Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Habla Español.

Today, Darcy Saccucci posted an impassioned defense of the Spanish bottom bracket over at Macneil that boils down to just two points:

• It's lighter.
• It looks better.

No mention of performance, no mention of longevity, no mention of bearing loads or anything like that. Just a series of photos of bearings on digital scales that prove—well, would you look at that—that the smaller Spanish bearings are lighter.

Well I'll be.

Only sometimes smaller isn't better, is it? Despite the apparent epidemic of shrinking frame tubes, you don't see anyone clamoring for the return of 1/4" dropouts and 1" headtubes. Why not? They'd be lighter, right? You're telling me a company couldn't produce a viable 1" internal headset, or a viable 1" threadless fork in 2009? Why not?

You know what I want to do with my bottom bracket? I want to install it and forget about it. And if that extra 100 grams means I don't ever have to look at the thing, then that's 100 grams I don't mind carrying around.

Besides, who still uses Spanish anyway? There's Macneil, of course, and Fly, and T1, and...


Hey, what if I told you that there was another bearing system that's even SMALLER and LIGHTER that's been in use forever where you actually screw cups into your frame, thus avoiding the use of hammers and mallets and scavenged pieces of 2x4? Would you be interested in that at all? What's that? Durability? Haven't you been listening at all? It's lighter and sleeker! What more could you want?


Anonymous said...

The American or Mid Bearing is also a stock bearing that almost every bearing manufacturer carries. The Spanish bearing must be special ordered, meaning extra time and expense, as well.

While I respect Darcy as a designer, in this case he's pleading for the survival of of a dying species. Let it go, dude. Does a frame really need to get any lighter? There's plenty of Mid BB 4+ pound frames out there.

traskVT said...

My Deluxe has a spanish bb as well. just fyi.

I agree with whomever said that before (it might've even been you):

"Spanish or Mid, just pick one already!"

Anonymous said...

The last time I checked, MOST frame drops are 5mm or 3/16", which is in fact, thinner/ smaller than 1/4".

Russ said...

Yeah, I should have said 1/8" inch dropouts—old school race style—for all the pegless guys. I'll just leave it, though.

robbosstache said...

macneil is still pissed that their plastic euro bottom bracket fiasco thing didn't actually work anywhere but on paper...

gsport george said...

For your information:-

The standard R12 (mid for 3/4" axle) bearing is rated at a static load of 5100N

The 20mm Spanish BB (which is the only one you will find numbers for) is rated at a static load of 3700N

Michael said...

Sputnic is still running Spanish as well

Dan said...

Trask- who the hell is Deluxe?

Jerry From Poland said...

Failure has spanish as well. Been running one in my amuerte. It works fine, even though i run primo powerbites (22m axle).

Anonymous said...

there's no such thing as a spanish bearing that will outlast a mid bearing. of all the available options, not a single spanish bearing is built to the standards of even the cheapest mid bearings. save yourself roughly a dozen headaches per frame kids, avoid spanish like the inquisition.

Anonymous said...

ive got the failure also and still on the same b/b for about a year. no problems im happy

DBZ said...

The one difference I've noticed between the two is that Spanish bearings are generally a hell of a lot easier to install and remove. I usually have to destroy one Mid bearing to remove the entire bottom bracket, and pressing them in isn't a walk in the park either.

I haven't had the pleasure of working on any post-weld machined bottom brackets though, i.e. Sunday and whoever else actually bothers with that, but generally speaking, Spanish seems to go together a lot easier and more precisely.

A larger bearing is of course going to be stronger, and it doesn't hurt that R12 bearings are widely available. It's not even that hard to find the R12-22 bearing these days. I'm just stuck on T-1 frames, and I haven't had any problems with a Spanish BB yet.

I obsess about these, sometimes:

I realize they're probably completely inappropriate for a BMX bike, but they just look so fucking cool...

DBZ said...

Bah. Type .jpg on the end of that URL I put up there, if you actually bother.

Brett Rohlfing said...


Thomas said...

when i got my deluxe frame, i was a little disappointed to find that it had a spanish bb, but whatever. i've never had any problems with the bb in the past. and i agree with what DBZ said, the spanish bb seem a little easier to install. i can just about pop them in with my hands, but with the mid, i had to use a hammer with plenty of force.

Jake said...

yo Dan,
trails based company, heading in an awesome direction.

Anonymous said...

whatever. eastern is cutting huge friggin holes everywhere, khe is building flatland bikes and calling them "park" or ,even worse, "street" bikes and close to all companies are cutting the shit out of their stems.
and then they dare to use crude, insulting headlines like "innovative company" and "the futur of bmx".
it would just be THE shit if some comp. would just post a fucking proposal for some kind of bb norm.
THAT would be something new.
i swear, the first bmx comp. to do so would have a lifetime warranty from me that ill buy only their shit. including a new frame every year. (exept eastern. im still quite pissed because of the holes)

Colby said...

i think it's interesting to see that a large amount of the custom FBM frames have american bb's. "if it ain't broke..."

Leland said...

And I thought I was crazy when I read that piece. Especially when the come up intros it as some great innovation like the pivotal and some fancy designer says "Its a little lighter and fits frames of the future more aesthetically".

ryan said...

My mid goes in and out by hand. A friend's spanish didn't want to go in with a hammer and a block of wood.

It's just a retarded argument

digahole said...

the reason that there is the bb mess is that companies DID put out their proposals for a bb norm.

I've got a spanish on my bike and never any problems with it, but I'm not going to try and argue that it's better than a mid, when it's clearly weaker. But Darcy gets a paycheck and he's towing the company line. What's he going to say? Mid BB's coming in 2011?

That said, I think part of the problem is 22mm spindles. They're not necessary and just a leftover from the "the heavier the better" days. Mid, Spanish, whatever. Just start with one spindle size and it'll makes coming up with one bb size a lot easier.

sam said...

there is no argument. companies make different products for a reason and that reason is to have a 'better' product than the opponent companies. Whether it's better is up to the consumer. I think it is good that we actually have a choice.

brien said...

22mm spindles aren't necessary? the majority of cranks on the market use them. Hell, go check out any halfway decent road or MTB crank and see how big that spindle is. At least we're not using outboard bearings.

SpaceBagels said...

"That said, I think part of the problem is 22mm spindles. They're not necessary and just a leftover from the "the heavier the better" days. Mid, Spanish, whatever. Just start with one spindle size and it'll makes coming up with one bb size a lot easier."

A 22mm spindle crank can be made STRONGER and LIGHTER than a 3/4" Spindled crank. Case in point: Twombolts.

"My mid goes in and out by hand. A friend's spanish didn't want to go in with a hammer and a block of wood.

It's just a retarded argument"

Yup. It's a retarded and more so ignorant argument.

The reason Mid BB bearings are hard to get into the BB shell is not the fault of the bearings. It's the fault of the BB shell dimension.

The BB shells most likely have undergone distortion during welding or they may have been machined over or undersized in the first place.

Bearing races are precision machined to exact tolerances that it would take a fancy equipment just to find any discrepancies and this is more so with the standard R12.

It seems that the development of a more standardized BB for BMX namely the Mid BB and the less popular Sapnish doesn't seem to solve all the problems that it was intended to deal with.

I've measured BB widths of these new BBs on the frames in my shop and I have found numerous deviations. It seems the frame designers just came up the number out of their arses with no regards to standardization.

Not to mention the out of round distortion of most BBs which is quite common(except for Sunday frames), it seems our new effort of standardization have virtually failed to solve SOME of the sizing problems
faced by the larger previous older USA BB. This is another of case of the "brilliant idea, bad execution" of the industry imparted by the people with a lax attitude and IDGAF mentality.

At least with a USA BB when the shell was undersize or distorted you can skim them on a lathe or ghetto sand round the soft bb cup, but with the new BB, is there any cheap and easy way to internally ream the shell at the consumer end? No? Then we are back to square one.

Smitty said...

Hey, nice work SpaceBagels.

G-Sport George, what would the rated static load of a Mid Bearing with a 22 mm ID be? Estimate it for us, if no published numbers exist?

Beau said...

Wow I didn't read any of that wall of text after referencing TWOMBOLTS as a "case in point" to how strong a 22mm spindle can be. I have a ratchet and ribcages, I really like a lot of the gsport george stuff, but those cranks are HORRIBLE. I don't know what they updated but I still have seen every pair on a bike snap within a few months. The wedges are solving a problem that has never existed. They are all around terrible, why anyone would ride them is completely beyond me.

ToastyBagels said...

"I don't know what they updated..."

Then consider your post utterly useless as well.

"but I still have seen every pair on a bike snap within a few months."

Seriously. Stop talking out of your arse. EVERY pair? Really, your statement is full of more crap than you can find at an outdoor Country music festival.

Eric said...

Unless you've installed some Wombolts on your personal bike and rode them a while, your opinion doesn't mean anything to anyone but yourself. I'm currently running second-hand first generation Wombolts. They've never been loose and don't flex.

George/Odyssey never said that the wedge cluster was a fix to a problem. It's the most integral piece of that particular crankset. When properly installed, the wedge cluster works perfectly.

Beau said...

Damn you are right, after seeing countless pairs snap like a twig I should buy a pair so I can have a more valid perspective on a comment board.

Anonymous said...

"G-Sport George, what would the rated static load of a Mid Bearing with a 22 mm ID be? Estimate it for us, if no published numbers exist?"

it would be quite similiar as the balls and outer races are exactly the same, the inner race is just ground out to a larger ID

"The Mid is an American BB without the aluminum cups. As I see it, this is a minimal change and has no great advantage over the old school American BB"

the BIIIG advantage is people know what size a midd bb is, there are no arguments or confusion like with the usbb (where everyone made up a size sorta close)

"Spanish seems to go together a lot easier and more precisely."

precision and looseness are 2 completely diferent things. IMO due to the bearing arrangement in bb's a tight fit is BETTER (to a point) as both bearings can take some of the axial loading instead of just one bearing taking the load and the other just displacing a bit. also a loose bb will get looser, a tight bb wont get tighter.

Anonymous said...

Ya. It seems this Beau (Seriously Beau, what kind of a gay faggoty ass name is that?) is talking out of his ass with nothing more than to back it up other than mindless, useless ignobable.

Keep grinding that stupid rail because that's the ONLY thing that you are capable of doing and stay away from intelligent discussions. While you're at it, slam your nuts on that rail for good measure.

Beau said...

My real name is Steel McBeasthammer, I had it legally changed to be more gay. I'm sure wombolts are fine for your curb shredding anonymous, you can disregard what I say until you step it up to 3 stairs and 5 foot quarters.

Aaron said...

Actually, I'm pretty sure they've steted that the wedge cluster on wombolts is to eliminate crank wobble, which they do very well. I've had mine for a year and a half and they're fine. I've hated every other pair of cranks I've had because of the wobble, so I think these are great. It kind of makes sense why they break the way they do though, the way they're held on puts a lot of outward pressure on the spindle boss.

As for the original post, I run spanish with a 22mm spindle and they're also still fine after a year and a half. Who breaks a bottom bracket?

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! I'm sure you're just trolling for attention. I can't wait to be entertained by your next post knowing you'll spout out incredible nonsense as well.

Anonymous said...

5:24 AM is a response to Beau

digahole said...

The majority of cranks on the market use 22mm? I'm talking about bmx - not road or mtb.

I couldn't give you the exact numbers, but I'd say a hollow 19mm spindle like the new style profile spindles would be more or less the sameweight as a the twombolt spindle.

But the point is that bearings used with 22mm spindles will always be smaller and so more likely to fail than the spindle itself.

Anonymous said...

So the argument still has no precise answer.
But one thing is for certain though, R12 Mids has a larger static load than a 22mm bored Mid BB since the combined races of mid 22s are about 3mm thinner.

Profile > Odyssey Twombolts in the bearing category.

I can see now why George didn't bother to post the numbers on his cranks... like Beau said, they suck!
Odyssey are as guilty as McNeil.

gsport george said...

"I can see now why George didn't bother to post the numbers on his cranks... like Beau said, they suck!
Odyssey are as guilty as McNeil."

We do extensive lab testing as well as ride testing on things like cranks, bars, forks, plegs etc... and we also test our competitors products... However I am not going to post these numbers because it isnt fair to them when we have done the testing, chosen the test-rig set-up and test regime. And I get enough shit as it is...

And posting just our numbers would be meaningless without something to compare to.

However I will say that I am very happy with the numbers we get now on the Twombolts.

Sure the MkI Wombolts had a disappointingly high warranty rate, but even then it was still a single digit percentage and many of those first gen cranks are still running fine today with no problems.
With the Twombolt, we are now looking at fractions of one percent of those sold.

In response to these issues we have taken extensive steps to improve the crank and not shyed away from discussing the issue. Compare that to our competitors. Does anyone else treat their customers like adults and discuss the issues and what has being done to fix them? Do they honour their warranties as well?

To come on here or elsewhere on the internet and slag us off is your perogative but it doesnt change the facts. Twombolts are strong light cranks that are being used by some of the harshest riders without problems and that have a solid LIFETIME warranty if there is ever an issue...

Now in terms of the actual SUBJECT of this blog post:

I dont have numbers for 22mm versions, and I dont want to "guess", but both bearings need a similar amount of modification (they arent just ground out, both are typically re-enginnered around a different ball race diameter) so the reductions in strength are probably going to be similar.

Smitty said...

Thanks George, for providing another candid response. I respect your point about not publishing your test data. Odsy paid to do the testing, they should reap the benefits of the testing without feeling compelled to make it public record. Further, if ever such test data was used in a marketing campaign, wouldn't the average consumer tend to view it skeptically anyway? Might as well keep it under wraps.

Discussions like this always spin out of control, thanks to anecdotal evidence. Personally, I just had difficult experience assembling a new 3-pc crankset that came out of a Taiwan factory. But I realize that my experience was just one case - maybe an isolated case, maybe not - but I am not going to damn the brand to hell just for one case.

What I think is interesting is that as companies push toward lighter, better performing products, they test prototypes that are necessarily made under rather controlled conditions, conforming to known tolerances.

It always changes when things go to production. Things go awry that could never be imagined.

So, as this discussion evolves - what are we discussing here? I thought it was which bearing is theoretically "the best" for the application of a BMX bottom bracket?

Anonymous said...

twombolts are maybe the cheapest cranks with lifetime =) that was my reason for buying.

Jerry from Poland said...

I'm gonna stick with my powerbites for now. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And on BB's... I think Gorge's Yourkshire BB was a great idea, too bad it didn't work out. But out of the two (mid and spanish) I'd rather mid simply because it's easier to get and stronger.

Anonymous said...

For the record, we (FBM) haven't made any custom frames with American BB shells.

Anonymous said...

JPR, can i get a spanish bb on a custom fbm?

JETT! said...

I still rock an american bb. No problems at all. Eat shit and die Darcy. I fuckin' hated your seats too.

To those of you who say it's too heavy, I'm with russ on this one. If it's more user friendly(install it and forget about it)then I'll carry the weight.

Besides, there's no better way to admit to the world that you're a pussy than to complain about the weight of your bike. Go take a shit. See? 3 pounds skimmed away. Or, maybe pick up something heavier than a pbr from time to time.

My trailboss is roughly a pound heavier than current production frames, and still rides like it's new. Whenever these companies get out of the disposable frame market, then we can talk about real innovation. But wait, quality and longevity are bad for business.

And just for the record, JPR, your face looks like an armenian man's armpit. Get a haircut, hippy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me. I just bought some from DK, so we'll be able to do Spanish BB customs next week.

Anonymous said...

What an arsehole...mid BBs look big and bulky? Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

LOL Beau and the anonymous shit talking guy has just been pwned by George! Trolls... They always talk out of their asses just to see some rise.

This is why I love Odyssey/G-Sport, they always take their time to defend their products with facts. Unlike some no-life arseholes just tapping out keyboards because they have nothing to do...

Colby said...

Sorry JPR, I thought I saw a couple on fbm updates, they mustve been mids.

Beau said...

Shit, I got "pwned by facts"! Why would I ever judge based on consumers opinions when the person who stands to make money on the sale of something will give me the facts about them? I'm ordering a pair of Wombolts and a SlapChop right now!

Anonymous said...

"Sure the MkI Wombolts had a disappointingly high warranty rate, but even then it was still a single digit percentage and many of those first gen cranks are still running fine today with no problems.
With the Twombolt, we are now looking at fractions of one percent of those sold."

I call bullshit on the first version Wombolts warranty rate being in the single digits. AND, Odyssey isn't even in the same universe as Profile as far as the amount of cranks they have sold and are STILL out there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...


Wethepeople and federal use mids

Anonymous said...

Don't feed the trolls.

Anonymous said...


Ah, bullshit.

Stephen said...

My SFA takes Spanish and if it is good enough for the Ultimate Male, then it is good enough for all of us.

That is that.

Mr B said...

Most people seem to be saying that mids are better because the extra strength is worth the extra weight.

If this is the case then why does everyone run stems with massive holes milled into them? Surely by then the weight saved isn't worth the strength lost?

The reason people run stems with the holes is because they are strong enough for the job in hand, so we then need to ask ourselves what strength do we need from a bottom bracket.

Isn't it possible that a spanish bearing is strong enough and that mid are overkill?
Has anyone actually had problems with disintigrating spanish bearings?

Anonymous said...

Russ, anything about the KHE bb?

Taj said...

I've had a ton of Spanish BB frames. I find that the bearings always fail relatively fast. Probably been through like 7 or 8 sets of bearings. I'm really careful about using the correct size spacer and installing them correctly... I think they just don't hold up well to heavy riders like me. I wish we would have used Mids back when I had something to do with deciding things like that. The problem was that at first mids weren't available in the 22mm spindle size, and Spanish was. They are cheap though... so if they occasionally need to be replaced no big deal.

Its super annoying to have so many BB sizes floating around BMX. Makes no sense at all. Its a perfect example of how petty the BMX industry is that we can't work something like that out.

Russ said...

Yeah, I'm not sure why we can't just accept a mid standard for all BMX frames. The bearings are readily available in both 19 and 22mm, and the weight difference is negligible. I mean, when VHS became the standard, Betamax went away. The same thing should happen here. Shouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

If bike companies were like most companies, FBM would have our own specs on just about every part of our completes and if you needed to replace something or wanted to buy an aftermarket part, you'd have to buy FBM or something compatible made by an aftermarket company. Like most cars and motorcycles.

That's why the dude who invented tubular BMX forks made Redline's with 5" head tubes for a while. So you'd have to buy Redline forks to go with your Redline frame.

Two sizes isn't that big of a deal. We want to make our frames with a mid, it'd be absurd for someone to force us to use a Spanish BB. That's called personal choice, not being petty.

How many people think Taj should start working at FBM painting our frames?

Anonymous said...

george french, claiming the overwhelming majority of wombolt failures is due to the rider putting them together wrong instead of accepting responsibility for terrible design is not speaking to customers 'like they're adults.'

saying 'even though you riders are the idiots that can't put cranks on, we'll show some charity and warranty them when they break' instead of taking responsibility for terrible design is not speaking to customers 'like they're adults.'

insulting our intelligence by outright lying about failure percentages being single digit or less instead of taking responsibility for terrible design is not speaking to customers 'like they're adults.'

you have consistently portrayed yourself and odyssey via personal internet presence as honest perfectionists that design the most flawless bmx parts on earth. however, the reality of the situation is you're a self-righteous hype man that feeds the online bmx community skewed propaganda meant to both stroke your own ego and save your job as the warranty claims come rolling in. of course there is no comparison when it comes to the scale of things, but your public relations policy is incredibly similar to that of the bush administration: holier than thou, deny guilt to the grave. it's disgusting.

thank god trends change and riders eventually grow up to see through the crap they were fed as kids. i can't wait until odyssey is the next primo. or the original laughing stock odyssey.

Andrew said...

To the guy above me,

I know absolutly nothing about you other than the fact that you know nowhere near as much about bmx as George French. It would be completely appropriate for him to not talk to riders like they're adults because most of us are kids.

AND primo became a joke because of the whole greg walsh thing. With a team like they had they could've kept on selling mountains of horrible products until bmx dies.


Anonymous two posts above... why? I'm glad you're anonymous because you would've made a complete asshole out of yourself if you chose to use your real name.

Anonymous said...

george french knows a lot about bmx? way more than me, and probably anyone else?

why then has every odyssey branded(or odyssey owned gsport branded) product he has designed seen or merited an extremely prompt re-design?

-marmoset wobble
-multiple elementary re-designs
-multiple glad downsizings
-ribcage foldable sidewalls
-wombolts hahaha
-ratchet won't fit a halflink chain, and the ratchet ring itself comes undone regularly

doesn't anyone understand yet that the catalog items in odyssey's lineup are the only ones that last?

poop poop poop said...

^^^ hhahahahaha so true. the catalog parts are the only ones that hold up for me.

wombolts- donezo on a 180 down a 3 stair. i have never broken cranks in my life, even profiles which are gladly back on my bike now :)

plegs- never rode them because im not a fan of plastic bike parts...but whatever floats your boat.... but i have seen a pleg or two snap right off of a bike. not cool, and more importantly not safe!

marmoset- the wobble my friend had in his UNADJUSTABLE front hub was pretty intense.

ratchet- dont even get me started on this thing! it was pumped up more than the etnies forward video. years of ads telling you the "best thing ever" was about to release. then it drops...its kinda heavy and my local mailorder got a few back for some shitty shitty.

Chris from Odyssey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris from Odyssey said...

Regardless of how a lot of people want to portray us, the truth is that we are genuinely humble and thankful to be able to do what we love for living. We’re readily available for riders to talk to us at anytime because we believe that’s the way it should be. We’re making the parts that we want to use, and that our team wants to ride.

To keep it short, we’re only trying our best to make our bikes better. Our basic approach to everything really doesn’t get any more complicated than that.

I’m sorry that we’ve clearly made somebody out there angry, and that they’ve devoted time out of their day to thinking about why they don’t like us. As a result of this, we’ll continue to dedicate ourselves to keep improving with each passing day.

If you’re a rider out there that likes what we’re doing, then we’ll respectfully take the time to say thanks.

Thank you.