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Uncaged bottom bracket bearings?

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Uncaged bottom bracket bearings?

Old 06-11-19, 07:28 PM
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smontanaro 
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Uncaged bottom bracket bearings?

I bought a Sugino MW-68 bottom bracket to use with an early Superbe crank on my Griffon. The cups and spindle are in good shape. It came with loose bearings. Is there any reason to prefer caged bearings over loose other than the challenge of keeping loose bearings in place during assembly?
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Old 06-11-19, 07:37 PM
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No there is not, but I've never seen a Japanese OEM BB from the '60's onward w/ loose bearings.
Used I'd be very careful to get the bearing size/number correct.

-Bandera
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Last edited by Bandera; 06-11-19 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 06-11-19, 07:41 PM
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Ditto-just pack em in with grease.
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Old 06-12-19, 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Is there any reason to prefer caged bearings over loose..?
Maybe if you have campy retainers.
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Old 06-12-19, 05:17 AM
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It's easier to install and harder to lose bearings.
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Old 06-12-19, 05:28 AM
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Glob those BB cups full of nice, sticky grease, and pop them in. You should be fine

-Kurt
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Old 06-12-19, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Is there any reason to prefer caged bearings over loose other than the challenge of keeping loose bearings in place during assembly?
Caged bearings are superior to loose and there is no point unless you just want to be really really old school . Lots of conjecture about being able to install more loose balls versus a cage , but that is all that it is. Those cages arent there for a cost savings, they maintain properly spacing
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Old 06-12-19, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
Caged bearings are superior to loose and there is no point unless you just want to be really really old school . Lots of conjecture about being able to install more loose balls versus a cage , but that is all that it is. Those cages arent there for a cost savings, they maintain properly spacing
Uncaged bearings can carry more load, unless the cages are designed to minimise bearing spacings ala Campagnolo. For example good quality MTB suspension pivot bearings are full complement with no cage. Caged bearings are cheaper (usually less balls) and easier to assemble than loose balls so manufacturers are always going to use them, they aren't going to pay somebody to place balls one by one with the chance of getting the numbers wrong.
Cartridge type roller bearings (except for full complement) have cages because of the way they are assembled. The balls are placed together in the outer race, the inner race inserted then the balls evenly distributed and the cage fitted to maintain spacing so the bearing doesn't fall apart. This is a different situation to a bottom bracket. Full complement bearings have indents in the side of the races so the balls can be inserted one by one with the indents lined up.
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Old 06-12-19, 08:25 AM
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Suntour also made caged bearings that could take 11 to a side. I'd run them loose 11 to a side rather than use a cage that only takes 9.
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Old 06-12-19, 08:55 AM
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@Trevtassie

I am going to assume you are aware that many engineering studies have been performed concerning this very topic. Yes there is definitely manufacturing efficiency and cost savings in using caged balls , however they are also better at what they do.

There is a lot of information available out there concerning this very topic. As I said earlier if you want to use them because it makes you feel better being a traditionalist fine, there is no performance benefit to be realized however .
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Old 06-12-19, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
...nice, sticky grease...
+1; keyword sticky. For those who like to use waterproof marine grease, I found (by chance) that Liquid Wrench brand marine grease (reddish [almost Shimano] color) is definitely stickier than the other brands you typically find at a FLAPS or home store.
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Old 06-12-19, 11:17 AM
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Thanks for all the responses. The spacing argument seemed like it would be worth investigating, so I hunted around a bit to see what Jobst Brandt had to say about the topic. In this rec.bicycles.tech thread, he wrote:

Full complement ball bearings, as I mentioned, can also have cages,
whose purpose is ease and reliability of assembly rather than to alter
friction or wear characteristics.... The reason for ball or roller cages in
bearings is for assembly rather than a load related one except in ones
where the cage allows using fewer balls for economic effect.
Hmmm. Sir Sheldon disagrees:

Most newer bicycles come with "caged" bearing balls-the balls are held in a metal or plastic retainer. This makes it easier to install the balls, but usually at a cost in performance. A standard three-piece type bottom bracket takes 11 loose 1/4-inch balls per side. Most retainers hold fewer balls, so each ball and its contact points with the cup and cone are more heavily stressed. This causes higher friction and more rapid wear.
Unfortunately, we can't ask either Jobst or Sheldon.

I do have some Campy caged bearings, not in front of me, though what I've read suggests they probably hold 11 bearings. The reason for buying the Sugino was that I lacked a suitable Campy spindle. This bb was cheap enough that even if I didn't use the cups and bearings, I'd have a spindle I could use. I think I will try 11 loose bearings and see how it goes. Unless the ride is so magical that I sell every other bike I own and start riding 20k miles per year, based on what I've read I rather suspect there will be little effective lifetime wear difference between 9 caged, 11 caged or 11 loose bearings.
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Old 06-12-19, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Unfortunately, we can't ask either Jobst or Sheldon.
And in all likelihood, they're probably still arguing about it .... up there .....
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Old 06-12-19, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
And in all likelihood, they're probably still arguing about it .... up there .....
Probably, but they can look around to see how many angels are currently dancing on the heads of pins.....

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Old 06-12-19, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
I do have some Campy caged bearings, not in front of me, though what I've read suggests they probably hold 11 bearings.
Campagnolo bottom bracket bearing retainers hold 11 balls each. Other companies also used 11-ball retainers, and replacements are available. These will work with pretty much any bottom bracket that uses 1/4" balls:


https://www.biketoolsetc.com/index.c...m_id=US-GR1411
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Old 06-12-19, 01:35 PM
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Old 06-12-19, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Campagnolo bottom bracket bearing retainers hold 11 balls each. Other companies also used 11-ball retainers, and replacements are available. These will work with pretty much any bottom bracket that uses 1/4" balls:


https://www.biketoolsetc.com/index.c...m_id=US-GR1411
I have a few suginos that take 11. I use them on the fixed cup to make my life a bit easier and run loose on the adjustable.
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Old 06-12-19, 01:55 PM
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Insert 'This is Spinal Tap' meme here:
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Old 06-12-19, 03:23 PM
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Insert 'This is Spinal Tap' meme here:
You can't say that here. Can you? 🤔😉
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Old 06-12-19, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
@Trevtassie

I am going to assume you are aware that many engineering studies have been performed concerning this very topic. Yes there is definitely manufacturing efficiency and cost savings in using caged balls , however they are also better at what they do...
I for one, am unaware of any engineering studies which demonstrate that caged bearings provide any advantage other than ease of assembly over loose ones. Could you link to a couple of them?
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Old 06-12-19, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by d_dutchison View Post
I for one, am unaware of any engineering studies which demonstrate that caged bearings provide any advantage other than ease of assembly over loose ones. Could you link to a couple of them?
There are advantages in high speed bearings, especially to do with grease retention and friction between the balls when centripetal forces come into play . There aren't any high speed bearings on a bicycle, derailleur pulleys maybe get into the bottom end of medium speed bearings. There's probably not even that much point using ceramic bearings, they are actually designed for extremely high speeds, where the lightness of the rolling elements means less angular forces on the outside race.
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Old 06-12-19, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
Those cages arent there for a cost savings, they maintain properly spacing
I think 11 balls used without a retainer "maintain proper spacing," too.
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Old 06-12-19, 08:49 PM
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OK, I installed the Sugino MW-68 with Campagnolo caged bearings. Thanks for the inputs. I suppose next time I need to replace the bottom bracket on this bike I can go "full @gugie" and source a Phil bottom bracket.
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Old 06-12-19, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by d_dutchison View Post
I for one, am unaware of any engineering studies which demonstrate that caged bearings provide any advantage other than ease of assembly over loose ones. Could you link to a couple of them?

Will the Vice President of engineering at a company which builds precision manufacturing equipment do?

Caged balls are widely deployed in motion systems throughout industry. Whether used in ball bearings, linear guides, or ball screw actuators, caged balls bring both performance and practicality. The addition of the cage minimizes wear, reduces noise, and extends maintenance intervals. The technology also significantly boosts the lifetime of the device compared to non-cage versions. These attributes have made caged balls the go-to technology for a variety of applications.

all cages provide a number of benefits, including:
  • Minimizing metal-to-metal contact
  • Ensuring orderly ball movement
  • Improving high-speed performance
  • Retaining grease for longer lifetime

The ability to retain lubricant reduces maintenance, decreases unscheduled downtime, and enhances performance. It is also useful from a business standpoint. OEMs typically specify lubrication intervals for their equipment, but end-users often donít comply. Designing in caged balls means that even if the asset owner doesnít follow proper maintenance procedures, the OEM can still have confidence that the equipment will operate as expected.

Caged balls are not always a perfect fit, of course. In a few cases, non-caged balls may be a better fit:
  • Applications with temperatures over 80įC
  • High-vacuum applications
  • Extreme-radiation environments
  • Applications with extremely light loads, for which the friction introduced by ball cages can present issues
The above comments were taken from a technical article titled " The Benefits of Caged Balls: Boosted Lifetime and Reduced Noise" By Wally Logan - Vice President of Engineering - Motion Solutions.


I have read countless articles and technical studies and have yet to find a single one that advocates loose bearings as being superior for most applications where caged bearings are used. I am not against you or anyone else using loose balls because it makes you feel better, but it does not outperform quality caged ball bearings .
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Old 06-12-19, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I think 11 balls used without a retainer "maintain proper spacing," too.
It might but it will not out perform a quality caged bearing assembly.
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