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I have a bike with Campy components. I've found I need to replace the bottom bracket bearings annually, which is expensive and inconvenient. I do less than 2000km per year on it, largely through winter and spring. They are sealed bearings, but not cartridge style.

Is this unusual? How long would you expect the bearings to last?

My bike shop says a lot of water and gunk get in the bottom bracket and just sits there, causing damage to the bearings. How does the gunk get in there? How would it get out? Should there be a drain hole somewhere?

EDIT: To clarify, I only ride on the road and sealed trails. So I'm dealing with water and silty/sand from the road/tracks only.

EDIT: The symptom that indicates the bearings need replacing is noise. I get a clicking or ticking in the bottom bracket and take it to the shop. It seems to be a noisy bike... I've also had to replace the rear freehub bearings a few times and other causes of noise. So I'm not usually sure enough to replace the bearings, but I take it to the shop and ask them to figure out where it's coming from.

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Many frames have a drain hole in the lowest part of the BB, often where the cable guide is. I have drilled one or two into frames that don't. I only need new BB bearings every couple of years, and only because of the punishment they get from singlespeed riding. –  arne Oct 22 '13 at 6:24
    
Maybe some dust seal are incorrectly installed/missing? My previous bike BB lasted 4 complete years, including being left in the snow daily. Cheap sealed cartage. –  Vorac Oct 22 '13 at 8:17
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What symptoms cause you to replace the bearings, if I might ask? –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 23 '13 at 2:41
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Very often "ticking" from the BB area is due to a loose crank arm or a problem with the pedal. These are far more likely than a BB bearing problem. And it sounds like the shop is only too happy to have you pay to replace the bearings rather than have to figure it out. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 23 '13 at 22:37
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Another reason for sounds from the BB is the cartridge shifting between the cups, if they're not quite tight enough. This is harmless but annoying. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 24 '13 at 11:47
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1 Answer

Actually, IMO Hicks is right in the comments under the question. Now, had the problem been really that the BB is wearing out:


After you have been out in the wet, on returning to base (home), remove the bicycle's seatpost and turn it upside town. You will be surprised how much water runs out!

You might also want to try sealed cartage BB or external bearing BB. By the way, ordinary (not cartage) bearing are extremely inexpensive: 0.5 euro at my area.

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