Creaky & Noisy Bottom Bracket Solutions

Creaky & Noisy Bottom Bracket Solutions

Why do a good number of bikes equipped with BB30/PressFit type bottom brackets develop creaks? Well, there can be a number of causes.

• If the hole through the frame’s bottom bracket is not absolutely perpendicular to the frame, then the crank axle will be slightly angled. That angled crank passes through bearings that are parallel with the frame and the resulting twisting force can result in a creak.

• The hole in the frame may not be perfectly round or may be ever so slightly big compared to the bearing. Either way, if the bearings are not securely and squarely set in the frame, creaks are more likely to develop. This is why many manufacturers recommend using a retaining fluid, such as Loctite 609, that can fill in gaps when installing BB30/PressFit bearings.

• Use of separate crank adapters when using a smaller 24mm crank (Shimano, SRAM GXP…) axle with a bigger 30mm bearing can also contribute to creaking.
The good news is that better solutions to all of these contributors are available today than just a short time ago.

Praxis Works Conversion Bottom BracketPraxis Conversion Bottom Brackets

The first product we found that virtually eliminated the chance of creaks in BB30/PressFit frames was the Praxis Works Conversion Bottom Bracket. As described in our previous article about this product, the Praxis Conversion Bottom Bracket is a two piece alloy shell that screws together. One end of the non-drive shell incorporates a collet design. When the two sides are screwed together, the collet expands, wedging the insert firmly in the frame. So, the bottom bearing insert is held in place two ways – by clamping against the frame’s bottom bracket shell, and by wedging inside the frame.

The only drawbacks to the Praxis offerings are as follows:

1) Limited applicability. The Praxis Conversion Bottom Bracket only fits BB30, PressFit 30, and Specialized OSBB frames, and only converts such designs for use with a Shimano, SRAM GXP, or Campagnolo Ultra Torque crankset. Praxis does not make a bottom bracket for use with a 30mm crank, nor can it be used in a Cervelo bicycle with the BBRight bottom bracket design and some other designs.

2) The Praxis design may have fitment issues on some bikes with internally-routed Di2 cables.

This being said, where a Praxis Conversion Bottom Bracket fits, it is a great product that we have used many times with great success. The Praxis comes with either steel bearings or ceramic bearings, both from Enduro.

Wheels Manufacturing Bottom BracketsWheels Manufacturing Bottom Bracket

Wheels Manufacturing has a comprehensive line of bottom brackets inserts comprised of a two piece, threaded alloy shell. These two pieces thread together in the middle of the bike frame, using a specific tool. As with the Praxis, this prevents misalignment of the bearings, and corrects for frame construction that may not meet the extremely tight tolerances that are required. The Wheels Manufacturing insert lacks the Praxis patented collet system. Instead, the Wheels Mfg. insert simply clamps against the outside of the bike frame’s bottom bracket shell. The clamping tension, coupled with the tight fit into the frame, holds the insert and the bearings securely.

Unlike Praxis, the offerings from Wheels Manufacturing cover cranksets with 30mm axles as well as 24mm. You also have a choice of bearings: ABEC-3 steel bearings, angular contact bearings, and ZERO hybrid ceramic bearings, all from Enduro. Wheels also offers a conversion for Cervelo’s BBRight bottom brackets available with ABEC-3 and angular contact bearings, which we appreciate very much as a Cervelo dealer.

Enduro TorqTite Bottom Brackets

In addition to making bearings used by others, Enduro has introduced their own line of bottom brackets with a design similar to those of Wheels Manufacturing. AsEnduro TorqTite Bottom Bracket with the Wheels inserts, the Enduro comes in two parts that thread together and squeeze against the outside of the bottom bracket shell, but lacking the Praxis collet design.

The Enduro line is very broad, accommodating a very broad selection of frame designs and cranksets. Enduro makes bearing inserts to fit BB30, PressFit 30, Cervelo BBRight, BB86/92, and even BB386EVO. The bearing inserts are available to fit 24mm Shimano and SRAM GXP cranksets, but also cranksets with 30mm axles. Finally, these inserts are available with either stainless steel angular contact bearings, or ceramic angular contact Enduro bearings. Similar to Wheels Mfg., the Enduro inserts require use of specific installation tools, in this case two Enduro TorqTite wrenches.

BBInfinite Bottom BracketsBBinfinite picture

BBInfinite makes a one-piece insert that is pressed into the frame, using the retaining fluid that comes with the bottom bracket insert to help hold everything tight. Unlike the other three designs previously discussed, the BBInfinite is not a threaded system, it inserts in one rigid piece that is designed to keep everything in alignment as a unit and is locked into place with gap filling compound (Loctite 609). The BBInfinite system incorporates ABEC-7 steel bearings, the second-highest grade under the ABEC scale, and the tolerances are twice as tight as with an ABEC-3 bearing for smoother operation and increased durability. The BBInfinite is also available with CeramiTech hybrid ceramic bearings, made by BBInfinite. BBInfinite makes inserts for Shimano, SRAM GXP, Campagnolo Ultra Torque, as well as 30mm axle cranksets, to fit bikes with BB30, PressFit 30, Cervelo BBRight, BB86/92, BB386EVO, and Specialized OSBB.

All of these inserts do a really good job of addressing creak in BB30/PressFit frames. We have also installed many of these as original equipment on bikes we are building. A noisy bike is truly annoying, both to you as the rider and to those with whom you ride. If you have creaks in your bike with a BB30-type design, we have more solutions than ever available. Contact us or stop in to discuss which option will work best for you and your bike.

About Jim

After almost thirty years as an attorney, Jim decided he was ready for a change in 2007. After being a Fit Werx client for years, Jim started working with us as part of an internship and he went full-time at Fit Werx in early 2009. In the summer of 2010 Jim assumed the Service Manager role for our Vermont location and is now a mainstay. Whether he is helping a rider find a good road ride in the area, fixing a pesky bottom bracket issue, or carefully building up someone’s new bike to their positioning numbers, Jim is an accomplished technician, a great resource and here to help.

Find out more about Jim Here

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8 Responses to Creaky & Noisy Bottom Bracket Solutions
  • David

    Nice post! I am building up a Litespeed T5 with PF 33 BB shell, 68mm.
    I was really impressed by the Praxis specs and install video.

    What about replacing bearing on any of these PF 30/BB 30 conversions……do all need to be sent back to manuf for bearing replacement?

    If yes, which manuf provides most responsive turnaround time and cost effectiveness for such bearing replacement?

    And yes I’m a practicing attorney as well! I admit it!!!

    Best, David

    • Ian

      Hi David,
      Praxis makes a nice unit. If it works with your crank and frame, it is a good unit. If you need new bearings, you can just replace the entire unit. Most of the bottom bracket units are “cartridge” units which have fully integrated bearings; when they wear out, you just replace the whole bottom bracket unit. Call if you have questions or if we can supply any parts for your project.

      Jim stopped practicing years ago, but still remembers his attorney days!

  • Cecil

    As someone who’s had continuing problems with press fit bearings on carbon frames I just want to post this: it strikes me that press fit bottom bracket bearings are just lousy engineering. Their only real benefit, I suspect, is in reducing factory assembly time. Isn’t it obvious that with nothing to hold them in place, no matter how tightly they’re pressed in, under load they’re going to develop play? Any weight savings from them are more than offset by the reduction in useful life. In short, they’re rubbich.

    • Ian

      Hi Cecil,

      While there are some other potential advantages to PressFit (weight…) You are right that one reason press fit style bearings are present is manufacturing costs and that there are some compromises compared to threaded assemblies from a mechanical perspective. This being said, PressFit is the reality on the vast majority of bikes and thus it is good to be aware of the designs bottom bracket manufacturers have come up with that have helped address some of the potential issues. On a related note, if you have used the designs highlighted in this post and still have a creak, I would take a close look at the tolerances of your frame. We have seen frames where the outside of the shell is not “square” and there is a small gap between the outer flange of the bottom bracket cup in some areas and there are ovalized shells as well. If your frame has this type of issue, a bottom bracket is unlikely to solve it and the frame itself will need to be addressed. On well aligned frames, we have had pretty good luck with the bottom brackets highlighted (combined with installations using an appropriate Loctite when it makes sense) in terms of improved alignment and minimizing bottom bracket noise.
      Ian

  • VideoPortal

    Reaming will ensure your bottom bracket shell is consistently round and of the proper diameter, so that you stand a better chance of getting a good fit between the cup and frame.

    • Ian

      Thanks for your post! Reaming and shell facing can help in some applications. Having a round hole to insert the bearings with a flat and even shell is a great way to minimize issues. However, some carbon frames in particular have limitations as to how much can be done in this regard.

      Reamed and faced or not, overlapping bottom brackets are an improvement over loose bearings.

  • Anthony R Lane

    Nice article. Although, it seems as though Wheels Mfg doesn’t produce an adapter for 30mm spindles for BB30. They do for 24/22mm spindles, and they do for PF30 bottom brackets, but that uses a different shell diameter than BB30 and cannot be used.

    So it seems if you’re like me and have a 30mm spindle crank you’re out of luck.

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