Well, Lizard Skins don’t officially make a BB seal this is, in truth, the venerable Headset Seal that has been around for MANY years but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give them a go to see if they help keep sand out of the outboard bottom bracket bearings like you might find on a fat-bike with cranks like the Surly Mr. Whirly, RaceFace or e*thirteen XCX.
Initially, we wondered if the seals would even stay on a bottom bracket with the crank whirling away but Gomez has been running them on his Moonlander for several weeks and many rides and they are still there. I’ve had mine on my Tatanka for a couple of rides with it hanging tough and we just put a couple on Sam D’s Moonlander for more testing.
On my Schlick Tatanka the e-type derailleur mount makes it tough to install on the drive side but this presents an opportunity to test using the Lizard Skin seal on the left side versus not on the right side of my Chris King bottom bracket to see if there is a difference in wear. I just did a 3-month service on the Chris King (look for a Chris King BB report soon!) so we have a good baseline to start from. Time will tell!
Bikes like the Moonlander that use the widest of wide cranks are particularly vulnerable to contamination because of the cone-shaped spacer that is used to push the crank arms out from the BB to create the wide chain line needed to clear the massive 5.0 fat-bike tires. This spacer rotates with the crank making trapped sand/water do lots of nastiness to your bearing/cups. Note that any fat-bike using an outboard BB is vulnerable just that the widest cranks present even more of an issue.
Above is the cone washer, used on the wide Mr. Whirly, that has been on a fat-bike that has been ridden on the beach. Not sure how long this particular washer was installed but about 6 months is a fair guess and probably a dozen beach rides of about 15 miles or so. 180 miles on the beach, give or take, along with many more miles on the trails around SE WI.
Above is the Sand-ground Hat Sleeve that the cone washer rides up against. Sand gets trapped in between and does a great job wearing down the plastic.
This is a stock Moonlander bearing with the Hat Sleeve and the bearing seal removed. After sand compromises the seal, water gets in the bearing and reeks havoc and rust and such. This bearing was completely seized.
This is what happens to your hat sleeve when the bearing seizes. Good news is that the crank still rotates. Kind of. Bad news is that it should be rotating on the bearings, not on the plastic sleeve! Hard to move the crank? Better have a look!
Another problem is that the cone-shaped spacer takes up space on the splined portion of the Mr. Whirly. As shown in this photo, the portion that is sandy was under the cone washer. This also shows evidence of the cone washer rotating and wearing away the BB Cup that holds the bearing. This Chris King BB is undergoing a 3-month maintenance. Approximately 8 beach rides. 120 miles more or less.
The two bearing/cups above are Mr. Whirly pieces. Stock OE on the left and the aftermarket Surly replacement, with Enduro bearings, on the right. Same basic cup with different bearings. Same result though. Seized. While the bearing on the right may look a little better in the photo, it is just as seized!
So, is the Lizard Skin seal the solution? We aim to find out! After a thorough overhaul and new grease. We’ve got the Chris King BB all ready to go as in the photo at the top of the page. Sam D is rocking a Chris King with ceramic bearings and Gomez has a fairly new set of Aftermarket Surly cups on his Moonlander. Stay tuned down the beach as we see what happens!