs.
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Old 03-03-19, 11:12 PM
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I can't imagine why in the world anyone would put in time and effort to take apart a bearing and not re-pack it with the best grease available. I've worked in a lot of bike shops over the years and when I started using Shimano Dura Ace grease on hubs I noticed that the grease on the outermost surface was dirty, but the grease under the "cap" of crud was clean, it didn't migrate like white lithium grease. I was working in a friend's shop about 10 years ago and I was doing a little work on my own bike. I was overhauling the rear hub on my touring bike with an XT rear hub (M 750). There was only some cheap grease that looked like Noxema face cream on the bench (like many of you, he wasn't too picky about grease). The little voice in my head said don't use it, and I would't have if I was at home, but I was in a rush and packed it with the thin white stuff. A couple of years go by and I really didn't ride in the rain over that time, just a little wet pavement, a lot of commuting and an occasional dirt ride, never in the mud. The hub was never out of adjustment over this time. Imagine my shock when I opened up the hub and noticed the first signs of pitting on the cone. I point the filthy finger of blame at the cheap grease.
And the lower headset bearing gets a ton of wheel spray on any bike without a fender. One long ride off road on an old style loose ball headset and it's like you packed it with Comet scouring powder. Grease liberally. I can't count how many bottom brackets I've taken apart and been greeted with a few mL of rusty water. But of course, bicycles don't spin at high r.p.m. or have ICE temps and loads on them, so people think grease doesn't matter. I suppose in a way, grease doesn't matter, but CONTAMINATION DOES MATTER.
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Old 03-03-19, 11:24 PM
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To Know It is to Love It


Use it for 25 years then I will listen to your arguments
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Old 03-04-19, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by venturi95 View Post

Use it for 25 years then I will listen to your arguments
I've used Phils for over 30 years with very satisfactory bearing life, like hubs with over 50,000 miles. So, what are we arguing about?
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Old 03-04-19, 02:58 PM
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I use Lubriplate EMB cause the bearing shop near the refinery had it in stock and it;s not expensive and it works.
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Old 03-04-19, 03:12 PM
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I've used [secret grease] for X decades and it works perfectly, so it is the best of all grease. Don't confuse me with the fact that I have not tried any other grease in that time -- only my [secret grease] is absolute best of all time. Don't mention the concepts of double-blind testing or confirmation bias. And don't mention the fact that most brands are just repackaged industrial grease and that there are really only a very few unique types among a vast number of brands that claim to be best. Also, don't denigrate crass marketing claims; I was told that my [secret grease] is best and therefore I am best (thus better than all of you).
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Old 03-04-19, 05:49 PM
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Phil grease was the worst I have ever seen. Looks like pea soup. LOL I put it in a cotter crank one time, and it dripped down into the cotter. Pffft
Then I found Krazy grease at Princess Auto, $8 for a whole pound. It's a water proof marine grease with permalon, whatever that is. It can last thousands of miles. It's a nice light green color, so I can see the bearings and how dirty it looks when opened.
Good for anything and it is viscous enough for my pedal bushings too, a couple of them have over 18,000 miles.
Only one pedal side has a sealed bearing. I do clean them at 2,000 miles.
My CCM front wheel with 1/4" bearings will spin 3 or 4 minutes.
I always put lots in there, so it can't squish to the inside at least.
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Old 03-04-19, 07:26 PM
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Buzzy's Slick Honey has a pretty good rep, but perhaps not best for bearings.
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Old 03-04-19, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
....... And don't mention the fact that most brands are just repackaged industrial grease and that there are really only a very few unique types among a vast number of brands that claim to be best........
I agree with this, bike specific grease is all about marketing.
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Old 03-04-19, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by calstar View Post
I agree with this, bike specific grease is all about marketing.
Brian
It is likely true bike grease is just repackaged industrial, automotive, marine ... grease, but not all industrial, automotive, marine ... are the same. There are many different types, with many different properties, for good reasons other than marketing wank. However there is no guarantee, what you get in the small, overpriced bike grease jar is selected by someone knowledgeable or that it was selected with anything other than colour and marketability in mind. Luckily cyclists can get away with most general purpose grease as long as we stick to a reasonable service interval.

Btw, Im fairly certain I once found some papers on the yellow shimano stuff. From memory, its not like most general purpose grease. It has a very viscous base oil and an uncommon thickener. Im certain I concluded it was the same as or very similar to Motorex 2000 grease.

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Old 03-04-19, 10:30 PM
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Doubters... listen to your master. It's Shimano grease that rules them all. Yes, it may have already been purposed for another (more demanding?) industrial use and may be identical to another product. I agree, there is a lot of marketing going on regarding this topic. That doesn't mean that all greases are marketing hype. I trust the engineers at Shimano to perform the due diligence for their most beloved group.
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Old 03-04-19, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
I've used [secret grease] for X decades and it works perfectly, so it is the best of all grease. Don't confuse me with the fact that I have not tried any other grease in that time -- only my [secret grease] is absolute best of all time. Don't mention the concepts of double-blind testing or confirmation bias. And don't mention the fact that most brands are just repackaged industrial grease and that there are really only a very few unique types among a vast number of brands that claim to be best. Also, don't denigrate crass marketing claims; I was told that my [secret grease] is best and therefore I am best (thus better than all of you).
WTF? Don't drink and post!
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Old 03-05-19, 07:57 AM
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A meaningful difference, for some, is the longevity of the grease. Polyurea greases last substantially longer than most. They are recommended for applications in which service intervals are long or irregular. Most other greases age, degrade, harden, while the polyurea greases remain sound.

Lucas polyurea grease can be found in the auto section at WM, and elsewhere, in grease gun cartridges, for peanuts. It's often used on farm machinery, and is a favorite among farmers. Their requirements and conditions of use tend to be much more demanding than cyclists'. So I'm fine with that grease.

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Old 03-05-19, 08:23 AM
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Park Tools' bicycle greases are, iirc, polyurea based. When I compared Park to Lucas, they looked identical, and I suspect they are.
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Old 03-05-19, 09:09 AM
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You should consider the base oil viscosity when selecting a grease. The NLGI number or type of thickener is only part of it. The "issue", if there is one, is that the operating speeds are very low on a bike, thus requiring a very viscous base oil, not common in general purpose greases. - And you cannot infer the base oil viscosity from the NLGI number. Luckily the loads and temperatures are very benign, meaning you can get away with most greases anyway.
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Old 03-05-19, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Luckily the loads and temperatures are very benign, meaning you can get away with most greases anyway.
That's the essence of this entire discussion and is overlooked or ignored in nearly all of the other multiple page threads and heated arguments that have proceeded this one.
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Old 03-06-19, 12:32 PM
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Yes, and the fact most greases are plenty good enough is likely the reason there is so many "best" or "great" greases. Try the same in a jet turbine and Im sure the field of "great" lubricants shrink considerably.
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Old 03-06-19, 09:36 PM
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Ahhhh...grease. Yep this topic has been discussed once or twice. I've used Park and Phil's for 30 years or so. Back in the 70's/80's when I worked in shops most of the shops used Lubriplate but I never really liked it.

For the past few years I've been using Shimano and Motorex 2000 with great results. I use my 45 year old tub of Campy grease on pedal threads and marine grease on the bottom head tube bearing (habit of mine).

Take your pick! Heck, Chapstick might work in a pinch. We aren't running our bearings at 3000 RPM or at 150 degrees f. so I'm not sure it really matters much. I'm a creature of habit so I always buy what I know but I have more grease than 10 shops need......

If I had to pick only one? It would probably be Phil's. But, heck Motorex 2000 is really excellent and Park is pretty inexpensive and I love the nostalgia of Campy but Shimano Dura-Ace is so cool looking! Ah, choices, they are great!

You know one topic that I haven't seen discussed and maybe we should dive in to that? Anti-seize greases! I apologize ahead of time.....

ROFL

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