I guess I’m something of a slave to the square taper bottom bracket – they’re almost ubiquitous on the bikes I work with apart from the dreaded pre 1980s (or so) cottered ones. I know there’s stuff that is lighter, faster, more aero ( etc., etc. ), but it all seems to get outdated so quickly nowadays … ( read splined ‘Octalink’, and we won’t mention that ‘Isis’ one here … hmmm, nasty name .. ). We’re now into ‘hollowtechs’, ‘mega-exos’ and various pressfits, but none of the hard rubbish bikes I find seem to have these fitted — funny, that.
You can even recycle used tapered ones sometimes, if they’ve been reasonably cared for, though the attrition rate is very high on your typically neglected ‘chuck-out’ bikes. Of course usability depends on the chain line of your intended build, so it helps to have a variety to choose from.
The re-cyclist’s motto – “If in doubt, chuck it out” — I mean, even a freebie re-cyclist must have standards you know … and there’s not much that’s worse than pedalling away on a grinding, grumbling BB.
Here then is a sample of my rejected parts from a recent cull of dismantle-a-thon BB components :
( The 3rd law of re-cycling states that for every dismantle-a-thon there is an equal and opposite need for a de-grease, clean and sort-out-fest …. ).
And some of the saves :
These days it’s more common to buy a sealed cartridge, the advantage of which, of course, is no maintenance, but if anything does go wrong there’s little one can do. While I generally don’t have a problem with the old style BBs they can be vulnerable to grit and water ingress, and not just the cheap ones either. Sometimes the bearings can be good on one side and shot on the other. It seems the drive side fixed cups suffer the worst, in my humble experience. Murphy’s law …
Usually the ball bearings and axle races are first to go, suffering tiny pits on the rolling surfaces, and gradually the pits grow larger and deeper until the harder cups are also affected. I find that loose ball arrangements generally last better than caged ball bearings and are much, much easier to clean and degrease too. I may be the only person alive that sometimes recycles those cages – with a toothbrush and kero yet !
It’s probably a good idea to replace the balls when servicing, but if everything is shiny bright and smooth I reckon it should be OK to simply clean and regrease.
Although the inner plastic sleeved bearings should last longest, the contaminants can get in via the outer gap between axle and cup. Some cups, typically the better ones e.g. some Shimano came with rubber seals at this point ( above ) and all the cartridges seem to have these as well, for longevity – a necessity when they can’t be serviced.
Removing the dreaded neglected BB can be a total nightmare, even with the recyclist’s essential tools.
If you’ve ever had a truly stubborn one you’ll know that the moral of the story is to either grease all surfaces on re-assembly ( for steel to steel ), or preferably use copper anti-seize ( on steel to alloy interfaces ). You’ll thank yourself profusely ( or the new owner will ) when overhaul time comes !
My Essential BB Removers :
1) The Cyclus fixed cup remover – if you can find one ( or a large flat spanner if you can’t – good luck with this ! ). The problem with spanners is – they slip !
2) The handy C-spanner for lock rings :
3) The Adjustable 2-pin spanner for adjustable L.H. cups ( above ).
4) For Cartridges – either the freewheel spline tool ( e.g. for Miche brand ) or the ‘Shimano’ spline tool – preferably one that can be bolted onto the axle for safety.
There are a few fixed cups around that don’t have flats on them, which means the Cyclus won’t work … curses.
You’re on your own here, generally with a pin spanner ( or the hammer & punch ) – so good luck !
Applying a penetrating or releasing agent around the cups beforehand may help, but it’s often unable to reach the worst affected threads because of the cup’s depth and tightness.
Of course there are also a couple of related issues to getting the BB out, and they are – removing the pedals (optional), and removing the cranks ( semi ).
On a really stubborn cotter pin or square taper axle it is sometimes possible to remove the axle together with the crank and pedal as a last resort IF you can get the drive side crank and chain wheel off. This is done by loosening the lock ring, then using a hammer and thin nail punch sideways on the pin holes of the adjustable cup to turn it slowly anti-clockwise and off, along with the axle and L.H. bearing still stuck together. This works well if you aren’t planning to keep the bottom end anyway.
Doesn’t do much for your prized punches though, or indeed the cup and lock ring, but, if it works ….
Often it’s the non drive side that is really stuck, so this can be a useful thing to know.
Recently, I had to remove a seized cartridge BB from an Apollo Kosciusko MTB. As a last resort I used a socket spanner on the spline tool with a long length of 2″ pipe as a lever. I don’t exactly recommend this, but it worked !
I won’t mention that the air was kind of purple coloured with profanities, and probably the previous owner’s ears were burning as well, during this procedure …
And you thought i was a sensitive new age recyclist, dear reader …
if you’re going to use this subtle technique, the tool must be fixed to the axle as shown with large washers or similar, using the axle end bolts, for safety. ( Those of you with eagle eyes may notice that the above shot shows the cartridge mistakenly posing on the incorrect side – lol )
Of course it always helps to remember that the drive side fixed cartridge or cup loosens clockwise … that can be tricky to figure out if the bike’s upside down — Uh-oh !
Happy Re-cycling …