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Ultegra spline strip(19 posts)

Ultegra spline stripakatdog
Sep 7, 2002 9:22 PM
Has anybody else had problems with the ultegra spline stripping. After installing according to the directions I put about 200 miles on the bike when the other morning my cranks started moving independently of each other and I put on a great show falling in slow mo right in front of a car still clipped in. Appearantly the retaining screw had slowly backed out and as the spline reached the halfway point the metal began to reshape under the torque from pedaling. Now the top of each spline is at a 45 degree angle which causes the crank to back out at an incredible rate. I've ridden shimano 105 for yrs without a problem and I'm hoping Shimano will cover this under warranty. I was just wondering if anyone else had a similar experience. I'm just bummed because I'm doing the fall high sierra century next weeekend and my new bikes gonna be out of commission. rant
re: Ultegra spline stripSpunout
Sep 8, 2002 3:29 AM
You have probably ruined your BB axle. Check the crank seats very closely, if those are bent, your crankset is trashed.

You will have to replace some parts if they don't get back together well. That will include at least a new BB (if you had Campy, you could just change the axle...OOPS! Wrong thread).

Someone didn't check the torque on your crankbolts. Take it back to the LBS that touched it last and make them replace it all, no charge. Then, use loctite and do some wrenching yourself so that this doesn't happend again.
"Take it back to the LBS"; what he should have done anyway...TJeanloz
Sep 8, 2002 5:31 AM
The post clearly says that HE (the poster) installed it according to the directions. Apparently not. I've NEVER seen a stripped Shimano crank that was installed according to the directions. Our mechanics installed a couple of thousand of them while I was working at the shop, and we never had a single incident. The bicycle is a deceivingly simple device, and too many people with too little experience think they understand how things work.

I have no idea how you could follow the Shimano directions and not get the crank on properly. If you install the self-extracting bolt before you put the arm on the spindle (usually because you're too lazy to disassemble it in the first place), I agree that it is very, very easy to put the crank on incorrectly. But the instructions specifically warn against doing this. I don't see how you could get the arm to engage the splines (prior to even taking the bolt out of the packaging- as per the instructions), and then not get it on perfectly.

The other issue here is torque. Even if you lined up the splines correctly, if you didn't put enough torque on the bolt, it could easily loosen and damage the splines. This is a real problem. Most home mechanics have no idea how much 50Nm of torque is. To give you an idea, to achieve it, I usually have to put all 140lbs of my weight at the end of an 8 inch wrench. Shimano shouldn't warranty this- or anything that wasn't installed by an experienced mechanic.
Must of hit a nerve with this topic??B2
Sep 8, 2002 7:02 AM
Just kidding :-).

I would agree it's probably not a warranty issue. Sounds like the crank bolts were not torqued properly.

Now I'm kind of a do it yourself wrench. I wouldn't consider myself an experienced mechanic, but if I did install something correctly and had a part fail due to defect I would expect it to be covered by the warranty. I think it's a bit harsh to say warranty void due to mechanics qualifications (irregardless of installation).

140lbs at the end of an 8 inch wrench = 127Nmthe other Tim
Sep 8, 2002 11:06 AM
That'll hold it.
"Take it back to the LBS"; what he should have done anyway...bobobo
Sep 8, 2002 7:36 PM
What a total load of crap. So in other words if anyone chooses to do any work themselves on any Shimano part nad then it fails Shimano should have no warranty obligation even if it was Shimanos fault simply because they don't work in a bike shop?? Yeah Right!
Yeah, that's right...TJeanloz
Sep 9, 2002 3:15 AM
"home mechanics" don't get it- and that's good news for the bike shop. I'd say 1/2 of all bike shop repairs, especially on high-end bikes, are fixing what the owner of the bike has messed up on their own. And usually, they weren't even fixing a problem, they were just installing a new part, didn't follow the instructions perfectly and didn't think it would matter when, in fact, it did.

Shimano has a warranty obligation if the crank splines just gave way. Except that they've sold a lot of bottom brackets, and this is a common problem with improperly-installed bottom brackets, but it is never a problem with one that was installed right. It's a simple question, did the installer use a torque wrench, and torque it to spec? I know only a handful of home-wrenches who own a torque wrench, but if he was one of them, maybe he has a claim. But his problem is exactly the result of either not lining up the splines, or not applying enough torque. This is exactly the reason that the major bike manufacturers insist that bikes be sold entirely assembled; because there would be a slew of warranty complaints if people were allowed to build their own bikes at home.
Your'e Brain Dead TJeanlozbobobo
Sep 9, 2002 4:47 AM
Get a clue loser.

Only most cookie cutter frame manufacturers insists their bikes be sold only as complete built up bikes and this is because they have incentive deals with the components providers with whom they deal, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact they fear a home mechanic working on his bike or their cxomponents, what a total load of crap!!

Do you actually believe all the drivel you post or are you just that stupid?

Please name for me even one quality builder of upper end bike frames who insists that his bikes be sold only as whole built up bikes, I can't wait to hear your BS response to this question and see this great list of builders who only want their bikes sold as completely built up ubits before going to the consumer.

Nobody in here buys into your "you have to have a paid mechanic do it drivel"."
Yes, I am a moron,TJeanloz
Sep 9, 2002 6:53 AM
I'll readily admit to being a moron. But please don't put words in my mouth. I never said that you needed to pay a mechanic, if you can get one to work for free, great. My only point is that bike parts work better when they are installed by somebody with experience, or, at the least, some mechanical ability.

What about this makes me brain dead? I'm not sure. Actually, most framebuilders will only sell to licensed dealers (Seven, Serrotta, Litespeed, Merlin, Moots, who else?), and most dealer agreements want the dealer to do the assembling. They don't all require it, but almost every framebuilder who does more than 50 frames a year sells through a dealer channel to ensure consistant quality throughout the product line. Those who sell less than 50 frames can ensure quality themselves.

I'd also have more respect for your opinion if you could express it without a personal attack, and this will be my last response in the thread if things continue on the childish name calling trend.
Maybe not as brain-dead as you thinkPsyDoc
Sep 9, 2002 8:38 AM
This was posted on the Spectrum forum:

Author: Tom Kellogg (
Date: 09-06-02 07:22

This is not gospel, but from what I gather it goes like this. Over the last few months, ABG (the group of companies that comprise Merlin, Tomack, QR and Litespeed) have decided that starting with the '03 model year, all their product will be shipped as complete bikes. The first ten or so Cielos appear to have been shipped before that decision had been made. Hope this helps clarify. Take care.

Tom Kellogg

I do not buy into TJeanloz's "you have to have a paid mechanic do it drivel" as you put it, but I respect his opinion as do others on this board.
Maybe not as brain-dead as you thinkbobobo
Sep 9, 2002 9:28 PM
You're right, I stand corrected, he's even more brain dead than I originally thought.

That post on the Spectrum forum has nothing to do with Spectrum shipping complete bikes only, it has to do with Litespeed, and Merlin who have been bought out by a bean counting cookie cutter operation, ABG, deciding to ship only complete bikes. And if you had bothered to look at some of the followup feedback on that thread you would clearly see that not one person in there seems to think shipping complete bikes only represents anything more than large companies paying attention to the bottom line or maintaining component dealer relationships. Do you see Spectrum and Tom Kellogg undergoing such a policy of shipping complete bikes only? NO NOT A CHANCE!! AND YOU NEVER WILL!! As I said before and I'll say it again, name one quality high end custom builder who ships only complete bikes without giving the customer the option to build up the frame with his own components??????????? And no, since Merlin and Litespeed have been run by ABG they certainly do not fall into the upper end custom builders category, they have become a bean counting cookie cutter operation. The smartest move Tom Kellogg ever made was going out on his own with Spectrum to avoid ANG's beancounting strategies. by the way, Litespeed and Merlin are not shipping complete bikes because they are afraid of customers building up their own bikes and screwing up the installation as the idiot above has inferred. They are doing it to save money, maintain component dealer arrangements, and try to increase their ROI. Beancounting central.

Can you say BRAINDEAD?
I'm just going to correct some facts,TJeanloz
Sep 10, 2002 4:19 AM
Tom Kellogg didn't leave Merlin to start Spectrum. Spectrum is an older brand than Merlin, and he was always- and continues to be- a design advisor to Merlin. Tom's relationship with ABG continues, as they build all of Spectrum's ti bikes.

ABG is not shipping complete bikes for ROI purposes, and even the 'complete bike' reasoning is a little bit off, because ABG ships their 'bikes' as unassembled frames and a box of components- which are then entirely assembled by the dealer. They have gone to this to afford their dealers some protection from undercutting by mail-order houses. When I was a dealer, this was a policy that we begged for. They won't really make any money on the parts- the markup can only be about 5%, and that won't help their gross margins an iota.

I don't dispute that no ultra-high end custom builders require a shop to build bikes. I never said they did. I said major manufacturers, which, in my mind at least, don't include low-volume, high-end specialists. The Richard Sach's of the world believe, usually correctly, that their customers are savvy enough to know if they are capable of building their own bikes or if they need to have a more experienced mechanic do the work. My comments have more to do with Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc. If you believe that it's very easy to build a bike, and that anybody can do it, go to your local Wal-mart and see if there's a single Pacific (or Schwinn) that's set up correctly. If any idiot can do it, why don't they? Of course, you probably won't address this, or any of my points, you'll just call me braindead. And you're right, I hate home mechanics, that's why I helped write the book that is considered the #1 reference for them.
Hate to disagree, but as a "home mechanic" I have built all 3...IAmtnbikr
Sep 10, 2002 5:15 PM
of my bikes. I am NOT yet proficient at wheel truing, but am learning, as I am sure you did too. I have built up a steel frame Trek hybrid as my commuter/Burley puller, a Giant XtC full-suspension with hydraulic discs, and a Raleigh aluminum framed road bike. No big deal. All 3 were down to bare frames. Maybe it is my 20+ years as an ASE Master Certified Auto Tech, and drag racing background that make me more in tune (no pun intended) with proper use of tools and torque specs, as well as following instructions. As to "any idiot", that is NOT a valid comment. The typical Wal-Mart employee is a high school kid earning minimum wage. So why would you expect him/her to have any knowledge on the correct techniques of bike assembly? Find someone who has a background more like mine.....I think you'll find it a totally different story. As the end to my rant, I do enjoy the relationship I have with my LBS, but I feel that 99% of the time, I can do the work myself, and it is just as correct as theirs. If I feel that there is something I don't trust my skills to, then I will take it in, and let them handle it for me. To this date, that has not happened too often.
You're not disagreeing...TJeanloz
Sep 11, 2002 4:23 AM
Somewhere, my point isn't getting across, and I'll assume that it's my fault. I'm not saying that nobody at home can build a bike. Because, for example, I am an investment banker- not a professional mechanic, but given my background, I'm comfortable assembling a bike at home. I'm saying that it's not SO easy that any mechanically inept moron can do it. The mechanically gifted know what a properly adjusted bearing should feel like, the mechanically inept do not. If you have a good mechanical background, there is nothing about a bike that should challenge you. If your mechanical backround is limited to being able to check the oil level in your car, maybe it would be better to have somebody with some experience do the job.

This isn't an opinion that I developed overnight- you have no idea how many problems "home mechanics" bring into the shop, where they did something wrong, and then want a warranty replacement for it. We were almost always gracious about it, and went to bat for the customer with Shimano or Campy, but it was a completely avoidable problem. The other real issue that nobody addresses is that while the mechanic at home might do the job better, if they botch it, it's their problem; if a shop lets an inexperienced wrench fix a bike, and the work gets botched, the onus is on the shop to make it right- so if you're "just as good" as the shop, you can mitigate any risk by having them do the work.
re: Ultegra spline stripAkirasho
Sep 8, 2002 3:38 AM
... one of the problems with Shimano's "Octalink" splined BB spindle, which ISIS claims to solve is alignment during installation...

I've not experienced a problem like you've described... but I have installed a crank slightly out of alignment... only to have the problem surface toute suite (almost immediately after standing to pedal)... but with no debilitating damage (amazing and scary to watch both pedals go to BDC while you're clipped in). The problem is... it will appear as though everything is proceeding normally until you actually apply pedalling torque to said. You (or the shop) have to be mindful of aligning the splines as you install the crankarms (this was a huge problem with ZIPP cranks which, because of their design, were installed virtually blind (you couldn't see the spline pattern so you had to be sure of it's alignment before you torqued down the crankarm bolts)).

It's possible that your misalignment lasted 200 miles (until enough metal was deformed to allow the arms to swing "freely")... or you have another problem I'm unfamilar with (I've got at least 7 bikes with Octalink). Is there damage to the crankarm interface as well?? I'd imagine that your shop could press for a warranty (even if you did the install) and get it.

On the plus side, when properly executed... Octalink provides a remarkably strong interface.
re: Ultegra spline stripakatdog
Sep 8, 2002 10:52 PM
The bottom bracket is fine as well as the other crank arm, it is just the splines in the spider that have deformed in the top half. I'm a mechanical engineer and I do know how to use a torque wrench as I do weekly. I reset the crank as the bottom half of the splines are still good and tried the crank again this weekend on a fun ride and what do you know the retaining screw backed out again and the crank pulled away from the BB. I even measured the distance when installing to make sure that the crank was seated all the way on the BB. Does anybody know if shimano has a customer service email or phone number as there wasn't one on their website.
re: Ultegra spline stripdivve
Sep 9, 2002 4:21 AM
Shimano American Corp 1 Holland
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (949)951-5003
Operator Errorgrzy
Sep 9, 2002 10:16 AM
Sounds like you made the fairly common error of not getting the splines lined up perfectly upon installation. You then used the torque wrench (correctly) to tighten things down and deform the first half of the alloy splines in the crank spider with the steel splines of the BB. Eventually the deformation pushed the splines back towards alignment. With the play now established partially along the spline interface the crank bolt will back out ever single time in short order - espeically since there is a transfer of force from the LHS. Since you're a fellow mechanical engineer you should know that with a broach used to cut the splines in the crank arm it's virtually impossible to screw it up during the manufacturing process. However, it is extrememely easy to mess it up during installation *especially* if you're not familiar with the potenial pitfall and do not remove the crank arm bolt until you develop the feel for aligning the splines. People mess these things up all the time - even in bike shops. You might get Shimano to give you a warranty unit, but I wouldn't count on it. No one said that every single thing on a bike should be fool proof and able to be fixed by the untrained home mechanic. Hey, wheels are just a bunch of threaded rods and screws - what could be more simple?
Operator ErrorLactate Junkie
Sep 13, 2002 12:53 PM
grzy--Operator Error is right--Shimano shouldn't be expected to warranty something that isn't defective. Akatdog, should learn from his mistake--and it was very much his fault--take personal responsibility and buy a new crank. Splined systems are touchier than older square taper and this happens, like grzy said--even to bike shopr. Ultimately it comes down to RTFM as much as anything.