The new Cane Creek Hellbender bottom bracket might last (almost) forever

New bottom bracket uses patented SKF MTRX oil-filled polymer

Cane Creek Hellbender bottom bracket-3

Cane Creek’s new Hellbender bottom bracket is built around a set of ‘solid’ SKF bearings that encases the ball bearings within an “oil-filled solid polymer matrix”. 

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This plastic-like polymer makes the bearings impervious to water ingress and is claimed to release a small amount of lubricant whenever they are in motion, potentially offering a staggeringly long bearing life.

The release of the bottom bracket follows the release of Cane Creek’s astonishingly expensive and astonishingly lovely eeWings titanium cranks last year. 

Cane Creek Hellbender bottom bracket key specs

  • ‘Solid’ SKF MTRX bearings are essentially impervious to water ingress
  • Bearings release small amount of lubricant whenever in motion
  • 30mm spindle BB available in BSA, PF30, BB30 and BB86/92 variants
  • $120 to $150
Cane Creek Hellbender bottom bracket-1
You can clearly see the balls bearings embedded in the polymer matrix. This particular demo bearing is actually from a scooter, not the Hellbender bottom bracket.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The bottom bracket is built around SKF’s patented MTRX technology bearings. This technology encases the ball bearings within the cartridge bearing inside a plastic-like polymer. These bearings have been used elsewhere in the cycling industry but this is the first time they’ve been used in a bottom bracket.

As the bearings are fully encased, there is no space for water or dirt to actually enter them. This means that the Hellbender can claim to be pressure washer-proof. 

When in motion, the polymer is also claimed to release the tiniest bit of oil from micropores, keeping the bearings constantly lubed. This helps to prolong bearing life.

When asked about the expected bearing life, Director of Engineering Sarah Montplaisir explained that “there is no objective way to measure bearing life”, but added that Crane Creek is yet to succeed in destroying one of the bearings. This is even after constantly running the bearings during “160-hours of continuous attack” in hellishly gritty conditions. 

Cane Creek Hellbender bottom bracket-2
Cane Creek has, thus far, failed to kill a Hellbender bearing
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The bearings feel remarkably normal in the hand with no perceptible increase in drag. 

Montplaisir explained that this is as most drag actually comes from the seals and that, in its testing, Cane Creek observed that the drag in the MATRX bearings would eventually reduce, before plateauing, seemingly indefinitely. Typical bearings tend to increase in drag as they wear.   

If all of these claims hold true, the Hell Bender bottom bracket really could be the last you ever buy.

The bottom brackets will only initially be available for 30mm spindles in BSA, PF30, BB30 and BB86/92 variants. Cane Creek admitted to being surprised by the level of interest expressed in a 24mm variant, so it will consider offering this in the future. 

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Preorder is open now and pricing varies from $120 to $150 depending on the model. International pricing and availability is still TBC.