My bottom bracket is starting to “tick” (loudly) every down stroke on the non-drive side. The cranks do not feel loose but I think I might need to replace the bottom bracket. The bike is six months old, spent most of its time on the trainer so sweat likely ran into the bracket area, the few outdoor rides I have done end up with a lot of carb drink mix in the bottom bracket area (Zefal 1L bottles … don’t need to say much more), and has about 4k miles total.
Q1. Is the bottom bracket the likely culprit for the “ticking” noise?
Q2. Is 6 months / 4k miles a “normal” life span for a generic PF86 bottom bracket given the usage?
I’ve looked at the other threads, reviewed several videos (including Park Tools), and determined the tools to order.
I’ve done some research on replacement bearings / brackets and am trying to balance increased longevity / decreased replacement frequency versus cost. According to Randall Jacobs (Thesis Bikes, Logos Components), ceramic bearings are only beneficial if the race is made from a similarly hard material such as XD-15 (ref The Gravel Ride podcast). These tend to cost upwards of $300 whereas a regular SRAM DUB is $50. I might be willing to spend the money if the ceramic bearing lasts 6x as long.
Q3. Are ceramic bearings worth the cost? (Looking for real-world experiences on durability and longevity.) If you think so, links would be appreciated.
Q4. What about a thread-together press fit bottom bracket such as Wheels Manufacturing BBRight? Not sure that for $100 the bearings are actually any better.
Like everything bike related, it depends! I’ve had clicking on 1 bike that was solved with a new BB, and a clicking issue on another bike that was due to a bad pedal. There are lots of things that can make that noise and it can drive you mad
Can’t say for sure…a BB should last a long time, unless it’s junk or the opening is a slightly out of spec.
I’ve never felt the need to worry about ceramic bearings when using otherwise well built bottom brackets. I’ve had GREAT luck with Wheels Manufacturing on threaded and PF frames
Wheels Manufacturing thread together brackets are worth every penny! I installed one back when I had a Canyon Endurace and it solved that bike’s clicking issue. I preemptively installed one on my Cutthroat when I got it last December.
Regarding tools…I will say that having the right tool for the job is ideal but I’ve been able to remove a PF BB with a block of wood and rubber mallet Don’t know that id recommend that. If you go the thread together route, installation is a piece of cake.
Why not just check your BB? It’s very simple, you just pop your crank off and feel the bearings. They should be silky smooth. Even a little grinding is ok by me depending on how old the BB is. If it feels like there’s gravel in there, time to replace either BB or bearings. I usually just do BB because it’s quick and easy.
I would say 6mo/4K mikes is far from the lifespan of BB bearings but with the caveat they were properly installed Ali g with the crank. The Wheel’s thread together units are great imo and I do use one myself in a press fit frame. Proper tools are always nice but in the case of BB’s you can do much with a dowel and mallet to remove bearings, not necessarily ideal but with care can be done without damage. A press can be made with threaded rod a couple of nuts and appropriately sized washers. As for ceramic bearings, they are entirely a luxury purchase that offers essentially nothing in a bicycle application. They will not last longer and do require also maintenance. I went through that years ago before I learned more and would not do it again. Performance benefit in use is not noticeable. A good set of angular contact bearings will serve you for many thousands of miles.
I take it you have already checked pedals,seat rails,seatpost -carbon on carbon-( which was my clicking issue while pedaling outside,carbon paste fixed.) crank/BB interface etc.
A1. only after I checked all the “easy to do” would I attack a press fit, mine fortunately is threaded and easily checked and wasn’t it
A2. I have bottom brackets with over15K miles and still spin but a bad bearing is always possible
A3 not as much an advantage in say an F1 car no sure it is really measurable in our applications.
A4 a threaded conversion ( which is what you are really dishing the extra Benjamin for not the bearing quality ) will be easier to check if a “tick or creak” comes back, and it will at some point.
A3. Several BB30 bearings used on one bike, first ones were ceramic. Water contamination destroyed them similar as normal bearings (SKF’s) which I have used after those originals. Ceramic bearing have ceramic balls but races are steel which will rust and get pitted. IMHO not worth of extra money.
As Northshorerider said, take cranks off and feel the bearings…
ticking is often not the bearings themselves, its actually movement of the bearing race itself or plastic holder in the pressfit bore. Often you can just removed, cleaned, and reinstalled with loctite 609/641 with the primer for best longevity.
I’ve got a similar ticking noise from what I thought was the bottom bracket area. Pedaling at a lower cadence or a very high cadence seems to avoid it or pedalling with no resistance or on the road. Everything seems good so I can only think its something in my cleat/pedal interface caused by my pedalling style on the trainer relative to resistance.
In my experience, no. Check literally everything else first. One that gets me from time to time is a creaky seatpost when I get grit in there near the clamp.
Does the noise stop when you stand? That’s the tell for that one.
Seems really short to me.
Several places out there that will tell you that ceramic bearings are good for about the first 200 miles or so then they can actually get worse than high quality steel bearings. Hambini is one guy, take FWIW. Full disclosure, I run his BB90 with NTN bearings, probably 10,000 miles on it and it is still smooth.
Press-fit is fine, I would just get one where the bearings are easily serviced.
Yup. I’m dealing with noise every pedal stroke on my MTB. Be process of elimination, I ruled out other causes. Took the crank off, and sure enough, there’s a rough spot on the left side bearing.
My press fit BBs on my MTB have lasted about 2.5 years each. 6 mos seems short. But maybe possible if the BB was not installed correctly? Good news is that press for BBs are not expensive. My replacement cost $35. It’s sitting on my workbench. I’m trying to decide if I should finally get a BB tool, or just use my rubber mallet again
Usually no. I worked a couple of years in a bike shop and I’d say that over 90% of the “noisy bottom brackets” weren’t noisy bottom bracket but something else. Pedals are probably the most common cause of ticking noise. Stem bolts, seatpost, chainring bolts and rear cassette are also common to make noises.
Usually bottom brackets last longer than this. The bearing themselves don’t really wear out (like your cassette or tires) but corrosion is the biggest problem. A corroded bearing feels “rumbly” when you turn the inner race with your finger. This is easy to check by removing the dust cover and seeing if there’s rust inside the bearing. Removing the factory grease and applying marine grease is a good practise if you use your bike in wet and muddy conditions. Fwiw, my bog standard Sram GXP bottom bracket lasted me over 30k miles with muddy cx races, indoor training and winter gravel riding.
Not really. Good ceramic bearings (like Cremicspeed) may last you longer but are crazy expensive and the reduction in friction isn’t that much, maybe a watt or two at most. Good steel bearings are generally better than similarly priced ceramic bearings.
Wheels MFG’s bearings are great, especially the angular contact ones. They are much more resistant to rotating forces that occur when the bottom bracet area is twisted (while sprinting etc.)
I personally would clean, grease and re-tighten all the parts that could cause the noise and see if it disappears. I’d also clean and grease the bottom bracket bearings just for a good measure. If you do need to replace the bottom bracket make sure to do it correctly with appropriate tools - a badly installed bottom bracket can damage the frame if it starts moving inside the frame.
A bearing press is such a rip off. Buy this removal tool with the drifts then make your own press.
This is what I did and it works like a charm. Just go to home depot and get a long bolt with washers and a nut. Add your drifts and you’ve got a $3 press that works identical to the $100 ‘official’ one.
I messed around with Home depot bolts for years, but I recently bought this for $55 which comes with all the adaptors to pull the old bearings out and push the new ones in. No hammer required. Worked great on a Specialized PF30 BB.
Regarding the ticking noise, I had a similar issue on my mountain bike that went away when I replaced the chainring. Like someone else said, check everything else first!
The set you posted is a good price, relatively speaking. I wouldn’t really get much use out of most of the drifts it comes with tho
@ArHu74 that’s true but if you do a DIY press like mine, you’ll make your money back if you ever replace a BB a second time. I bet the shop would charge at least $30 in labor or more. It’s literally a 10-15min job tops, like changing an inner tube.
I’m interested in one of these bearings but can’t seem to find the right one on Wheels Mfg site. (The search tool isn’t particularly helpful, either.) Do you have a link for a SRAM DUB BB86 bottom bracket (not just the bearings)?
The BBRight I linked above says it is for “frames using the BBRight™ bottom bracket standard.” My bike has a (regular) BB86, which I think is different than the BBRight standard, so not compatible …