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So, about the Madone and the BB90 issues: legit or overblown?

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So, about the Madone and the BB90 issues: legit or overblown?

Old 09-05-19, 07:27 PM
  #1  
CarloM
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So, about the Madone and the BB90 issues: legit or overblown?

My LBS is having a good deal on the outgoing MY19 Madone line. I've wanted an aero bike to add to my stable, and the few test rides of the Madone have been fast and comfortable. Not noticeably moreso than my TCR, but I'll admit it: aero bike profiles just look sexy to me. It's a totally different aesthetic to me, even if it doesn't improve my top speed in any meaningful way (and it likely won't, the TCR is a weapon).

Obviously before I jump in to a purchase this big I'll do a deep dive for research. Which brings up the BB90 and its penchant for creaking. Apparently due to the fact that the tolerances can vary where the bearings contact the frame. Makes sense. I believe it's "a thing" because enough of it is out there on the internet, not just from owners, but also third party companies that offer workarounds or solutions.

However, every cycling site (GCN, road.cc, bikeradar, etc.) fail to ever mention the BB90 issues. They sing the praises about the bike's virtues. And even most owners who post about the creaking still say the bike rides great.

I did a search here at BF and yes, we have testimonials here as well. But not a ton. So what I don't know is:
1. Are there not so many complaints because not a lot of people on BF own Madones?
2. Are there not so many complaints because BF has a lot of Madone owners, but the rate of creaking issues is low?
3. If #1 - are BF members steering clear of Madones because of the BB90 issue?

I'm thinking of deciding by this weekend, but wanted to hear BF's collective experience and wisdom on this topic.

And yes I know there's that rumor that Trek may move to a T47 bracket, but I'm not factoring that into the equation right now.

Thanks for any advice and help!
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Old 09-05-19, 07:55 PM
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Based upon the 2020 Domane, I'd say that the T47 BB move is more than a rumor.

But, to the subject at hand - I wouldn't avoid a BB90 Madone, but all things equal, I'd take a T47 Madone over a BB90 Madone. That said, I'm price sensitive enough that I'd totally jump on discounted Madone with BB90 if it were available.

A couple things to keep in mind:
  • BB90 isn't exclusive to the Madone - it's on my Domane and it's on Emondas, too, so feel free to look for feedback from owners of those bikes, too. FWIW, no troubles with mine, though I'm only a year and a half in.
  • Trek has a lifetime warranty on the frame for the original owner. Hell, I'm going to start working on my sprint in *hopes* that my BB becomes irreparable shortly after 2019 stock is cleared out - I'll gladly take a 2020 T47 as a warranty exchange.
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Old 09-05-19, 07:59 PM
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Good catch on the new Domane! So yes it’s imminent. Given that the Madone was redesigned MY19 and they usually go 3-4 years between major updates, would we expect a T47 Madone before 2022? I imagine changing BB standards isn’t so trivial as to just specify a new one in an existing frame design they have likely worked in and tested for years. I’d imagine it would have to be at the next Madone major refresh?

edit-just did a reality check and of the 2020 Madone only one page had the BB listed (the SLR 6) and that one still lists BB90

Last edited by CarloM; 09-05-19 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 09-05-19, 08:05 PM
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I wouldn't buy a BB90 Trek. It's not just the creaking issue, it's the wearing away of the carbon fiber shell that later requires different oversized bearings (Trek was supplying them in the past because it's such an issue).

Warranty is no guarantee of anything. Plenty of warranty horror stories out there.
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Old 09-05-19, 11:07 PM
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As stated above, the design is known to be flawed. It is the only specification that I know of that allows a bearing to be pressed into raw carbon anymore. Even Cannondale, the inventor of the pressfit creak, doesnít spec direct fit bearings on carbon bikes. Either they have a metal sleeve bonded in (I think some older BB30 bikes and current specialized bikes are like this) or they use a nylon cup (like PF30, BB86 etc). Alloy bikes are fine with directfit bearings.

So a) you have the wallowing problem. b) youíre susceptible to tolerance issues and canít fix them on the aftermarket with a one-piece or thread-together BB because the direct-fit nature of the spec means there is no room for such a solution. c) youíre locked into shimano groupsets. There is only room for 24mm cranks. SRAMís new DUB does not fit in BB90 frames. You have to use the old GXP (which has its own issues). Once Trek goes T47, donít expect SRAM to make anymore GXP stuff.

Shimano seems to be married to the 24mm spindle for now, but that could change in the near future when they realize all the alloy spindles they thought would assplode actually keep spinning fine for 100s of thousands of ks.

This isnít to say there arenít tons of people riding Madones or other BB90 bikes with no issues. But the design is known to be significantly worse than others - if not the absolute worst. And thatís saying something. If you play this game and get burned... you canít say you didnít know.

EDIT: The new Trek Fuel EX and SuperCaliber use BB92 - the Shimano standard that uses nylon cups. I may be wrong, but I doubt you will see a single new bike with BB90 or BB95 anymore.

Last edited by smashndash; 09-06-19 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 09-05-19, 11:42 PM
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Is there a Praxis conversion, Enduro Torqtite, Wheels Mfg thread-together or some other screw together bottom bracket for BB90?

If so it would solve the problem completely and permanently.

I have PF30 and never pressed a bearing into it once. Screw together is more expensive but a vastly superior design and takes minutes to uninstall/install.


-Tim-
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Old 09-06-19, 12:55 AM
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Thanks for all the input, everyone! The more I do a deep dive into BB standards, the more hesitant I become at buying one. Especially since Trek does seem to be at a crossroads between staying with the BB90 or moving to the T47. One site did mention that although the Madone is the sexy aero bike, that the Domane line was a more important bike in their lineup (likely due to volume of sales, I assume) and the fact that they chose that to go over to T47 was a likely indicator of things to come.

It does seem like the chances are good I would have a relatively problem-free BB90. I mean if it were widespread, forums would be on fire with complaints and Trek would have had a PR nightmare on their hands. They sell a good many bikes and if the fail rate were even 2% I'd guess that would be tens of thousands. To answer @TimothyH - I do not believe there's a screw-together solution. The only solution I've seen is from BBInfinite who sell a bearings kit with Loctite, so their answer is to nearly permanently glue on the bearings.

Still, as I contemplate spending nearly another $5K on an aero bike that I would want to last me at least 5+ years, I'd want it to be as free from known-in-advance possible issues as it can be. Yes, I know that no bike is perfect, and the more you live with a bike, the more its flaws (or maybe not even flaws, just things that bother you) creep up over time. That's just life, and you do the best pre-purchase research you can and then live with the results (both expected and unexpected). But knowing something may be a problem up front would be maddening, if it did come to pass. If I bought a Madone, the first sign of any BB issues and I'd immediately go "gdmit I knew that was going to happen!" and immediately regret my monetary outlay. And impatience, if in 2020 they came out with a T47 Madone.

I guess the other thing this brings up is my other alternate aero bike I've been contemplating: the Factor One. The Giant dealer who took great care of me during my TCR experience is also a Factor dealer and I'd likely get a bit of a break being a repeat/loyal customer. I'd pay a little more than the Madone up front, but Factor 1) does come with CeramicSpeed bearings on both the headset and the bottom bracket, 2) comes with the BBright standard...which isn't a perfect standard but doesn't seem to have as many issues as the BB90, and the CeramicSpeed bearing/adapter seems to be well-reviewed. It comes in my favorite color and shade (that red is amazing) and the split down-tube is a major talking point with fellow cyclists. Like Giant they make their own frames, and along with their sister company Black Inc, end up "passing on the savings" to us consumers. Or, if at $5K that phrase doesn't seem quite right, how about "gouging us less"?

The hesitancy with Factor is that the user base is relatively small, so any serious problems won't be raised to the level that problems with Trek/Giant/Specialized. But the one guy I know who has a Factor (met him at the Giant shop) is one of those that has owned a ton of bikes, likely due to a good amount of disposable income, and he absolutely loves the Factor One (he has the red color I like too). But that's a user-testimonial of one.
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Old 09-06-19, 03:00 AM
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Dean V
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Cervelo. New S3 or S5?
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Old 09-06-19, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Is there a Praxis conversion, Enduro Torqtite, Wheels Mfg thread-together or some other screw together bottom bracket for BB90?

If so it would solve the problem completely and permanently.

I have PF30 and never pressed a bearing into it once. Screw together is more expensive but a vastly superior design and takes minutes to uninstall/install.


-Tim-
The Token Ninja is a thread together solution. It does use smaller bearings which according to Wheels Manufacturing, brings ups new set of durability issues.
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Old 09-06-19, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
Cervelo. New S3 or S5?
I don't really have a relationship with a nearby Cervelo dealer. Because of my existing relationships, the brands I have ready access to (in terms of savings and service) are: Giant, Trek, Factor, Scott, Pinarello and Cannondale. Not really interested in Cannondale anymore (the ones I'd be interested in are way too expensive now with the recent price increases) and Pinarello is also above what I'm looking to spend (though if I did splurge it would be on a Pinarello vs. a Cannondale).

I don't know the Scott options too well, so for Aero that really leaves me the Propel, One and Madone. We've been discussing the Madone issue, and the new Propel seems to get good reviews in terms of speed but from what I hear rides a lot stiffer than the Madone. The aesthetics of the Propel stem are...polarizing. But that's also the bike I could likely get the best deal on.

So really now I'm debating between the Factor One and the Madone, with now the edge going to the One because of the BB90. Or wait 12-18 months and save up and then buy a Dogma F12.
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Old 09-06-19, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
The Token Ninja is a thread together solution. It does use smaller bearings which according to Wheels Manufacturing, brings ups new set of durability issues.
I just bought a Token Ninja for one bike and a TriPeak for another to dump press fit. We'll see how well they hold up.
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Old 09-06-19, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by str8jakett View Post
I just bought a Token Ninja for one bike and a TriPeak for another to dump press fit. We'll see how well they hold up.
Wheels Manufacturing has a customer service line. I called them because I bought a Token and the bearings didnít fit the my SRM crank (It seems Shimano 24 mm spindles are smaller than advertised and SRM are 24 mm on the nose.) and I was hoping that wheels had something that would work. What the Wheels guy told me was that it should stop the creak, but at the expense of durability, at least when talking about BB90
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Old 09-06-19, 10:28 AM
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I owned a Trek with a BB90 for a very short period of time. The concerns are legitimate. I would love to have the same bike with a T47.
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Old 09-06-19, 11:34 AM
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I've got three Treks with BB90. Miles on each are: 18k, 15k, and 5k. I've never really had any squeaking problems, but maybe I just can't hear that well!!! However, on the one with 18k, Trek did have to repair the bottom bracket. The LBS took it apart and shipped the frame to Trek for repair. This problem developed at about 16k.

The miles stated above do include virtual miles on Zwift. I started using the 18k bike exclusively on a trainer at about 14-15k. Maybe that's what really put the pressure on the bb??? Or maybe it was just time to go.

In any event, I assume the other two will need the fix at some point but in my one instance the repair was really a non event. I just took the bike in to be fixed in the summer when I never use the trainer. So I didn't miss anything.
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Old 09-06-19, 11:39 AM
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I forgot to mention. The 5k bike above is my 2019 Madone disc. I love this bike more than any bike I've ever had. It is a pain to work on with the cable routing and such. I put etap on it so that helps some. I know some may not agree, but I think the dual isospeed thingies make a difference. I had a Propel prior & it was so stiff I didn't want to ride it more than 3 hours (most of our roads are some form of chip seal). The Madone is so much more comfy and just as quick if not quicker. It doesn't have the snap of a lightweight race bike if you're looking for that feeling. But for steady solo rides or group rides that aren't crazy punchy like a crit, I love the Madone.
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Old 09-06-19, 12:56 PM
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I don't doubt that the Madone is a great ride: I test rode it for about 15 minutes which was what got me interested in the first place and can confirm what you wrote. And I also don't doubt that chances are my particular BB90, if I were to buy one, would have a better chance at not having an issue, than having one. That said, I would like this aero bike to be the last purchase for a while. I have made a whirlwind of purchases the last few months as I got into cycling, a couple of which I regret and one which I love. So I'd like to make sure the Aero is one I love and want to keep and be problem free for at least 5 years.

You're not the only one to say the Propel is much stiffer (the guys at the Giant LBS also say as much). It sounds like the Factor may be an in-between-the-two bike, not as comfortable as the Madone, but not as stiff as the Propel.

Or I could wait for my temporary desire-to-purchase madness to pass and wait until 2020-21 and hope Trek migrates the Madone line to the T47.
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Old 09-07-19, 05:15 AM
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I have a 2019 madone on which I have riden 2019+ miles this year purchased as a bare frame set which I assembled. My only complaint thus far with the Trek BB90 was their BB bearings included a plastic sleeve for the drive side of the gxp bearings. This piece of plastic broke causing movement and noise after about 1000 miles. If I had it it to do over, I would have bought a better set of bearings which did not use the plastic sleeve. However, I ended up replacing the bearings with the Ninja BB as I was unsure of the issue and just wanted to be done with it.
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Old 09-07-19, 06:15 AM
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30,000+ miles on my 1st gen Domane.
~22,000 miles on its first BB, 8,000 on its second.
Never a creak, zero problems.
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Old 09-16-19, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Dancing Skeleton View Post
30,000+ miles on my 1st gen Domane.
~22,000 miles on its first BB, 8,000 on its second.
Never a creak, zero problems.
2015 Domane. New BB90 ~ 2500 miles; getting another one installed now after about 7000 miles. No creaking, just wobbling/looseness. Bikes is at Trek Bike Shop now fore repair - service shop head talked around the issue - wasn't going to admit it's a problem but said things like "well, Trek is moving to a different threaded bottom bracket and that says something . . . "
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Old 09-16-19, 09:50 AM
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13k on BB90

Am happy with BB90 in my Trek Emonda with 13k miles.
Changed bearings recently and that was simple and easy to do.

Iíd buy BB90 on a road bike again in an instant.
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Old 09-16-19, 09:53 AM
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I've had the BB90 in two Trek Madones and a Boone, and I've worked on a lot of Treks with BB90s.

If you read through this thread, the naysayers are mostly people who do not like the idea of press fitting bearings into carbon cups, not those who have owned the bikes and had a lot of problems. I'm seeing more of a theoretical objection than an empirical one. So I just wanted to share my experiences to help you decide.

Knock on wood, but I have experienced zero problems with BB90 in my own riding. One bike I worked on was an older Gary Fisher carbon mountain bike, what basically became the Procaliber. It was around 10 years old and had a bunch of mud and wet grit miles on it. The owner was experiencing some noise that he thought came from the bottom bracket. One aftermarket bearing could be pushed out with my fingers instead of a press, so it got the slightly oversized bearing. The old bearing was rough as hell.

Yes, if those carbon bores are too large, the bearings won't fit right and probably there will be a problem. But there are several solutions that work. And you can tell if the bearings fit right. Have the shop take off the cranks and press on them. If they're secure, they're secure.

There is not a lot of force twisting the bearing cups against the frame. The cranks want to turn. If the bottom bracket shell is doing its job, the outer race of the bearing just sits static against the carbon.

I'm a big guy, 180 lbs, capable of decent 1,400 W sprints, and rode or have ridden all those bike a lot.

My hunch is that in the cases where the BB90s needed work, there were a couple things going on.

First, I don't think it's the miles themselves that wreck the interface, I think it's mostly the act of replacing the bearings, or, maybe more likely, riding on them after they're shot. Wet, gritty conditions don't affect the interface -- they just wear out the bearings faster, meaning someone has to knock out the old bearings and put in new ones, and not everyone does this with grace and care. If bad bearings aren't replaced, they actually do stress the interface more, because now there's a lot more significant drag.

Second, any manufacturing process is going to have a few whiffs, so if the bike starts out life with a slightly oversized bottom bracket shell, it's far more likely to present issues.

I think that if you start out life with a BB90 that fits right, make sure you're not riding on rough bearings, and have them replaced by a mechanic who is careful, your odds of having a problem are very very low.

But if you do have a problem, you have several solutions. The first is just to use a slightly bigger bearing. Second is the company's beautiful warranty. Third, for those who got a Madone second or third hand, there are plenty of good carbon repair specialists who can run a little fresh carbon and expoxy and ream and face the cups to perfect factory spec.

Any bottom bracket design can have problems. Threaded cups can get damaged, too. I think of threaded cups as the standard for reliability, but if threaded cups get damaged on a steel frame, it's a major hassle with difficult solutions.

Bottom line, sounds like a great deal.
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Old 09-17-19, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ljsense View Post
If you read through this thread, the naysayers are mostly people who do not like the idea of press fitting bearings into carbon cups, not those who have owned the bikes and had a lot of problems. I'm seeing more of a theoretical objection than an empirical one. So I just wanted to share my experiences to help you decide.
.
They are? 'Cause I had a Trek Madone with BB90.

So, okay.

Theoretical. Yeah. Right.
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Old 09-17-19, 07:16 PM
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Ironically I ended up purchasing a Cervťlo S3 SRAM etap on clearance. Before Hambini’s hit piece on their bottom bracket tolerances I just can’t win. The only solace is the price I paid for it was basically the cost of the ENVE 5.6 wheels that came with it and the SRAM etap. The frame was essentially free. So I’ll be able to move those components if the S3 starts to be problematic.
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Old 09-17-19, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CarloM View Post
Ironically I ended up purchasing a Cervťlo S3 SRAM etap on clearance. Before Hambiniís hit piece on their bottom bracket tolerances I just canít win. The only solace is the price I paid for it was basically the cost of the ENVE 5.6 wheels that came with it and the SRAM etap. The frame was essentially free. So Iíll be able to move those components if the S3 starts to be problematic.
The crazy thing about tolerances is that itís usually only a minority of people affected by them. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. I would say even a 2% defect rate would be enough to cause a significant amount of noise online. But that also means, if you select a bike randomly (hopefully this bike wasnít on clearance because it was crappy), you could have a 98% chance of nothing being wrong. It seems like more than 2% of BB90 bikes need some sort of fix - oversized bearings are one of them, but thatís a bad solution for hopefully obvious reasons.

BBright is a better standard than BB90 *theoretically* because it allows for a sleeve, even with 30mm spindles.
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Old 09-17-19, 10:15 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
BBright is a better standard than BB90 *theoretically* because it allows for a sleeve, even with 30mm spindles.
Not a fan of either; if you're going to use a new BB standard, it should accept BB30 cranks, which offer the heel clearance that's been lacking ever since external bearings became a thing. PF30, or T47.
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