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Cartridge bottom bracket - extreme spindle resistance normal?

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Cartridge bottom bracket - extreme spindle resistance normal?

Old 03-13-20, 11:46 PM
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polymorphself 
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Cartridge bottom bracket - extreme spindle resistance normal?

So I've installed my first sealed cartridge bottrom bracket onto a 70s Nishiki. With vintage BB's I'm used to very little spindle resistance, they spin very easily by hand. With this one, it's very difficult to spin with my hand, although it is a smooth spin all the way around. Is this something that is normal and changes when there is weight put onto the BB? If I were to install the crank arms and pedals right now (I would, but can't currently for various reasons), and put them at 6 and 12, there's no way they would swing down on their own.

For what it's worth it's a cheaper BB - a Sunlite Sl-26, but it's what my LBS usually has on hand and they haven't steered me wrong with anything else in the past. A friend also has this in her 81 Fuji and it seems to work well for her.

Thanks

Last edited by polymorphself; 03-13-20 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 03-14-20, 01:06 AM
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I don't have experience with Sunlite anything and not too much with cartridge bbs outside Shimano or Phil Wood. So it's good that I'm responding first... I would return it and buy a $21 UN55 on ebay. Then follow the generally practiced torque settings and use of blue Loctite for the adjustable cup.
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Old 03-14-20, 01:29 AM
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I've used a couple of SunLite brand bits and pieces. They're decent knockoffs of name brand stuff, comparable to SunRace in quality. The Sunlite SL-26 appears to be a knockoff of the well regarded Shimano BB-UN26 (which is also fairly inexpensive), so it's probably fine.

Might just need some break-in rides. The cartridge probably has a rubber or plastic seal and metal retaining ring, so there's bound to be some resistance at first. Put on a crank arm and you probably can't feel any resistance at all. When pedaling it might cost 1/2 Watt.

Depending on which engineer you ask, they'll either say sealed cartridge bearings are worth the very slight increase in resistance in exchange for reduced maintenance; or a drag and not worth the loss of performance. For my hybrids I'll probably switch to sealed cartridge BBs next time I overhaul 'em. Not sure yet about my road bikes.

BTW, some sealed loose bearing/cup & cone types can be a bit draggy. The rubber seals do add some friction. Some folks will grease the rubber, or use PTFE, moly, something to slick 'em up a bit. My big ol' heavy comfort hybrid/errand bike has draggy sealed bearings. I don't worry about it on that bike. It's worth the imperceptible drag in exchange for not needing to service it... like, ever. Maybe if something goes wrong. But I'm not gonna redo everything on a $100 errand bike every year.

But on my road bikes, well... let's just say I was one of those kooks who replaced the grease in my hubs with light oil or WD-40 just before crits or long fast rides. Probably made absolutely zero difference considering my very middling physical abilities on a bike. But it sure felt fast.

And I'm still the type to fuss and fret over every tiny point of friction in the drivetrain on my road bikes... while completely neglecting my hybrids. Waxed chains? Yes. Sealed bearing pulleys instead of sintered bearings? Definitely. But can I even be bothered to wash my hybrid once a year? Nah. Because the MAMIL urge cannot be denied.
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Old 03-14-20, 01:29 AM
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Can you feel the resistance once you install the crank arms?

My guess is you won't even feel the added resistance once you hop on the bike and start pedalling, and it likely will loosen up more as you do the first thousand miles or so.
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Old 03-14-20, 04:51 AM
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Sunlites in my experience have more resistance than shimano units. I found that by threading the cups at the same time (rather than threading one and then the other), the resistance was reduced but certainly not eliminated.
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Old 03-14-20, 06:49 AM
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Seal drag is common to all cartridge bearings and most pronounced when new. The good news is that it will decrease over time, and even when new is insignificant when under load.
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Old 03-14-20, 07:21 AM
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+1 to John above. In my experience how tightly the cups are installed can also effect the amount of drag. I aim for tight but have backed off the cups a bit to decrease drag.

Though I agree that such drag is probably insignificant, most of us still worship at the altar of smooth bearings.
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Old 03-14-20, 07:53 AM
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I concur. All sealed cartridge bearings have more friction than properly adjusted cup and cone ball bearings. The difference is particularly noticeable as stiction, the friction that has to be overcome to start movement. Once movement starts the difference in friction reduces and while still higher than a traditional bottom bracket, it is so small as to be undetectable during riding. This increased friction is the trade-off for reduced maintenance.
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Old 03-14-20, 10:16 AM
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Awesome all thanks so much for the replies. Sounds like im good to go and need to wait until I’ve got the cranks on.
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Old 03-14-20, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Sunlites in my experience have more resistance than shimano units. I found that by threading the cups at the same time (rather than threading one and then the other), the resistance was reduced but certainly not eliminated.
This. Add: they are sensitive to the torque, with almost no sweet spot. But it's there.
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Old 03-14-20, 11:29 AM
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With a Shimano UN26 available for $10 on line, I can't imagine buying a Sunlite unit. UN26 is a quality BB, just heavier than a UN5x. Functionally it is fine.
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Old 03-14-20, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
With a Shimano UN26 available for $10 on line, I can't imagine buying a Sunlite unit. UN26 is a quality BB, just heavier than a UN5x. Functionally it is fine.
If you need a 127.5 73 mm BB for an old MTB, sunlite units are pretty much the only way to go. It's what I used on my '92 Trek 950 for that reason.
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Old 03-14-20, 12:22 PM
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I have one Sunlite that feels the same as a couple of my UN55s, all have slight drag but not much. I also have an IRD QB55 that has the least resistance by far, the heavy spot of the crank will swing back and forth a couple times at bottom center.
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Old 03-14-20, 01:17 PM
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All of these responses make sense except that polymorphself said it's "very difficult" to turn. Without a torque wrench reading, we don't know what he means. Is it truly difficult to turn, or just harder than you expected?
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Old 03-14-20, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
All of these responses make sense except that polymorphself said it's "very difficult" to turn. Without a torque wrench reading, we don't know what he means. Is it truly difficult to turn, or just harder than you expected?
I'm far from an expert, but I've got the cranks on now and it's much less alarming, but still seems stiff to me. I need to run by the LBS this week anyways so I'm gonna bring it to them and see what they say. I'll report back.
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Old 03-14-20, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jethin View Post
+1 to John above. In my experience how tightly the cups are installed can also effect the amount of drag. I aim for tight but have backed off the cups a bit to decrease drag.
I guess I've got 3 bikes with cartridge BB's with square taper axles. I've seen issues on one bike regarding the cup "tightness" affecting the shaft drag. The other two really don't show any sensitivity.
On the one bike that does show the problem, I swapped out the cartridge, thinking that it must be the problem. Nope.. the new one did the same thing. My best guess is that the shell wasn't threaded straight (the other bikes are custom frames and presumably got more TLC during manufacture).
One factor is that these are all Shimano UN-71 BBs. A lower quality cartridge might behave differently.

somewhat tangential to the original question.... after pulling out the cartridge that I thought might be bad, I decided to open it up. It had 15,000 miles on it, and I wasn't sure how long it would last. It turned out that the bearings and races were in perfect shape! It probably could have lasted at least another 15k miles at a minimum...



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Old 03-15-20, 06:26 PM
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Does this bottom bracket's resistance suddenly appear when the unit is installed?

Something could be out of tolerance.
I installed a RaceFace sqare-taper "taper lock" bottom bracket that tightens up when the second cup is tightened. Something definitely wrong with it.
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