Bottom brackets old style vs new, what's it all about

bonker

Über Member
I've just swapped out a Campag Ultra torque crankset after a few creaking problems that I just can't solve. That involved buying at least two new tools and took quite a while. I drew the line at buying a torque wrench that would go up to 45 Nm. The crank has had a long and useful life so probably needs new bearings, cups and retailing clip anyway.
In the meantime I thought I would put an old style BB in and slot on some old square taper cranks. Simple and it works like a dream. I really can't see that it performs any worse than the outboard BB.
If I was to resurrect the Ultra torque its going to be £20 for new cups, £20 for new bearings, wavy washer and a retaining clip perhaps another fiver. I'd need a campag bearing puller, £50 , and a long arm tool wrench is £100 plus. That might not even solve the creak problem. What if the Hirthlink inside has been damaged?
For a lot less than that I could buy the dog's dangly bits of a square taper BB and even some new chainrings if necessary.
Is there a massive advantage to outboard BB that I am missing?
Apologies if this debate has all be done before.
 
Outboard bearings are the answer to a problem that never existed.

'progress' for progress sake IMO
 

raleighnut

Guru
Location
On 3 Wheels
The difficulty these days is getting good quality square taper BBs, the cartridge (sealed) ones wear out in no time and the shafts for adjustable ones are made of compressed cheese. :cursing:
 

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
All my bikes are still using square taper.

Interesting, if you google track bb's, nearly all the results are for square taper. What does this indicate? Are square taper still the best for track racing or am I not searching google correctly?
 
You usually need to muck about to get the chainline right. In theory you just buy a matched track groupset but frames are rarely straight enough for that to work - chainline should be millimetre-perfect, especially with proper track chains which have no real lateral flexibility. Also, outboard bearings wouldn't work with a typical track 42.5mm chainline (Campag standard) - it's just too narrow.
 

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
Old stuff built to last. New stuff built to wear out. Its all about making money.
I grew up with old stuff and I can assure you it wasn't.
 

raleighnut

Guru
Location
On 3 Wheels
Bog standard Shimano UN52 square taper bb cartridge would last at least 3 years of everyday, all-weather commuting.
The BB shaft in my Ridgeback has over 20yrs and thousands of miles on it, admittedly I've changed the (adjustable) bearings a few times (@ roughly a pound a pop) and keep it very well greased but there's no seals on it or anything silly.

I've gone to external bearings on a few of my bikes but only because they had either no BB in the frame when I bought them or they had crappy 'sealed' units fitted.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
The difficulty these days is getting good quality square taper BBs, the cartridge (sealed) ones wear out in no time and the shafts for adjustable ones are made of compressed cheese. :cursing:
Shimano UN55 for best. I still have my Ultegra and Dura Ace square taper cartridges - both perfect running order. My fixie did 5 years every day use on a cheaper UN52/53, then I popped in a UN55.

I do, however, regularly re-grease my GXP bearings on my modern MTB. I don't touch the old MTB square taper cartridge ever.
 
The difficulty these days is getting good quality square taper BBs, the cartridge (sealed) ones wear out in no time and the shafts for adjustable ones are made of compressed cheese. :cursing:
Cartridge sealed square taper BBs have been running faultlessly in the bikes of myself and presumably thousands of other cyclists for thousands of miles without issue. They transformed the bottom bracket from something that needed regular dismantling/servicing into a fit and forget item.
 
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