Longevity BBB

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Longevity BBB

Postby HerrKaLeun » Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:26 pm

hi, I'm new here and don't own a BBB, but have serviced some in my family (actually my daughter has an 18" BBB). I took them apart and lubricated the BB, hubs, headset. Overall the bikes are what they are, but not as bad as what people say.
I'm also surprised to see such an enthusiastic following here. I mean many people who don't know better don't go to this forum I assume. So this being a busy forum means many serious riders have BBB.

Anyway, how many miles do you guys have on your bikes assuming you service the bearings etc.? Do you wear out the cups/cones? and do you get replacement cones or end up replacing the hubs and wheels? Are spare cones easily available at all?
For my cup-cone bike I replace the ball bearings, clean and lubricate.

I don;t want to say BBB being cheaper they have cheaper hubs and wear out faster, but I don't know. Are there people that ride thousands of miles annually with the original OEM hubs and BB?

No, this isn't a baiting questions, even when I'm not a BBB owner, just curious. I have a bit "more expensive" bikes and like them. I came to the conclusion buying online (like bikesdirect) gives me the best value, not the LBS.
But sometimes I have that secret fantasy where I spent less money and tried to get away with the cheapest bike possible. When I'm at Walmart i always go to the bike section - not to laugh, but to be impressed for how little money they sell them. And I envision me to be a Walmart bike specifier and what I would change to make it better (like get rid of front derailleur and suspended forks on hybrids and comfort bikes and use that money to get a 1x9 etc.). So this is an interesting forum for even me.
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby jimmie65 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:59 pm

My main bike is a Marin; previously Giants and Treks, so I may not be a typical forum participant. But besides my current stable, I've had a few BBBs.
1. An Iron Horse I used as a commuter and put over 4 months and close to 1000 miles on it before I traded up - not because of any component failure but because I was tired of making a medium frame work for my large frame body. It rode as well as the entry level bikes I've owned.
2. A Schwinn Excess fat bike. I rode it into the ground and had the LBS replace the bottom bracket (salt water doesn't lubricate very well). I also changed to Kool Stop brake pads (no disc brakes!). Of course, I put on different pedals and a saddle. And because the frame was a medium (see above), a taller seatpost and a riser on the stem. Loved that thing and I have always regretted selling it. I have never seen another Excess.
3. A Schwinn something-or-other and a Mongoose A50R (IIRC); found both on the curb. They were pretty weather beaten but I stripped both down to single speed, changed out the brake pads and cables, and lubed everything. No component changes other than losing the derailleurs, just kept everything lubed. These served as our beach bikes for 3 summers. The Schwinn was in great shape when I sold it. My brother borrowed my Mongoose and managed to break the crank; I think he hit a curb with the pedals. I had other bikes at the time so I just stripped and junked it.

My current stable includes the Yakuza and the Beast. I bought both used.
The Yakuza was $279 new. I haven't seen a LBS 29er for that price. It is heavy but components seem decent - and I'll be changing them out over time anyway. Already replaced the brakes, all cables, and the bottom bracket (as well as the typical pedals, saddle, handlebar, grips, as I do on most bikes). The heaviness doesn't bother me since I am not a racer, and I like how sturdy it feels under me.
I went back and forth on getting the Beast. I would love a higher quality fat bike but I really can't justify spending $800 on up for a bike that will get ridden once or twice a month. I lubed and tightened everything, and changed it to dropbars. Eventually, it will get new wheels, a new fork, and disc brakes. But it is a blast to ride. Again, very heavy.

So with my experience, my take is:
BBBs can be as durable as LBS entry-level bikes that cost quite a bit more. Just don't expect the same level of performance and realize that they are heavy as hell.
Be prepared to tighten and lube everything, and possibly change out at least the minor components. I would not recommend a BBB to someone who doesn't want to work on bikes or at least has someone around to do the work.
If you've got limited resources, BBBs are great. For half the cost of an LBS 29er, I have a 29er and a fat bike.
Current bbb bikes - Mongoose Beast, Iron Horse Yakuza 5.1. Other bikes - Marin Fairfax, Specialized Sequoia, and Torker Tristar. Other "other" bikes - Cyco-cycle, Razor DXT drifter. Current project - 1995 Specialized Hard Rock to gravel grinder.
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby Tomcat65 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:28 pm

I rode the crap out of my Ascension on the stock wheels for almost 2 years. I bought 3 axles in that time, one came with cones and nuts, because it was the best deal on a solid Chromoly 10mm replacement axle at the time. I have no idea how many miles, but I rode that bike every day, rain or shine, on the road, off road and whatever time of day or night. I still have one of the new axles in the original wrap. The original parts weren't all bad, they were just lacking in some way, and I changed them for parts that suit me better. To say I started out to prove that a BBB is equal in every way to an LBS bike would be very false. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how the Ascension held up, and how it was so easy to modify to get the results I wanted. My new wheelset just made it closer to something above entry level. All of the mods together make it a purpose built custom, with the components hand picked by no one but me.

No matter what anyone says, there is an entry level version of nearly every style of LBS bike out there, and BBB's compete directly with those. BBB's aren't marketed as Professional Grade, and I can't imagine a pro even considering one, but your average BBB buyer isn't normally looking for a racing bike. I've seen people run these bikes until something major fails, like a frame cracks, or the bottom bracket strips out, and they just go get anther one. I also see entry level LBS bikes rode to death and left at the recycle centers. All things considered, an entry level bike is just that, entry level. It doesn't matter whether you buy a BBB or an LBS bike. The equipment is very similar. The big difference is the LBS set-up and service vs. BBB set-up and how you service the bike after you get it home. I see an awful lot of recommendation to buy something used from Craigslist, and when it comes to specific purpose bikes, I can see that point, but to get out and get started on an affordable NEW bike, is way more motivating than getting on a bike full of problems the previous owner didn't tell you about.

LBS Vs. BBB... Depends on where you want to start, and with a BBB, you can bring it home cheap, and ride it every day while you build a slick XC or whatever kind of bike you can make out of it, one piece at a time
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby Purple Haze » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:20 am

Levels of BBBs vary, but if your speaking strictly about Walmart show room floor bikes then there are a few bikes that go beyond being competent. In fact some are far tougher than their LBS counterparts. They just tend to be heavier which can be remedied with component changes. There most definitely is a category of BBBs that can be raced and they already have been, but that subject is on this forum also and its growing exponentially here in Europe. Maintenance is required on all bikes and the cheapest of the cheap bikes dont last as long without some serious attention and adjustment.
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby jasnooks » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:22 am

HerrKaLeun wrote:Are there people that ride thousands of miles annually with the original OEM hubs and BB?

Yes, I have.
Even cheap bearings, cups, and cones will last for quite a long time, as long as their properly cleaned, greased, and adjusted, and kept that way. This is assuming that there's no manufactures defects to begin with.
This is also assuming that your not riding around on a bent axle, which is common on freewheel hubs, because of the length of unsupported axle between the dropouts.
A bent axle will kill bearings, cones, and cups in a very short amount of time. I've destroyed a couple hubs because I was to lazy to replace a bent axle when I first noticed it.

I'm not a hardcore mountain biker, I ride only on pavement, gravel, or dirt trails with mild bumps. The most "abuse"my bikes see are an occasional curb drop, bunny hop, or bumpy road/trail conditions.
With that said, my original comments may not apply to a bike that sees hardcore off-road use.
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby HerrKaLeun » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:12 pm

Thanks for the responses. I didn't realize the axle is an issue and kind of assumed the axle being much thicker than a quick-release, it wouldn't be a problem. Or are the original axles of cheap material? Do you notice if the axle is bent? I mean is it visible from the outside, or do you see it when you service the hub?
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby orvil » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:05 pm

The problem with bent axles isn’t due to material but the unsupported amount of axle due to freewheel design. The drive side bearings are too far inboard. This is inherent in all freewheel equipped bikes but may not occur in every case. It depends on rider weight and bike use. I weigh 225 lbs and broke several axles on my Mongoose Deception before upgrading to a better wheelset with a free hub and cassette. I also rode it on technical trails. Ironically my old circa ‘80s road bike, now my gravel bike, also has a freewheel which was on every bike in that period but I’ve never had an axle problem and I’ve been riding the same wheelset since 1984.
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Re: Longevity BBB

Postby dddd » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:18 pm

Like the others said, freewheel hubs are like some kind of use-limiting warning device that "fails safe" long before any critical parts toward the front of your modestly-constructed bb bike fails.

A quick-release rear freewheel axle is a good thing in that it is the larger 10mm diameter, so a solid (not hollow) 10mm axle can be substituted for the original axle and the original cones, shields and locknuts can still be used. The axle does need to be longer, since the new axle nuts will need something to thread onto, but the solid 10mm axle will be much stronger.

I replaced the 3/8" (9.5mm) solid rear axle on my Mongoose Hondo, but had to find 10mm cones and locknuts (to go with a new 10mm solid axle I bought), and which had the exact same OD as the original cones for the metal bearing shields to press onto. I have about 900 miles of off-road use on it now and the front and rear hub bearings still looked fine(!) when I rebuilt them late this year. I should mention that I also removed the 7-ball retainers when I first replaced the axle, and put 9 balls in their place on each side of the hub.

Bent rear axles often cause or contribute to frame breakage at the right rear dropout, since the bending stress is transferred directly to the frame there.

The bottom bracket bearings on both my Mongoose and Huffy TR745 were a different story, both bikes required extremely frequent bearing readjustments until the original bottom brackets were replaced entirely, so the quality at the bb is junk level at best. My neighbor's Genesis 29er had the same problem with a fast-wearing bb, due to insufficient hardening of the spindle bearing surfaces.
My older Schwinn Broadway hybrid bbb still is rocking it's original bb, so quality ten years ago was still very good with this brand.

BBB freewheels are notoriously poor and fail all too often, everything from broken cogs to bearing cones coming adrift, even ball bearings breaking in half. These are lowest-quality units in most cases.
I don't do any serious riding on an original bbb freewheel, usually I replace with a $15 Shimano or Sunrace part and also upgrade the chain to Shimano (or KMC X- grade) chain.

The headset bearings on all three of these bikes have been ok, but the most-used Huffy now seems to have incurable freeplay at the upper cone which doesn't respond much to readjustment. It has a lot of hard use on it by now though.
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