Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

Phil Wood Co.

The Bike Touring News store now has Phil Wood bottom brackets for your Long Haul Trucker (or even brand x touring bikes!) builds. Phil Wood has gained a reputation over the last 40 years or so for being the standard in durable, strong and serviceable bottom brackets. Here’s a short pictorial guide:

picture of bottom bracket and cups

The Phil wood bottom bracket and retaining rings. The rings come with thread lock and they are required for installation.

bottom bracket shell

On a new frame the bottom bracket shell threads should be chased before installing the bottom bracket. Phil Wood retaining rings have no outer flange to rest against the the outer surface of the shell, so the paint does not need to be cleaned off nor does the shell need to be faced.

bottom bracket thread chasing tool

This is a thread chasing tool for bottom brackets. A person could probably get away without this step on a new frame.

Phil Wood bottom bracket ring

The drive side retaining ring threads in to the shell, just partway to start.

Phil Wood bottom bracket tool

The Phil Wood bottom bracket tool is specifically designed for the retaining rings and is required for installation.

Two Phil Wood bottom bracket tools in use

Two bottom bracket tools, one on each side makes the job much easier. The bottom bracket is slipped in from the non-drive side before the non-drive retaining cup is threaded in.

two phil wood bottom bracket tools

Here is a pair of Phil bottom bracket tools. Using two makes final adjustment much, much easier.

centered bottom bracket installed

On of the unique and clever benefits of the Phil Wood bottom bracket design is the ability to move the cartridge left or right up to 5mm in order to get the chain line perfectly dialed. Here the bottom bracket is more or less centered since there is about the same amount of thread left exposed on the cups on both sides of the shell.

proper crank set clearance

The proper length of bottom bracket spindle will be a function of the shape of the crank, mostly. Too short a spindle and the chainrings can hit the frame, too long and the chainline could be awkward and the Q-factor will be increased. This is a 68×108 bottom bracket with a Sugino XD2-500T triple crank set.

phil mud guards

New (2013 or so) to the Phil Wood product lineup is the BB Cup Mudguards designed to friction fit into the retaining cups and to keep the splines free from muck buildup. On this 108mm bottom bracket the bottom of the spindle taper doesn’t clear the mud guard and when the crank is tightened onto the spindle it binds. Clearly this idea needs some work. Phil Wood & Co. has been selling bottom brackets without mudguards for 4 decades though so they are not a requirement.

3 comments… add one
  • Don February 6, 2014, 9:10 am

    Jim, does the cartridge itself go in a certain way?

    • Bike Hermit™ February 6, 2014, 9:31 am

      Don, the cartridge has the word “Phil” engraved along the axis. The cartridge goes so that one could read it while riding the bike (if one had x-ray vision)

  • SteveP October 26, 2014, 5:54 pm

    Bottom brackets are a funny thing. You can pay $4 for a half-plastic Shimano and maybe get 5000 miles use from it (without a service). Throw it away and get another. They are light enough to carry a spare when touring.

    You can move up in stages – all-metal, sealed bearings. Tange, Stronglight, etc. Now you are nearing a $50 bottom bracket – better quality but also heavier.

    Then there is SKF and White Industries ($150) and (no doubt I’ve missed many) Phil Wood at $130 ++++. I say ++++ because you need the two mounting rings, and it is suggested two special tools (which I suppose you hope you use only once). So that’s $200 (unless you need/want the mudguards – then $220). The Phil Wood pricing seems a bit like the cable company – too many extras. If two mounting tools are required, sell them as a pair (I suggest) and offer a “complete” option, so first-time buyers don’t have to get out a calculator. The other parts are “parts” and it’s nice they can be ordered separately, but we hope 99% of users only ever buy one (at least one per bicycle). It’s almost as if Phil Wood is marketing to bike shops (buy the tool once – use many times) and not the end consumer. I think that’s a smaller market, but it is their choice.

    All that to explain why I went with SKF (but also have chosen external bearing BBs, because they are light, cheap, simple and don’t require expensive special tools)


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