Eleven years ago when I bought the M-trax in a traditional bike shop in Wellington Somerset, I was told that I’d have to periodically maintain and clean the unsealed bottom bracket. I tried to get a sealed version but it never seemed to work out and although I did take it to bits and repack it occasionally (Okay, once) I generally forgot about the whole affair until a few weeks ago when the pedal cranks started to wobble alarmingly, and the whole lot started to make worrying noises. Very worrying noises.

However, I am bloke- I repaired my gear cable and made the front mech work. Accordingly I bought a €20 BB cassette from the shop in the next village, borrowed a set of bike tools off a friend and with the help of a rather old copy of ‘the bike book’ and several YouTube videos I nervously set to work with a spanner and Shimano bottom bracket remover. Fortunately I’d mentally digested the fact that some screws undo clockwise so the cranks and right hand side came off with minimal swearing, and then we came to the left hand side, and bent a spanner.

The BB I had was an odd design. For those with an unhealthy interest in such things, it was secured with a Shimano type bracket as well as a normal securing ring. Unfortunately the two parts looked like they were one, and resisted all attempts at removal until I eventually took the subtle approach of putting an old bolt in one of the notches for the ring spanner and hitting it with a hammer. This removed the offending ring and as an extra bonus relieved the built up frustration of the previous fifteen minutes.

At this point I discovered why the whole was in such a state: one ball bearing was missing from its cage. I have no idea how it managed to escape and disappear.

Then I put the new bracket in. I’m embarrassed to ask this, but is there a right and a wrong way to do this? There was no instruction on the barrel of the bracket, and the bike book only gave instructions for Shimano brackets (“If there’s an alloy collar put in in the left, if it’s a plastic collar put it on the right”.) this wasn’t a Shimano bracket but it has an alloy collar so I put it on the right. It seems to work.