Wed, May 7, 2008
If you’ve been involved in the mountain bike scene for very long, you are probably aware that at any given time the industry is rife with technical standards vying for a spot on your next bike. ISCG chainguide tabs, OnePointFive steer tubes, UST rims and tires, post mount brakes, and ISIS bottom brackets are only the tip of the ‘international standard’ iceberg. With this tiresome history of oh-so-dull technical standards in mind, it is easy to dismiss the new BB30 standard as one more acronym for the pile. However, you’d be doing yourself a pretty big disservice in the process, because BB30 is one standard that is starting to show some real potential.
BB30 refers to an oversized bottom bracket shell which replaces a conventional bottom bracket with bearings pressed directly into the frame, spinning a 30mm spindle. This setup allows frame designers to simultaneously achieve two key goals: lower weight and increased stiffness. The lower weight comes from the elimination of the traditional bearing cups, as well as the lighter weight of an aluminum spindle. A weight savings of up to 120g can be had from this change alone. The increase in stiffness is achieved by this oversized spindle, as well as the increased size of the bottom bracket shell.
The concept underpinning BB30 is hardly new. Cannondale has been the driving force behind the technology and first introduced it under the Si moniker in 2000. More recently Specialized has been offering its own BB30 cranks on a few of its S-Works models. But this year’s Sea Otter seems to have marked a real turning point for BB30, and a snowball effect has clearly begun. SRAM and FSA have jumped into the ring, as well as Jamis, Kona, and Titus. FSA alone introduced seven new crank options which use the BB30 standard.
Despite a slow start, then, the future is looking bright for both BB30 and mountain bikers. Lighter weight and more stiffness are always welcome on a new bike, and BB30 offers a simple way to achieve both. Expect to see it offered on plenty of new bikes in the near future.