That's right, after 7 long years of use and abuse my Chris King BB has finally crossed the rainbow bridge. 7 years, 5 bikes, countless good times. Now, it's death wasn't sudden. Instead it made it's impending death known with lots of creaks, knocks and clicks. It finally passed away peacefully this morning. Being tattered and worn, looking worse for the wear it asked for a closed casket funeral and I respected it's wishes. No eulogies or photo's to commemorate it's life, just memories.
Now, being a planner I had it's replacement in my tool box waiting for this sad day to come. It's always tough to find a replacement for a part of this calibre! I didn't want to go back to the stock sram, replace every month during cx season, lifestyle so I searched in earnest for a suitable replacement. Being a White Industries sort of guy I gave them a call to order up one of their sweet new units... Only one problem... They don't make a 68mm BSA, gxp unit. That sort of popped that sweet little bubble I was living in. Sensing my disappointment, they actually suggested I check out the Wheels Manufacturing BB with Enduro Angular Contact bearings. Honestly, that had never even crossed my mind. I mean I'd heard rumblings on the interwebs that the wheels units were pretty good but like any good consumer I was skeptical at the very least. That said, I remembered my friend and good mechanic Dan, from ChainRing Rhythm giving them a thumbs up several years ago. A quick shout to him confirmed he was still digging them. Then in a strange twist of fate, I checked in with Jamie at Rochester Cycling and fitness and he had just gotten a few in and had good things to say as well! Sold!
Anyway, checking out the Wheels Manufacturing website, they have roughly 1.5 billion different BB's to choose from... Luckily, they have a pretty good filter on their site as well... Three or 4 clicks later I was directed to the unit I knew I had to have... The 68mm gxp, BSA Sram compatible unit with Angular contact bearings (they have a less expensive option using ABEC3 bearings but I believe the Angular contacts are a better choice for a BB). Cool thing with this unit is that the bearings (enduro) are field replaceable at what I consider to be a reasonable cost. All this and the cups are manufactured in the U.S. of A. helping to avoid those pesky trade tariffs on bicycle parts (I'm sure the price may increase as I believe enduro bearings are made in China).
Installation was pretty straight forward though I have to say that the directions on the Wheels website though easy to follow were not 100% accurate for my bike. Their instructions showed using two small plastic shims on each side of the cups. One sandwiched between the bearing shield and wavy washer on the fixed cup side and one between the bearing shield and arm on the adjusting cup side. Following this configuration, my BB bound and refused to spin freely. I grabbed my calipers and verified my BB shell width to be 67.9mm. That said, I removed one of the shims and everything spun free. I'm hanging on to the shims as I suspect that as things wear in a bit the BB could potentially develop a touch of play... That should be easy to rectify with a quick replacement of the shim!
Fit and finish of this unit appear to be nice. Enduro bearings are known for their quality so I expect good things from them. In terms of the cup itself, it appears to be of high quality and well machined. Threads were clean and lacking burrs or debris that may foul up installation. This particular BB utilized the common 16 tooth tool configuration so standard BB tools will work. I used a Park Tool BBT-19 and noticed no mars or marking to the BB after installation pointing to a fairly durable surface coating of the BB.
I'll provide an update to this blog late season to comment on the overall durability of this unit. My initial impressions are that this is a high quality unit that seems to justify it's MSRP of $74.00.
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