Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bottom Bracket Standard to Change?

There have been many changes to the bicycles core component "standards" over the years. Most obvious is the headset size which has been all over the place in the last twenty years but seems to be settling on 1 1/8th for most all applications. (Again, can it really be a "standard" if not everyone is using the size in question?) Handle bar/ stem interfaces seem to be the most recent "standard" under attack. However; there has been another quietly brewing revolution at hand that is starting to get noticed more and more. This battle is beginning to rage over bottom bracket size.

To be fair, the "bottom bracket wars" have been going on now for a number of years in the world of BMX. The American sized "standard" has been assailed by the European bottom bracket, the "Spanish" bottom bracket, and something called the "mid-sized" bottom bracket, which was a new one on me just about a month ago. (Admittedly, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to BMX proclivities)

Now this "BB brouhaha" is about to come to your favorite bike brands. Cannondale, which has employed it's own in house bottom bracket size since about 2000, has introduced the "standard" to use by the rest of the industry. The SI Bottom Bracket uses an oversized shell and spindle to gain stifness, greater bearing contact surface area, and lighter weight. All good things in a bottom bracket, no doubt. The company has made it's own cranksets in the past to accomodate the larger spindle size and recently has been integrating SRM power meters into these cranks and has even gotten component maker FSA to design a crankset around this "standard" The latest company to adopt this oversized BB is Specailized who are using it in their 2007 FACT model with the oversized crankset spindle and bottom bracket.

Is this a good idea? Well, I think it's an innovation that technically makes sense. However; you will hear alot of "kicking and whining" from some folks who will cry "foul" because their old bike has now become "obsolete". I say you have more to worry about with the demise of the availability of seven speed shifters and cassettes than you do about this new "standard".

Think about it. You can still buy new square taper cranks and bottom brackets. That's not going away any time soon. While Cannondale may seem like they are "imposing their will" on the unsuspecting populace, I say it's about time that some of this stuff has gotten a freshening up. Bottom bracket size could stand a little scrutiny, and the Cannondale, ( and Pinarello idea called MOst, for that matter) is a step in the right direction. While I'm not yet sold on the attachment of the crankarms yet, (splined systems in use today haven't shown a reliability above that of square taper in my opinion) I can see that there is alot of potential here to improve upon the lowly bottom bracket.

But please! Don't call it a standard..........not yet anyway!

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