Results 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Jerry-rigged's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    588

    Cartridge vs. Cone bearings...

    I hope this question is not the wheel equivalent to "is Trek a good bike"

    back before I put up my bike, most all wheel hubs were cone bearing type. Good wheels were expensive, because you didn't want to risk a no-name hub with questionable bearings.

    Now I see most wheels are built with no-name hubs, but they use cartridge bearings. Seems to be a good thing, you get cheap hubs, and put whatever grade bearing you want or can afford. Shamino and a few other seem to still be using cone & race hubs.


    So the question is, which is better? What ABEC grade of cartridge bearings would equal an Ultegra or D-A hub? For those that run cartridge, what ABEC grade do you run?

    Thanks,
    Jerry
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    934
    It's not a meaningful comparison. The ABEC ratings cover a number of things which just aren't applicable to cone-and-cup bearings.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Jerry-rigged's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    588
    Why is it not meaningful to compair Cartradge to Cup & Cone? I agree, ABEC ratings mean beans for cup & cone, but I think most would agree that the ABEC ratings are a pretty good benchmark for how smooth the cartridge will roll. Maybe I should rephrase my question(s).

    Which roll better - Ultegra-quaity cup & cone or ABEC 5 cartridge?

    Which is more trouble free/has fewer issues?

    As a cup & cone user, do cartridges have any issues I need to know to keep from having one blow out/lock up of the road?

    or am I just wierd to be worring about bearings?

    Thanks-
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti.

  4. #4
    zac
    zac is offline
    Senior member
    Reputation: zac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    1,350
    I cannot answer your specific questions with authority, but it is perhaps not coincidental that the hubs considered the best rolling and most durable (Shimano D/A & Ultegra and Campy Record) are cup and cone with loose bearings. Hell I still have wheels laced around Campy Record hubs from the 70s and 80s that with minimal and simple periodic maintenance still spin forever and a day it seems.

    As you know, cartridge bearings are generally considered "disposable" and really once the seal has been infiltrated, they are toast. Either the race surfaces pit and corrode or the balls themselves rust.

    I have always felt that loose ball (top quality) hubs properly greased, loaded and broken in are the best spinning. I have no other support for my opinion other than many years of riding, working with and maintaining them.

    As to maintenance and fewer issues: Well I guess the "selling point" of cartridge bearings is ease of replacement (this of course presumes that you have a fresh set of bearings to install) Pull the hub's locknuts or caps and pop out the cartridges, install new ones, reassemble and you are good to go. No fuss, no grease. However I think this is a trade off. Cup and cone and loose bearings take a bit longer to catch, clean, grease, reinstall, and adjust....but if they should become compromised...ie one bad day in the rain, then even though you should pull and clean, you are not going to suffer if you don't do so right away. On the other hand, with cartridges, once the seal has been compromised, the bearing is essentially toast. It may not fail that week, but it will fail, and unless you like pulling seals and trying to clean out the grease and guck and then cleaning and then regreasing inside such a small space...there is little to no chance that the water will ever drain from inside the cartridge and corrode it will. Especially if the water is laced with salt (winter/spring riding) or detergents from cleaning your ride. That being said, hub bearings are fairly well protected from the weather, as opposed to BB bearings that seem to really suffer (as you can throw and energy drink or a thousand into that mess that ends up draining through your BB).

    As to worrying about it? I ride wheels with cartridge bearings and with loose balls. I have cartridge bearing and loose ball BBs. I can't tell the difference when I am on the bike.

    About the only thing I will not ride is ceramics as they really are not conducive to riding in poor New England weather.

    HTH
    zac
    Last edited by zac; 09-03-2009 at 12:54 PM.

  5. #5
    cmg
    cmg is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: cmg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    2,769
    MY opinion, ABEC 5 cartridge bearings will roll smoother than campy record hubs with cone and race setup. the downside is the campy bearings will last about 3-5 times longer. Once the bearing races in the cartiridges get wear play develops in the wheel. Most owners will try to tighten the end caps and this will increase the wear and worsen the pattern. cartiridge bearings even the ceramic hybrids don't seem to last very long. maybe 2-3k miles. the best would be to put ABEC 5 level of balls in the cone & race hubs.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: jeff262's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    291
    On my short list of "advances" in bike technology are cartridge bearings and dry lubes. These two items alone make it much easier to maintain a bike...and I maintain 6 in my household. I do have Shimano Hubs on a MTB and I still clean and lube those but I don't get very sentimental about it. I have of course replaced my share of cartridge bearings but have found that as engineers better understand how to use them in hubs and BBs they last longer.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    18,973

    Data?

    Quote Originally Posted by cmg
    MY opinion, ABEC 5 cartridge bearings will roll smoother than campy record hubs with cone and race setup.
    Got any data to support that assertion? I'm not saying this is definitive, but I've not had anybody pass me on a down hill coast with my (Campy) cup and cone bearing hubs.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmg
    cartiridge bearings even the ceramic hybrids don't seem to last very long. maybe 2-3k miles. the best would be to put ABEC 5 level of balls in the cone & race hubs.
    So you're saying that if I rode cartridge bearings, I'd be replacing them 3-5 times per year? That doesn't sound even remotely accurate. That was not my experience on our tandems with Phil hubs. My current Campy hubs are pushing 50,000 miles with no wear evident.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    313
    The cartridge bearings found in hubs are mainly designed for radial loads not side/axial loads. The cup/cone bearings are designed for both radial and side/axial loads, something that a bicycle wheel experiences. If adjusted properly, the cup and cone should perform better and last longer as a hub bearing.

    The cup and cone requires some delicate adjusting to eliminate side play without binding, where as the cartridge are install and forget. There is really not much adjusting you can do to cartridge bearings except to eliminate the slight built in side play they are supposed to have.

    The ABEC number (in simple terms) refers to the exactness or precision of the bearing dimensions and balance points. The higher ABEC numbers are meant for high speed precision spindles and motors. For hubs, using a good known quality bearing is more important than the higher ABEC number.

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Jerry-rigged's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    588
    Quote Originally Posted by The Green Hour
    The ABEC number (in simple terms) refers to the exactness or precision of the bearing dimensions and balance points. The higher ABEC numbers are meant for high speed precision spindles and motors. For hubs, using a good known quality bearing is more important than the higher ABEC number.
    I'm not sure I can agree with this. From my experience with cartridge bearings in rollerblades and fishing reels, the ABEC # IS very important. The preformance jumps between ABEC 1, 3, 5 ,7 are very noticable. When new and clean, the higher ABEC will outpreform a lower # every time. The only maybe exception is between 7 & 9 bearings - the 9's has such high tolerences, that lube type becomes critical, and the base "gain" between the 7 & 9 is closes enough, that 9's are not worth the extra $$$$. "Clean and New" are also important, the higher the #, the more maintance you need to keep them running like new. ABEC 7's in fishing reels muct be cleaned after almost every trip, and the 5's in my 'blades needed cleaning after 5-10 hours skating (parking lots)

    I will grant that a "low quality" bearing will fail sooner than a good quality bearing, but problem is not limited to bearings. Also, there are a lot of FAKE ABEC 7 bearings on the market, that of course do not preform up to standard.

    It was my experience with frequent bearing failure in my fishing reels and roller blades that prompted my to post the question. My cup&cone bike wheels often went a year or more between cleaning/re-packing with lots of riding, but I was not sure if the cartridges would last a full year, even with frequent cleaning.
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti.

  10. #10
    zac
    zac is offline
    Senior member
    Reputation: zac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    1,350
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry-rigged
    I'm not sure I can agree with this. From my experience with cartridge bearings in rollerblades and fishing reels, the ABEC # IS very important. The preformance jumps between ABEC 1, 3, 5 ,7 are very noticable. When new and clean, the higher ABEC will outpreform a lower # every time. The only maybe exception is between 7 & 9 bearings - the 9's has such high tolerences, that lube type becomes critical, and the base "gain" between the 7 & 9 is closes enough, that 9's are not worth the extra $$$$. "Clean and New" are also important, the higher the #, the more maintance you need to keep them running like new. ABEC 7's in fishing reels muct be cleaned after almost every trip, and the 5's in my 'blades needed cleaning after 5-10 hours skating (parking lots)

    I will grant that a "low quality" bearing will fail sooner than a good quality bearing, but problem is not limited to bearings. Also, there are a lot of FAKE ABEC 7 bearings on the market, that of course do not preform up to standard.

    It was my experience with frequent bearing failure in my fishing reels and roller blades that prompted my to post the question. My cup&cone bike wheels often went a year or more between cleaning/re-packing with lots of riding, but I was not sure if the cartridges would last a full year, even with frequent cleaning.
    I tend to agree that the rating is not as significant as the quality of the bearing itself. In low RMP applications, such as bicycle wheels and BBs, I doubt anyone would be able to detect the precision of any bearing surface within the range that are commonly used. There is too much "noise" and damping between the bearings and the touchpoints of the body (which is remarkably sensitive) to really notice. Plus low RPM applications really don't need the precision of a high ABEC # bearing.

    Perhaps with your roller blades, the significantly higher RPM'd little wheels coupled with the essentially direct contact to your touchpoint (feet) you tend to notice runout issues more.

    Green Hour makes a great point about lateral forces on the wheel. Never really thought about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense once you think about it. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to see.

    zac

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    338
    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons
    I've not had anybody pass me on a down hill coast with my (Campy) cup and cone bearing hubs.
    Are you suggesting that a downhill coast test is better than wild speculation on a web forum?

    I am not joking when I say that both methods likely have the same degree of accuracy and precision when it comes to grading bearings.

  12. #12
    So. Calif.
    Reputation: tom_h's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    2,641
    If Roues Artisanales would complete their very excellent wheel tests, we'd know for sure about bearing friction losses ;-)

    http://www.rouesartisanales.com/article-15441821.html

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    4,463

    Bingo!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Green Hour
    The cartridge bearings found in hubs are mainly designed for radial loads not side/axial loads. The cup/cone bearings are designed for both radial and side/axial loads, something that a bicycle wheel experiences. If adjusted properly, the cup and cone should perform better and last longer as a hub bearing..
    This keeps things simple. Cartridge bearings, no matter whether they're ABEC XXX, ceramic, whatever, they still are based on the inferior design which limits their capability of dealing with axial loads. If you have no plans of ever turning your bike, or leaning it to either side, go with cartridge bearings. If you cannot seem to use a cone wrench, go with cartridge bearings.

  14. #14
    Banned forever.....or not
    Reputation: MR_GRUMPY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    22,463
    I'll take a good quality cup and cone hub over a cartridge brg hub, anytime. I've got DA7400 front wheels that have never been touched.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
    .
    How would you like it if Hitler killed you
    Dogbert.

    I>U

    Buying parts to hang on your bike is always easier than getting fit.

    If you feel wimpy and weak, get out and train more, ya wee lassie!

    If Jesus had a gun, he'd be alive today!

  15. #15
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: MarshallH1987's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    795
    I like cup and cone bearings much better. I've had good cartridge bearings that have lasted 6-7k miles but every cartridge bearing i've ever used doesn't feel quite as smooth and free to spin as the cup and cone bearings that i've taken the time and adjusted properly.

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    471
    I prefer cartridge bearings to cone, both types spin smooth and feel fine riding, but cartridge bearing hubs are so much easier to maintain. I dislike working on my cone bearing hubs, they take much longer than cartridge bearing hubs.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: GammaDriver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    94
    Damned good discussion.

    I'm new to the world of cartridge bearings in bikes - just bought my first wheelset with 'em last week.

    But I am curious about two things:

    1.) the assertion
    Quote Originally Posted by zac
    About the only thing I will not ride is ceramics as they really are not conducive to riding in poor New England weather.
    I'm not saying it isn't true, but I have never heard of ceramics being inclined to faster wear in inclement weather.

    2.) What is the cost of a full set of good-quality (ceramic?) cartridge bearings for a bike these days?
    If the cost is low enough, the ability to change-out both of the the wear-surfaces seems an advantage.

    Lastly, this is all I can add to the discussion: I used to buy good grade 25 (I think it was) and lower Grade 10 (which is better) bearings to immediately swap with the bearings that came in what were sold as entry-level hubs. My results have been outstanding when compared to how long the same hub lasted with other riders rode them with the OEM bearings they came with.

    My 1999 Shimano 105 hubs on Mavic MA2 rims (NOT an aero set of wheels by any stretch of the imagination) used to out-roll (out-coast) every else's wheels on the downhills for years; I tend to believe the guys stating that a properly-adjusted cup-and-cone system is better are correct as my old and lowly wheelset was impressive.
    Last edited by GammaDriver; 09-05-2009 at 02:14 PM.

  18. #18
    Polka Power
    Reputation: ChuckUni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    1,350
    Quote Originally Posted by wetpaint
    I prefer cartridge bearings to cone, both types spin smooth and feel fine riding, but cartridge bearing hubs are so much easier to maintain. I dislike working on my cone bearing hubs, they take much longer than cartridge bearing hubs.
    Yeah, I have both....and quality ones of both types are really nice. The cartridge ones are generally a lot easier to deal with if you have issues and most are inexpensive, so changing them is not a big deal at all.

    I like the fact that I can ignore them until they get rough, then swap the bad bearing in a few minutes (on most hubs), without really dealing with grease or loose ball bearings. Get good ones and they last a long time anyway.

  19. #19
    zac
    zac is offline
    Senior member
    Reputation: zac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    1,350
    Quote Originally Posted by GammaDriver
    Damned good discussion.

    I'm new to the world of cartridge bearings in bikes - just bought my first wheelset with 'em last week.

    But I am curious about two things:

    1.) the assertion

    I'm not saying it isn't true, but I have never heard of ceramics being inclined to faster wear in inclement weather.

    2.) What is the cost of a full set of good-quality (ceramic?) cartridge bearings for a bike these days?
    If the cost is low enough, the ability to change-out both of the the wear-surfaces seems an advantage.

    Lastly, this is all I can add to the discussion: I used to buy good grade 25 (I think it was) and lower Grade 10 (which is better) bearings to immediately swap with the bearings that came in what were sold as entry-level hubs. My results have been outstanding when compared to how long the same hub lasted with other riders rode them with the OEM bearings they came with.

    My 1999 Shimano 105 hubs on Mavic MA2 rims (NOT an aero set of wheels by any stretch of the imagination) used to out-roll (out-coast) every else's wheels on the downhills for years; I tend to believe the guys stating that a properly-adjusted cup-and-cone system is better are correct as my old and lowly wheelset was impressive
    .
    It's not that the ceramics are less durable in themselves. I am sure they last quite fine in more arid areas. It is just that what makes ceramic cartridge bearings so smooth rolling are essentially three things: 1) extra precision high grade bearings and extra hard races; 2) severely reduced grease in the cartridge (or even dry); and 3) very light and loose fitting seals. It is the last two that make them particularly susceptible to water and grit infiltration.

    I have heard story after story of many local guys who will never go back to ceramics. After just one rainy Spring ride and all they feel is grind and crunch like someone poured a bucket of sand in their BBs or hubs (which is essentially what happens).

    The other thing to take note of is price per longevity. You may get 3x the life beyond a set of steel bearings with ceramics, but it comes at sometimes 5x+ the cost.

    HTH
    zac

  20. #20
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    334
    A bit of trivia to add to the mix...we know that Shimano uses precision components...on their DA wheels they actually measure both the bearings as well as the cups/cones of each DA wheel and match the bearings to the cups/cones. They tell you to make sure that you keep the bearings in the same cup/cone for the first 3 rebuilds...nearly a lifetime for many people.

  21. #21
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: GammaDriver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    94
    Thanks Zac, good to know.

    So... a ceramic cartridge bearing with a full seal and full grease... might work?

    Bah, maybe I'll just go with the steel Grade 5 cartridge bearings I just found for any future replacement. Sounds easier, and it would be a better grade of bearing than I've ever had yet (and that includes the bearings I've bought to upgrade hubs).

  22. #22
    Polka Power
    Reputation: ChuckUni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    1,350
    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelman55
    A bit of trivia to add to the mix...we know that Shimano uses precision components...on their DA wheels they actually measure both the bearings as well as the cups/cones of each DA wheel and match the bearings to the cups/cones. They tell you to make sure that you keep the bearings in the same cup/cone for the first 3 rebuilds...nearly a lifetime for many people.
    Sounds like a bit of marketing to me. That said, if they really had precision bearing, cups, and cone...they wouldn't have to worry about the variances.

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: GammaDriver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    94
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckUni
    Sounds like a bit of marketing to me. That said, if they really had precision bearing, cups, and cone...they wouldn't have to worry about the variances.
    Some of the best pistons in the world are made to tight tolerances on CNC equipment, but even then - in the end - all are weighed out and, for V-8 motors, they are separated in to groups of eight pistons with the weights most like one-another.

    I haven't heard that about D/A and bearings, but it sounds somewhat plausible.

  24. #24
    Big is relative
    Reputation: bigbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,456
    My road bike wheels all roll on Campy hubs with cup and cone and I believe it is a superior design.

    My commuter has Phil Wood hubs with cartridge bearings. I have a new set of bearings for the hubs in my toolbox that have been gathering dust since 2006. When I got the wheels, I was commuting in Hawaii and commuting in tropical storms, through brackish water, etc and thought I would eat up bearings. I'm happy to say they still roll like new. I've chewed up the PW bottom bracket twice.
    Retired sailor

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Sea Otter Classic

Hot Deals

Contest


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook