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A CONCRETE BOTTOM BRACKET EQUATES TO A VELVET DRIVETRAIN 07.03.2020


All new all steel smooth drivetrain


The Tourist and I have come a long way through the cycling cosmos. From humble earth-like begins at Tusky’s Imara nearly nine years ago to being the baddest unknown knowns in the Cycling Universe, the journey has not been an easy one. For a DYI person such as myself, there is great pride in the capability of assessment of situations and developing solutions right on the spot to creating exemplary executive mandates that have always worked in the long term, if not gain closely to achieving the desired results. From manipulating Chinese spare parts and merging them with US or European ones, fabricating brake calipers from nothing to standard function ability, using defective tubes to creating puncture proof linings the list of crazy fabricative activities I have done in the 27 years I have been handling bicycles should be legendary. Needless to say, one aspect of the bike I have never been able to master the manipulation is of course, the bottom bracket system.


In the 13 years I have handled mountain bikes, the bottom bracket has always been a failed state of mechanical affairs. Reason been that the system needed a European spare part transplant, but this was back before 2018 when I had the term BB around competitive cycling circles. The Tourist had the normal BB axle that required rotation on 16 bearings held in place by grease on both cups. To date, I can count upto 15 replaced axles since 2011. They would not have lasted 2 months before the crank system began playing and swinging left-right like a cripple. It was so stressful to the point I made up a personal decision to push the axle far and beyond, wearing off the cups in the process. But I was lucky, those cups lasted 8 and a half years without wearing out. This was and still is not recommended for any cyclist to do to his or her bike, unless you are as eccentric as I am and you have a background talent in bike mechanics. Almost all of my Beijing Adventures I have covered on a faulty BB axle. From Naivasha Ride Two to touring Tigoni, Stormy Ride 2 Machakos with my teammates to beating them on a drizzling Sunday on the meander roads to Githunguri, all of them except my 2nd Knuckles Ridge Conquest in 2016 when I finally tune The Tourist perfectly for the seven hill tops South West of Nairobi (I will tell you a story about these hills later on).


About to end the BB misery once and for all


Truth of the matter is that this bike has served me the best of all my bikes. Been my very first earned through my sweat, tears and boiling blood underneath the scars of my brush with Death that robbed me off my previous bike (The Spaceman). He got me back the Kes 5,995 I saved for 6 months to get Him, He has brought The Thunderstruck, Tsibektican and Dopemaster. My whole castle has been built in the finances brought by the steel beast from Beijing. So much love and investment I have put to maintain this bike for so long. Despite all this, the axle was a failing equation to the drivetrain power output. For years I was losing watts that would have made me be a formidable cyclist out there, even on a 23 kilo steel mountain bike. They say in Kiswahili, “Mvumilivu hula mbivu.” A tolerant man eats sour fruits, soon my pain was going to the lowered by half. It was by chance, when The Tsibektican was being built (by me of course). In purchasing Her BB axle, I requested the dealer if he could be having a bigger version than the Chinese version which are always as small in size as the men who build them. For the first time, I was introduced to a BB axle with the nut acting as a screw bolt threading into the axle. I decided to purchase two pieces. I sought out to fit one onto The Tourist first. It fitted perfectly, not need to super-tighten the cups to fill in the space left.



All's well that's fitted well, The Tourist in Gilgil Town


I finally found a partly solution, though it served me not long but longer than the ‘chinco’ ones would. In due time I had to upgrade and this was around the time when The Dopemaster came around and I had to replace His axle. I asked around dealers who handled US and European exported bikes. The price for a BB (minus the axle word) shocked me. A whooping one thousand five hundred Kenya shillings, that’s crazy. Wait until I learned that it has sealed bearings, like a vehicle’s. My mind wandered into virtual imagery of a well fitted drivetrain. That dream would only be a reality if I save for all three of my off road machines. Funding cycling is indeed money money and more money but it is truly worth it. And so I did, though my first BB was faulty on the drivetrain side, I was wise to first test the next three pieces’ thread paths before fitting them on my babies. Alas, my babies were now able to complete against my cycling buddies’ girlfriends and wives (insert teeth smile emoji).

As I cruised up A104 and zoomed down the Southern Bypass yesterday afternoon, not a sound did Tourist’s drivetrain make. As smooth as velvet, rotating with silent ease like a rock python on the hunt for a clueless hoofed meal, this mechanical setback has been set back to efficiency tracks.


The end.

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