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FSA Pushes BB30 Standard in Taiwan

Published November 2, 2008

TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN)—More than 200 people from 44 Taiwanese manufacturers and bicycle assemblers filled a ballroom at the Landis Hotel to hear Douglas Chiang explain the advantages of BB30—a fast-growing bottom bracket standard.

Retailers who service Cannondales are already familiar with the oversized bottom bracket system, first developed by the company. And companies like Specialized, Scott, Jamis and 23 others use the open-source system in selected models.

But Chiang, managing director of TH Industries, FSA’s parent company, is betting more suppliers will add new models with the BB30 standard, or increase orders for them.

And since FSA is committing a larger share of its production in 2009 to making BB30 cranks, educating Taiwanese manufacturers and assemblers about its advantages is good business.

Part of the problem, as Chiang and others see it, is that some manufacturers and assemblers are unfamiliar with how to properly install the system. Alloy frames must meet tight tolerances and use proper jigs when installing BB30. For carbon fiber frame manufacturers, the process is simpler since they mold bottom bracket shells into frames. Still, they may need to redesign frames and use new molds to accommodate the oversized bottom bracket.

As Chiang pointed out in his 30-minute presentation, the BB30 system is, on average, 12 percent lighter than standard 86 millimeter bottom brackets for road bikes and the 92.5-millimeter size used on mountain bikes.

The BB30 is just 68 millimeters long, but requires an increase in the inner diameter of the bottom bracket shell from 35 to 42 millimeters. As a result, manufacturers use larger bearings that fit inside the wider shell, a technique that eliminates the cups. BB30s use oversized and lighter alloy spindles. The narrower system is stiffer than traditional bottom brackets.

FSA’s Matt VanEnkevort said the company became familiar with Cannondale’s oversized system several years ago when it began making cranks for the company. “It just made sense to us,” he said.

Once shells have been properly reamed the bearings are pressed directly into the shell. It’s easy to install and does away with threads, VanEnkevort said.

The system’s growth in the market, however, requires frame makers to redesign their bottom bracket shells based on the new dimensions and use new jigs. And it requires additional training for employees who must install them.

“This is a system for higher value bikes. Threaded bottom brackets are simple and will always be found on the low end,” VanEnkevort said.

—Marc Sani

Topics associated with this article: Events

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