Bottom brackets may be the most overlooked part of the bike. While upgrading a bottom bracket doesn't provide the flash of new carbon parts or a fast new wheelset, it can be one of the most effective in increasing your performance on the bike.
Bottom brackets are the bearing cartridges attached to your crankset. As one might imagine, cranksets take a great deal of abuse. They experience more torque than any part of the bike. Every acceleration made on the bike is caused by creating a great deal of stress on the bottom bracket. Due to this stress, a stiff, durable, smooth running bottom bracket is imperative in maintaining an efficient bike.
Over the past several years there have been many attempts to standardize bottom brackets between brands. No bottom bracket type ever really took hold and became a bona fide standard, but most bottom brackets fit into one of these categories.
Square Taper Bottom Brackets
Square taper bottom brackets are the most intuitive bottom bracket design. The crank snuggly fits onto the tapered, squared bottom bracket axle. The four-sided axle leaves little room for adjustment or variation and creates a secure, hassle-free contact point for your crank arms. In the old days, square taper was referred to as "cotterless". While square taper bottom brackets are simple, they are not universally compatible. The size and angle of the taper differs from brand to brand.
Campagnolo is the most notable brand to stick with a square taper design until very recently. Every Campy crank made until 2007 utilized a square taper design, even the ultra high-end Record group. In 2007 Campy introduced their Ultra-Torque outboard bearing bottom bracket system.
Ceramic Bottom Brackets
The next bottom bracket innovation has to do with the bearings inside the bottom bracket. Research has found that ceramic bearings are more efficient and more durable than their steel counterparts. Ceramic bearings have 5-10 times the durability of steel bearings, are 10 times rounder, 20% stiffer and weigh 40% less than steel.
FSA Ceramic Mega Exo Bottom Bracket will improve the efficiency of your FSA MegaExo crankset. The SRAM Red Group Set is the first groupset equipped with ceramic bearings in the bottom bracket, derailleur pulleys and even the brake pivots.
Bottom bracket overhauls and replacement should only be attempted by an experienced mechanic. Improperly installing a bottom bracket can easily ruin a frame. New frames often need to be "faced" before bottom bracket installation, this should only be done by an experienced mechanic with the proper tools. For any questions regarding bottom bracket selection and compatibility, please contact us at email@example.com or 1-800-651-4050.