I was wondering how often you all typically do this on your bikes? I had a full service tune up about two years ago, and although I am NOT noticing any “stickiness”, I do live near the coast here in Florida, so I’m thinking on rainy rides there has to be some sandy muck that has been slowly egressing in there, even through the seals. What signs do you guys look for to gauge if there is a need to regrease them? I want to start doing a bit more DIY stuff as the full service tuneups here are becoming ludicrously expensive.
Most bottom brackets have sealed bearings these days which means there is not service unless you have an issue. So, I’d start with consulting the manual for your bottom bracket and see if any periodic maintenance is even required.
I do a full frame down teardown of every bike yearly. It might not be the bottom bracket but I always find something that needs to be replaced or tuned.
Yes, mine are sealed. I ask because I had a mechanic from the LBS once tell me that servicing was still intermittently required. Maybe he had his sales hat on, but I figure with all the sand here near the coast, I’d probably be conservative and learn to do it myself. It’s just I don’t know what the typical servicing timeline is. Seems some do it regularly and some never do it at all.
This is the type of skillset I need to develop. Need to get the courage to start … I’m afraid I’ll mess something up and be out of a ride. I only have one road bike.
Assuming it’s threaded…bottom brackets are ridiculously easy to replace. Just need to buy the stupid $20 wrench that has exactly one use though.
You absolutely can. Start slowly and solve little problems as they come up. I’ve built up my knowledge and tool collection over almost 15 years. What started as replacing rim brake pads is now nearly everything. There’s very little you can truly ‘break’ beyond repair. Start with a set of metric hex keys and a 1/4 " torque wrench and the Park Tool YouTube, and you’ll be on your way.
There is no servicing a sealed bottom bracket. There is only replacing it with a new one. If it has been penetrated with sand, etc, then it is no longer sealed and needs replacement. You can buy a cheap showman one or the like for something like $30-50 and swap it out with ease. Even a press fit BB is easy. I just made a press with a bolt and nut from Home Depot. Buy the drifts online from park tool tho (that’s the scam where they get you)
This is where I am confused.
I am 100% positive that when I did my bike overhaul, the mechanic in my LBS broke the seals on my Campy bottom bracket ultra torque bearings and re-greased them. He did the same for the hubs on the wheels as well as the jockeys of the rear derailleur. I was of the opinion that this sort of overhaul should take place ideally once a year, with a minor tune-up done every six months.
Calvin has taught me so much
Hmm, I managed to cross thread the lock nut for my rear derailleur.
What you do is buy a new bottom bracket. Now you have a visual of what they show you on the youtube. If you break a seal on the old one you have a new one ready to go.
It’s much easier to take something apart that works and put it back together.
It’s much harder to figure out how to fix something that’s all ready broken.
So this is the first time you’ve mentioned that you have Campagnolo Ultra torque. What you specifically have depends on what you need to do periodically.
Do you have Super Record with Cult bearings? Those bearings have a specific service schedule.
Rather than blanket unspecific questions, you need to ask specifics. It helps to read the service manual for your particular part first so you know which questions to ask. Campagnolo has a youtube channel:
You never need to break seals on ultra torque bearings. If you have CULT bearings then there are no seals and you can clean them out and re-oil them. If the bearings are bad, you replace them. They are cheap but you need a special puller for bearings. If they are good, then there isn’t much to do. If you are getting water inside your bottom bracket somehow then you might want to open it up much more frequently. I can tell you though that sand is not coming through the outside into your bearings. It just doesn’t / can’t work that way.
I have Campagnolo. The bottom bracket shell on my Colnago has a cutout which allow grit to get inside. I clean it out once a year for good measure only for peace of mind. If my bottom bracket shell didn’t have the cut out, there would really be nothing to do.
Maybe they did, but my impression of sealed BB is that they are sealed and meant to be ‘one time use’ (ie disposed of once bearing are worn). It’s a technological advance relative to greasing and packing old bottom bracket bearings. People do alot of stupid things tho so I don’t doubt they sell that service. I’d skip it next time
Calvin taught my class when I attended the Barnett Bike Institute back in the day. He’s awesome.
On Campagnolo ultra torque cranksets the quality bearings are inexpensive (like $35) and by the time you take them off (need a special bearing puller) you might as well put new ones on. They also rarely go bad in the first place.
I’ve owned a dozen or so ultra torque cranksets over the years and have only needed to replace one set of bearings and that was on a used crankset I picked up on ebay.
I can completely disassemble my bottom bracket and pop the outer seals off the bearings in about 2-3 minutes. A complete cleaning and re-assembly would be less than 10 if I’m not doing those two bearings, maybe 30 minutes end to end if I am including cleaning them out and re-packing (Which I haven’t had to do).
Granted, that’s aftermarket (BBInfinite) and I installed it because I tore the seals in a cheap OEM one after a mud-fest of a race. The advantage to it, is it does make it extremely easy to clean and service the bike after a bunch of dirty riding.
Sealed bearings are definitely serviceable. Here’s a quick tutorial from Gary at BBinfinite. I use an exacto knife to remove the seals.
(How to Clean Bike Bearings | Easy Bearing Maintenance) Gary from BBinfinite.
I pretty regularly service the “sealed” GXP bearings on my cross bike. The outer seals pop off, and I spray the bearings with isopropyl alcohol while spinning to work out grime (adding compressed air makes especially fast work of it). When I’m satisfied it’s cleaned out, add in some grease and put the seal back on. I probably end up doing this a couple time a years, and after any muddy races. I’ve only replaced the bearings once in the 6 years I’ve owned this bike.
On a road bike, I can easily see going 2 years between doing this unless you regularly ride in the rain.