Why do Shimano stick with cup and cone?

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  • Why do Shimano stick with cup and cone?
  • Shimano seem to have a penchant for developing everything else in their stable, but why have their hubs, pretty much remained the same all these years?

    . . . are they just as good as cartridge bearing hubs? Just as easy to maintain?

    why does no one else seemingly make cup and cone if it’s that good?

    sealing is good and they work well, cheap to overhaul.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    They work well and last forever, if looked after.
    Cartridge bearings are fit and forget, then throw away when worn out.

    Different attitudes to bicycle maintenance….

    timc
    Member

    because its cheap to stick with them, simple as that

    RealMan
    Member

    I thought no one else made them because shimano own the patent or whatever.

    they deal with lateral loading better – apparently.
    they’re also better because of the fine adjustment available with cup and cone.
    Most cartridge hubs have no preload adjustment, just preload.

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
    Member

    Allegedly, the bearing surfaces get work hardened and last forever. If they are looked after.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    What everyone up there’s already said.

    They work well and last indefinately if well maintained, and can be serviced by any bike shop or home mechanic anywhere with just a couple of cone spanners. Contrast that with the drifts/pullers required to do other hubs properly (yes, hope you can get away with a hammer and socket set but you can’t for example with DT).

    I’d still get hope for offroad though as I prefer that kind of maintenance on my MTB’s as the intervals are longer. On the road bike shimano lasts long enough between services to be of no consequence even if it is shorter than cartriges might last.

    amedias
    Member

    Why do Shimano stick with cup and cone?

    for the same reason that some other manufacturers choose to use cartridge bearings.

    ‘They’ believe it to be the best* solutuion to get the job done.

    Others may disagree but there are pros and cons to every solution.

    *best is always a complex mix of many factors, strength, sealing, longevity, maintainability, adjustability, rolling resistance, cost etc.

    tinsy
    Member

    I outed my shimano rear hub in 2004 as it was shot due to no maintenance whatsoever, 1 year old, swapped to Hope hub and other than one strip and cleanout I havent had to do anything.

    Maintenace is always the key to making something last indefinately, but for me cartridge bearings are just better, when my Hopes need a new bearing I wont grumble.

    Dont Mavic wheels still use cup and cone?

    Shimano patent for C&C cant be quite right, as my Raleigh Chopper has cup and cone bearings.. 🙂

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t say one is better than the other.

    Cup and cones need to be serviced more oftern – still reasonable service intervals with well sealed hubs though. But the maintenance is really straight forward – some clean grease.

    Cartridge bearing will go longer between service intervals but there is a lot more involved in servicing them

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    Cup and cone hub patent probably expired in 1892.

    I run both xt and hope hubs – no problems or strong feelings either way – both good tbh. Front hub xt on the CX bike lasts ages without anything needing doing.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t say they are better or Worse, just an alternative to buying in bearings, Shimano made the investment ages ago in kit to produce their own bearings components (including grinding machines to finish the balls).

    This allows shimano to do a couple of things really, it means the whole manufacturing process for all of their hub components is in house and under their own QC, and they have total control over costs;

    Look at it this way the basic technology that an XTR and Alivio hub roll on is the same, however the materials used and the effort spent on batching and inspection of bearings, cones and races will reflect the relative Price point of the product, shimano can do that across their range…

    That means they have something to offer at every pricepoint for the OEM market (Probably more of a target now than aftermarket customers)…

    The obvious tade off for a consumer is the time and marginally more skill/faff involved in maintaining a loose bearing hub, Vs pressing out and old Cartridge bearing and pressing a new one in. it terms of durability they’re about on a par, leave an XT hub un-maintained and do the same with a Pro-2 cover the same miles in the same conditions and both will start to fail at a similar point I reckon… it’s just a bit quicker and easier to sort the pro-2 (IMO) hence people favour them…

    cup and cone isn’t a ‘bad’ technology you could argue it can produce less drag/friction and pretty much all of the individual can be replaced for pence rather than pounds…

    I must say I acutally quite enjoy the sense of satisfaction in adjusting cones and the smooth spinning of freshly greased Shimano hubs, but have also seen the consequences of neglectful maintenance and scored races.

    Currently running both Shimano snd cartridge bearings so can see the pros and cons of both.

    Cartridge bearings are a 20th century solution. cup and cone are 19th

    Cup and cone will not last indefinitely if you want a smooth play free bearing. If you will accept less than perfect they will. Cartridge bearings are either perfect or goosed – no slow decline. Once a cup and cone bearing has gone out of adjustment once it will never be perfect again.

    I get many tens of thousands of miles of trouble free life from my cartridge bearing hubs – but I use good quality bearings and I do not remove the seals

    Personally I believe cup and cone have no place on a modern bike.

    Cartridge bearings are fit and forget, then throw away when worn out.

    Different attitudes to bicycle maintenance….

    …except Shimano is typically of the non-serviceable, bin-and-replace theory (BBs, even hydraulic calipers with non replaceable seals), it’s only their hubs that encourage servicing and longevity.

    crikey
    Member

    Personally I believe cup and cone have no place on a modern bike.

    I think the issue there is that bikes are not ‘modern’ in a technological sense. The C&C is at the end of a long period of techological development and works well because of that. Cartridge bearings are a ‘modern’ answer, but not always the best.

    One of my friends rode track internationally, and his front hub was C&C, with oil instead of grease, and one ball bearing removed. You could spin the wheel slowly and hear the tick as the balls slipped around into the empty space, and the wheel spun forever.

    crickey – don’tlike the sound of removing one ball – however there is a nmarginal decrease in friction with c&c – because of the poor seals and less seals.

    I have one cartidge wheel that will spin for ever like a good c&c one. the rest of them are slightly more friction because of the more and better seals

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    The obvious tade off for a consumer is the time and marginally more skill/faff involved in maintaining a loose bearing hub, Vs pressing out and old Cartridge bearing and pressing a new one in. it terms of durability they’re about on a par, leave an XT hub un-maintained and do the same with a Pro-2 cover the same miles in the same conditions and both will start to fail at a similar point I reckon… it’s just a bit quicker and easier to sort the pro-2 (IMO) hence people favour them…

    Can’t agree there cookeaa – only got my own experience to go on but an unmaintained pro-2 will well out-last an xt similarly treated.
    If you actually had to actively maintain a pro-2 I doubt I’d use them – that’s removing the one big advantage cartridge bearing hubs have.

    You don’t maintain a cartridge bearing hub at all – you replace the bearings once worn – every few years IME.

    Try leaving a C&C bearing for ten thousand off road miles over years without touching it.

    rbrstr
    Member

    Less friction is the main gain i believe, you can spin the front mavic on my MTB and it goes on spinning for ages like a road bike wheel, no cup and cone will spin like that no matter how well adjusted

    Rorschach
    Member

    Same reason campaign do……….

    micky
    Member

    I’ve always maintained my cartrdge bearing hubs extending the life well beyond the norm, but I am tighter than a nuns knickers. I pop the seals, clean out with brake cleaner and then regrease every year or so. You can keep them going usually to the point where the seals split from “popping” them off too often. I found with some shimano mtb cup & cones that they tend to undo themselves, especially on the rears. The road cup & cones are great. Shimano SPD pedals are cup & cone and these are great as long as they are maintained before there is too much play in them.

    a decent cup and cone hub WILL spin as well if not better than a cartridge bearing hub.

    adjustable preload is the key.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    If you actually had to actively maintain a pro-2 I doubt I’d use them – that’s removing the one big advantage cartridge bearing hubs have.

    That’s kind of my point… an SLX or XT needs preventative maintenance, a Hope will eventually just wear out its bearings, you replace them and go again… horses for courses…

    TBH I don’t really have the spare time to maintain C&C hubs on all my bikes, so I’ve done what many do and mostly defaulted to Hubs which use Cartridge bearings where possible…

    TuckerUK
    Member

    for the same reason that some other manufacturers choose to use cartridge bearings.

    ‘They’ believe it to be the best* solutuion to get the job done.

    Actually, other manufactueres use cartridge bearings becaue although they have the capabality to knock up an aluminium alloy hub on their CNC machines (who doesn’t?), they don’t have the capabilities to mass produce affordale precison bearings and have to source them elsewhere…hence cartridge bearings.

    Premier Icon jes
    Member

    Changed the cartridge bearing in my Hope front hub after 7-8 years of off road use, abuse and washing just because they started sounded a bit noisy.
    Would probably have last a few more years if I had popped the seals and cleaned and re-lubricated them, but it was just as easy to put new bearing in.
    I avoid shimano hubs because they use C&C which in my view have no place on modern mid to high end mountain bikes or products 🙂

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    can be serviced by any bike shop or home mechanic anywhere with just a couple of cone spanners

    True, assuming they have a range of about a dozen different sizes.. I like Shimnao hubs but I’ve lost count of how many spanners I have for the handful of wheelsets and a few hubs I have. OS axles, alu road axles, older MTB hubs.. need between 13 or 14mm and up to 28mm I think, it’s daft. Went for Hopes on the last 2 wheel sets instead, bearings seem ok, 1 set went after 7 months but I’d service cones 2x a year so no real difference.

    I couldn’t care less what type of bearing a hub uses as long as the quality is good, unless I was world-touring and had to consider road-side maintenance and preventative vs reactive maintenance. SBs can be sorted with the axle, a lump of wood or similar, maybe some pliers, and a bit of know-how if you carry a couple of bearings and only when needed. c+c need the right spanners, some grease, perhaps the balls too and need checking. So I think I’d go SB in that case.

    PeterPoddy
    Member

    Neither actually WORK any better than the other in the real world, it all comes down to maintainance

    Once a cartridge bearing wears out you replace it. That’s it. Simple.
    But replacing it costs a lot more than a bag of bearings and a spoonful of grease! 2 complete bearing changes in a typical cartridge hub will cost more than a reasonable quality new C&C hub…..

    Yes, C&C requires a more maintainance, but it’s just as fast to do as replacing a set of cartridges if you are a reasonable mechanic, and cheaper.

    If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t bother with maintainance, you’ll love cartridge bearings. If you either do do your maintainace regularly, or you’re on a budget, you’ll love C&C

    I’m quite hard on hubs, wheels in general in fact, and neither one nor the other lasts any longer for me. I’ve destroyed a Hope XC hub (their best hub IMO) in 4 years. Destroyed as in too worn and broken to repair. Yet a Deore hub will last me just as long and cost less to run.

    If I was leaving for a round the world tour next week, what hubs would I use? Shimano XT, no question.

    If I was building a general MTB for trail riding, what hubs would I use? Whatever I could get that worked at the right price*, as I always do.

    If I was building a dream bike from scratch, what hubs would I use? Royce, no question.

    Horses for courses, but never assume that one is any better than the other…. 🙂

    ——————–
    * Currently that’s DT Swiss 240s. The complte pair, handbuilt by me, with Mavic 717s, DT DB spokes and 15mm front/QR rear hubs cost me £175. The only used part (And still most expensive at £70) was the rear hub.
    Yep. That’s right. 2 rims, 64 spokes and a DT front hub, all brand spanking new for £105 🙂

    amedias
    Member

    Actually, other manufactueres use cartridge bearings becaue although they have the capabality to knock up an aluminium alloy hub on their CNC machines (who doesn’t?), they don’t have the capabilities to mass produce affordale precison bearings and have to source them elsewhere…hence cartridge bearings.

    see my asterisk… in that manufactuers case I guess cost and their existing tooling capability have a big impact on what they consider ‘best’, if ‘best’ to them is the cheapest and easiest way to make hubs with their name on then cartridge is the ‘best’ solution for them.

    Premier Icon cynic-al
    Subscriber

    Cannot be arsed!

    astormatt
    Member

    The reason is down to the lateral forces on the bearings.
    With cartridge there is no give as such so inevitablely ruining bearings over (which can be a very quick) time.
    Shimano have obviously spent time and money testing to come to the conclusion that Cup and Cone is better.

    still running strong. Cheaper than Hope, easier to service than Hope.

    I recently serviced a a work colleagues front hub because it was “wobbly”. There was the grand total of 8 ball bearings in the front hub, 4 each side.!!! 😯

    coffeeking
    Member

    With cartridge there is no give as such so inevitablely ruining bearings over (which can be a very quick) time.

    Sorry what? This makes no sense at all. There’s no give in either, or you’d have no wheel stability.

    Likewise, neither race should give in any direction and since the cart bearings are deep groove ball bearings the only real difference is that cup and cone are effectively pre-loaded against the opposing side, whereas cart bearigns don’t need that. It means that cup n cone require careful maintenance and when they fail (seals, bearings or cones) they can cause more damage to an integral part of the hub. When cart bearigns fail you just pop them out. And one can fail without destroying the rigidity of the structure entirely, not that it really matters in use.

    Personally I can’t be bothered with bearing maintenance – they’re consumable, replaceable and cheap – there’s no point in spending ages with a tooth brush, grease and cone spanners when a quick tap in and out is all that is needed on most cart systems.

    Premier Icon AD
    Subscriber

    Campagnolo use them too! And they’re even easier to adjust than Shimano.
    Personally I have C and C on my road bike Zonda wheelset and Hope cartridges on my mountain bikes. I’m not sure that I think one is better than the other though – both are hassle free and work well.

    orangeboy
    Member

    Sealed bearing hubs suit those that don’t have the need to fiddle much.
    Out of all the stuff I have my 5 year old shimano road hubs are by far the most free runnning of any I have.
    But the last few mtb wheels I’ve got have all been hope or stans hubs because I can change the axle to suit what I need

    coffeeking
    Member

    Individual data points are pointless, to prove it all of my shimano wheels are fairly high resistance and my hope hubs are by far the most free running 🙂

    emanuel
    Member

    I find the 20mm shimano hubs to be a bitch to set properly.The 31mm cone wrench is bloody expensive as well.
    the new xt rear is a bit more fiddly to set up.as is the rear DA
    the older/cheaper shimano hubs I have (plus ft DA) are so easy to set up perfectly.
    I.e. so that the slight slack is taken up by the compression of the QR.can’t do that with cartridge.
    However,I was reading about the Maxicar hubs used on herse bicycles the other day.original cartridge bearings have lasted 40+ years.
    mind you.I’ve got a 1973 bianchi that I’m pretty sure is still on it’s original bearings.
    overhauling the HS was a bitch.there’s hundreds (well…) of tiny bb that make the job really fiddly.

    I have hope pro2 on another wheelset and They sound great,but don’t roll quite as nicely.
    Though it’s not really a concern off road.

    plus they’re more expensive than xt.

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