Phil Wood Bottom Bracket Review…

14 11 2011

What it looked like new 3yrs ago...

I put a 100mm Phil Wood square taper bottom bracket into my Surly Pugsley 3yrs ago. Then I abused the bike a ton including saltwater, sand, winter slush and corrosive playa dust. Most BB’s would have just been thrown in the garbage after that sort of use.

3yrs later...

The BB and spindle looks fabulous despite the condition the rest of the frame was in. The bearings were serviceable, but notchy enough I sprung for the $25 to put new bearings in the BB since I had everything out of the bike.

$25 of new bearings and we are ready for 3 more years of smiles...

Phil has come out with some mudguards for their BB’s which I’ll probably get to extend the service life of the bearings.

Phil BB Mudguards...

So if you need a durable BB and don’t want a throw away unit consider a Phil Wood.

Great cranks for $35...

BTW – I should give some love to these $35 Shimano Alivio cranks. They were cheap and work great.



12 responses

14 11 2011
Chad K

Could you explain how the Phil mudguards are installed? Do these go between the main body and the retaining rings? Thanks!

14 11 2011

My understanding is they slide onto the spindles once the BB is installed in the frame and before the cranks go on. They just provide one more barrier for dust/dirt/water/mud to get through.

18 11 2011
Death Rider

thanks for the info it was very helpful. I’m building a fat bike for my wife on the cheap. She is really short and I’m having a hard time finding an ISIS crankset in 170mm length. I’ve got some old square taper cranks laying around, I’m stoked !

18 11 2011

@Death Rider – send me a pic when you have the beast built…=-)

23 11 2011
Dharma Dog

I have not used Phil bottom brackets since the mid-1970s. At that time I rode my bike up Burnaby Mtn to classes at SFU. In winter I’d ride a fixie (42×16). One winter I equipped the bike with Phil hubs and bb. After one month, both were shot and had to be sent back for bearing replacement. I rebuilt the rear wheel & installed the replacement bb, and one month later, they were shot again. I guess riding up a long climb in a gear a bit high with salt & slush on the road is not good for any bearings, but Phil stuff really disappointed me. I’m sure it will last forever in California, where you only ride when it’s dry, but I really think Phil stuff is highly overrated. I understand that you can now replace the bearings yourself. Too bad you couldn’t do this in the mid-70s.
Right now I’m testing an F1 ceramic bb (with the cyclo-cross seals). I’ve had it on since mid-2011 & ridden Paris-Brest-Paris on it (on a fixie). So far so good. We’ll see how long it lasts in a Vancouver winter, ridden every day to work from the foothills of Burnaby Mtn to downtown Vancouver & back, plus additional riding on the weekends. I’m also re-evaluating that old Phil rear hub. I had the bearings replaced, & I’m seeing how long it lasts, not having to climb all the way to SFU each day. I really don’t think radial cartridge bearings are an appropriate technology for bicycle hubs, which take thrust loads each time you rock the bike (which I try to minimize on climbs). Cup-and-cone works far better.

23 11 2011

Give the conditions my Phil BB has endured in my Pugsley it has performed admirably. I’ve never used a Phil hub, but I’d be willing to try one.

Their products may have improved in the decades since your experiences occurred.

14 03 2013

Hey Vik,

do you remember which BB that is? There are two on Phil Wood’s site, one symmetrical and the other with R+5mm offset. I’m also looking into getting one and running it with an Alivio triple but I’m not sure which one would be the best for that.


14 03 2013

@Duza – I used the symmetrical BB. It has about 5mm of adjustability side to side during install to tweak the chain line. Keep in mind my application was a Pugsley + Alivio cranks using only the middle ring with an Alfine 8 out back.

14 03 2013

Thanks Vik, do you remember what was the chainline with your setup?

14 03 2013

I’ve never measured it, but the A8 chainline spec is 42mm or 47.5 if the cog is flipped to the outside. My Pugs has the cog flipped to the outside and I use the middle ring on a MTB tripple for my chainring.


I’m a few thousand KMs from my Pugs at the moment so I can’t measure it.

8 12 2013

I’m trying an SKF now — had a Phil Wood BB lose a bearing after 3 years (about 7500 miles), one of the ball bearings got loose inside the shell and did some amusing damage:

For whatever reason (use in a cargo bike, not saving the receipt, who knows) the price quoted for a rebuild was well larger than the cost of a standard-issue Shimano BB that I’d also expect to last a few years. So for now it’s a lovely rolling paperweight.

16 07 2016

hello interesting article, I would like to know the length of the spindle PhillW. BB, to know what is the ideal chain line for me. I recently buy a VP component to 142mm, good for SS but impossible to use 64bcd grandmother on my triple crowns. There are many buying opportunities, but I would avoid filling my basement BB Square Tape 100mm although the cost is low. thank you very much

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