Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's A Drag, Man!

I recently got thrown into this centuries mountain bike technologies by default. I had bikes that were complete builds sent to me for testing or obtained by me that I didn't spec. I thought at first that I must be missing out on some things, so I didn't make any fuss about it. I mean, everyone is using stuff like this these days, right? It couldn't be bad.

Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong! Especially about one component idea: the outboard bottom bracket. This idea is not bad. No, it's the execution of it that I despise.

Why? Bearing drag, that's why. I know, I know! You are going to say, "It'll break in, give it time." Uh-uh......no! I shouldn't have to. Here is why. I have ridden bottom brackets in bikes that spun like butter from day one. And stayed that way for a loooong time. They are called square taper spindle bottom brackets. You know, those bottom brackets that are supposed to be flexy, old skool, and have bad crank arm interfaces? Yeah.......those bottom brackets!

I could care less if the bottom bracket spindle flexed a bit if it means that I don't have to pedal a bike whose crank arms only spin around four or five times when given a twirl with no chain engaged on it! We used to measure the worth of a bottom bracket by how many seconds it spun, and one that spun for a minute with the cranks attached was considered stellar. A crank that spins only four or five times with no chain? Can you say "bearing seal drag?"

I work hard enough getting around on my long rides, I don't need to work harder because this new technology is stiffer than the old technology. Who cares about stiffness of their bottom bracket at hour number five anyhow? Not I. I know one thing though, I could be pedalling something that isn't sapping my strength, and that's a square taper cartridge bottom bracket. It's exactly what my two single speeds have, and it's what my Haro Mary is going to get.

Don't even start with this special Phil Wood that, or ceramic ball bearings this, I don't have that kind of money anyway. Square taper cartridge BB's are cheap and still available in the higher quality versions. Guess I should thank "new technology" for making the older, better stuff cheap and unwanted.

Bearings that feel like you are pedaling through mud? pfffffftttt! You can have 'em! They're a drag, man!

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