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Home » Cycling » The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: The Proper Care and Maintenance of the Crankset and Bottom Bracket

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: The Proper Care and Maintenance of the Crankset and Bottom Bracket

August 2020

I’ve worked on many different brands of road crankset, from finicky to set it and forget it. S-Works, Shimano, SRAM, FSA, Praxis, just to name a few.

Without question, the best crank I’ve ever used is the Specialized S-Works set in a BB30 press-fit bottom bracket (with metal cups). I haven’t had to touch it in years (in all fairness, that bike hasn’t seen rain in years, either). It’s as set and forget as you get. Next, and only slightly behind S-Works is the Shimano family of cranks. There’s no question they have to be cleaned out from time to time, but I’d put a proper cleaning at about once every year or two. Next would be SRAM which is almost as good as Shimano, followed by Praxis and FSA. The one thing that galls me with the Praxis and FSA cranks, or any cheaper crank for that matter, is the wavy washer. Wavy washers are horrible and they let dirt into the bottom bracket bearing system. Sure, there are more washers that you’d think would keep dirt out, but they don’t. Therefore, when they get dirty, they creak – ergo, they require an inordinate amount of maintenance to keep them quiet. And I am a nut about a creaky bike.

Now, if one doesn’t properly maintain their bottom bracket, eventually dirt, water and grime sneak in through the cracks and will find its way into the bearings. Once that happens, you’re in a bit of a bind because those press-fit bearings aren’t cheap. Better to keep the crank clean. The standard threaded bottom brackets, though, like the one on my Trek, are reasonable (I think $40 installed for Ultegra should get you there, $20-ish if you buy and install yourself). I take apart and clean the crank, clean out the surface of the bearings, then lube and put everything back together at least twice a year.

As long as I stick with regularity to that tiny 20 minute maintenance item, our bikes run creak-free.

At least from the bottom bracket.

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