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  1. #1
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    Durability/maintenance questions

    With a Specialized Epic Comp that's almost a year old ('09 bought in Jan '10), I have just had to have the bottom bracket AND headset bearings replaced. Is this in any way considered normal wear for a modern $3000 MTB? I'm 200+ lbs, but don't ride *that* hard, having been off bikes completely for 15 years until this one. The bike has roughly 1300 miles on it, with maybe a quarter of that being wet-weather riding (in Annadel). The shop is good-willing these repairs (for various reasons), but shouldn't this be a warranty issue? My '88 Klein Pinnacle still has it's ORIGINAL BB and headset bearings, and has well over 10,000 miles!

  2. #2
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    Bearings are a wear item and not generally going to be covered under warranty. The conditions they were used in, their adjustment, spraying water at them to clean, etc. can all have an effect on their longevity.

    It is rather doubtful that you got two bearings that actually had manufacturers defects that would make it a warranty issue.

  3. #3
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    I definitely realize they're wear items, but after only 9 months of riding, both the headset and BB are toast? Is this where modern MTBs have gone? It's a wonderful bike to ride, but holy cow, if that's progress.....
    The XT headset in my Klein was serviced ONCE, in 1989. It has never been touched since then, and is still smooth as silk.
    Maybe I'm just picky, but it just seems these bikes should be much more durable.

  4. #4
    FKA Malibu412
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    You should check out the shock and fork maintenance schedule.
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  5. #5
    Rub it............
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Maybe I'm just picky, but it just seems these bikes should be much more durable.

    If you want durability, expect to pay more.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    I definitely realize they're wear items, but after only 9 months of riding, both the headset and BB are toast? Is this where modern MTBs have gone? It's a wonderful bike to ride, but holy cow, if that's progress.....
    The XT headset in my Klein was serviced ONCE, in 1989. It has never been touched since then, and is still smooth as silk.
    Maybe I'm just picky, but it just seems these bikes should be much more durable.
    I'm not suggesting 9 months is the normal life span of BB's and headset's. Mine are going on 4 years and 4000 miles with no sign of a problem. I simply doubt that the bearing manufacturer sent out 4 sets of bearings that were either ground wrong, heat treated wrong, etc. and that they all made it onto the same bike and failed at the same time.

  7. #7
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    I definitely realize they're wear items, but after only 9 months of riding, both the headset and BB are toast? Is this where modern MTBs have gone? It's a wonderful bike to ride, but holy cow, if that's progress.....
    The XT headset in my Klein was serviced ONCE, in 1989. It has never been touched since then, and is still smooth as silk.
    Maybe I'm just picky, but it just seems these bikes should be much more durable.
    I can trash BB bearings in 2 months, and my headsets never need to be touched. That was the same 20 years ago. The grade of the bearing can make a big difference but so does riding style and conditions.

    Looks like they used a no-name headset. A common place to same money. Bet the bearings were just c##p.
    Last edited by shiggy; 12-02-2010 at 07:16 PM.
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  8. #8
    Former Bike Wrench
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    My much cheaper bike BB and Headset bearings have lasted 2+ years through wet PNW winters...but I also do regular maintenance and do not use pressurized water to wash my bike. Sounds like more of a maintenance issue than a quality issue.

  9. #9
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    Big question.

    How did the bearings fail?
    Water?
    Excessive preload?
    Owner of www.shockcraft.co.nz and NZ Manitou Service Agent.
    www.dougal.co.nz Suspension setup & tuning.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    Big question.

    How did the bearings fail?
    Water?
    Excessive preload?
    The headset failure wasn't specified; the BB non-drive side bearing failed due to water invasion. The bike has, of course, been ridden in wet conditions, although only 2-3 times in actual rain, and I never use 'high-pressure' to wash it, only a gentle 'shower'- same as I've cleaned MTBs since my first, in 1985, and BMX bikes going back to the mid 1970's.
    To me, it seems like a design flaw that simply using something in the way it was (supposedly) intended should cause this sort of failure in this time/mileage frame. My Klein's BB, which uses pressed-in sealed bearings, has NO extra protection, yet the bearings are perfectly fine after 22 years! And the original Deore XT headset required adjustment once, in 1989, and has NEVER been opened up or serviced, otherwise. It also functions perfectly.
    I dunno... Maybe this is 'progress'. For now, it's freshened, so I'll see how long it lasts.

  11. #11
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    Looks like the headset will be a mystery. But external BB's do have a problem with water ingress.

    Water can enter along the axle and once it gets in, it just can't get out. It sits against the bearing seal until it gets in and dooms the bearing.
    I can CNC drainage channels into external BB's to combat this problem. It seems no matter how well you try to seal it, water still enters. So providing a way for it to get out is a solution that works well.

    One of my test riders filled a new BB up with water and killed the bearings inside 3 months (I told him to go get it wet). I machined in the drainage tracks and with new bearings that BB is still running fine about two years later.
    I now have my own brand of external BB's which I can sell new with CNC Storm Drains. I can also machine all other brands (shimano, raceface, fsa, truvativ etc) but that's usually not as convenient unless it's already coming in for bearing replacement.
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    Last edited by Dougal; 12-03-2010 at 05:50 PM.
    Owner of www.shockcraft.co.nz and NZ Manitou Service Agent.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal
    Looks like the headset will be a mystery. But external BB's do have a problem with water ingress.

    Water can enter along the axle and once it gets in, it just can't get out. It sits against the bearing seal until it gets in and dooms the bearing.
    I can CNC drainage channels into external BB's to combat this problem. It seems no matter how well you try to seal it, water still enters. So providing a way for it to get out is a solution that works well.

    One of my test riders filled a new BB up with water and killed the bearings inside 3 months (I told him to go get it wet). I machined in the drainage tracks and with new bearings that BB is still running fine about two years later.
    I now have my own brand of external BB's which I can sell new with CNC Storm Drains. I can also machine all other brands (shimano, raceface, fsa, truvativ etc) but that's usually not as convenient unless it's already coming in for bearing replacement.
    www.shockcraft.co.nz
    Dougal, yours look like quality parts. I suspect the bearings in my BB were/are pretty cheap units. There isn't much in the way of seals at the outsides of them, and it was the non-drive side that really went bad.
    While I won't order anything just yet (hopefully this set will last a while), what info do you need to order bearings? Do you have specs on various bikes, or do you need specifics?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Dougal, yours look like quality parts. I suspect the bearings in my BB were/are pretty cheap units. There isn't much in the way of seals at the outsides of them, and it was the non-drive side that really went bad.
    While I won't order anything just yet (hopefully this set will last a while), what info do you need to order bearings? Do you have specs on various bikes, or do you need specifics?
    Replacement bearings depend on the crankset.
    Some Raceface and FSA BB's take standard bearings which are easy to source and give you a lot of replacement options.
    Most shimano BB's are now using narrower than standard bearings, replacements in that size come in ceramic hybrid, but not steel for now. I'm working on solving this supply problem.

    For most external BB's I can retrofit enduro bearings which are slightly larger and do away with the plastic sleeve. However, some FSA cranks have been found to be a little oversize. While these can be pushed through the plastic sleeves, they won't fit through the steel enduro bearings.

    It doesn't matter how cheap or expensive bearings are at the start, water will kill all of them. The best defence is making it hard to get in and providing a way for it to get back out if it does get in.
    Owner of www.shockcraft.co.nz and NZ Manitou Service Agent.
    www.dougal.co.nz Suspension setup & tuning.
    SPV Devolve

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