Wavewasherectomy - The Ultra-Torque Fix

by John Satory October 05, 2009

Before I get started, I want to let you know that some of the steps that I'm going to recommend you to do contradicts some of  those found in the installation instructions that is provided by Campagnolo.  It's up to you to decide what you want to do.  But everything that I recommend doing regarding this procedure, I have tried myself on multiple bikes.  I extensively researched, tested, and re-inspected bikes that I did this "wavewasherectomy" on and found zero issues.  I didn't want to throw anything out there without being absolutely sure that it works.  Because that's how I roll...  Anyway, that being said, you can rest assured that if you take the time to do this right, you will have the Ultra-Torque crankset/bottom bracket system that is up to Campagnolo standards, without the wave washer.

 Disclaimer:  You can have the best bike components in the world, but if they are not installed and adjusted properly,  they're not going to perform up to the level that they were designed to work.  For this to procedure to be successful, it's imperative that this is done correctly.  I will try to be as concise as possible.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate toemail me.

Ok... Let's get started.

Since this evolves around eliminating the wave washer, there needs to be something added to the equation to make up for it and the variations in bottom bracket shell width.  This is is achieved by adding a combination of spacers between the non-drive side cup and the frame.  In fact, every bike that I did this to required unique combinations of spacers. This takes a lot of time and effort.  Take your time to get it right.  Assuming that you already have the crankset installed on your bike, you are going to have to remove it along with the bottom bracket.  Obviously, you are going to need the right tools.  You can get the .pdf installation file from Campagnolo here.  Just reverse the procedure to remove it.  

Once you have the crankset and bottom bracket cups removed from the frame, you want to take the time to clean and inspect the cups and the bearings.  If one or both of the bearings and/or cups look like this (see photos below), then it's time ti replace those items.

Strong Suggestion:  Take the time to properly face the bottom bracket shell.  If you do not have to cutting tool, take it to the LBS that you feel is the most competent to do this task and say a prayer that they don't screw it up...

Now you want to go ahead and install the drive side cup as per the instruction manual.  For what it's worth, I have installed numerous UT cups following both the loctite 222 method noted in the instructions and the more traditional grease-the-heck-out-of-it method.  For the record, I prefer using grease (or anti-seize) and torquing to 35-40Nm.  Partially install the retaining spring onto the cup and then after liberally applying a high quality grease to the bearing and internal surfaces of the cup, install the drive-side crankarm fully into the shell.  Now you want to push the retaining spring ends into the corresponding holes.

This is where I abruptly veer from the SOP described in the official Campy instructions....

 Step 1 

Install the non-drive side cup dry (i.e. without any grease). Thread cup into the shell just to the point where it comes into contact with the face of the bottom bracket shell. DO NOT TIGHTEN.

 Step 2

Fully insert the left side crank arm, without the wave washer, making sure that the crankarms are properly aligned.  (It's easier/cleaner to not apply grease to the bearing and cup at this point, so don't bother.)  Insert the fixing bolt into right side (drive-side) semi-axle and torque to 42Nm. At this point, the NDS or left bottom bracket cup and crankarm should look like this

Step 3

Now you want to unscrew the NDS/left cup to the point where it contacts the crankarm. This is possible because of the dimension/thickness of wave washer is no longer part of the equation.

Step 4

I have found that instead of using feeler gauges to determine the amount of gap that's between the cup and the shell, it's better to find the size of the gap by using different combinations of shims contained in the kit.  Keep in mind that at this point, we are only getting our first estimate of the amount of space that has to be made up. So grab the shims and find the combination that best fits.  Set this combination of shims aside and write the thickness of the shims down so that you have your starting point.  Note:  I recommend using at least one of the 1.0mm shims and then add one .5mm shim, etc., going from thickest to thinest. If you try to add one .5mm shim to the 1.0mm shim and it doesn't quite fit, replace the .5mm shim with two .2mm shims... I think that you get the idea.

Step 5

Now you want to remove the fixing bolt (from the drive-side/right semi-spindle), the left crankarm, and the left bottom bracket cup from the frame.

Step 6

Insert the combination of shims that you determined in step 4 (and steps 9 and     10) onto the left bottom bracket cup, and thread back into frame (still without grease/antiseize, etc.). With the bottom bracket tool, tighten cup to 35Nm-40Nm. If you do not have access to a torque wrench, just snug it up without going crazy...

Step 7

Reinstall the left crankarm as described in step 2 or in the Campagnolo    installation instructions.

Step 8

Now this is where we need to get picky... We want this to be balls-on, or as close to balls-on that we can get.  This is when we determine if we have to add more thickness to the equation, or remove some.  Usually with the first attempt, I find that I have to add... If the crankset spins freely (move the chain out of the way), then you know that you have not added too much thickness in spacers.  So either you have nailed it the first time, or you need to add more because of axial play...

Step 9

The way that you determine if you have any play or side-to-side movement is by grabbing onto the left crankarm and either the seattube or downtube and moving the crankarm towards and away from the frame, or perpendicular to the frame. Sensitivity to movement is key here...If you feel just some movement or play, you will need to add to the thickness of the shims.  Add in small increments because it's easier to add thickness and decrease the play than it is to add too much.  Important:  It is crucial that you do not add too many shims.  Adding too much thickness could lead to damage to the bearings and not allow the Hirth joint to completely come together as designed which in turn could lead to failure. It's not difficult to get this right.  For example: If you started with one 1.0mm and two 0.2mm shims for a total of 1.4mm of shim thickness, and you still have some play/movement, I would replace the two 0.2mm shims with one 0.5mm shim giving you 1.5mm of shim thickness...and so forth.  So, if you feel some movement, you need to go back to step 5, make the shim adjustments while doing step 6 and then complete step 7. 

Step 10

Check for axial movement as described in step 9 above.  If there still is some movement (which should be less than before), then add to the thickness, and repeat steps, 5,6, and 7.  (Chances are that you will get to the point when the crank is too tight and/or binds against the left cup.  If this occurs, just subtract the smallest amount of shim thickness that you can.)  If you do not have any side movement.... You're done!!! Well... not really, but almost... Proceed to step 11.

Step 11

Now that you have determined the correct amount of shims, go back one last time the step 5. While completing step 6, apply grease/anti-seize to left cup and bottom bracket shell threads and then tighten left cup to torque spec mentioned above.  Finally, when you are doing step 7, apply a good amount of high quality grease to the internal cup surfaces and the bearing.  Make sure that you insert the fixing bolt into the right side semi-axle and tighten to 42Nm.

    Congrats!  You are done!  Now all that you have to do is clean up.  

TheRogueMechanic Shim kits are available here.  

 The kit contains the following:

  • 2 - 1.0mm Stainless Steel Shims

  • 2 - 0.5mm Stainless Steel Shims

  • 2 - 0.2mm Stainless Steel Shims

  • 2 - 0.1mm Stainless Steel Shims

Available now for English Bottom Brackets.

Coming Soon... Wavewasherectomy Shim Kits for Italian Bottom Brackets!

Made in U.S.A.

I hope that this helps.  Based on the volume of emails and comments that I received about this issue, I believe that there are more people experiencing Campagnolo Ultra-Torque problems than those few folks on some of the cycling forums would like for you to believe.  I really appreciate your patience and all of the kind comments that I have received here and via email.  If you have questions, just let me know.

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