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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Gnashing Of Enamel – Bike Snob NYC


Regardless of how properly one thing works, the bicycle trade appears decided to reinvent it. Contemplate the fast launch, an totally dependable element which lets you connect and launch a wheel in seconds that has now all however vanished from the efficiency bicycle, solely to get replaced by the thru-axle…which for all sensible functions works the identical manner because the outdated nut system that impressed Tullio to invent the fast launch within the first place. Whew!

Nonetheless, one customary that has up to now resisted this “innovation”–or a minimum of continued to thrive within the face of it–is the standard English threaded backside bracket shell. Certain, there are all method of press-fit techniques on the market immediately, however individuals hate them, and so even a $13,000 S-Wanks comes with a standard threaded backside bracket:

See?

However whereas right-minded individuals know that the threaded English backside bracket shell was, is, and all the time might be the easiest way to connect a crank to a bicycle body, there are nonetheless numerous bearing techniques to select from, every with its personal benefits and downsides. The “basic” one makes use of sq. taper spindle, which could be both be a part of a sealed cartridge system, or else it could possibly run on the older free-ballin’ setup:

Both manner, it’s good as a result of it’s dependable, it’s ubiquitous, and if you happen to’re a tinkerer or kludger you’ll be able to combine and match tapers and lengths and all the remainder of it to mess along with your chainline or “Q-factor,” the latter of which is vital to some individuals, however which I’ve determined I don’t even discover. The primary disadvantage is that bearing set up is usually a bit time consuming–free-ballers require numerous instruments and should be adjusted rigorously, and cartridge ones have recessed splines that may be a little bit annoying. On high of that you just typically want a crank puller on high of no matter different bearing-related instruments are mandatory on your explicit bearing set-up, and in case your crank is under-tightened or over-tightened or put in and eliminated steadily you’ll be able to mess up the crank arm gap, and doubtlessly damage the crank.

I like sq. taper cranks–they work, backside brackets are low-cost, and extra importantly, they appear good on metal bicycles. Nonetheless, from a purely sensible standpoint, I don’t suppose you’ll be able to beat the Shimano Hollowtech II system:

Sure, by the point Shimano launched it, the cranks themselves had grow to be ugly, and solely obtained uglier. (See above.) Nonetheless, they’re extremely straightforward to put in and regulate, they by no means make noise (except you don’t tighten the bearing cups or one thing, although pulling the crank and snugging them is a couple of 5 minute job), and so far as I can inform the bearings final primarily ceaselessly. If you’d like basic appears and/or the power to fine-tune your chainline, by all means, go along with sq. taper. However in order for you boneheaded simplicity that even a ham-fisted fool like me can’t appear to mess up, go along with the Hollowtech IIs.

In fact, there are additionally different outboard bearing crank techniques on the market, and whereas I’ve come throughout some that suck, I’ve additionally encountered some that work fairly properly. Typically, those that fall beneath the latter class work like Shimano, and use the identical spindle measurement and non-drive pinch bolt setup. (The DUB crank that got here on my Jones works in a different way from Shimano, nevertheless it has additionally been completely advantageous, and I’ve by no means needed to take away or reinstall it…although due to that I don’t know if it’s as straightforward to work on because the Shimano system.)

Then there’s Campagnolo, and their “Extremely-Torque” system:

I bear in mind when Shimano launched Hollowtech II; apparently they did so after a patent owned by this firm expired, and having coveted these cranks in my youth I used to be predisposed to embrace the idea on my street bike:

[Photo from here.]

Moreover, I noticed straight away how easy it was, and as somebody with poor mechanical expertise and a particularly low tolerance for creaking and/or ticking backside brackets I discovered the design very promising.

In the meantime, Campagnolo was nonetheless utilizing a sq. taper, and there was completely nothing incorrect with it. I do know this as a result of I used to be utilizing it on the time, and as a lot as I preferred the look of the Hollowtech II I used to be completely content material with my pretty hidden-arm 10-speed File crank. However, Shimano had compelled Campy’s hand. Furthermore, sq. taper backside brackets are nearly fully invisible when put in, so no person may inform Campy’s was crabon!

[Photo from eBay. Why the Sharpie? Is it to show scale? Does anybody shopping for a bottom bracket not know how big they are? “I hope that’ll fit in the truck of my car!”]

When Campagnolo answered with Extremely-Torque I used to be horrified. Being Campy, they didn’t do an exterior bearing crank the straightforward manner; as an alternative, it appeared like they made it as difficult as attainable. That bizarre joint within the center specifically actually freaked me out, however there was additionally a retaining clip and a wave washier, each of which additionally troubled me, because it appeared just like the system is perhaps liable to creating noise and play. My considerations gave the impression to be borne out, too, since after they’d been out awhile I’d typically see individuals complaining about simply that, and even that Mavic elements man sells a shim package for this supposedly frequent drawback. So I resolved to avoid it, as a result of like every uptight individual I are likely to reject issues out of hand.

Alas, destiny had different plans, and in 2019 my Litespeed got here to me with an Extremely-Torque crank. Between the weirdo spindle and the crabon I used to be prepared to vary it on the slightest provocation, however after all it turned out to be completely advantageous, so I shortly made my peace with it. At some point early on it did begin squeaking throughout a moist journey, so I took it aside and put some grease in there; truly engaged on it cured me of my fears for good, and it was completely quiet for the following 4 years. Then this previous Sunday I obtained caught in a heavy rain, and yesterday I heard a faint chirping sound. So I finished and eliminated the chain from the chainring:

Sadly I didn’t have a Swiss Military Knife:

However I persevered:

Spinning the crank, I confirmed the sound was coming from the underside bracket:

Seems like a whimpering pet.

As I say, regardless of being a slob, my tolerance for noisy backside brackets is sort of low. So upon my return I instantly set about remedying the scenario, and I’m documenting it right here for anybody on the market who want to know what’s happening inside this stuff, though there isn’t any scarcity of educational movies on the market made by individuals who truly know what they’re doing, in addition to by Campagnolo themselves, who could or could not know what they’re doing. Regardless, if you happen to’re questioning how this stuff come aside and return collectively, I’m gonna let you know find out how to do it. First, be sure you have an Extremely-Torque crank. In case your crank is gorgeous, it’s not Extremely-Torque:

If it’s ugly and it says “Extremely-Torque” on it then it’s undoubtedly Extremely-Torque:

If it’s ugly and it doesn’t, it might nonetheless be Extremely-Torque…although it could possibly be Energy-Torque, wherein case God assist you to.

Anyway, when you’ve decided it’s an Extremely-Torque, first you take away that retaining clip by pulling it out of the bearing cup with needle nostril pliers:

Right here it’s:

If there’s one factor Campy’s good at, it’s making stuff that requires numerous tiny spare elements.

I do know individuals love Campagnolo as a result of it’s rebuildable and there are spare elements, nevertheless it’s vital to needless to say Shimano doesn’t want rebuilding or spare elements. (Although all that is now moot, as they each want batteries. In 5 years they’ll every be judged solely by their apps.)

Subsequent, you undo the bolt that holds the spindle collectively:

All the time use a torque wrench, and bear in mind when eradicating a bolt that you just wish to torque all of it the best way right down to zero or else it gained’t come out:

It it’s at a torque of -1 N-m you’ve turned it too far.

After you get the bolt out it’s a easy matter of pulling the 2 halves aside:

In addition to the retaining clip and the deeply recessed bolt it’s probably not all that rather more difficult than Shimano. Nonetheless, the true distinction is that Shimano’s bearings are a part of the cup, whereas Extremely-Torque bearings dwell on the crank, and if that you must substitute them they should be eliminated with a particular bearing puller from Vicenza or one thing:

Fortuitously, these are nonetheless smoother than a marble countertop coated in olive oil, so I doubt I’ll have to fret about that anytime quickly. They’re additionally noticeably smoother than Shimano’s, although I doubt that issues in apply. General, Shimano’s setup is loads easier, although I suppose it’s considerably handy that on the Extremely-Torque you by no means must hassle with eradicating the cups. And sure, within the spirit of being rebuildable, Campagnolo lets you swap the bearing and hold the cups, whereas Shimano treats all of it as a single disposable unit. This would seem to work out in Campagnolo’s favor, till you think about that the bearings alone price far more than an entire Dura Ace backside bracket, and that’s not even together with the particular instrument. (Although in my case it doesn’t matter, as these bearings stay good as new.)

Right here’s the wave washer on the non-drive aspect:

It’s Campy spare half #841851871/1171/4181.

Additionally, on both aspect, between the bearing and the crank itself, you’ll be able to see a little bit rubbery seal:

I’m guessing that is most likely the cause of the pain the whimpering pet noise, since there’s nonetheless loads of grease all over the place else:

Sure, there’s a little bit grit in there, however that solely occurred after I eliminated the crank.

Anyway, as soon as all the things was aside I wiped it down, re-greased it, and put some of these items on the rubber seals:

On reflection I most likely may have simply dripped some in there with out eradicating the crank in any respect, however generally it’s good to get in there and see how issues are doing.

Then I put all the things again collectively utilizing the suitable quantity of torque:

That zoomed-in photograph will not be on your profit; I’ve formally reached the purpose at which I want to make use of my telephone as a magnifying glass a minimum of a number of occasions a day, and it was the one manner I used to be capable of learn the numbers on the bolt.

I’m guessing the Extremely-Torque design is much less tolerant of body imperfections than the Shimano system, nevertheless it appears completely joyful on this bike, and total it’s fairly straightforward to dwell with. Additionally, it’s smoother than Shimano in a manner that doesn’t matter, whereas being barely extra difficult in a manner that does–which is in the end what Campagnolo is all about.

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