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Cartrige bearings: Do they need maintainence?

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Cartrige bearings: Do they need maintainence?

Old 03-19-08, 03:32 PM
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Sirrus Rider
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Cartrige bearings: Do they need maintainence?

I know this sounds like a stupid question; however, I grew up in the era of packing and repacking bearings so please indulge my ignorance.. Do cartridge bearings (Like bottom bracket cartridges) need maintainence? (Regreasing, etc.)
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Old 03-19-08, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
I know this sounds like a stupid question; however, I grew up in the era of packing and repacking bearings so please indulge my ignorance.. Do cartridge bearings (Like bottom bracket cartridges) need maintenance? (Regreasing, etc.)
Not usually. You could take them a part and regrease them but replacement is the usual route if they fail. Most bottom brackets, i.e. Shimano, can't be disassembled and the whole unit is replaced.
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Old 03-19-08, 04:19 PM
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Yes, when they get rough feeling and crunchy sounding you punch them out and put in new ones..... Up until that time check them a few times a season by unmounting the wheel and turning the axle while pulling it sideways to load the bearing. Turning it while loaded like this they should feel super silky smooth. When they crunch anc complain it's time to get out the bearing punches.
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Old 03-19-08, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
I know this sounds like a stupid question; however, I grew up in the era of packing and repacking bearings so please indulge my ignorance.. Do cartridge bearings (Like bottom bracket cartridges) need maintainence? (Regreasing, etc.)
Yeah. When you get play in the wheel. It usually means the bearings are worn. Then it's a toss.
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Old 03-20-08, 11:11 AM
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If there has been an infiltration of water, mud or grid, BB cartridges can be serviced easily without taking them apart completely.

I remove the seals and rinse the cartridge one side at a time by spinning it in a solvent untill all gunk and old grease is gone. I blow them out with compressed air. Then I inject new grease and replace the seals. It's a simple procedure. You can easily double or triple its life.
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Old 06-13-09, 05:18 PM
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Suspension bearings can or should be repacked, this I've recently learned keeps them from rusting out and failing.
So long as there isn't lateral play, I've been told to repack them once or twice a season depending on how wet they get. If you're doing a lot of stream crossings, then you have to check them more often.
Flush them out with spray lube, or if you're using a solvent make sure that you let them dry, or your grease will be dissolved by the solvent.
 
Old 06-13-09, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
I know this sounds like a stupid question; however, I grew up in the era of packing and repacking bearings so please indulge my ignorance.. Do cartridge bearings (Like bottom bracket cartridges) need maintainence? (Regreasing, etc.)
In 1997 I bought a new set of custom-built wheels with Phil Wood cartridge hubs.
Those hubs have been through ~4 sets of rims, and 2 different bikes.
I have never serviced them in any way, and they are still as solid and silky-smooth as when they were new.
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Old 06-14-09, 02:01 PM
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How about headset cartridge bearings? I have a 5+ year old threaded 1" Shimano Ultegra headset on my "daily driver" commute bike. The bike has fenders (keeps dirt out of headset) and I live in a place where rain is pretty scarce. The headset feels as smooth as new, I haven't done anything to it since it was installed. To be honest, I don't think I even put grease on the cartridge bearings when it was installed. I ride the bike over 5000 miles a year.
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Old 06-14-09, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
IDo cartridge bearings (Like bottom bracket cartridges) need maintainence? (Regreasing, etc.)

In my experience, they're maintenance free or a throw-away replacement item.

I bought a Fisher Cake mountain bike in 2004. The wheels (Bontrager) have cartridge bearings and I've never maintained the bearings. I removed them a few times to get to the freehub, but just reinstalled them. I've ride on average 25 miles off-road a week. It's typically dry where I live (Southern CA), but had a couple of wet winters, but the cartridge bearings probably don't get soaked. To this day, they are silky smooth.

I'm on my third bottom bracket (ISIS w/ cartidge bearings). They seem to last a couple of years, and I assume being closer to the ground than the wheel bearings, are more susceptible to water/dirt. I assume I could punch out the old bearing and press in new ones, but find the cost of a new BB relatively easy to swallow.

I'm from the old school of adjustable (and maintainable) bearings. It's a good feeling to pack with your favorite grease, clean and reinstall the parts and spend time adjusting the bearings so it meets my standards, tightening just enough to remove the play. However, I assume we're trending towards "repair by replacement", which seems to be the general rule nowdays (cars, appliances, electronics...)
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Old 06-14-09, 05:55 PM
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Also, you can most likely buy the necessary cartridge bearings from an industrial supply house or a place like McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com). Most likely, bicycle components utilize industry standard cartridge bearings. If you look closely on the face, you notice a "Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) number, which summarizes all the characteristics of the bearing. Just match the numbers and you'll get a dimensional duplicate with proper seals. I assume bearings amongst various manufacturers may have different build qualities.
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Old 06-14-09, 07:39 PM
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I disagree with many of the others in this thread. The bearings DO need maintenance if you want to maximize their life. Assuming you can get at the seals, it's a simple matter of taking a small Xacto blade or pick and lift off the seals. Once the seals are off you can soak the bearing in solvent and dry before repacking with clean grease - marine grease works well. Even Chris King recommends you service the bearings every couple of years. Of course, many people don't bother do to this type of maintenance; they just wait for the bearings to fail. To each their own.
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