Sunday, October 21, 2012

the death and dying of the 700c/29er in FGFS pt.III: the bottom bracket conundrum

this one's a strange one that i've been thinking about alot. for the most part, the 26" manufacturers have done away with bottom bracket drop which (let's be honest) doesn't really have that much of function with FGFS to begin with. yet it's taken a longer time for 29"/700c to get a hold of this concept. it's a pretty unique issue for 700c/29. i'm going to try to explain why the strange phenomena still exists, and why there's a bit of internal war within the 700c/29er sector.

bottom bracket racket

(14bikeco era oscar khan)

when i was designing the geometry to my destroy 29er around 2010ish, i was seriously thinking about leaving some bottom bracket drop. at the time, the unknown v2 and grime goat and volume thrasher v2 and leader mordecai and SE x UVT were really heavy in the game and it kinda made sense at the time due to the fact that was essentially the normal thing for the big boy wheeled community. i mean, that photo above was taken not that long after my destroy was built- so they existed and were still even custom made. but going through the pros and cons, i ultimately ended up having the bottom bracket ever so slightly above the axle line with a 420 axle to crown fork. no one wants to hear about me though- so here's a little insight to that thought process....

Deal With it TV - Snow O' Connell from Matthew Rice on Vimeo.
(snow has since left bb dropped 700c, and moved to 26" almost right after this dropped. still one of the more intense edits of the year.)

back then i never really gave it much thought as to why the 700c/29er manufacturers were reluctant to eliminating bottom bracket drop. but now, it kind of makes sense- no one wants a tall feeling bike that's already tall as it is. with 26" you're kinda pushing the feeling of being tall over the bike is manageable. with 29" wheels and tires combined with the high bottom bracket, it sometimes feels like you're pushing and standing atop a monster truck. it almost feels silly at first, but to be fair it eventually becomes something you get used to. the positive traits for a higher bottom bracket are easy to point out. for one, double pegs are possible without the see-saw effect at the cranks. since you're already high up on the bike, when you bunny hop and suck up the rear, the hop will be just that much more higher. you can run longer cranks without worrying about pedal strike (but this is FGFS so i don't think that really happens anymore when you're running big wheels and tires). this one's not that apparent to most but more apparent to geometry nerds like me: a higher bottom bracket equates to shorter seat stays, shorter chainstays and a shorter seat tube allowing for a stronger rear triangle. in laymens terms, higher bottom brackets = stronger frames.

ENiSHY×DOT9s EDIT from ENiSHY on Vimeo.
(step one: skip to 7:30. step two: watch nasty. step three: repeat)

here's the thing though; regardless of all the things i've listed out there are still riders reluctant to riding a frame with a higher bottom bracket. two of them are in fact very highly regarded in FGFS. first, there's nasty from japan. he's hot that flatland style for days and i consider him a really big influence for FGFS. with his long smoothies he personifies one of the big positive traits of bottom bracket drop: stability and control- the lower you are to the ground, the less gravity wants to tip your ass over.

then there's mike chacon. mike defies almost everything i've said about what's positive about negative bottom bracket drop. he's not only a really good flatland style rider, he can throw down the hammers as well as pretty technical stuff which is uncharacteristic of a rider with bb drop and more along the lines of well... a 26" rider.

(j-motherf*ckin-ball everyone.)

(jordan madarang. on fire. see what i did there?)

(james madarang. kid is crazy young and talented)

yeah, i know these aren't the only two left out there riding this stuff so here's another: jball. dude has been hitting it hard as of late. then there's my homies james and jordan madarang who aren't ready to give up the bottom bracket drop- and they're young and not old farts being "OG" or whatever. i personally don't have any issues with this split within the big wheeled community. my homie kenny arimoto likened it to surfboards- some people ride em short, some people still rip with longboards.

 i know this might be a boring topic to some- a lot of 26" riders are probably looking at this like "what the hell is this guy talking about?" i just find it really interesting that there are people who are legitimately keeping the bb dropped frame production alive against what's going down in FGFS today.


view part II: the wheel sizes
view part I: a quick history of FGFS


Koo said...

Crazy. I never even thought about going back to standard bb drop. Looking back, the UVT was some of my best riding. I'll have to recheck my options

bhsk said...

i'm not gonna lie i would rock the bb drop. that's whyi kinda had a hard time deciding on the bb drop of the destroy- i was too much of a fan of oscar's 14 bike co. the things he did on that were insane. the frame was tight, and it had clearance for 29 x "GAHDDAAAAAAAMN THAT'S WIDE" tires on there. even though he's no longer on a bb dropped frame, he's proof that you can get nutty on one.

Koo said...

True that, but I got used to the neg bb and you can definitely boost

Sparks said...

Sick write up, but yah I never put too much thought into all this however after riding non-bb drop vs. my standard bb drop I gotta say I feel much more comfy and in control with it. I can completely understand why Nasty and Chacon keep it OG.

bhsk said...

I'm just saying negative bottom bracket is indeed still a legitimate and viable option for riding even though in the 26" world it's been fazed out. a lot of riders forget about this and never really think of it as something to ride so it doesn't hurt to talk about it.

Snow said...

these write ups have been great. While i'll always have love for  big 29ers I think you'll really like my 26 edit Jereme!