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  1. #1
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    Components with MAXIMUM DURABLITY

    I commute on my single speed in all weather. As a project I am gathering parts for a bike build that is focused on maximum durability with minimal maintenance.

    As an example, since 2011 I have worn out two chris king headsets. They are great headsets but like anything else abuse is never kind. What seems to happen is the grease gets washed out then the internals corrode. If left too long the steering on the bike binds and eventually the headset makes horrible creaking noises. Since the bearings are part of the headset cups abuse like this means the headset needs to be sent back to the factory for service and/or warranty.

    Now that the second headset is dead I will give Cane Creek a try. The Cane Creek design is different. With Cane Creek the bearing cartridge can be replaced so I think long term it will do better.

    I am pretty happy with my Paul hubs because the cartridge bearings are easy to replace.

    How about you guys, what components really stand out as super durable for commuting in all weather and occasionally leaving the bike out in the rain.

    Price is not much of a concern.... the idea is to go all out and look for maximum durability. For example, I have custom parts that allow me to run a motorcycle chain simple because I like crazy durability.

    Right now, it seems the weakest spot on my bike is the bottom bracket. I run Shimono XT and find they wear out about every six months so I am look to find a better option. After the bottom bracket, the next most wimpy part is the headset. After that the hubs are the problem.

    What do you guys think? With an open budget what parts would you spec for ultimate durability in a single speed commuting bike?
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  2. #2
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    Cartridge bearings are better sealed, retaining their lube and keeping moisture a bay. A liberal amount of bearing grease on open bearings should work just as well for ages.

  3. #3
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    I'd like to know how to destroy a modern headset? I certainly don't treat mine well, and I probably chronically overtighten them, but every spring I open them up and throw in some grease and they work fine. I do have various front fenders on all my bikes which is supposed to help, but I don't think they're magic.

    I rebuild my bike with cheap stuff every winter - alivo or something cranks, cartridge bb, deore derailleur, 8spd cassette. I'm actually surprised how well they've held up. Then in the summer it's back to ss with an external bb.

  4. #4
    I Ride for Donuts
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    I can't imagine destroying parts that fast either, but I'm not in rust country... That said, I really like Cane Creek headsets. The 'lockring' tightening concept has never failed me, and the cartridge bearings are simple if I never need to replace one. I have the "forty" series on my Ogre.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  5. #5
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    The components with maximum durability are those with proper maintance.

  6. #6
    weirdo
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    Sorry, not much help here either. I wear out chains, tires, cables, and cassettes, but usually not bearings. On my daily rider, I lube the Ritchey headset and XT rear hub once per year, serviced the Shimano dynohub for the first time last year (seals started to squeak after about 3 years with no attention), when the original 91 BB cartridge started grinding about 3 years ago, I replaced it with a $20 Shimano (BB26?) and I`ll replace it with another of the same when it goes south, I have to feed my pedals (don`t remember what brand) a little grease about every 1.5 years when they start clicking. Dry weather, low HP.
    Recalculating....

  7. #7
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    I'd like to know how to destroy a modern headset?
    Quote Originally Posted by febikes
    How about you guys, what components really stand out as super durable for commuting in all weather and occasionally leaving the bike out in the rain.
    That might have something to do with it.

  8. #8
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    I leave my bike in the rain, snow, salt, slush every winter. I've left work to see half of my bike covered in frozen ice. I have to smash it off before I can ride. It still takes me years to destroy any decent (Race Face, Ritchey) headset.
    You can spend a lot of money on parts and hope they last or go cheap and replace them more often.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    I leave my bike in the rain, snow, salt, slush every winter. I've left work to see half of my bike covered in frozen ice. I have to smash it off before I can ride. It still takes me years to destroy any decent (Race Face, Ritchey) headset.
    You can spend a lot of money on parts and hope they last or go cheap and replace them more often.
    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    I leave my bike in the rain, snow, salt, slush every winter. I've left work to see half of my bike covered in frozen ice. I have to smash it off before I can ride. It still takes me years to destroy any decent (Race Face, Ritchey) headset.
    You can spend a lot of money on parts and hope they last or go cheap and replace them more often.
    To be clear, I put *a lot* of miles on the King headset. The headset was installed at the start of 2011 and I road it on my primary bike most of that year. In 2012, I moved the headset to a new frame but did not service it. I used the bike for commuting, day do day riding, bike packing, and some time on the Tour Divide. I think in total it was at least 10,000 miles on the headset with plenty of days where I was riding through water and mud for many hours without fenders. It may have been more miles because I did not track things very well.

    The headset got to the point where it would bind and produce very heavy steering. The binding made it impossible to ride no hands and required a lot of attention to steer the bike.

    For service I was expecting to simply order new bearing cartridges from King but found out that with their design the bearings can't be replaced because they are pressed into the cups. The King headset bearings are protected by a contact seal. As per advice from many sources I was able to pull the seals off and found there was basically no lube in the lower bearing. After cleaning it out and packing it with fresh grease the headset feels pretty good and should be able to handle another couple of years of service so it is not that big of an issue.

    I also bought a Cane Creek headset for my next bike and am impressed with the seals. It is hard to be sure until I ride a lot but I think the Cane Creek headset is a slightly better design especially because when the bearings do go bad they can be cheaply replaced. On the other hand the cartridges may not last as long as the King design so only time will tell.

    Basically my goal with my personal bike is to have a build that is focused on durability. I want the bike to take a beating and beg for more. Basically the idea is that the components on the bike should go long periods of time between servicing. Nothing on the bike gets love until it complains.

    To get an idea of my thinking for durability take a look at my chain....


    I want the hubs, bottom bracket, and headset to last as long as the chain. The tires need to last a while as well. It's a commuter bike for getting a workout so it does not need to be ultra light. Ideally the whole package needs to stay under 27 pounds but since I run single speed that seems like it will be fine. Nothing "stupid" heavy but if adding weight makes the bike go longer between service I am not against it.

    For the weekends I can ride a different bike if I want something lighter and faster but the day to day rig needs to take abuse. For this bike, all components are looked at in the context of durability.

    Right now I think a cane creek headset and switching the cranks and bottom bracket may be the next places to look. For bottom bracket I wonder if internal ones like white industries provide better durability vs. the external style designs.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  10. #10
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    Yeah, I get it. I have ruined a headset and experienced the "WTF?!" steering. It just took me forever to do it.
    I don't think there's anything better than the 110 headset.
    Bottom brackets? I think the old style BB last longer than the newer external type but then you need a compatible crank.

  11. #11
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    chain for 8 speed and 9 speed:

    Campagnolo Record c9 (to be closed with SRAM chainlock for 9 speed)


    tyres:


    wider with sidewall protection:

    Conti Top Contact

    Schwalbe Mondial Evolution

    wider without sw protection:

    Schwalbe Mondial Performance

    slim with sidewall protection:

    Conti GP 4 Season


    slim without sw protection:

    Conti GP 4000 S (after 3-6 month storage time unpacked)

  12. #12
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    i wish this MAXIMUM DURABLITY subject had its own category on MTBR forums....cuz i dig it. Bikes built like old Volvos with their galvanized body panels, steel engine heads etc....

    What about wheels?

  13. #13
    sheep in FOX clothing
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    The only time I've had to open up my King headset in the last 12 years was when the water in the head tube froze (rainy commute, then -12C the next morning) and I couldn't steer the bike.

    I thawed the ice and drained the water out. There was no corrosion. I did add a bit of grease just to be a keener.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    The only time I've had to open up my King headset in the last 12 years was when the water in the head tube froze (rainy commute, then -12C the next morning) and I couldn't steer the bike.

    I thawed the ice and drained the water out. There was no corrosion. I did add a bit of grease just to be a keener.
    I get to clean up my King head set about once a year after the long cold slushy salty season...needs the salt cleaned out and the grease replaced.

    The things that last the longest are generally heavy with easy on going maintance..think steam engine.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    I want the hubs, bottom bracket, and headset to last as long as the chain.
    So what are you going to do engineer the hubs and botom bracket to fail early.....

    I get about 9 months to a chain the hubs are going on 7 years the bb gets new bearings probably once a year.

    The Cane Creek head set didnčt even last the winter and a King headset needs maintance after the winter.

    I think your priorities just arnt making enough sense yet.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    The Cane Creek head set didnčt even last the winter and a King headset needs maintance after the winter.
    Ya, I am not so sure about the Cane Creek vs. King headset.

    My King headsets lasted a good while before they failed. With the King headset design the headset races are pressed into the aluminium cups. After a lot of riding in weather the grease gets washed out and the headset is prone to corrosion. Once things get real bad the entire unit has to be scrapped because the bearing races are part of the headset. I can send the headset back to king but have not yet bothered to do it. It could be that it was just user abuse. I road in a lot of weather last year and did not service the headset at all until it was in a really bad state.

    The Cane Creek headset design looks like it has better seals and so far it is working well. What I like about their design is that when it does get in a bad shape the cartridge bearing can be replaced without replacing the headset so from the looks of it it I think it will work out better for my needs. Only time will tell.

    I don't yet have a good solutions to what I see as the weak areas of a bike that gets ridden every day.

    From my actually experience so far the King headsets have done pretty good. Mine were abused and then they died. It will take me a while before I can be sure about the Cane Creek design. My Paul hubs with White Ind freewheel have lasted longer then the XT hubs. In terms of bottom brackets, I am looking for a better solution and still thinking about going retro and trying an old style internal bottom bracket.

    It's not that the parts are expensive it is just that I like the idea of finding solutions that demonstrate durable designs. At this point I would say my bicycle requires component replacement pretty often. I think it should be possible for a bicycle to go 100,000+ miles with no service beyond lube, tires, tubes, grips, and the seat. I think it should be possible to buy our build parts that go beyond the current standards of wear.

    It's a long term thing and I don't really have good records for my past usage. I plan to start tracking how many miles various parts last just for fun.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by CabezaShok View Post
    i wish this MAXIMUM DURABLITY subject had its own category on MTBR forums....cuz i dig it. Bikes built like old Volvos with their galvanized body panels, steel engine heads etc....

    What about wheels?
    Sun Rino Lyte rims.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    In terms of bottom brackets, I am looking for a better solution and still thinking about going retro and trying an old style internal bottom bracket.

    It's not that the parts are expensive it is just that I like the idea of finding solutions that demonstrate durable designs.

    I think it should be possible for a bicycle to go 100,000+ miles with no service beyond lube, tires, tubes, grips, and the seat. I think it should be possible to buy our build parts that go beyond the current standards of wear.
    Olod bottom brackets do not out last the newer external bearing designs...they fail in the long cold salty season, about twice as quickly as a good sealed bearing.

    Again durable equals a steam engine heavy and requires daily maintance.

    I would not want to ride a bike that can go 100,000 miles without maintaince, it would be too far too heavy..

    My bike has 45,000 km, the only original parts are the suspension bolts and the too suspesion "elements"...

    Some parts wore out due to poor maintance (BB threads on Frame), some were replaced with lighter (and more durable parts) XTR pedals XTR ti cassette....some were replaced with less durable lighter parts.

    I too want a bike with low maintance, however 100,000 mi is not for me.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Olod bottom brackets do not out last the newer external bearing designs...they fail in the long cold salty season, about twice as quickly as a good sealed bearing.

    Again durable equals a steam engine heavy and requires daily maintance.

    I would not want to ride a bike that can go 100,000 miles without maintaince, it would be too far too heavy..

    My bike has 45,000 km, the only original parts are the suspension bolts and the too suspesion "elements"...

    Some parts wore out due to poor maintance (BB threads on Frame), some were replaced with lighter (and more durable parts) XTR pedals XTR ti cassette....some were replaced with less durable lighter parts.

    I too want a bike with low maintance, however 100,000 mi is not for me.
    Just because it's possible doesn't mean it would be profitable for the companies making the parts. Sure, low maintenance/long lasting is one thing, but 100,000 miles is So far beyond what 99.999% of people ride that there's almost no demand for anything like that. Plus, like jeffscott said, the parts would be very heavy.

    Keep in mind too, it seems like you are wearing parts out at an unusually fast pace. Read pretty much every response in here, nobody can understand how your parts are wearing out so quickly. If people had to do as much maintenance and replacements as you do, the parts would likely be made beefier. I'm not trying to insult you, just sayin'. Your situation is far from the norm.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Old bottom brackets do not out last the newer external bearing designs...they fail in the long cold salty season, about twice as quickly as a good sealed bearing.
    I dunno. I've heard of plenty of people getting at least 25,000km out of a $10 UN54. It's a pretty snazzy piece of engineering - it's just a shame that it's a little heavy. I've got 3 winters on mine so far (and had more than 10k on the one on a previous bike), and I would run it in the summer too if I had a nice set of cranks to go with it.

    One of my coworkers rides a 2000ish hardtail that he bought in highschool. He's a pretty regular commuter, so I can't even guess how many miles he's got on it. It's never seen a lick of maintenance, beyond the fact that I occasionally lend him chainlube. If I rode it I'm sure it would drive me crazy, because I can only imagine how many mystery clicking noises it must make. But it seems to work for him, so maybe ignorance is bliss?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    I dunno. I've heard of plenty of people getting at least 25,000km out of a $10 UN54. It's a pretty snazzy piece of engineering - it's just a shame that it's a little heavy. I've got 3 winters on mine so far (and had more than 10k on the one on a previous bike), and I would run it in the summer too if I had a nice set of cranks to go with it.

    One of my coworkers rides a 2000ish hardtail that he bought in highschool. He's a pretty regular commuter, so I can't even guess how many miles he's got on it. It's never seen a lick of maintenance, beyond the fact that I occasionally lend him chainlube. If I rode it I'm sure it would drive me crazy, because I can only imagine how many mystery clicking noises it must make. But it seems to work for him, so maybe ignorance is bliss?
    Yup ignorance is bliss....I have an old 1990 MTB with an old BioPace BB.....one of the bomb proof types...

    My brother 120 lbs commuted all winter on the bike...he said no problems...when I got it back the BB had about 1/4 inch of play in it....

    Anyway repacked the grease and set it up it helped but I would kill that thing in a winter month.

    Lots of those stories leave out the details of the condition of the bike...

    I really try to keep my drive train above 90% eff...and that is a really clean drive train, TDF is rumored to run 95% plus drive trains.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straz85 View Post
    Read pretty much every response in here, nobody can understand how your parts are wearing out so quickly. If people had to do as much maintenance and replacements as you do, the parts would likely be made beefier. I'm not trying to insult you, just sayin'. Your situation is far from the norm.
    yes, my 2011 and 2012 riding was quite a bit beyond normal. I estimate that in 2012, I did about 10k off road miles plus about another 2 or 3k on road. To me it seems that riding off road is much harder on components vs. riding on road. Wear seems to be especially high in dirty and wet conditions. I wish I had tracked the distance better but without a doubt it was a lot of miles.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  23. #23
    sheep in FOX clothing
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    FWIW, my old square taper Shimano cartridge BBs did indeed last longer than the hollowtec II cups.

    But the crankarm life was considerably shorter.

  24. #24
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    For a bb, I highly recommend the Phil Wood external. It's heavy, but the seals and bearings are top notch (and replaceable with the right tool).
    Hey sexy mama, wanna kill all humans?

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