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How to fix a broken bottom bracket

Wednesday, September 9th 2015

After more than two years off cycling following back surgery, I'd got going again with a vengeance in 2015. But after not much use for a long time, my bike was suffering. It started making lots of unpleasant noises when I was pushing, and eventually in June it was clear the bottom bracket had broken.

Fixing this was difficult, firstly because I didn't know what most bike parts were called in Spanish, secondly because I didn't know what most of them were called in English either, and thirdly because some of the parts I needed were not in stock anywhere in Santiago. But finally today I fixed the thing. Here, for the benefit of anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation, is my simple 14 step guide to fixing a bottom bracket in just three months. What I did was this:

1. Bought new bottom bracket from local bike shop

2. Ordered bracket removal tool from the UK, waited a month for it to arrive

3. Realised I'd bought the right size BB but the wrong type

4. Went to every single bike shop in Santiago, failed to find correct type

5. Ordered one from the UK, waited a month for it to arrive

6. Failed to undo the bottom bracket despite extreme effort

7. Realised drive side thread is reversed, tried again, still failed

8. Bought big spanner, still failed to undo bottom bracket

9. Bought big mallet to hit big spanner with, still failed to undo bottom bracket

10. Bought screw to secure tool to BB while I stood on spanner. Screw too long.

11. Bought shorter screw, attached tool to BB, put spanner on tool, stood on spanner, waited several minutes, got bored

12. Considered just buying new bike

13. Sprayed WD40 all over bottom of bike, went on holiday

14. Returned, stood on spanner again, finally loosened the old BB and replaced it

With the new bottom bracket, riding the bike was nicer than it had been for months. The old one was so horribly broken that I'm amazed I could even pedal with it.

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