By Rick Schultz
I’ve recently been asked by numerous cyclists about Bottom Brackets (BB’s), Bearings, etc. Their questions arose from several YouTube videos reviewing Hambini’s “$300” Bottom Brackets. Let’s take for example this Hambini Racing BB30 Bottom Bracket for Shimano Crankset. This BB lists for £197 or about $266 USD.
Looking at the details, you will quickly notice that the Outside Diameter (OD) of the BB is sized for a BB30 frame but that the Inside Diameter (ID) says 24mm Shimano crankset. So, one of two things are happening.
- Hambini uses 6806 bearings with a 30mm to 24mm reducer to fit the Shimano crank, or
- Hambini uses a 3024 bearing which, as the name implies is 30mm OD and 24mm ID.
Hambini chose option 2, since it will produce a stiffer BB (because of no plastic reducer).
But, if you want to use a high quality set of bearings for your BB30 cranksets, just replace the 3024 bearings with native 6806 bearings.
Who Makes A High Quality 6806 Bearing?
One of the highest quality bearings in the industry are made by SKF. There are other manufacturers, and it seems that most are made in Japan or Europe.
I’ve done quite a bit of testing of bearings and in fact have bought high quality races, rings, balls and built my own BB bearings using my own special grease. The question I get all of the time is, “How do your bearings compare to Chinese ceramic bearings?”
Here’s my answer.
- The only thing ceramic inside of a Chinese ceramic bearing is the balls. The rest of the bearing is steel
- Chinese claim grade 3.
- Grade 3 is for the balls. Grade 3 means 3/1,000,000” tolerance of sphericity. How can the average cyclist confirm this? These could be grade 3, grade 10, grade 200 and you would never know.
- The Chinese manufacturers never mention the precision of the races or rings. I am guessing that these are grade 200. This is one possible reason why it takes 250 miles+ to ‘break in’ Chinese ceramic bearings.
- When I purchased precision bearing parts for my own bearings, I chose grade 7 steel balls with precision ground races and rings (i.e., as close as I could get to grade 7). These bearings rode smooth from the first pedal stroke, no need for breaking in. My experience with SKF bearings right out of the box is the same. They outperformed every grade 3 Chinese ceramic bearing.
Who Uses SKF Bearings?
How’s this for pedigree – 2021 Ferrari Formula 1 car uses SKF bearings.
NOTE: Pricing below is from an authorized USA SKF distributor. If you are paying lower prices than these for SKF bearings, they are likely to be fake or counterfeit.
SKF BEARINGS 6806 = 30x42x7 – SUPER PRECISION ANGULAR CONTACT
These 71806 bearings can handle upwards of 60,000 rpm and are WAY OVERKILL for a bicycle bottom bracket application spinning at 120 rpm.
You are much more likely to use 61806-2RS1 Deep Groove Ball Bearings for your BB30 bottom bracket application.
SKF BEARINGS 6806 = 30x42x7 – DEEP GROOVE BALL BEARING
Why Use A Hambini Bottom Bracket?
- Precision engineered one-piece design aligns the bearings perfectly which fixes issues with a frame’s BB being out of round or out of tolerance.
- Stiffer than stock Press Fit (PF) BB’s
- Fully serviceable
Is The Hambini BB Worth It?
Here in the US, the Hambini BB referenced above is $266. As a consumer, I can buy a set of high quality 61806 SKF bearings for $273.62. The bearings alone are $7.62 more than Hambini’s complete BB WITH bearings! With that being said, Hambini shows in his videos that he uses NTN bearings made in Osaka, Japan. His pricing is £24 or $32.50 per 6806 bearing x 2 is $65.00 for the pair leaving around $200 for the BB housing and install tools.
So, it depends on several factors.
- If your frame’s BB shell is out of tolerance, then YES, you will need this to fix your frames problems
- If you want to remove creaking and squeaking the right way, then YES
- If you want a stiffer feeling frame, again YES
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.