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Cup and cone versus cartridge BB

Old 07-18-19, 11:13 AM
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Synack42
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Cup and cone versus cartridge BB

Just curious on thoughts about switching to a sealed cartridge bottom bracket from my current cup and cone setup. I noticed some grit on my well worn setup the other day. I ended up pulling everything apart, cleaned, regreased and reinstalled. (Same bearings honestly, probably should have replaced while I was at it.) It's definitely smoother now, I guess I was questioning the adjustment part a little bit but I think I figured it out...

Still wondering if cartridge is the way to go though. Would it be worthwhile to swap it out? Any advantages or disadvantages? I was looking at either a Sunrace BBS 15 or a Shimano UN55 (68x118).

Thanks
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Old 07-18-19, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post

Still wondering if cartridge is the way to go though. Would it be worthwhile to swap it out? Any advantages or disadvantages? I was looking at either a Sunrace BBS 15 or a Shimano UN55 (68x118).

Thanks
Since you just rebuilt the bottom bracket, ask yourself if you really want to go through that every 6 months to a year versus not having to take it apart and put it back together ever? The choice is yours but I'd opt for not having to do anything to the bottom bracket for 10 to 15 to 20 years over rebuilding every year.
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Old 07-18-19, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Since you just rebuilt the bottom bracket, ask yourself if you really want to go through that every 6 months to a year versus not having to take it apart and put it back together ever? The choice is yours but I'd opt for not having to do anything to the bottom bracket for 10 to 15 to 20 years over rebuilding every year.
Heh, that's kinda where I was going in the back of my mind I suppose. What kind of mileage should you expect afterwards with a cup and cone setup? I've got ~1,500 miles logged so far this year for reference.
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Old 07-18-19, 11:31 AM
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If your current BB is working for you, there is no compelling reason to switch. IMO, the only advantages for a cartridge are no adjustment and no maintenance.

If you do switch at some time, be aware that you may have spindle taper issues. The Sunrace and Shimano BBs have JIS tapers. Many cranks may not work with them.

Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
What kind of mileage should you expect afterwards with a cup and cone setup? I've got ~1,500 miles logged so far this year for reference.
I have over 40,000 miles on a Sugino cup and cone BB, which shows little signs of wear. I just replaced it this month with a UN55 cartridge, but only because I wanted to switch cranks. The newer, but still vintage, cranks did not work with the Sugino spindle.

Last edited by Moe Zhoost; 07-18-19 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 07-18-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
If your current BB is working for you, there is no compelling reason to switch. IMO, the only advantages for a cartridge are no adjustment and no maintenance.

If you do switch at some time, be aware that you may have spindle taper issues. The Sunrace and Shimano BBs have JIS tapers. Many cranks may not work with them.
Honestly didn't even cross my mind. It's an older Diamondback Outlook, nothing fancy including the stock crankset. Would it be safe to assume it is JIS? (ISO would really only come into play with European or higher end stuff?)
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Old 07-18-19, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Honestly didn't even cross my mind. It's an older Diamondback Outlook, nothing fancy including the stock crankset. Would it be safe to assume it is JIS? (ISO would really only come into play with European or higher end stuff?)
You are probably safe to assume JIS, though some of the older, higher end Japanese cranks used non-JIS tapers. What particular crank is on it?
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Old 07-18-19, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
You are probably safe to assume JIS, though some of the older, higher end Japanese cranks used non-JIS tapers. What particular crank is on it?
Honestly forget the brand off the top of my head. Super generic/cheap riveted 28/38/48 with 170 crank arms.

The bike is nothing special at all honestly. I just happen to really like the frame dimensions, seems to fit me like a glove and I'm totally not worried about scratching it ;-).
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Old 07-18-19, 02:54 PM
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...who rebuilds their cup and cone BB every year ? That's just OCD foolishness.
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Old 07-18-19, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Since you just rebuilt the bottom bracket, ask yourself if you really want to go through that every 6 months to a year versus not having to take it apart and put it back together ever? The choice is yours but I'd opt for not having to do anything to the bottom bracket for 10 to 15 to 20 years over rebuilding every year.
...this is the original dream fantasy of sealed unit BB's. The reality has played out differently.
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Old 07-18-19, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
If your current BB is working for you, there is no compelling reason to switch. IMO, the only advantages for a cartridge are no adjustment and no maintenance.

If you do switch at some time, be aware that you may have spindle taper issues. The Sunrace and Shimano BBs have JIS tapers. Many cranks may not work with them.



I have over 40,000 miles on a Sugino cup and cone BB, which shows little signs of wear. I just replaced it this month with a UN55 cartridge, but only because I wanted to switch cranks. The newer, but still vintage, cranks did not work with the Sugino spindle.
If operated in the same conditions a cup and cone are and with similar seals, if the cup and cone bearings need to be serviced then the cartridge bearings likely need to be pressed out and replace as well or the BB swapped out altogether. That I would consider maintenance
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Old 07-18-19, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Just curious on thoughts about switching to a sealed cartridge bottom bracket from my current cup and cone setup. I noticed some grit on my well worn setup the other day. I ended up pulling everything apart, cleaned, regreased and reinstalled. (Same bearings honestly, probably should have replaced while I was at it.) It's definitely smoother now, I guess I was questioning the adjustment part a little bit but I think I figured it out...

Still wondering if cartridge is the way to go though. Would it be worthwhile to swap it out? Any advantages or disadvantages? I was looking at either a Sunrace BBS 15 or a Shimano UN55 (68x118).

Thanks
It doesn't matter IMO. Both systems can give you years of trouble-free and maintenance-free service - or, either could fail tomorrow. If your current set-up is satisfactory then simply wait until the next time you need to replace the BB and try a cartridge.

I have both types and, if adjusted properly, there is no noticeable difference.
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Old 07-18-19, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
wondering if cartridge is the way to go though. Would it be worthwhile to swap it out? Any advantages or disadvantages? I was looking at either a Sunrace BBS 15 or a Shimano UN55 (68x118).

Have you found that servicing the current bottom bracket is an undue burden? If not, why bother replacing it? After all, you know that the current unit works with your crank and drivetrain. The SunRace and Shimano cartridges are decent, but not spectacular bottom brackets. When they do fail, you will replace the whole cartridge rather than simply cleaning it out and replacing the balls and grease. Seems kind of wasteful to me; I'm still using cup-and-cone bottom brackets that are several decades old and have only required service every 3 to 5 years. I could keep doing that for decades more before I'd reach the cost of even a mediocre cartridge.
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Old 07-18-19, 04:20 PM
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Might be part of the advantage of the sealed cartridge bb's that you can't take them apart and see if there is grit in them.

Never took one apart myself, so maybe the seals actually work well. If you aren't a high mileage rider, then your old bb will probably last a long time grit or no grit.
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Old 07-18-19, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by johndthompson View Post
have you found that servicing the current bottom bracket is an undue burden? If not, why bother replacing it? After all, you know that the current unit works with your crank and drivetrain. The sunrace and shimano cartridges are decent, but not spectacular bottom brackets. When they do fail, you will replace the whole cartridge rather than simply cleaning it out and replacing the balls and grease. Seems kind of wasteful to me; i'm still using cup-and-cone bottom brackets that are several decades old and have only required service every 3 to 5 years. I could keep doing that for decades more before i'd reach the cost of even a mediocre cartridge.
+ 1.
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Old 07-18-19, 06:49 PM
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Oh, the drama. Most of my bikes use square taper cup and cone. I ride in all conditions year round in the rainy Pac NW.

Unless someone is regularly submerging their bikes in salt water for some reason, 5 years is a reasonable overhaul interval. It takes me 30 minutes, which is only a little longer than replacing the entire unit with something new.

As far as economics, the spindle wears first (pitting), followed by the balls and the cups. It takes an immense amount of abuse and neglect to kill the cups. I can get new replacement spindles at my local Coop for $5 each. We have a 30 pound bin of spindles stamped: Campagnolo, Dura-Ace, Stronglight, TA, etc. I'm not worried about running out of replacement cup and cone BB parts.
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Old 07-18-19, 06:55 PM
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The Shimano UN** bottom brackets are an answer to a commuters problems. On my commute bike the BB had to be overhauled every month to keep it running in winter months, and probably should have been done every week. Same with the hubs. Snow, salt, grit carried by the snow all got into the hubs and bottom bracket. No way around it. Even with this high level of maintenance the BB had to be replaced every season after the winter commute months.

Along came the UN52 and I have yet to service it. Going on 30 years with the same Shimano UN52 bottom bracket. Works flawlessly. Every bike I have a UN** BB in, I have had zero maintenance and zero failures. Cannot claim the same for traditional cup and cone with the exception of the Campagnolo Nuovo Record bottom bracket used on my race bikes, but then again, I serviced the hubs and BB every other week!
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Old 07-18-19, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Heh, that's kinda where I was going in the back of my mind I suppose. What kind of mileage should you expect afterwards with a cup and cone setup? I've got ~1,500 miles logged so far this year for reference.
It depends. Do you ride in wet conditions? Dirty conditions? Is the bottom bracket one with rubber seals or one without? All of those are going to have an impact on how long you can go between rebuilds. Iíd say that 1500 miles is somewhat close to the max.
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Old 07-18-19, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...this is the original dream fantasy of sealed unit BB's. The reality has played out differently.
How? I see bottom brackets at my local co-op that are from the 90s that are still working well. Iíve personally never had a sealed bottom bracket fail on me. Iíve replaced a lot of them through upgrades but not one of them has been because the BB failed.

On the other hand, I see lots and lots and lots of loose bearing bottom brackets that have to be replaced. Even a number of very new ones.
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Old 07-19-19, 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...this is the original dream fantasy of sealed unit BB's. The reality has played out differently.
With square taper that has been the case - at least for me.

With the more modern ones, with bearings on the outside (and especially the press-fit ones) - not so much.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:53 AM
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Take your cup and cone BB and throw it in the trash, replace it with a cartridge type. Don't look back. If it ever gets loose, or gritty, or not smooth, just replace it.
ANY cup and cone will wear out well before a cartridge.
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Old 07-19-19, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
ANY cup and cone will wear out well before a cartridge.
Please provide objective documentation to support this statement.
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Old 07-19-19, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin View Post
With square taper that has been the case - at least for me.

With the more modern ones, with bearings on the outside (and especially the press-fit ones) - not so much.
I've heard lots of people make that complaint as well as complaining about Shimano Octalink and ISIS bottom brackets (not those guys but the International Spline Interface Standard). I've never had a problem with any cartridge bearing bottom bracket and seldom see a bad one at my local co-op. I see roughly 1500 bikes a year with all kinds of problems.
Bad bartridge bearing bottom brackets show up only a few times per year. They are so rare, in fact, that it's something to take note of.

I've had no end of wear issues with bottom brackets back before cartridge bearing bottom brackets. In the early days of mountain biking, I had to replace the bottom bracket very often and had to rebuild on a roughly 6 month schedule. Modern bikes...new ones from HelMart...that have loose bearing bottom brackets are a total waste of time and effort. The bearings wear to dust in about 200 miles. I see hemispherical bearings in those on a regular basis. The "steel" (SLO? steel like object) that is used for the cups is often so poorly constructed that the cup pulls apart as it's being extracted. I've had to tell several people that their bike is irreparable because the bottom bracket has started to separate and we can't get the cup out of the frame.

Nope. Got no love for loose bearing bottom brackets.
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Old 07-19-19, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
How? I see bottom brackets at my local co-op that are from the 90s that are still working well. Iíve personally never had a sealed bottom bracket fail on me. Iíve replaced a lot of them through upgrades but not one of them has been because the BB failed.

On the other hand, I see lots and lots and lots of loose bearing bottom brackets that have to be replaced. Even a number of very new ones.
...we see what we see. Your anecdotes are not my anecdotes.
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Old 07-19-19, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I've never had a problem with any cartridge bearing bottom bracket and seldom see a bad one at my local co-op. I see roughly 1500 bikes a year with all kinds of problems.
Bad bartridge bearing bottom brackets show up only a few times per year. They are so rare, in fact, that it's something to take note of.

.
...we worked at different co-ops, Stewart. Why you suppose that your sampling of bicycles is a better one than mine is a mystery to me.
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Old 07-19-19, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
How? I see bottom brackets at my local co-op that are from the 90s that are still working well. I’ve personally never had a sealed bottom bracket fail on me. I’ve replaced a lot of them through upgrades but not one of them has been because the BB failed.

On the other hand, I see lots and lots and lots of loose bearing bottom brackets that have to be replaced. Even a number of very new ones.
...and I have replaced (or in the case pf Phil Wood BB's, sent off for rebuild) any number of them due to failure/roughness in the spin. This includes (but is not limited to) at least one of the old Mavic units that was installed with a special chamfering tool, and numerous Shimano units that were apparently the victims of poor quality control, because they failed early in their service life. I know it's difficult to believe stories you hear on the internet, versus your own studied opinion based on personal experience, but I'm not making this up.

I certainly use sealed units. They're nice because they simplify swapping out crank spindles....all you need to worry about is length, spindle taper, and threading in selecting the new one. I love them for that reason alone. But you're wrong on the average user's requirements in terms of service intervals on an older cup and cone unit, and you have some mistaken notions about the range of quality available and failure rates in sealed units. (Based on my own experience...which is not insignificant.)
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