The best bottom bracket tools for installation
Installing bottom brackets can be challenging, some press tools are great, others cause the cups to go in crooked or put a lot of stress on the bearings. We use installation tools all day every day at our office. The wear Kogel employees put on tools is different from a bike shop mechanic that will press bearings one minute and bleeds disc brakes the next.
This gives us a good idea of which tools work well. Below is an overview of the installation tools we have had good luck with in the past:
The mother of all press tools for bicycles. Walk into any respectable service area in a bike shop and you will see this beast hanging on the tool wall. Technically a headset press, but it works very well on bottom brackets. This is the tool that all Kogel Bearings drift sets are designed for.
The HHP2 does not like to travel due to its weight, but it will last a lifetime in a professional workshop.
Abbey Bike Tools Modular Bearing Press
Jason Quade is a former professional race team mechanic. His entire tool line is desgined with the traveling mechanic in mind. Keeping a toolbox under 50 pounds to avoid excess weight penalties from the airlines is something every race mechanic is religious about.
The nicest thing about the Modular Bearing Press, is the fact that it actually incorporates a bearing to reduce friction between the spinning head and the bearing drifts and thus avoiding scratches on bottom bracket cups. The set includes a range of drifts that we consider safe for our entire product line. Highly recommended if you have deep pockets. The fully made in USA set comes in at $300 and has the option to include handles or go fully lightweight without them.
A new office favorite. The smaller than HHP-2 bottom bracket press from Park is lightweight. The option to use the slots on the shaft ensures quick installation and the whole thing is made of steel. We use them with the Kogel Bearings drift sets for a secure installation and avoid putting loads on the bearing during installation.
Wheels Mfg Large Sealed Bearing Press
If you are going to buy only one bearing press to cover all your needs, from bottom brackets to wheel bearings to suspension pivots, this could be the one. It comes with a huge range of drifts. The bottom bracket drifts are made to put all the load on the bearing, rather than the cup of a bottom bracket. We recommend to use our bottom bracket drifts. You can make them fit on the smaller diameter of the threaded shaft by fitting a wheel bearing drift from the set in the Kogel drift to reduce the bore.
Since the handles are made of aluminum and copper, we have stripped a few threads in the past, but for any home mechanic this set should last a lifetime.
Very similar to the Wheels Manufacturing press, but in a lighter weight package. For one thing, it is missing the cool wooden display block for the drifts. If you don't mind loading your drifts onto the shaft every time you store the press, or find another way to keep all the loose drifts from growing legs and disappearing, this is a great set for the non-professional mechanic.
Selecting the best bearing press
No matter which press tool you use, it is most important to find a way to avoid putting any loads on the bearing if possible. This is best done by touching only the bottom bracket cup. If that is not possible, for instance in a BB30 or BB90 installation, make sure your drifts avoid contact with the inner race and only load the outer race.
For Campagnolo fanatics, it works opposite since the bearings are pressed onto the Ultra Torque spindle instead of in the cup. Avoid loading the outer race by using a Campagnolo specific installation tool.