Standard is not Plural

Posted by Verve Cycling on February 24, 2014 in
InfoCrank data analysis, Science and engineering

The bike industry has an incredible multiplicity of ‘standards’. If, by definition, a standard should be fixed for everybody, then why the strange pluralisation?

In the industry,a manufacturer can come up with a particular solution and define it as a standard. Nowhere is this more evident than in the bottom brackets of your bicycle frame.

Do you even know what you have?


When we started designing InfoCrank we had several targets we wanted to reach.

  1. It had to be the most accurate, consistent, repeatable, reliable power meter available.
  2. The design had to be completely integrated into the cranks.  The cranks had to offer a rider the same level of performance they were getting from their current cranks regardless of make; competitive on stiffness and weight and they had to shift.
  3. It had to be easy to fit and maintain on as wide a range of platforms as possible.

Step one and two was science and engineering. Read our article called “Relativity is not reality,” which describes the pieces of the jigsaw and how we brought them together to hit the goals for the power measurement. Then, working with experienced engineers, in house CAE and teaming up with Praxis to offer their renowned ‘Levatime’ rings sorted the stiffness, weight and shifting.

And then the nightmare of the bike industry and the multiplicity of bottom bracket ‘standards’ began.


24mm spindle or 30mm spindle?

And what about the frame?  Should we fit English BSC threaded, Italian Threaded, BB30, PF30, BB86, BB90, BB92, BB95, BBRight Direct fit, BBRight Press fit, Evo 386, Alloy OSBB or Full carbon OSBB [and on and on]?

As if the list wasn’t long enough already, you have to add to the mix the frame guys bastardising ‘standards’ so what you think is BB30, and what they label as BB30, maybe isn’t quite. It’s 1 mm out here, and 2 mm out there, and suddenly you’ve added another format under the same ‘standard’ title. [I’m looking at you Felt for one….]

Come on, really?  If this makes any sense to anybody I’d like to meet them.

Surely as an industry we are not serving our customers by creating multiple solutions to the same problem. The guys who make frames can’t even decide, with one brand offering different BB styles (I am fighting the urge to use ‘standards’!) across their range of bikes.

The marketing and sales teams can hardly enjoy jumping through hoops to extol the virtues of two competing BB formats in their own products, right?

Surely a threaded BB and BB30/PF30 would be enough for anybody.  The former for the installed base that needs supporting and the utility in metal frames old and new.  Then BB30 for the development of cranks with lighter spindles – 30mm allows thin-walled alloy and composite spindles, and possibly offer stiffness benefits as well.  We could even stretch to PF30 for the frame guys – the bigger plain hole is simpler to mould. TT_Crank_44 copy


So there you have it. InfoCrank in its initial guise at least will support English Threaded, BB30 and PF30 frame types via the very neat design of the Praxis M30 BB (some good engineering can be done by spotting the other guys genius!).

There is a method to this madness. We will cover the vast majority of the installed base of bikes out there with these three options.  BB86 will be next.

The InfoCrank Classic, launching a few months behind the InfoCrank, will have a 24 mm spindle compatible with the variety of options at that size in the field.

But wouldn’t it be nice if both cranks and frames weren’t being compromised for petty interbrand politics and some misplaced marketing spiel?

You could do worse than to check this article and the following comments out;

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