Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Q&A: Klein pressed-in bottom bracket

Q: Hi Jim,
I have a circa 1989 Klein Quantum frame (actually a complete bike, my first true quality road machine at the tender age of 37 :-). It now lives a second (or is it third life) as my indoor training bike on my rollers. I have noted a noise that comes from the bottom bracket area. I have done the diagnostics required to isolate the noise and I'm sure that the bottom bracket is where the noise is coming from. The mileage is well north of 100 thousand miles so I'm not surprised. I have been attempting to describe to folks at my LBS that there is no lock ring or other securing device on the outside of these bearings, I think they might be thinking I going blind or loony or something... Based on the info I have been able to gather thus far, the late eighties/early nineties Kleins used a proprietary pressed in to the shell bottom bracket bearing/spindle arrangement. Anyway, I'm in desperate need of information on how to remove the old bearings from this type of bottom bracket/shell. I think I have a Park Tool press that will handle the installation of new bearings (although any help/info in that area would be appreciated as well). Any help or a pointer to an information resource for how to remove the old bearings would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for any help you can offer,

Hi Rick,
There's a possibility that the bearings aren't damaged but only out of grease. It tends to go away with enough pedaling. You might look closely and see if the bearings have black plastic seals on them. If so, you could gently try to remove these with a razor blade or Xacto knife, etc. You just get the tip beneath the edge of the seal and gently, gently wiggle it free. If you can that, you'll see the ball bearings inside and can pump some good grease in, press the seal back in and probably be good to go. (You won't even need to remove your crankarms.)

If you can't see the ends of the bearings or they're steel, not plastic, then your bearings weren't made to be serviced this way and will probably need to be replaced, or removed from the frame to regrease them. If that's the case, the easiest thing might be to contact Trek Bicycle Company (they own Klein now) and find out where your nearest Klein dealer is, or was. What you need to find is a retailer who has the tools to service these old dedicated Klein bottom brackets. Klein dealers used to keep these and if you can just find someone local who has them they'll be able to help you out with removal, regreasing and installation.

You could also try to do the job yourself. The Klein BB is only comprised of the spindle and bearings (3 parts). Everything is held in by tight fits and locktite. To get the BB out you need to knock it out. To do this, support the frame's bottom bracket so you can strike the BB axle with a hammer to knock out the BB. You might have a friend hold the frame so that the edge of the BB is supported on your vise (put wood blocks or brass jaws on the vise to protect your frame).

Then, be sure to rest a piece of wood on the BB axle so you don't damage it.
And then hit the block of wood to knock the axle and BB out of the frame. This could take a little work. Heat will loosen locktite so you could try heating the bearings first with a propane torch but don't get the heat near the frame paint or you'll burn it and you don't want that. Another way to heat it would be to soak the BB in a pan of boiling water (assuming you can find something big enough) - and hot water shouldn't harm the paint.

If you pound on one end of the BB axle and the BB doesn't come out, try the other end, too. With patience and persistence it should come out eventually. If you get it out and find that the bearings are rusty and worn out, you can buy replacement bearings online. Just measure yours carefully so you know what you need. And order good ones. I believe Phil Wood may make these, too Maybe you can find the type that can be lubed by lifting the seals. Then you can easily lube them every year and keep the BB going for another 100,000 miles!

Hope this helps,


Larry said...
This is the tech manuals for Kline bicycles and shows proper removal and mounting of the bottom bracket, headset, etc.

Jim Langley said...

Thanks for that link, Larry. I was worried when I saw the Japanese, but when the pdf opens it's all in English. Perfect! Thanks again. This is excellent!


Jim Langley said...

To fix my Klein I ordered and received the following part:

Here’s a couple of opinions on it and two different solutions to unusual problems.
- Very high quality manufacturing, nicely designed light weight.
- Bearings are so-so. They’ve not fully sealed cartridges as I’d expect (it’s a old fashion bearing race, not floating), but there are good silicone seals around them. Only time will tell how well they hold up.
- Installing was a snap. Used a 6” bolt, with washers on both ends to press in the cups, then added the bearings, seals etc.
- The instructions are only in German, not a problem for me, but will be for many others.
- Reset was good to deal with (in English) by email. I never talked to them. Shipping was a whopping EUR 40, and the BB cost EUR 109. So not cheap, but possibly in line with a DA set.
- I’d say the DA is slightly better and smoother, but hey, it won’t fit so there’s no point comparing.

So, how does it work? Well…..there’s a complication. I’m using an old Bullseye crankset and a set of Despirado Cycles shims to fit the BB. (just a little complicated.) the BB axel fits well, is tight and smooth, so this is all good.

However, since these BB shells sit outside of the existing BB, it changes the chain line very considerably. I have to play with the crank spider and load the chainrings to the inside instead of on both sides. I’ve done this before on my other Klein (w a Bullseye crank and DA BB).

Sigh... my bizarre bikes are definitely a PITA and unusual, but once I get it sorted out it should work well.

Let’s just say, that if you paired the Reset BB with a modern DA or similar crank, I think this should work very well and would be a good solution for most people.

I hope you can pass this on to other intrepid wrenchers and make someone else’s life easier.

Olaf Vogel"

Thanks a bunch for posting this very helpful comment Olaf!