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Previously when I've had annoying noises from my bottom bracket I've simply discarded it and bought a (cheap) new one. But the last time I replaced it I got a great offer and splashed out a little bit on a Hope Road Ceramic Bottom Bracket. A couple of years on (but only 2,000 miles later) I'm getting noises out of it when I pedal. Due to injury it has sat around for a long time while I recuperated. I'm trying to avoid replacing the bottom bracket if I can.

I don't need help diagnosing the source of the noise. Please assume my diagnosis is correct that the noise is from the bottom bracket - ball bearings or any other part of it including it's fitting to the frame

What I'm trying to understand is:

  1. Is there some maintenance (clean and re-grease?) that I should have been doing but missed? Beyond cleaning it externally I've done nothing to the BB
  2. Does the fact that it's ceramic make a difference to question 1?
  3. Are the ball bearings generally a sealed unit or is it possible to open, clean and re-grease them?

My "bike mechanic" skills are self taught since I was a teenager. Naturally there's things I find I should have been servicing all along or monitoring but simply never knew I had to (for example rim-wear).

  • Are you sure the noises come from the bearings and not the cups, frame, cranks or pedals? – Mike Aug 21 '18 at 13:41
  • I think I did actually cover that carefully in the question. Cups are part of the bottom bracket so that's a possibility, cranks and pedals are not, they have been ruled out. I've explicitly included the BB's fitting to the frame as a possibility. With a carbon frame, it's very easy to know the difference between something in the crank and pedals (with a metallic sound) and something attached to the frame making the frame vibrate (with a plastic sound). The timing and correlation to pealing (not power or gear) rules out the wider frame itself. – Philip Couling Aug 21 '18 at 13:44
  • I can see it now, thank you. If we try to determine whether it is the cups, the bearings or the spindle itself, would you be able to describe the noise? – Mike Aug 21 '18 at 13:54
  • Hard to describe. It would be a couple of clicks (or very short crunches) in time with the crank. However the click itself isn't audible. The frame is amplifying it. So all I hear is something tapping on the frame in time with my peddling. It doesn't vary enough with force through the pedals. If the BB was loose in some way I'd expect it to shut up the moment I dropped into the granny ring on the flat, but it doesnt – Philip Couling Aug 21 '18 at 14:03
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  1. To the bearings themselves, not really. It's possible to pull the seals and clean/re-grease the bearings while they're still installed, but this isn't something it's expected anyone's going to actually do. (The one you have I believe has bearing seals that are pretty easy to get to, making this easier to do if you want it. Shimano Hollowtech BBs have the bearings covered by a plastic "top hat" seal that's not intended to be removed and re-installed, and usually can't be without ruining it.)

    For all external cranks, it's pretty common to encounter noises that can only be remedied by cleaning and greasing the spindle interface. That might be considered regular maintenance.

  2. No.

  3. In general, all cartridge bearings with rubber seals can have the seals carefully removed, which is something of a skill in and of itself, be cleaned with solvent, rinse, blown dry with air, and re-lubricated. The nature of external BBs is that you won't be able to remove one side's seal, which makes the process more difficult but not impossible. As mentioned above, many external BBs have difficult or impossible to remove parts in the way of the bearing cartridges themselves, and doing anything with the bearing isn't really practical if this is the case.

Another thing that bears mentioning in this conversation is that many Hollowtech 2 compatible external cups can have their cartridge bearings driven out and replaced. Enduro and Phil both make presses just for this. What replacement bearing and seals are appropriate depend on the BB.

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Bottom bracket maintenance - is it a thing? Yes, on open bearing BB. On sealed bearing BB, depending on how the unit is constructed you may get away by swapping bearings. This kind of BB's usually have two indidual cups(threaded) with bearings and a spacer to pinch the bearings. Others are just a plain sealed unit and is composed of two parts. The BB and a threaded ring that goes on the other side for the whole thing to rest evenly. If broken just buy a new one, there is nothing you can do here.

Onto your case Hope Road Ceramic Bottom Bracket looks like the first sealed BB I've described. You will need some sort of jig to press out your bearings, then get a caliper and messure the outside diametre, inside diametre and thickness of the bearing. Even better if you get the SKU of the bearing or the model number. Then go to a SKF Store(or something like that where you can buy bearings by size) and ask for your bearing. Then you will need to reverse the process, make sure you press the bearings parallel to the bottom of the cup. Tolerances in this kind of pieces is tight, if isn't pressed right the axle won't fit, or your new bearing will blow out soon.

I used to have a Oddisey Euro BB with two bearings on each side, for Profile Dj cranks that came with an American BB. The Oddisey BB was just right for the job, but the bearing kept blowing up because the spacer wasn't long enough.

Hope this works for ya.

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Most modern 'unit' bottom bracket bearings such as the Hope BB you have are not meant to be disassembled or serviced.

Some BB models can be re-greased by carefully popping off the plastic seals. I've done this on a Shimano Ultegra Hollowtech BB.

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