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I am fixing up an old schwinn continental from the early 70s and was wondering whether it was possible to put cartridge bearings in the bottom bracket

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Can you clarify if you mean a cup and cone housing, to change from loose bearings to bearings in a metal retaining cage? Like this:

Cage bearings from http://www.thebikeshopderby.co.uk/wp-content/themes/shopperpress/thumbs/bearings.jpg

ANSWER 1 These can totally be used instead of loose bearings. There are fewer balls to carry the weight, and over time the cage may break down and get chewed up.


OR do you mean cartridge bearings with ABEC ratings like this:

enter image description here

ANSWER 2 No, these can't be used without major re-working of the bottom bracket. There are adapters to do this, but they won't be cheap.


OR do you mean a cartridge bottom bracket like this:

from http://www.sheldonbrown.com/images/squaretaper.jpg

ANSWER 3 Yes this works perfectly, is dead simple, and relatively cheap. Plus they're greased for life and never need adjusting. When they get crunchy, replace. I've done this on all my bikes.

  • Quick question: what thread size and handedness does an 80s Schwann have and does Shimano sell that size and handedness? – RoboKaren Jan 17 '17 at 8:34
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    Trick question? 70s Schwinn Continentals had one-piece cranks that use a larger press fit bottom bracket. The crank can't be used with cartridge bearings, but one really must, a BMX three piece crank adapter and modern cranks can be fitted. – ojs Jan 17 '17 at 19:39
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Not directly. A sealed cartridge bearing needs a machined surface to mate to and your old bottom bracket has threads in the way.

Furthermore, with an 80s Schwinn you might have problems finding the right threaded cartridge bottom bracket. You can, however, use a universal converter like the Velo Orange universal bottom bracket:

Velo Orange

It has sealed cartridge bearings and the universal (threadless) design means it'll fit in most English/French/Swiss bottom brackets.

Phil Wood also used to sell a similar type of product but I'm not sure if they are still in production.

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