The Token Ninja Thread Fit 7 In 1 Bottom Bracket exists to let you fit a variety of different cranksets to your PF30 or BB386-sized frame. It's a robust, creak-free design, and if you have issues with noise or see yourself swapping cranksets regularly, this might be for you.
- Pros: Required tools are in the kit, lots of options re cranks, silences creaks, perfectly aligned, rebuildable and removable
- Cons: Shallow teeth mean unless you're really, really careful you'll eventually need a more-permanent 48.5mm BB tool
The Ninja 7 In 1 kit is based around Token's TF37 bottom bracket. We first encountered the Ninja system back in 2016. The design seeks to solve the eternal problem of creaking by using a proprietary mixture of plastic and fibreglass over the alloy shell that the bearings sit in. So between the bearing/alloy shell and your alloy or carbon BB shell is a layer of composite material designed to fill the gap and not be noisy.
In order to remain in place, the two halves thread together – so it's combining pressed bearings, pressed composite and threads, all designed to work together. Another bonus of having the two halves of the BB in perfect alignment via the threaded centre section is guaranteed perfect bearing alignment left and right – even a tiny aberration in bearing alignment will see one or the other sides fail prematurely due to uneven loading and excessive off-axis force on the individual bearings.
Token sells each version of this design in specific sizes to suit BB shells and crankset spindles, priced at around the £50 point. What you get in the 7 In 1 kit are adapters, spacers and washers, wavy and flat, to allow the fitting of four different crankset designs – Shimano Hollowtech II 24mm, SRAM GPX, BB386 or BB30 – into PF30 or BB386 bottom bracket shells. The only non-starter is putting a BB30 crankset into a BB386 shell – that combo don't hunt, as the BB30 spindle is too short for the BB386 shell width.
Why you'd want to pay £40 extra at RRP for this flexibility is the crux of whether the 7 In 1 kit is for you. Maybe you've invested a fortune in a power measuring crankset, which you want to swap easily between bikes with differing BB standards. Or maybe you are planning to buy a new bike at some stage that you know will be a 46mm-diameter PF30/BB386 shell, which you might want to swap the Token into – I'm sure there are other valid use cases out there.
The easy-to-read instructions spell out which adapters you'll need to fit in which order. Unlike all other press fit designs I've encountered, you don't need a bearing press or assorted bushes – the Ninja assembles in the frame by hand, the threads coming together with enough slack to turn by hand – then you tighten using the provided plastic installation tools.
All you need to provide is two 1/2in-drive wrenches. The non-drive side is held stationary while you wind in the drive side, tightening to between 25-30Nm. That's a bit less than a Shimano threaded BB, but here's the only issue I had with the Ninja system – the provided, proprietary tool. The two tools need to grip the 16-tooth indented outer of the shells, and the depth is just 1.5mm. That's a precariously-narrow face to apply 30Nm of torque to, with no way of holding the tool onto the BB itself aside from pressing hard.
I ended up strapping the non-drive-side tool handle to the crank, holding the tool inwards with my first set of arms, while using my third and fourth arms to simultaneously press inward and rotate the drive-side tool. Zaphod Beeblebrox, eat yer heart out.
The result of this shenanigans was two slips of the plastic tool on the very thin metal BB face, resulting in the tool teeth ending up fairly mangled by the time I'd hit torque spec. In hindsight I'd have laid the bike on its side, with my weight pressing down on the drive-side BB tool and the non-drive-side tool opposite, allowing both compressive and rotating forces to be applied simultaneously.
Interestingly, Token's online video showing the Ninja installation process doesn't use a tool/driver to hold the non-drive-side cup steady – apparently there's enough friction to tighten with only the drive side needing a tool applied. UK distributor i-Ride claims success swapping the Ninja BB between bikes for demo purposes, and I see the threaded design enabling this.
On the Token website the removal process is shown to require minimal violence – simply unscrew the non-drive side a small distance then tap square-on with a suitably-protected hammer – once the drive side is pushed free, continue unscrewing to remove.
i-Ride advises: 'There is an aftermarket tool available from Token that has a more secure fit than the ones supplied in the box. The ones supplied in the box are realistically only designed for a single use, however I'm sure you will be aware that there are not many brands that ship a fitment tool with their bottom brackets at all.'
The Ninja BB has an external diameter of 48.5mm, same as FSA MegaEVO with a V (*not* MegaEXO with an X) bottom brackets. The Token 1/2in-drive socket tool looks pretty tasty at £21.99 from i-Ride, with a long 30mm diameter axle section that slides all the way through both bearing shells to ensure perfect alignment and, critically, no slippage while you crank down the torques.
Park does its double-ended 48.5/39mm BBT-29 spanner for about £20 everywhere, or if you want to go full-Gucci there's the Wheels Manufacturing double-sided 48.5/44mm CNC socket with 1/2in drive for a torque wrench for £50. If you want to be torquing down to spec, you'll be needing a socket version – as you get two plastic tools in the box, maybe go for the one-sided install as per the video, and save one as a get-out-of-jail Sunday Best reserve.
All this said, the Ninja slid into place smoothly, composite material doing the job. The crankset adapters are machined to a close tolerance with the BB faces, a thin layer of grease all you need to pretty much make the outer bearing face area impervious to moisture ingress, and that's before the bearing seals themselves.
Country road testing
After about 500km of country-road spring riding and frequent use of a pressure washer to clean up, I removed the crankset and 24mm adapters to find all the grease still intact on the bearing seal face and no sign of water or dirt ingress.
Slipping your crankset of choice home is easy, the now-perfectly aligned bearing faces meaning that minimal, no-tools effort is required. If you plan on removing a crankset often, this is what you want to see. If you need a hammer to knock it through there'll be excessive, damaging lateral forces applied to the bearing faces that will cause premature failure. I used a 24mm-spindle Shimano crankset, meaning there was pretty much zero chance of applying any side force to the bearings themselves as the only contact was with the adapters. The 30mm crankset I tried out also slid through the bearings themselves with little effort.
Token claims a 78% decrease in friction compared to 'most other BB' – certainly the Ninja runs very smoothly, a single drive-side crank swinging back and forth under its own weight for some time. All bearings will fail, eventually, and when they eventually do, i-Ride advises: 'The bearings are replaceable in the Ninja BB's. The use of the alloy shell means that the bearings themselves can be drifted out and replaced a number of times. This is one of the benefits over a standard plastic press-fit BB. We do not currently list the bearings themselves on our website but they are available by calling our service team. They are industry standard bearings allowing them to be replaced with bearings from many companies or Token's own TBT/Tiramic bearings'.
I could see myself fitting a Ninja BB to a second bike if I wanted to swap a power crank on a regular basis. Or, possibly to swap between different sizes of chainring for different riding applications, say flat road (semi-compact) versus hilly-gravel-grovelling (sub-compact, as we discuss here).
With the rise of wide-clearance frames and disc-braked wheelsets allowing easy swapping between 650B and 700C applications, and mix-and-match thru-axle adaptors for on-and off-road use, owning one bike with loads of flexibility is clearly the future. So that out-and-out summer bike with lightweight skinny 700C wheels and training-plan-empowering semi-compact power crank could easily become a dirty weekend 650B sub-compact chainset gravel-singletrack basher.
Choice is good, and with components like the Token Ninja 7 In 1 BB, your choices are broad indeed.
A good option for baking quiet, rebuildable flexibility into your press-fit-equipped frame
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Token Ninja Thread Fit 7 in 1
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
It's for people wanting to keep their options open regarding crank size, whilst guaranteeing a silent ride.
We don't want to start a fight but we think it's fair to claim that there are some problems with press fit bottom brackets. They creak, don't last all that long and are installed and removed with tools that cavemen would recognise. TOKEN's Thread Fit bottom bracket solves the creaking issues, improves bearing life and adds stiffness to the bottom bracket.
We start with our Fusion technology; it is a combination of plastic and fibre that cover an alloy bottom bracket shell. The composite material allows it to be precisely machined and fit snugly in the frame so it doesn't move in the frame and sound like grandma's clicking and creaking arthritic knees. But plastic and fibre don't do a good job of supporting bearings; poorly supported bearings can wear prematurely.
We house the bearings in an alloy shell and wrap it with plastic and fibre. This fusion of the three materials provides the bearings a solid platform to sit on and extends their lives. A lot of people would be satisfied with this, but we went even further by extending the alloy shell so the right and left sides lock together. This ties the frame, cranks and bottom bracket together to they can't move.
The Thread Fit bottom bracket doesn't just solve the problem of noisy bottom brackets - it actually improves the life of the bottom bracket and makes your bike more responsive. There aren't many times a replacement part actually improves your bike but put one on your bike and you'll wonder why you didn't install a Thread Fit sooner.
But the genius of this bottom bracket is that it comes with all the necessary spacers, shims, and fittings to allow you to install any road bike crank on your press fit frame. That means no more guess work and trial and error. Just install the bottom bracket as usual then fit the correct supplied spacers and you're ready to hit the road and ride instead of hitting the wall out of frustration.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Available in standard (premium bearings) or TBT (ceramic bearings) option
Very nicely made.
Smooth as butter, quiet as the grave, perfectly aligned.
Seems rock-solid and impervious to water.
Pretty hefty, but then you have options galore.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The ease of insertion and removal of the crank makes servicing a dream, and a much more do-able job than drifting it out of a bearing that would end up knackered.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The very shallow teeth and plastic tool – you'll need to budget £20-odd for something hefty and to 48.5mm spec.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I've marked the Ninja 7-in-1 down on a few fronts: most notably, the price: £90 is a lot of cash, but then you're getting a lot of flexibility of use. And the teeth could be deeper than 1.5mm, preventing damage to tool or teeth.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.