Sealed bearings - service or replace?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Posts: 70
Joined: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:35 pm

by Sykes

I recently serviced two of my sealed bearings.

The first was a FSA BB30 steal bearing. When I removed it from the shell it felt very gritty. I pulled off the seals on both sides. It was filthy. I fully cleaned it. After the cleaning I could see that the bearings were toast, so I simply replaced the whole assembly with a new one.

Last night I took apart my head set. The upper bearings were silky smooth, the lower were gritty. I pulled the only seal off and the inner race and started to clean it. Then the bearing holder (I'm sure it has a specific name) came out. I was then able to remove the bearings from the holder and I was able to clean the entire assembly. I repacked it with Finishing Line Ceramic Grease and the bearings were silky smooth again.

So I guess my question is how many people service their own bearings and to what extent? Do you simply slap some grease on the outside and never pull off the seal, or do you pull the seals and clean, or do you go to the extreme of cleaning and then replacing just the bearings when necessary?

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by kramnnim

Hard to remove bearings that are pressed in without pushing on the inner race, which ruins them... Not something I do often, but I've picked out the seals and cleaned/repacked the bearings like you described, with the bearing still in the frame/hub/whatever.

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by bm0p700f

replace when worn picking of seals and cleaning them out and putting it all back together is for those with time to spare. I have none and all the sealed bearings I have last so well I really can't be bothered doing it. Grease on the outside of headset bearings is not a bad idea on intergrated headsets but on external cup headsets which I have been using for a while the sealed bearings in those just last.

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by mitchgixer6

I usually just buy cheaper bearings and replace. They don't last as long but much less hassle than picking out the seals and re greasing.

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by Rick

I just do whatever seems more convenient at the time.
I have both pressed out and replaced BB30 bearings, and also cleaned them and regreased in-place and both worked just fine.
Some hub bearing I just replaced with new because they were very cheap and easy to press out.

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by PoorCyclist

2 ways to destroy the BB30 pretty quick and cause it to feel gritty or grinding

1) hammer to install or remove - don't..

2) improper seals and not enough grease to water proof the area. Sweat and sports drink goes in and corrode the races and bearings. Not the bearing seal that you pick out but the ones that hides the bearing. SRAM ones are actually quite good. I used some enduro thin silicone lip ones and everything gets in the bearing and caused this.

I had good luck by just picking out the outboard seals and wiping and repacking, gets 3000+ miles without issues.

For the headset I always try to coat it very *lightly* with grease on the outside of the bearings, keeps the sweat out for a little longer.

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After having a set of headset and ultra-torque BB bearings fail fast from moisture I now repack all sealed bearings with marine grease from new and at about 6 monthly intervals thereafter.

It is simple to do with a needle-point grease gun and they run better for longer. I don't degrease - just flush the grease through to push out most of the original grease and any contaminants.

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by kramnnim

Hmm, that does sound a lot easier, and i was already thinking of buying something for my Speedplays. Any suggestions on the grease gun, or I suppose any generic one would do the trick...

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Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:44 am


I use a Kincrome mini grease gun but I've seen several different types that would work fine. I guess the key factor is one that generates enough pressure to dislodge old grease and contaminants. Once the grease oozing out runs clean its job done. Clean off the excess and then reinstall the seal carefully. ... e-gun-80cc

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