Cane Creek Promises Most Reliable Bottom Bracket - Eurobike 2019

Sep 4, 2019
by Mike Levy  
Eurobike 2019


Bottom brackets generally suck. Sometimes they'll last a few years, sure, but sometimes they seem to last about twenty minutes before they start to feel rough and shitty. And there's been countless new designs over the years that have been said to offer vastly improved reliability, too; sometimes they do last longer, but it's often hit or miss.

Cane Creek is saying that their new Hellbender bottom bracket is the answer, though, thanks to its Neo bearings that are borrowed from, get this, the food industry.


Eurobike 2019
On the right is a standard sealed bearing with its balls in a normal retainer. On the left is the Neo bearing, an oil-filled, solid polymer matrix retainer used in Cane Creek's Hellbender bottom bracket.


A standard sealed bearing that we're used to seeing uses steel inner and outer races and steel balls, of course, and the balls are often captured in a retainer ring that ensures they stay in the correct spot. There are some seals and grease, too, and some space between it all inside the bearing. But the Neo bearing, from the Swedish folks at SKF, uses an oil-filled, solid polymer matrix retainer that takes up all of the room between the inner and outer seals; there's no free space for grease in there, and there's also no free space for contamination.

Basically, stuff can't get into the bearing because there's no room. Cane Creek says that no maintenance is required, and pressure washing your bike won't do any damage.


Eurobike 2019
No lube or grease needed, and the blue retainer leaves no space for contaminants to get into the bearing.


The blue-colored retainer is a bit soft and flexible to the touch, and SKF manufactures it by holding the balls in a jig before coating them in the polymer matrix. Because the balls are held in the retainer, there's a nip of resistance when the bottom bracket is brand new, but I was told that'll disappear after a few pedal strokes. Strangely, SKF has had these bearings in their catalog for a few years now, but Cane Creek is the first cycling company to employ them.

Apparently, machines in the food industry need to be constantly cleaned, so a bearing was needed that would run exceptionally smooth (picture conveyor belts) but also withstand high-pressure cleaning. SKF came up with their 'MTRX Technology' that sees the bearings held in a polymer retainer, which brings us to the Neo bearing in Cane Creek's bottom bracket.

Prices for complete bottom brackets range from $120 to $150 USD, and all major sizes will be available when the Hellbender hits the market in two months time.


Eurobike 2019
Eurobike 2019
A new preload collar (left) can replace the plastic version that comes stock on DUB cranks. Fancy some color? You can now get your eeWings crankset in an anodized fade.


It's ridiculous that many high-end and very pricey carbon fiber cranksets come with a threaded plastic collar to adjust bearing preload, often with a terrible wood screw used to clamp it in place. Cane Creek's aluminum preload ring has been sold separately for this reason for a while now, but they now have a version to fit DUB crank spindles. It's a small detail, but one worth thinking about if you enjoy working on your bike.

The last thing to see in the Cane Creek booth is the new anodized titanium eeWings crankset. No changes on the technical front, BUT LOOK AT THE COLORS. The process ensures that no two crankarms will be identical as well. The cranks are pictured here on a road bike, but there will also be a mountain bike option.


92 Comments

  • 75 17
 You can get really similar 'rings' in adult stores. Are they cross compatible? This cane creek one looks like it's ribbed for her pleasure.
  • 27 2
 question is, are you compatible? LOL
  • 56 1
 @vhdh666: Well, they do normally measure bearing size in mm, so I'm in luck.
  • 23 1
 @bigtim: two to three strokes of limited travel doesn't require a fancy bearing...
  • 3 0
 Hm you need axial bearings for your appliance i think
  • 2 1
 No Big Timber?
  • 36 1
 Excited to see if this does as claimed. It will be invaluable to riders in wet climates and I'll be first in line to purchase. Could be extended to headset bearing too I assume.
  • 2 0
 Big problem with headset bearings is none of the big bearing companies seem to make them, SKF, FAG etc due to them being angular contact in sizes specific to the industry. These BB bearings will just be standard bearing sizes that cane creek have been able to utilise.
  • 6 0
 Synchros put it (or at least something very similar) in headsets about 15 years ago. i.ebayimg.com/images/g/khMAAOSwFEFXJvCm/s-l300.jpg
  • 1 0
 @el-nombre: What ever happened to that company?
  • 22 0
 @FatTonyNJ: Headsets too good, no repeat customers...
  • 9 0
 My company uses these bearings inside custom CNC tooling that is exposed to high pressure coolant and metal chips.. Machines run 24/7 and the bearings last for months.
  • 3 0
 @el-nombre: I had one of those Syncros headsets. It was more of a brittle plastic, this SKF matrix sounds more flexible.
  • 2 0
 @husstler: I had one too. Mine was fairly stiff but definitely bendable rubber.
  • 29 1
 Honestly after being on race face BBs for years I've switch to a toilet paper roll and its been a great improvement.
  • 1 0
 No reason you can't switch to something else. I had a turbine cinch crankset and after two raceface BBs in half a year I bought enduro bearings that lasted the following 2 years
  • 23 0
 I need new pants after seeing those cranks..
  • 13 2
 So the balls rotate within the matrix? If so, then presumably the matrix is compliant enough not to permanently change shape and introduce a void for contaminants to get into? Thoughts?
  • 7 138
flag usedbikestuff (Sep 4, 2019 at 4:45) (Below Threshold)
 Just go ride and don’t be an asshat. Those are my thoughts.
  • 39 1
 @usedbikestuff: OK I'm about to, but what wrong with a little technical discussion, its kind off how stuff gets invented. As OP have stated i think its ideal for a headset bearing but perhaps not so great for a BB. Anyhow apologies if I've crushed your day by being an "asshat", I hope the angst has not caused more hair loss Wink
  • 6 1
 No, or it’d be useless for the food industry too
  • 3 0
 Forget the matrix terminology, that's more about how its made than how it works. Think of it as a normal cage in a normal bearing that just fills up all the negative space in a bearing. So yes, it rotates with the bearing at the speed of a normal cage.
  • 6 0
 @JohnyBoy: I'd say that is a definite possibility after prolonged use but presuming the assembly is torqued properly you should be good for a long while. Bearing ball tolerances are insanely tight and since they are so round while being trapped between races there should be almost no lateral movement, just the balls rotating so the space between them and the "matrix" is very minimal. I see what you are getting at though since the the loads on a cranksets and bottom bracket are quite high but time will tell I guess.
  • 3 0
 The video has it all. Looks like there's a normal metal retainer in there with the polymer surrounding it.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Un6vTn4Tk
  • 7 0
 @JohnyBoy: usedbikestuff doesn't seem to be interested in new or innovative products.

The username kind of solidifies this.
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: not going to get much more prolonged use than inside a proper factory
  • 5 8
 @JohnyBoy: it was supposed to be more philosophical than that. More like, “why doesn’t everyone on here stop picking apart launches and go enjoy their bikes”
  • 5 0
 @usedbikestuff: Well here is a realistic answer to your philosophical question, because we are a bunch of nerds that enjoy spirited discussion and debate, myself included... why can't we do both? I know there are plenty of people sick of having marketing BS shoved down their throats and civil discussions like the one @JohnyBoy attempted to start helps clarify true innovations vs marketing.
  • 2 0
 @usedbikestuff: why are you on Pinkbike if you think it’s so silly? Or are you just a troll trying to start fights?
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: yep get that, hence the sarcastic response about the hair. No problem
  • 10 0
 You could actually just buy these bearings yourself, and replace the old ones in your frame for example. Just make sure, that you measure correctly. Here's the link:
www.skf-mtrx.de/en
  • 5 0
 I can't seem to find a MTRX bearing that will fit Shimano Hollowtech BB. It should be 37x24 which SKF does not seem to make. Or am I wrong?
  • 8 0
 I have no idea how old my secondhand Hollowtech II BB was when I started using it four years ago, and to this day it hasn’t given me any sort of trouble.
  • 3 0
 Just opened up my 13 year old Hollowtech II BB on LX cranks. Still running smooth. In fact the Shimano seals are so good there was no need to break it open. This part has seen huge miles and all sorts of weather and terrain ! I am careful to not pressure wash though.
  • 6 1
 Seems like SKF also made some bike-specific bearings with that mtrx technology: www.bike24.de/marken/skf
Seems really interesting to me, especially when they extend their product range to headset bearings .
  • 5 0
 Daiwa Fishing (a competitor of Shimano) came out with a mag seal bearing. Some special magnetic fluid their bearings sit in that helps keep salt water out. Either way, progress is good!
  • 8 4
 A plastic bearing preload adjuster is probably plastic to save idiots from overtorquing and squishing bearings. I'm sure CC's metal preload adjuster is beautifully built and works great, but the plastic ones work great, too. You don't need to make every part on a bike out of metal, and substituting metal for plastic isn't always an improvement. Having said that, I think I'm gonna try sourcing those bearings separately and try them out on my next "problem child" customer. THAT looks like a cool idea...
  • 3 0
 The plastic bearing preload adjuster that came with my new Raceface Turbines is a joke.
I know better than to over torque but with this POS you can barley get it snug without it striping out.

I got a set of Turbines in 2016 ... the preload adjuster was metal then & worked stunningly better. Bad form all around on Raceface's part IMHO
  • 9 1
 Has SKF (Schweinfurter Kugellager Fabrik, Germany) been adopted by Sweden?
  • 4 0
 Svenska Kullagerfabriken ...
  • 7 0
 I like the idea, can't wait to hear real world results though.
  • 2 0
 I knew this looked familiar but I couldnt remember where from. Ceramic speed did almost exactly the same story with mountain bike pivot bearings. Dont know if it ever took off but I would be stoked if cane creek could make it happen.
bikerumor.com/2018/08/18/crankworx-2018-ceramicspeed-mtb-pivot-bearings-promise-4-years-no-maintenance
  • 3 0
 It will be interesting to see how they handle the pulverized granite dust of the desert southwest in the long run. It's so fine it gets everywhere and does a splendid job of chewing bearings up. Time will tell.
  • 5 2
 Lots of balls being held, balls in jigs, balls in polymer. Keep it PG, PB???? Great idea, though!
  • 2 0
 Just when you thought AXS is really not expensive , there's a anodized titanium crankset for another $1,000 to go with all that oil slick craziness.
  • 2 0
 Great....I just splurged on a Chris King BB and now technology marches on...at a cheaper price. I guess we'll see how they actually hold up.
  • 2 2
 Be happy to not be paying to do the R&D...
  • 2 0
 Do you need a special tool to install it, or does it use an existing bottom bracket tool?
  • 3 0
 Been looking for MTRX BB92 bearings for about a year now.
  • 2 0
 How many £10 Shimano BB's (which last ~2years in British conditions) would you need to go through to make this worthwhile?
  • 1 0
 Single Speeder clydes will be testing your claims. So far your competition is Shimano XTR which has proven to be cheap and bulletproof.
  • 1 0
 It’s nice when Mtn bike products are adopted from other usage a rather than reinventing the wheel because “ENDURO!” Or whatever marketing term rules the day.
  • 1 0
 I'd like to see these bearings in linkage pivots. Imagine not having to replace your linkage bearings for months, or even years!
  • 2 0
 Hard to get in, hard to get out. Dust and water will get wherever they want.
  • 1 0
 Amazing, incredible, fresh technology. Had same headset from Syncros in 2009. Btw BB in that year didnt fail that fast as article say.
  • 2 0
 Raceface are you paying attention????? FIX YOUR SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 3 0
 Sounds good!
  • 2 0
 I wonder when they'll do the same with their headsets???
  • 1 0
 Not unless they get SKF to make custom bearings for them, possible but rather expensive, these are just standard size bearings that cane creek have had the sense to use in their product.
  • 3 0
 @justanotherusername: shame, I go through C.C lower headset bearings at some rate!
  • 1 0
 @probusmike: Pain isn't it, been there enough myself - Stainless steel seems to work best for me, Hope are good but expensive, or the CC 110 bearing.
  • 3 0
 @probusmike: are you pressure washing or overloading your headset? Those hellbender bearings are pretty legit... I'm pretty stoked to try the new BB - Western NC riding is often really mucky and usually my BB is the first thing to go.
  • 1 0
 @Lokirides: Could be using one of the lower end 'black nitride' bearing headsets.
  • 1 0
 @justanotherusername: slightly damp 9 months of the year over here! I'll give stainless a go next time...
  • 1 0
 www.skf-mtrx.de/en/product-details

SKF already offers these as a direct drop in for headsets
  • 1 0
 @mmdulken: Thanks for posting that, I got excited until I saw the eye-watering price of them :-(
  • 1 0
 All those frames that have been tweaked to use a standard bb can be updated to a press fit now it will last forever.
  • 1 0
 This wouldn't eliminate frame creaking, which is where press fit bb's usually creak.
  • 1 0
 ANOTHER new BB standar....oh, nm. Nice! Really curious to see if these are as good as they sound.
  • 1 0
 Bottom bracket remind me a lot of pinkbike. Spot on with your first sentence Mike Levy!
  • 1 0
 Can't say I doubt their claims, I'm still using a cane creek headset 'la nusse' from ages ago and it's great
  • 2 0
 MIAMI VICE ANO TI CRANKS...TAKE MY MONEY NOW!!!
  • 1 0
 "and pressure washing your bike won't do any damage" thats very strong statement!
  • 1 1
 So old news.....
2018 is calling for their patent infringement...
m.pinkbike.com/news/eurobike-2018-ceramicspeeds-slt-bearings.html
  • 1 0
 Is this for pressfit too? Is it supposed to make things never creak etc as well?
  • 1 0
 Might help eliminate bearing creak but probably not frame creak.
  • 3 1
 Came here hoping they'd solved pressfit. Dissapointed
  • 3 0
 They solved it decades ago when they invented threaded BB's.
  • 2 1
 Fake news, your matrix will wear, just like any rubber seal. Nice marketing for the lemons though.
  • 1 0
 Purple anodised titanium?!!

Nooooooooooo
  • 1 0
 Oil slick anno... the 2020 answer to purple anno from the 90's
  • 1 0
 Hey fancy pink crankset on pinkbike - you should get one ;-)
  • 1 0
 bb infinite is the best hands down.
  • 1 0
 Just get some Enduro xd-15 bearings.
  • 6 6
 20$ bearings in 150$ BB, just what bike industry needs
  • 2 2
 Interested to see if they ever offer a dub version.
  • 4 5
 Wow can’t wait for my bb to creak as much as my headset. They should rename themselves cane creak
  • 2 3
 They should focus on making their other products good first. Their headset bearings are shit, especially the new ones.
  • 3 5
 "There's a nip of resistance when the bottom bracket is brand new, but I was told that'll disappear after a few pedal strokes"

That's why people like virgins so much.
  • 2 5
 Yay! More plastic.
  • 3 0
 Are your balls even in poly Matrix bro?

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