Race Face BB Bearings

Written by Haydn Williams

Race Face X-type external bottom brackets are fitted with notoriously poor bearings; an engineer friend who I ride with once suggested they might actually be made of cheese.  My Blur came with one such bottom bracket, and after a particularly muddy lap of Llandegla as part of Fearless earlier in the year it became completely seized. I replaced the bearings then, but not the plastic top cap which keeps most of the grime out, meaning the new bearings last about ten months before clogging up again. I’ve just replaced those, and thought I’d record the process here for anyone else who wants to try it.

1) You’ll need two new bearing cartridges to replace the ones you’re going to take out. The size you need is 6805 2RS. The 2RS just means that there is a rubber seal on each side. If you’re buying based on actual dimensions, the width is 7mm, internal diameter 25mm, external diameter 37mm. You can get generic ones quite cheaply on eBay, or pay a fortune for bike-specific ones which will almost certainly be identical. Don’t forget to get a couple of plastic top caps too; look out for the postman though as mine were a little over-packaged.

Packaging fail. © Haydn Williams 2011
Packaging fail. © Haydn Williams 2011

2) Remove the cranks and spindle from the bottom bracket, probably exposing much much in the process.

The crud responsible for seizing up my BB. © Haydn Williams 2011
The crud responsible for seizing up my BB. © Haydn Williams 2011

3) Remove the cup from each side of the BB shell using a bottom bracket tool.

4) Ignore the warning which says “Do not disassemble“. It’s more…guidelines than actual rules.

Pah! It can't be that hard... © Haydn Williams 2011
Pah! It can't be that hard... © Haydn Williams 2011

5) The first thing to do is remove the old bearing cartridges from the cups. The best way I’ve found to do this is using a punch. If you look through the shell from the threaded side, you’ll see the lip of the cartridge just poking out.

You can see the silver lip of the cartridge inside the cup. © Haydn Williams 2011
You can see the silver lip of the cartridge inside the cup. © Haydn Williams 2011

6) Get a punch onto the lip and then hit with a hammer until it pops out. It’s probably easiest to carefully clamp the cup in a vice while you do this.  I don’t have a vice in my workshop (shed) yet, but found I was able to just cup the cup in the palm of my hand and use the fingers to hold the punch. I only needed some sharp whacks with a tap hammer rather than anything particularly hardcore.

Place the punch against the rim. It will need quite a shallow angle. © Haydn Williams 2011
Place the punch against the rim. It will need quite a shallow angle. © Haydn Williams 2011

Don’t try and whack it straight out or the cup forces the punch out and makes it slip off the cartridge lip. Take a shallower angle to avoid this, and encourage the cartridge out.

Holding the cup in my hand to punch out the cartridge. © Haydn Williams 2011
Holding the cup in my hand to punch out the cartridge. © Haydn Williams 2011

7) The cartridge will start to emerge from the cup. Don’t try to whack it out from one side in one big go; work around in circles so that it comes out parallel to the cup.

Old cartridge starting to emerge. © Haydn Williams 2011
Old cartridge starting to emerge. © Haydn Williams 2011

8) Eventually the cartridge will pop out. If you’ve been careful, you won’t have trashed the cup in the process.

Old cartridge removed from the cup. Note the small marks in the cup from the punch. © Haydn Williams 2011
Old cartridge removed from the cup. Note the small marks in the cup from the punch. © Haydn Williams 2011

9) You now need to fit the new cartridge into the cup. There are probably all kinds of different ways of doing this (again, easy with a vice I should imagine), but I used a decidedly low-tech one. I offered up the new race to the cup, between two bits of wood and gave it a whack with a claw hammer. A couple of blows were all it took to get the cartridge most of the way in. This only works so far though, as once the edge of the cartridge is level with the edge of the cup you can’t hit it any further in. To get the cartridge in all the way, it needs to go further and be a bit recessed. I therefore placed the old, knackered cartridge between the wood and the new cartridge, and gave it another whack. This is just enough to drive the new cartridge fully into the cup.

My expensive bearing-setting press. Wood top and bottom, with the old cartridge below the cup containing the new cartridge. © Haydn Williams 2011
My expensive bearing-setting press. Wood top and bottom, with the old cartridge below the cup containing the new cartridge. © Haydn Williams 2011

10) So there you have it, a nice shiny new cartridge in the cup, ready to go. At this point you can also fit the new plastic top cap – it’s a simple push fit.

New cartridge nicely fitted. Note it's slightly recessed into the shell. © Haydn Williams 2011
New cartridge nicely fitted. Note it's slightly recessed into the shell. © Haydn Williams 2011

11) Repeat for the other cup, then screw them back in to the BB shell, fit the cranks and marvel at how smooth the action is.

Cup fitted back to the bike, with new plastic top cap in place. © Haydn Williams 2011
Cup fitted back to the bike, with new plastic top cap in place. © Haydn Williams 2011

There you have it; it’s not terribly difficult or high-cost, but definitely makes a heck of a difference and is miles cheaper than buying a new bottom bracket each time yours starts crunching.

5 thoughts on “Race Face BB Bearings

  1. Just what I was looking for; have new bearings sat around for a while; time to get them fitted into the cups. After removal of the olds ones first ;-).

    Thanks

  2. luke says:

    well this is really helpful looks a bit ghetto though! but if it works it works and its about half the price or better to do it this way! at the moment i have had no troubles with my bb but it pays to look things up in advance so you know what to do in that situation! i do have a vice so that will make things easier! thanks for this post and for the very helpful links on where to get all the bits from and for the bearing size too made my life soo much easier! thanks again for this extremely helpful post!

    keep riding my friend!

    luke

  3. Gary says:

    Thank you for taking the time to put this post together, it was extremely helpful!

    Also, if anybody is doing this and their bearings are not trashed (mine were not and surprisingly clean still too) you can go as far as to disassemble the bearings to clean them out and repack them with fresh grease. Outside of time spent and a little bearing grease it will cost you nothing to keep your BB going for many more miles.

  4. Rich6C says:

    A good helpful guide, thanks. As a slight variation consider throwing the bearing covers and fitting 243772rs bearings instead (24mm ID) it’s a much closer tolerance with the 24mm spindle (the 6805 are 253772rs (25mm ID) and the nylon sleeve makes up the missing 1mm). It youre worried about the bearing covers, just use Hope 24mm BB bearing covers (£1 each)

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