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Does your LBS carry loose ball bearings?

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Does your LBS carry loose ball bearings?

Old 07-25-17, 05:10 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If they can bar code diamonds....
I don't see why they can't do it on bearings.

Perhaps the store decided to separate sale items from repair items. It might be a bit of a hassle to count out bearings individually.

But, it also turns away customers. Internet? Elsewhere?

Our local building supply store has loose bearings. Also local bearing supply stores.
I get the impression with this store that DYIers aren't a group they're much interested in catering to. Not much profit in selling 50 BB's.
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Old 07-25-17, 05:19 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I get the impression with this store that DYIers aren't a group they're much interested in catering to. Not much profit in selling 50 BB's.
If they buy them by the thousand, and sell them in bags of 18, they could probably mark them up 200% or 300%. More?

Those little sales add up.

The bigger problem is that the more buyers they turn away, they also lose other sales. Why buy tubes for $8 at the store when one can buy them on the internet for $2? I suppose those $8 tubes aren't worth it to sell either. Oh, and $50 tires that can be bought for $30?

Pretty soon they're just selling coffee.

Ok, so they could consider it as a service business. I hope their service is tip top.
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Old 07-25-17, 05:31 PM
  #28  
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Depends on the shop. My nearest LBS, only a mile away, is old school with a guy who may be among the savviest mechanics around. They've said I can prowl through their parts bin for bearings and cones when I'm ready to tackle the Shimano hubs on my old Univega. I may take them up on that offer because it's a PITA to identify the specific cones needed for some older Shimano hubs for ordering online.

Most of the other shops in town are newer, big chains with younger mechanics. They know newer bikes but not C&V. Arrogance? Eh, maybe. Usually it's youthful overcompensation for limited knowledge. They'll learn eventually. Even the local Mellow Johnny's has an older and experienced mechanic who enjoys talking shop, which probably helps give the younger folks better perspective even though the shop doesn't carry any used bikes.
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Old 07-25-17, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If they buy them by the thousand, and sell them in bags of 18, they could probably mark them up 200% or 300%. More?

Those little sales add up.

The bigger problem is that the more buyers they turn away, they also lose other sales. Why buy tubes for $8 at the store when one can buy them on the internet for $2? I suppose those $8 tubes aren't worth it to sell either. Oh, and $50 tires that can be bought for $30?

Pretty soon they're just selling coffee.

Ok, so they could consider it as a service business. I hope their service is tip top.
Yeah, I sorta agree with some of that. My purchases are about one third local, two thirds online.

I usually buy tubes locally because I need 'em now, and consider it an exchange for value above and beyond in other ways. For example, the nearest LBS mechanic saved me a lot of money with a clever wheel repair for $10, whereas another shop would probably have told me "We'll order a new wheel for $100."

And I bought a Serfas saddle bag from them because I could try out every bag in the shop on my bike while deciding. And their prices are the same as online -- some brands, like Serfas, don't offer deeper discounts from currently produced items, so buying locally makes sense especially if the online vendors also collect our state sales tax.

Another shop was among the sponsors for a month long series of local group rides and provided free water bottles, gel packets, energy bars, soft drinks, etc., along with ride leaders and safety/traffic monitors. So I buy little things from them often, such as a tube yesterday, and those nifty little Lezyne glueless patch kits that tuck into the smallest place on a bike.

But it's difficult to buy tires locally for $30-$60, when I could buy a set of Conti Speed Rides from Amazon for $20/pair, and Schwalbe Ones for my road bike for $30/pair from Jenson.

Sometimes there isn't a fine line between supporting local business and just throwing money away.
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Old 07-25-17, 06:11 PM
  #30  
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Yup. You want grade 25 or is 200 ok?
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Old 07-25-17, 07:01 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post

My guess is that they do have them, but they buy them in bulk and don't sell to the public cause they don't know how to sell something they can't scan. I bet if the right person would have been behind the counter they would have given me a fist full and charged a couple of bucks.
Most of the shops around here use these. Wheels Mfg Bottle O' Bearings - Loose Ball Bearings
The bottle has a bar code they can scan. My problem is they charge $0.10 ea. I only buy them if I don't have enough left because I forgot to order more when I get close on a particular size like 5/32 or 1/8 for headsets which use a bunch.
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Old 07-25-17, 07:02 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If they buy them by the thousand, and sell them in bags of 18, they could probably mark them up 200% or 300%. More?

Those little sales add up.

The bigger problem is that the more buyers they turn away, they also lose other sales. Why buy tubes for $8 at the store when one can buy them on the internet for $2? I suppose those $8 tubes aren't worth it to sell either. Oh, and $50 tires that can be bought for $30?

Pretty soon they're just selling coffee.

Ok, so they could consider it as a service business. I hope their service is tip top.
Based on the perplexed reaction I got when I asked, I doubt that they turn away many people looking for loose bearings. That's not the kind of customer that shops there. I'm an outlier apparently.

A quote from their website:
...we’ve worked hard to curate our collection of bikes in the shop to represent bicycles that we find to be fun, functional, and beautiful all at the same time.
Notice the presence of the word "curate" and the lack of any word like "affordable".

They only sell niche brands and I very seriously doubt that any complete adult bike in that shop costs less than $1,000.

The only reason I go there is because I like to buy local when I can, it's so close, and I'm not so cheap that if I need a tube I'll balk at $8.00 when I could spend half that online. If I were buying a tube every week, then it would be different. And I like to look at the bikes even though I'll never buy one. They do sell pretty bikes. So even though I can't get bearings there I'll still go there to get shifter cables, tubes, and other small stuff I know I can get.

I agree that it would take very little effort on their part to sell loose bearings and there seems to be almost no downside for them to do so. But I think they've made the calculation that you can't get fresh brewed coffee from amazon and that they can markup coffee 200% and have repeat customers showing up regularly to buy it and peruse the bike stuff while they're there.

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-25-17 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 07-25-17, 07:08 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I've never seen it done. I imagine you would want sticky grease to hold the balls on while you assemble everything.
I've used loose balls on Ashtabula cranks. It is a pain, you need lots of sticky grease and have to kind of keep the bike sideways and hold stuff together.
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Old 07-25-17, 08:45 PM
  #34  
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Ball detents on paintball guns use 1/4" steel ball bearings. I've been messing about with that for ages. So I have a box of 250 of them that I use to rebuild my wife's hubs whenever the desire strikes me. They might have been 2¢ each. Better grades from McMaster might be $3-4 for 250.

My bike is blissfully loose-bearing free. It's truly liberating.
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Old 07-26-17, 06:16 AM
  #35  
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No, but Amazon does. So does McMaster-Carr

Amazon ball bearings

McMaster-Carr ball bearings
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Old 07-26-17, 07:49 AM
  #36  
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I know a shop that would and another shop who would believe it better for everyone to sell you a new wheel
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Old 07-26-17, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Ball detents on paintball guns use 1/4" steel ball bearings. I've been messing about with that for ages. So I have a box of 250 of them that I use to rebuild my wife's hubs whenever the desire strikes me. They might have been 2¢ each. Better grades from McMaster might be $3-4 for 250.

My bike is blissfully loose-bearing free. It's truly liberating.
I've thought about replacing the current bottom bracket with a cartridge but I haven't because ball bearings are dirt cheap and I always feel bad about throwing away an old cartridge as opposed to a few balls. Plus it's really not that hard to deal with the loose balls.
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Old 07-26-17, 11:25 AM
  #38  
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My Shimano SM-BBR60 bottom bracket was $15, and already has over 10k miles on it. I haven't had to touch it once wince I installed it. If it just randomly seized up tomorrow, I would buy another without a second thought. It comes down in the end to money vs. time. I would much rather spend the little bit of extra money on a whole new unit, rather than rebuild another BB, or hub for that matter.
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Old 07-26-17, 11:58 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Is it really common to call ball bearings "BBs"?

BB is a specific size of round ammo, specifically 0.177 inches. Also they're copper coated steel, you really wouldn't want to put them in a bearing.
Just an abbreviation, nothing more. Same for Bottom Bracket.

Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
What did you order? I want to replace the front wheel bearings but don't know what size I need. The shop says to bring the wheel in so they can take it apart at home and skip the trip to the shop. The wheel in question is a low end Shimano I bought at Performance within the past few years.
I bought this one: https://www.amazon.com/Piece-Assorte...=ball+bearings

Then I use my digital micrometer to measure the old bearings I pull out.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I've never seen it done. I imagine you would want sticky grease to hold the balls on while you assemble everything.
Well yeah, pretty much any grease will hold bearings in place during reassembly.

I personally find replacing and greasing ball bearings to be somewhat therapeutic. It's like yeah, I'm doing this easy thing that didn't cost me much, but will make this part feel like brand new again. And for my cheap, DIY self that's music to my ears.
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Old 07-26-17, 12:00 PM
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They're bearing balls, not ball bearings. A ball bearing is a bearing that uses balls. Bottom brackets and headsets are examples of ball bearings.
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Old 07-26-17, 01:46 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
I personally find replacing and greasing ball bearings to be somewhat therapeutic. It's like yeah, I'm doing this easy thing that didn't cost me much, but will make this part feel like brand new again. And for my cheap, DIY self that's music to my ears.
Agreed. If I worked in a shop and spent half my day on bearing maintenance then I'm sure I'd much prefer cartridges. But as it is, for the couple of times a year I do it, repacking bearings is rewarding work that costs almost nothing. By the time I figure out which cartridge I need and order it, any time savings is pretty much gone.

As I recall, the ball size for rear bearings and the bottom brackets are typically the same (1/4") and front wheel bearings are 3/16". I usually have an ample supply of both, but what led me to start this thread was that I knew I was running low on one or the other. Since I couldn't remember which I was in short supply of, I decided to get more 1/4" balls while I was at the store to save me from having to make another trip or order some.

Anyway, normally for me bearing work doesn't require me to purchase anything for loose ball bearings. That in itself is a time saver. I don't keep spare cartridges around for my bikes that have them, but I suppose I could.

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-26-17 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 07-27-17, 10:07 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Most of the shops around here use these. Wheels Mfg Bottle O' Bearings - Loose Ball Bearings
The bottle has a bar code they can scan. My problem is they charge $0.10 ea. I only buy them if I don't have enough left because I forgot to order more when I get close on a particular size like 5/32 or 1/8 for headsets which use a bunch.



Nice - one of my old shops used to have bearing balls in a refillable ketchup squirt bottle - like you see at concession stands - and they cut the squirt nozzle to the proper size so only one ball at a time would come out.
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Old 07-27-17, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
Will I notice a upgrade in performance if swap caged bearings to loose bearings?
No, but the bearing just might last longer. Might.
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Old 07-27-17, 03:26 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
It's a high end place and I'm sure none of the bikes they sell uses loose bearings but you'd think they'd do the occasional tuneup on an old bike.
Lots of "high-end" hubs and other parts use uncaged balls. Assembly is harder without the cages, and there are usually more balls per bearing, which decreases the specific loading on each ball which, in turn, increases bearing life.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Shimano hubs still use loose balls.
I have Ultegra hubs on my road bike; they are uncaged balls.
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Old 07-27-17, 03:28 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
No, but the bearing just might last longer. Might.
Last time I did this I was able to fit 11 balls into the space previously occupied by a caged 8-ball bearing. That's about a 40% increase in the number of balls; not to say necessarily a 40% increase in load-bearing capacity but it's hard to see how it wouldn't be an improvement.
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Old 07-27-17, 04:48 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
Lots of "high-end" hubs and other parts use uncaged balls. Assembly is harder without the cages, and there are usually more balls per bearing, which decreases the specific loading on each ball which, in turn, increases bearing life.


I have Ultegra hubs on my road bike; they are uncaged balls.
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When I described the shop as high-end maybe a better word would have been "upscale". They don't sell top of the line road racing bikes. They sell expensive niche bikes, some of which are road bikes, but ones intended for more utility/semi offroad use (and to look pretty) as opposed to going fast. I don't think you'll find any Ultegra or Dura-ace hubs. Most all, if not all of the hubs on the bikes they sell would use sealed cartridge bearings.
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Old 07-27-17, 04:52 PM
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Well, two pages of bearing ball talk and going strong has made me order 500 of 'em on Amazon. Sorry, LBS, but it just makes good business sense
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Old 07-27-17, 07:02 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
When I described the shop as high-end maybe a better word would have been "upscale"... Most all, if not all of the hubs on the bikes they sell would use sealed cartridge bearings.
Well, my bike is 16 years old, so I'm not really in the know about current bike design. Maybe I'll learn something at InterBike!
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Old 07-27-17, 07:11 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
But there's less space between the balls for grease!? Thinking outside the box.
There's plenty of room for grease. Actually, some cages are plastic and occupy significant volume (thinking of the bottom bracket of my 1975 Motobecane, so... dated information). Other "traditional" objections include balls rubbing on other balls; but there's no friction from the cage. Six of one, half-dozen...
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Old 07-28-17, 11:25 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
They're bearing balls, not ball bearings. A ball bearing is a bearing that uses balls. Bottom brackets and headsets are examples of ball bearings.
Semantics. Say "loose ball bearings" to anyone who has used loose bearings before, or has any knowledge of ball bearings, and they'll know what you're referring to.
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