Tool review: Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-7 bottom bracket press

Traditionally, cyclists have been discouraged from working on bikes with press-fit bottom brackets because of the expense of their tools.

Park Tool BBP-1 bottom bracket press.

If you go with Park Tool, for example, their cheapest bottom bracket press kit with a set of eight drifts, called the BBP-1, costs US$200. If you think that’s a stiff price for a tool, believe me, it used to be a lot worse.

Park Tool HHP-2 headset bearing press. This tool soon became a fixture in the pro peloton’s mechanics trucks. It needs additional parts for use in press-fit bottom brackets, though.

Before the BBP-1, you had to buy the HHP-2 headset press, which is a heavy, burly shop tool, and at US$170, expensive on its own. Then you had to buy bottom bracket installation and removal tools, which are sold in sets specific to certain standards. There was one separate set for BB30, PF30, BBright, BB386EVO and BB392EVO; another different set for BB86, BB92, BB90 and BB95; and so on.

Park Tool BBT-30.3 bottom bracket tool – for BB30, PF30, BBright, BB386EVO and BB392EVO frames. The round bearing drifts are to be used with the HHP-2. Retail price is US$42.

Park Tool BBT-90.3 bottom bracket tool – for use on BB86, BB92, BB90 and BB95 frames. The round bearing drifts are to be used with the HHP-2. Retail price is US$47.

Such was the expense that most cyclists would rather just leave it up to their local bike shop to install, service, and/or replace press-fit bottom brackets in and out of their frames.

While you can make your own cheapskate press-fit tool out of a threaded rod, washers and nuts, this sacrifices precision. If there’s one argument for investing in Park Tool’s press-fit bottom bracket tools, it’s that they provide precisely machined drifts that ensure the bearings press into the shell as straight as they can.

A Wheels Manufacturing PF30 bottom bracket. Inside those bearing cups sit Enduro bearings.

Fortunately, this year, Wheels Manufacturing came to the rescue of DIY bike mechanics with their brand-new universal bottom bracket press, the PRESS-7. The firm is famous for creating a vast selection of rear derailleur hangers, machining them out of tough aluminum. They also make a bunch of bottom brackets. They say the PRESS-7 is meant to work with all of their press-fit bottom bracket products – at a surprisingly cheap price.

FEATURES

  • Machined aluminum construction
  • Contents: threaded rod, two handles, two universal bottom bracket bearing drifts
  • Bottom bracket bearing compatibility by inner diameter
    • 22 mm (SRAM GXP non-drive)
    • 24 mm (SRAM GXP drive,  Shimano Hollowtech II, FSA MegaExo)
    • 30 mm (Cannondale/FSA BB30 and BB30A, SRAM PF30A, FSA BB386EVO and BB392EVO)
  • Frame bottom bracket shell compatibility by inner diameter
    • 37 mm (Trek BB90 and BB95)
    • 41 mm (Shimano/Scott BB86 and BB92)
    • 42 mm (Cannondale BB30 and BB30A, Specialized alloy OSBB)
    • 46 mm (SRAM PF30 and PF30A, Specialized carbon OSBB, Cervelo BBright, FSA BB386EVO and BB392EVO)
  • Retail price: US$35

IMPRESSIONS

The PRESS-7 comes with no-frills packaging; everything fits in a small ziplock bag. The individual bits also come in their own plastic bags.

The heart of the PRESS-7 is a threaded rod and two turning handles. They’re solidly built out of aluminum, and spin quite freely for the most part.

What makes this set work though are the universal bearing drifts.

How the universal bottom bracket drifts work. The red steps are for bottom bracket bearings; the gray steps are for the frame bottom bracket shells. Photo from Wheels Manufacturing.

The drifts are stepped and two-sided. Some of the steps fit the inside diameter of the bottom bracket bearings and their cups. The others will fit the inside diameter of the bottom bracket shell. These drifts can be purchased on their own for around US$10 apiece.

The bearing drifts up close.

You slide the drifts in, then screw in the handles to form the completed PRESS-7.

While Wheels Manufacturing states that the PRESS-7 is meant to be universal for their own bottom brackets, I test-fit its drifts with a spare Shimano SM-BB71-41B bottom bracket I have lying around. This bottom bracket is a “Shimano Press-Fit – Road” or BB86 unit. The steps on the drifts seem to work well, fitting on both races of the bearing.

EARLY OPINIONS

Wheels Manufacturing has an excellent tool here. It’s an unbelievable price for a bottom bracket press, complete with drifts. Considering that the firm charges US$20 for a pair of the drifts themselves, the PRESS-7 as a whole is excellent value.

Early bird consumers were actually very lucky as Wheels Manufacturing offered the initial production run of the PRESS-7 at 50% off. At US$17.50, this set is a steal; even at full retail price it’s not too shabby at all.

I’ve yet to put this tool into service as my current Shimano SM-BB91-41B bottom bracket is still spinning fine, but should replacement day arrive I’ll be a little more prepared.

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