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  1. #1
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    Anybody not impressed with outboard BB bearings?

    I'm not. I built up two frames with outboard BB bearing cranksets. The Shimano XT gives me an actual 50mm chainline. The chain has a tendency to drop from the middle to the granny ring in the rough stuff. The other is a Truvativ Stylo GXP with a 51.5mm chainline (by my measurement). It drops the chain in the smooth stuff.

    I'm going back to Octalink. So I have to replace the BB now and then. It's worth it.

    Or...maybe...1 x 10?
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  2. #2
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    They're fine with a properly adjusted derailleur. I'd try doing that instead.


    If you're still unimpressed I'll take that XT off your hands.

  3. #3
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    Correct chain length and a proper front derailleur setup will stop 99% of your chain drop issues.

    Also, what chain line does your frame call for? Did you try moving spacers around to get it closer to the 47 mm chain line that is a little better?

    Been using external BB's for 3 years now on my personal bikes without issue. .

  4. #4
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    Do you have a spacer on the drive side? You may want to move it to the other side. There is no reason why this spacer HAS TO be on the dirve side, if that's making your chain line off. I swapped it out between drive and non-drive side for my 05 Slayer because the chain line was off with a spacer on the drive side.

    Edit - damn you won.

  5. #5
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    The bearings have nothing to do with dropping chains
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  6. #6
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    Do so! Do so!

    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    The bearings have nothing to do with dropping chains
    Ideal chainline is 47.5mm. To make room for the external bearing, the rings are moved outward, changing the chainline to 50mm or more.
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  7. #7
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    Subtle yet unmistable

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardtails Are Better
    They're fine with a properly adjusted derailleur. I'd try doing that instead.


    If you're still unimpressed I'll take that XT off your hands.
    Okay, I'll assume (as you have) that the derailleur is improperly adjusted. Exactly what adjustment are you referring to?

    I'll drop you a PM is I decide to lose the XT. I'm definite going to dump the Stylo, if you're interested in that.
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  8. #8
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    99%?

    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc
    Correct chain length and a proper front derailleur setup will stop 99% of your chain drop issues.

    Also, what chain line does your frame call for? Did you try moving spacers around to get it closer to the 47 mm chain line that is a little better?

    Been using external BB's for 3 years now on my personal bikes without issue. .
    Chain length is a short as possible. You're the 2nd guy to mention derailleur adjustment. What specifically are you referring to?

    Both cranksets were installed as per instructions. Neither has any spacers on the drive side.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    Ideal chainline is 47.5mm. To make room for the external bearing, the rings are moved outward, changing the chainline to 50mm or more.
    ....and the spider is inset more than a crank meant for internal bearings...no?

    Plus, when the rear is in the largest cog out back, the chain line is necessarily off and the chain should still not drop.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  10. #10
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    Not entirely

    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    ....and the spider is inset more than a crank meant for internal bearings...no?

    Plus, when the rear is in the largest cog out back, the chain line is necessarily off and the chain should still not drop.
    The inset doesn't entirely compensate. That's why 50mm is "normal" now instead of the 47.5mm with the old style. Check it out yourself, all you need is a ruler.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    ....and the spider is inset more than a crank meant for internal bearings...no?

    Plus, when the rear is in the largest cog out back, the chain line is necessarily off and the chain should still not drop.
    By definition, the spider is not inset more when the chainline has been moved outboard.

    The more outboard chainline of the crank makes the chain angle more severe when on the larger cogs, which makes it easier for the chain to drop off the rings.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    The inset doesn't entirely compensate. That's why 50mm is "normal" now instead of the 47.5mm with the old style. Check it out yourself, all you need is a ruler.
    I dislike it, too. The new CL "standard" would be better suited to a 150mm rear hub (or a narrower cassette).

    In addition to needing clearance for the bearings, Shimano did this to increase tire/chain/chainring/FD/chainstay clearance.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    ...Check it out yourself, all you need is a ruler.
    yeah...I just measured it and it looks like 53 or so.
    I also think the wider CL also has to do with bigger seat tubes - I had that issue when swapping an old (almost 2 years ago?) ST BB.

    Regardless, I don't drop chains - well VERY rarely
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    yeah...I just measured it and it looks like 53 or so.
    I also think the wider CL also has to do with bigger seat tubes - I had that issue when swapping an old (almost 2 years ago?) ST BB.

    Regardless, I don't drop chains - well VERY rarely
    The seat tube is not a factor
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    The seat tube is not a factor
    yeah it is...It puts the derailleur out further.
    Front Derailleur Chain Rub W/Pics
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  16. #16
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    This is my recently built new crankset.
    Q factor 163, chainline 47.5
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Anybody not impressed with outboard BB bearings?-prova-fotos-y-videos-nokia-011.jpg  

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    yeah it is...It puts the derailleur out further.
    Front Derailleur Chain Rub W/Pics
    The seat tube is not the issue. You were using a FD designed for the new, outboard, chainline on a crank with the old chainline. Its working range is further out regardless of the seat tube size it is mounted on.

    Shimano designed the new FD to not swing inward as far. You would have had the same issue if you had mounted the new FD on your old frame.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    The seat tube is not the issue. You were using a FD designed for the new, outboard, chainline on a crank with the old chainline. Its working range is further out regardless of the seat tube size it is mounted on.

    Shimano designed the new FD to not swing inward as far. You would have had the same issue if you had mounted the new FD on your old frame.
    I get that - but the reason I had to get that derailleur was because of the seat tube size
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  19. #19
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    Problem solved, probably

    I think I've solved the problem on the bike with the XT crankset and 68mm BB shell. The installation instructions call for two 2.5mm spacers on the drive side and one on the non-drive side, which is how I installed it, and which gave me the 50mm CL. So I took one of the driveline spacers and put it on the non-drive side. Measured the CL, it is 47.5mm. Took the bike for a good 2-hour trashing in rough terrain and based on that ride my preliminary conclusion is that the problem is reduced if not resolved entirely.

    My other bike has a 73mm shell so I don't have the luxury of moving spacers around. Maybe if I dumped the 51.5mm CL GXP crank and replaced it with a 50mm CL set I'd be okay. But I'll be giving Octalink a try on that bike once all the stuff arrives.

    I don't know what all this says about the "modern 50mm chainline" except that I no likey.
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  20. #20
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    I never knew that external setups have a different chain line. I also thought anywhere between 47.5 and 50 was acceptable, not 47.5 = internal, 50 = external.

    To the OP - I'm not sure I entirely understand though. You swapped bottom brackets entirely? From 73 to 68? Is that even possible? I thought if you had a 73, you use 73, if you had 68, you use 68, etc.

    Side Question - Is there any sort of strength difference between the 73 to 68mm bottom brackets? Given all things equal, of course. (I couldn't help but to notice a good portion of full sus bikes have 68mm shells...)

  21. #21
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    External shimano BB come with 3 spacers of 2.5mm. If you have a 68mm bb shell on your frame you mount 2 on the drive side (if not a e-type derailleur) and one on the non drive. If you have a 73mm BB shell you mount only the drive side spacer (again if not on e-type derailleur, in wich case the derailleur plate takes the spacer place).
    Some people mount the drive side spacer to the non drive for getting a better chainline, but that means youŽll have an off center crankset. Some people donŽt mind. I do.
    Answering your question, the crankset spindle either fits a 68 or a 73 BB shell, so no strength difference here. But a 73 mm BB shell will get more BB cup insert so there is some advantage here, but sure is marginal.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    I think I've solved the problem on the bike with the XT crankset and 68mm BB shell. The installation instructions call for two 2.5mm spacers on the drive side and one on the non-drive side, which is how I installed it, and which gave me the 50mm CL. So I took one of the driveline spacers and put it on the non-drive side. Measured the CL, it is 47.5mm. Took the bike for a good 2-hour trashing in rough terrain and based on that ride my preliminary conclusion is that the problem is reduced if not resolved entirely.

    My other bike has a 73mm shell so I don't have the luxury of moving spacers around. Maybe if I dumped the 51.5mm CL GXP crank and replaced it with a 50mm CL set I'd be okay. But I'll be giving Octalink a try on that bike once all the stuff arrives.

    I don't know what all this says about the "modern 50mm chainline" except that I no likey.
    Or, you could get a road BB that has only 1 spacer, thus 47.5mm CL.
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  23. #23
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    As far as the OP's question, I'm not impressed about wear on Ex. BB. They simply do not last more than a season or two, it's a shame!
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roasted
    I never knew that external setups have a different chain line. I also thought anywhere between 47.5 and 50 was acceptable, not 47.5 = internal, 50 = external.

    To the OP - I'm not sure I entirely understand though. You swapped bottom brackets entirely? From 73 to 68? Is that even possible? I thought if you had a 73, you use 73, if you had 68, you use 68, etc.

    Side Question - Is there any sort of strength difference between the 73 to 68mm bottom brackets? Given all things equal, of course. (I couldn't help but to notice a good portion of full sus bikes have 68mm shells...)
    CL on an old style internal BB depends on spindle length. 113mm spindle should give you a 47.5mm CL which was standard. Other spindle lengths are available for other setups, although I don't know what. Maybe someone on here knows that.

    A current external bearing Shimano, installed per instructions, will give you a 50mm CL. As stated earlier, my Truvativ Style crankset and BB, installed per instructions, gave me a 51.5mm CL. Ext bearing BB's come with spacers so that you can use the same BB with either a 68mm shell or 73mm shell.

    The correct CL is the one that works for you. Plenty of people chimed in here saying 50mm works for them. I haven't been that lucky.
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  25. #25
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    Off-center crankset

    Quote Originally Posted by What&son
    Some people mount the drive side spacer to the non drive for getting a better chainline, but that means youŽll have an off center crankset. Some people donŽt mind. I do.
    Wow, I didn't even think of the offset-center issue. When I rode the bike yesterday, I didn't even notice it!
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    CL on an old style internal BB depends on spindle length. 113mm spindle should give you a 47.5mm CL which was standard. Other spindle lengths are available for other setups, although I don't know what. Maybe someone on here knows that.

    A current external bearing Shimano, installed per instructions, will give you a 50mm CL. As stated earlier, my Truvativ Style crankset and BB, installed per instructions, gave me a 51.5mm CL. Ext bearing BB's come with spacers so that you can use the same BB with either a 68mm shell or 73mm shell.

    The correct CL is the one that works for you. Plenty of people chimed in here saying 50mm works for them. I haven't been that lucky.
    And by actual measurement of one of my rear hub/cassettes, the "proper" chainline is 45.1mm (centerline of hub/bike to the center of the cassette) with a 135mm 8/9-speed hub.

    A crank with a 47.5mm CL is slightly off, 50+mm is significantly off.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    Wow, I didn't even think of the offset-center issue. When I rode the bike yesterday, I didn't even notice it!
    I think most cranksets are offset slightly and riders never notice
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  28. #28
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    Interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    And by actual measurement of one of my rear hub/cassettes, the "proper" chainline is 45.1mm (centerline of hub/bike to the center of the cassette) with a 135mm 8/9-speed hub.

    A crank with a 47.5mm CL is slightly off, 50+mm is significantly off.
    Interesting. I feel exonerated. All those intial posters blaming my problems on FD adjustment. See? IT WASN'T MY FAULT!!
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    Interesting. I feel exonerated. All those intial posters blaming my problems on FD adjustment. See? IT WASN'T MY FAULT!!
    nah, not really Just not placing the blame on the BB so much...
    Chain drop has more to do with the chain (and the length), the rings and the RD - if any derailleur is to blame.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  30. #30
    meh....
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    square taper still rocks my ride.

  31. #31
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    Crankset offset

    Quote Originally Posted by What&son
    Some people mount the drive side spacer to the non drive for getting a better chainline, but that means youŽll have an off center crankset. Some people donŽt mind. I do.
    You got me thinking about that, so I went into garage (any excuse to hang in the garage) and did some measuring. 68mm shell, 1 spacer on the drive side, 2 spacers on the other side. From seat tube center to drive side pedal center, ~138mm. From seat tube center to non-drive side pedal center, ~143mm.

    Interesting, but as I said, I didn't notice anything while riding the bike.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    You got me thinking about that, so I went into garage (any excuse to hang in the garage) and did some measuring. 68mm shell, 1 spacer on the drive side, 2 spacers on the other side. From seat tube center to drive side pedal center, ~138mm. From seat tube center to non-drive side pedal center, ~143mm.

    Interesting, but as I said, I didn't notice anything while riding the bike.
    That is measuring Q-Factor...
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    That is measuring Q-Factor...
    Sortofnotreally. The total of the two is the Q-factor (if measured to the outside of the crankarms.

    Appendage is responding to What&son's comment about cranks being offset to one side from the centerline of the frame.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    As far as the OP's question, I'm not impressed about wear on Ex. BB. They simply do not last more than a season or two, it's a shame!
    I have had some issues with that also. I had a Race Face external set up on a bike I built up one winter and was riding it on a trainer during the real cold weather. Failed the bearings in a couple of months.

    After a little messing around I found that the grease they put in the bearings is some real poor quality stuff. I pried the seals out of a set of bearings and flushed the cheap white grease out of them and packed them with synthetic wheel bearing grease. I am still riding them 3 years later. The bearings I bought from Enduro have help up very well also, but I have them in my full suspension bike and I really don't ride that on many extended mileage rides. They have been in for about 3 years also, but not nearly as many miles as my HT.

    I think that cleaning the factory grease out of your bearings and packing them with some quality grease will solve your short life issues.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
    square taper still rocks my ride.

    My younger brother still runs square taper in his commuter bike. He rides it almost every day and puts a lot of miles on it. Hasn't changed a bottom bracket since we built the bike up about 5 years ago.

    I have a set of Middleburn ISIS cranks on my SS and those bottom brackets are real bad. I bought an SKF after I failed 3 of the Crank Brothers in one summer. The SKF is still going strong after 2 years and a couple of 100 milers and a lot of around town and trail riding.
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  36. #36
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    Well....that part wasn't your fault

    Quote Originally Posted by Appendage
    Interesting. I feel exonerated. All those intial posters blaming my problems on FD adjustment. See? IT WASN'T MY FAULT!!


    You said that you had installed it per instructions and it wasn't working. Then you went back and found the spacers issue in the instructions. People can only work with the information you provide. It is weird when I perform an operation and I believe I have done it to spec and the thing doesn't work. Just sayin....
    Glad it is finally working out.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
    square taper still rocks my ride.
    I have a Chris King. It installed easily, spins smooth and it looks great. It wasn't even as expensive as some of those old Ti square taper and high end ISIS BBs of yesteryear...

    What makes more sense, buying a single King and maybe the grease injector tool or buying a new XTR or XT outboard BB (or more) every season for 1/3 to half the price of the price of the King?
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ-X
    I have a Chris King. It installed easily, spins smooth and it looks great. It wasn't even as expensive as some of those old Ti square taper and high end ISIS BBs of yesteryear...

    What makes more sense, buying a single King and maybe the grease injector tool or buying a new XTR or XT outboard BB (or more) every season for 1/3 to half the price of the price of the King?
    now that king has come out with a user maintainable outboard bearing bb i'd get a king if i were to switch to an outboard bb crankset. but i probably still won't because i like 185mm 94/58 bcd 5 arm cranks.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by What&son
    This is my recently built new crankset.
    Q factor 163, chainline 47.5
    Nice. Details? I would like a narrower Q on an external BB crank.

    EDIT: Ah never mind. I just saw XTR and got all excited...missed internal BB.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11 Bravo
    I think that cleaning the factory grease out of your bearings and packing them with some quality grease will solve your short life issues.
    Yes but they still don't last very long if you ask me. I bought 2 Token Tiramic BBs this time (road & mtb, one each) and they'll hopefully last a lot longer but I'll only know in a couple of months!
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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
    square taper still rocks my ride.


    Mine also, with a M900 crank. Haven't touched the bb in probably 5 years and still spins as smooth as the day I put it in.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
    now that king has come out with a user maintainable outboard bearing bb i'd get a king if i were to switch to an outboard bb crankset. but i probably still won't because i like 185mm 94/58 bcd 5 arm cranks.
    theres more than a few writeups about how to (very easily) service outboard bearings. its fast and simple, no special tools at all. its something everyone with outboard bb's should do as regular maint.

  43. #43
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    Has anyone tried the enduro seals bottom bracket bearings as an alternative to the standard bearings? Curious if they've got better longetivity than the standard bearings.

  44. #44
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    Square Taper

    Still running the original BB on my '04 FSR, 15 yr old commuter, and the road bike has one too. Been thinking about changing the crank on the FSR since the middle and big chainrings are wearing and replacements seem kind of spendy... nothing exotic, just basic rings. That's what steered me into this thread, I don't want to create problems I don't have now.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by justin_amador
    Has anyone tried the enduro seals bottom bracket bearings as an alternative to the standard bearings? Curious if they've got better longetivity than the standard bearings.

    If they are not being serviced regularly, then they will last no longer than any other external type of BB.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot
    theres more than a few writeups about how to (very easily) service outboard bearings. its fast and simple, no special tools at all. its something everyone with outboard bb's should do as regular maint.
    I've been repacking sealed bearings for years and years already, done with that. Been doing it in bb's, hubs, suspension pivots, etc. Why bother? Just design the pivot/rotating part with a grease insertion system.

  47. #47
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    Or, you could get a road BB that has only 1 spacer, thus 47.5mm CL.
    Road BB's have only one spacer because they're only expecting to be used in 68 frames so the cups are different lengths of threading. Road bikes don't use 73mm shells nor do they use chainguides or E-type front derailleurs. The chainline is also narrower than with mountain bikes.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc
    If they are not being serviced regularly, then they will last no longer than any other external type of BB.
    So do the enduro seals bearings fail to do a better job at keeping out contamination? Or is the service interval different for OEM equipment vs. the enduro seals cartridge bearings?

  49. #49
    Never trust a fart
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    I don't use Enduro products so take it for what its worth.

    From what I've read through others using their products, their seals are much better than others on the market. So they do a better job of keeping the bearings clean and dry.

    Now that being said, there isn't a set time frame for service intervals for anything on a bike. It all depends on the usage of the bike, conditions and riding style. So it will vary from person to person and bike to bike.

    Example - On my Kona full suspension, I've had to absolute zero maintenance on the BB bearings since I installed them over 2 years ago. Now I have only ridden the bike 2 times this year so I don't count this year. I did remove the BB cups and inspected the bearings and found that the bearings still had plenty of clean grease and had almost zero contamination due to water/dirt/mud/etc. So I reassembled the bike.

    But there are others who ride less/more that require more preventative maintenance to keep things working properly due to their riding conditions/styles. I've seen stories on here where people have replaced BB's only after a few months of riding.

  50. #50
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    Anyone with experience using aftermarket BB bearings care to comment on how they compare with regard to the longetivity of OEM bearings on shimano hollowtech II bottom brackets?

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