BB30 Bearings am I the only one who has problems with these?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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by ProfessorChaos

Okay, so a bit of background for you. I purchased a Lightning crankset used from another forum member. He sold it to me with a Zipp Vuma Quad Ceramic BB. I absolutely love the setup. Then after about 2000km or so the bearings started creaking under heavy load(climbing and sprinting). Eventually it got really bad. I tore it down, and inspected them, and sure enough the bearings were shot. Since it was used when I got it that wasn't so bad. The Vuma Quad cups use the same bearing as a standard BB30 bearing. So my first thought was bearings are bearings, and I bought the cheapest bearings in the correct size from ebay. They lasted about 1000km, then started creaking, tore it down, bearings felt dry and crappy. I tore the seals out, and cleaned all the lube out, and then repacked them with Finish Line grease. Lasted maybe another 500km, and then it started again. So this time I figured I should spend a bit more, and get a more quality bearing. So I bought SRAM BB30 bearings. Results were the same as the cheap ebay bearings. Then I tried Rock N Roll Lube Super Web grease on the SRAM bearings after 1000km. It noticeably spun smoother, but again 500km or so, and the creaking was back. I tore the cranks down, and inspected the bearings. Felt dry and gritty again. I packed a little more R N R lube in, and it felt better, spun smooth again, but the creaking under load remains, although not quite as bad.

So today I ordered a new Vuma Quad ceramic BB off of ebay. Since, I had the best luck with it, I hope it serves me well. I fear my creaking BB worries are all but over however. I really love the cranks. When they work properly, they are light, and stiff, and very nice. However the constant maintenance, is making me consider going back to a 24mm setup with a Chris King BB like I have on my bad weather bike. This bike never sees rain, or snow, and the Lightning cranks allow for a manual adjustment of preload, and I've tried it at many settings, and the creaking remains. I don't mind maintaining my bikes, but I ride them a lot, and I don't want to have to tear my bike apart several times a month.

Have any of you had similar issues? I really want to make these work, and keep using them, but it's pretty bad when the rain bike works better than my main race bike. Thanks in advance for any help or insight you may share with me.

by Weenie

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by theremery

Lightning cranks just creak a bit, I think. Another forum member (skilled weenie and mechanic) has issues keeping his quiet. Try as I isis set-ups were/are always noisy.....kinda a pain. The kid I coach has managed to make his quiet but I think that it's just a matter of time untill the creak comes back. It's annoying because it MUST equal wear as there must be some movement. I've used bearing retaining compound on noisy KCNC Scandium ISIS bearing/cup interfaces quite successfully in the past. If you go for that option, use the low-strength stuff and give it 48 hours to cure before riding. I know the lightnings aren't isis, but the whole "creak won't go away" syndrome is the same.
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by bikerjulio

Although I have a BB30 Supersix it's equipped with Campy adapters & cranks. There's several (many?) threads dealing with creaky BB30 bearing issues. It's a common problem. Usual answers seem to include using locktite on the bearings before installation. Suggest you look a bit more.
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by prendrefeu

Re: the Lightning cranks - check the spider. May need to re-lube & tighten the lockring on the spider. That seems to be the issue as people eventually figured out.

Re: BB's. They creak, too. :lol:
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by ProfessorChaos

How weird, I have actually dealt with the issues you guys have raised here. With creaking spiders, and what not. Ironically it was with KCNC cranks. This is not the case here. These bearings are done for when I am replacing them. Every time I put new bearings in, or re-lube the bearings, the problem disappears for a period of time. Then the problem returns, and upon inspection the bearings feel dry, and rough. I've been dealing with this for a year now, and it is definitely a bearing problem, not the cranks.

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by ProfessorChaos

I've thought about trying the Hawk-Racing BB just because it has a year warranty. I may still try that. Since I have new bearings, and cups on the way. I will have an extra set of cups to play with. I can barely get a month or two out of bearings lately, so if it actually last for a year. I'll be amazed.

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by tacoracer

During the 6 months I had a carbon Archon I went through 2 sets of bb30 bearings. At 3 months the bearings were shot and then at the 6 month mark they were shot again. This without ever seeing a pressure washer. As some have alluded to bb30s are also notorious for creaking and this is an entirely separate issue. My TT bike has BB30 but don't have enough mileage to pass judgement or confirm the issues. My current road bike has gxp and i am already at the 6 month/6-7000mile mark with no issues. Of course some have complained of gxp having issues so ymmv.

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by Cleaner

2009 CAAD 9 with SRAM BB30 bottom bracket kit and Cannondale Hollowgram SI cranks. 6000+ miles never have had any audible sound or tactile anomaly. I theorize that many manufacturers (frame and crankset) are not capable of reliably maintaining the tolerances needed to package the bearings in the frame and keep the crank spindle concentric with the inner bore of the bearings. If the spindle is not concentric with the inner bore of the bearings they are loaded in a way they are not designed for and will wear at an accelerated rate.

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by PoorCyclist

Are you a big guy putting out alot of power? A couple of times we had a Cannondale, Roubaix, and my Litespeed, it was like a BB30 commercial, ascending some steep grades together avg 10% not a sound to be heard. I have gotten about 4000 miles on mine and it could still keep going. But it was re-installed with loctite since new. I had tried to do the loctite on another bike but the mechanic was knocked them out and the bearing grinded in 100 miles.

I recently bought a set from Phil Wood for my new BB30 frame and they are as smooth as my VCRC ceramic, they have 1 year warranty also. But you don't have to open them up (I was told not to). I didn't get alot of miles on this yet but I would recommend it for now due to the smoothness.

I wonder if there is something with your shell causing the bearings to not align right, which will wear the bearings quickly.
Also maybe you can just open up these generic bearings before you install them and pack them with your favorite grease.

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by Phill P

PoorCyclist wrote:I wonder if there is something with your shell causing the bearings to not align right, which will wear the bearings quickly.

Good point there. The poor life of the bearings is non typical, and the fact you have the same problem regardless of bearing suggests the problem is else where.

btw vuma quad and lightening are in fact early BB386 cranks not BB30. These should be some of the longest lasting bearings you'll ever have having such large bearings spaced so wide.

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by buikpijn

Well, the bearings itself isn't a weak spot, they are using fairly large balls, and wide races. Since the bearing has a large diameter the load is better divided across the races in relation to smaller diameter bearings.

The issues with mine happened after a 'wet' ride. the bearings developed some oxidation (sounds better than rust) on the outer and inner race.

I hated the way the bearings where pushed out with the park tool (hammer on the inner race, especially when sealed with loctite 609) so i made my own tool for pressing these bearings in and out. Now servicing the bearings is pretty straight forward. (it automatically centers the bearing perfectly) I'm not aware of any BB system that stays noise-free after 6000km of riding. For me, the BB30 is the best option out there. It's the most silent, so far... :)

you don't want to stress the bearings when installing the crank either. Heat up the bearings with a hair-dryer (not too hot, just to create a temperature difference) and use a can of compressed air upside down to cool down the spindle of the crank. This way the parts literally fall together.



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by BobSantini

Impressive! You don't defuse bombs for a living do you. :thumbup:
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by ProfessorChaos

Okay, well I am starting to get ideas now. I am not a big guy. I weigh usually around 68-70kg. I do race, and I am somewhat powerful, I'd like to think.

Now with my situation the bearing alignment itself I don't think is the issue at all. I am not really using BB30 like most of you. I have a standard threaded BB shell, and the Vuma Quad cups thread into it, that use the BB30 bearings. As Phil P mentioned the bearings are actually spaced out wider than BB30. These are the cups I've been using.


They fit in there tight. I remove the cups from the frame, and I use a regular 3/4 ton press to press the bearing in, and they usually pop out pretty easy with a hammer, and the appropriate sized socket.

I don't see how the bearing alignment could be off. Now the spindle on the other hand. Fits pretty loose until you tighten the system up. It seems like the lip at the ends of the crank arms on the spindle is what centers it up. So there may be a possibility of some misalignment in there between the inner race, and the spindle. Maybe a bit of loctite in there would help things? I am thinking this may be the culprit.

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by Rick

When you press the bearings in, you make sure the press contacts only the OUTER race, right ?

Are there external dust caps, and do you put a layer of grease on the exterior surface, between the bearings' dust cap and the exterior dust cap ?

by Weenie

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by rbrtwyn

Has the frame ever been faced? The alignment could be off based on the facing and therefore the cups don't align properly.

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