Bottom bracket pressed halfway into shell

Light at the end of the bottom bracket

Park Tool HHP-2 on a shipping box
This thing is massive

Last weekend, the Halfakid and I were stymied in our attempt to insert a new bottom bracket by the lack of the proper tool. I ordered the tool from Amazon in the US and today I picked up where we left off. Unfortunately the Halfakid was not available to continue to help me today.

The Park Tool HHP-2 arrived on Thursday, and it is massive! I’ve seen it used in a number of bicycle assembly and maintenance videos, but I was just not prepared for how large and heavy it is. According to Amazon, it’s 3kg, but it feels closer to 10kg. By contrast, my Shimano bottom bracket tool is less than half a kilogram.

Bottom bracket, bottom bracket press and tool next to bicycle frame
Checking that I have everything

I spent a few minutes going over the instructions again before committing myself to the job. It seemed straightforward enough, but there are certain details to keep in mind — such as the fact it’s made to go in from the non-drive side only.

Bottom bracket pressed halfway into shell
Half-way there

I took a deep breath and made the plunge. The initial resistance was higher than I’d experienced with the previous bearings from FSA, but they had a plastic shell and this bbinfinite model is aluminum. After checking the alignment once again, I bore down on the handles and soon the thing was half-way done.

When the bottom bracket reached the opposite end of the shell, the big Park Tool press bottomed out: it just wouldn’t go any further. After I’d finished the job I realized that the two cup guides had come into contact in the middle. I should have reversed one so it would be pressing on the larger flange from outside the shell. At the time, though, I just removed the Park Tool press and continued with my Shimano press.

Bottom bracket partially inserted in bike frame, with tools and pressBottom bracket fully inserted in bike frame, with tools and press
Nearly there … and it’s done

After withdrawing the bearing press, the next step was to grease up the spindle and press it into the bearings. bbinfinite’s guide suggests putting the spindle in the freezer for half an hour to ease the job, but it wasn’t necessary — perhaps because it had scarcely reached 10C when I was doing this. At any rate, I was able to get the spindle in with just a couple of slaps with the flat of my hand against the crank. This was a good sign, as I’d always had to use a mallet with the FSA bearings.

Greased spindle ready to insert into bottom bracket
Greased spindle ready to insert into bottom bracket

Tightening bicycle crank with a torque wrench
Torquing the crank into place

Crank installed on left side of bike with proper spacing
Spacing looks OK

The final step was to put some more grease on the spindle and tighten on the crank and chainrings with a torque wrench. With the wrench I’ve got it’s a challenge to get the recommended 41NM, but I can always manage by putting my weight into it. With both cranks on (and pointing in opposite directions) I checked the clearance on the left crank. The wave washer should be slightly compressed, not fully, and it looked good to me.

Finally, the moment had come for a test spin! I gave it a few turns, and it’s smoother than it had been with the FSA bearings. It doesn’t run forever: just a couple of turns and it stops. But it’s definitely more free than before. There’s a clicking noise (not a grinding noise as the FSA bearings had been making) which I think is the aluminum collar inside the shell between the two bearings. I hope that with a few hundred kilometers the crankset will smooth out even more and the clicking will sort itself out.

Test spin with bbinfinite bottom bracket

How much longer must this go on?

So what remains to be done before Kuroko is ready to ride again? A number of smaller things: I’ve found some screws which will probably be a better fit for the rear drop-out, so I’ll put those in. I need to cut the new chain to length and install that. Finally, I need to adjust the brakes and the new derailleurs. I hope I can find time next weekend for that, and that the Halfakid can help out again. After all, he’s been waiting patiently for the first ride of 2020.

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