Sunday, 2 March 2014

Seven reasons why I replaced my "old school" three piece bottom bracket with a low-cost sealed-unit, and not a fancy HollowTech II set-up.

I thought about getting a triple Shimano M590 Deore Hollowtech 2 setup.

I thought about it a lot.
Interchangeable rings, and a steel middle ring appealed to me a lot (like Sheldon said, a cheap steel ring is a lot more durable than an expensive treated aluminium one).

But I didn't.
A few reasons:
1. Mermaid's front chainrings are good enough - they are all steel, naturally :-)

2. I don't even run a front derailleur - I threw it away.
I just use Mermaid's middle ring (a pretty modest 34 toother).
I could always stop and move the chain over to another ring, then start off again, but I'm happy to run just the middle ring.
The only time I even thought whether I should refit a front derailleur was on the one and only "category 3" climb near me, when I took the steepest part of the ascent in a 40" gear, but I had to stop a few times to get my breath back - unrelenting lung-busting pedal-standing (what MTB riders like to call "a whole world of hurt", and road cyclists call "an excellent training opportunity") for about 2 km.
I didn't see any MTB-ers (with their super-low gears) on that climb, except those driving up with their bikes on top of their automobiles, while I was passed by about a dozen sweating "roadies"! 
But hey, I got up - eventually :-)

3. The best price I found on the M590 was about $90 (about £55, 66 euros), while the cheapies sealed units I found were just $10 ($5.99, 7,20 euros) - Hollowtech may, optimistically, be ten times better, according to some, at about nine times the price!
I suspect that the other $80 (£49, 59 euros) could be more better spent elsewhere

4. Right from when my Anna got her current bike, and Mermaid became the spare, I've been thinking about a nice SA 3- or 5-speed hub, with a single chainwheel, and a full chaincase,
Practical for Anna's shopping, etc.(along with the decent sized basket she already has and our Bike Bins hard-sided, lockable, panniers).

5, The 6 speed rear cluster on Mermaid has lost a tooth on the second smallest cog.
But, hey, as Anna and I say, I don't use fifth much anyway.
But it would make sense to buy an integrated solution for the front gears, rear gears, and wheel (Mermaid has a freewheel at the back that takes the "traditional" screw-on clusters, not a freehub that takes the modern 9 speed cassettes).

6. "Downturn biking"/"Bicycling on the Breadline" is a theme I am considering developing on my blog. Cycling is not just for the equipment junkies that pay four figure sums for their kit (when I pay four figures, I like a couple of them to be AFTER the decimal point!!!).
The cheapest sealed BB unit I could find (and I looked hard) fits more with that ethos.

7. From a blog point of view, I like to write the odd review.
Hey, it's for fun. I'm not after a Pulitzer!
Having a pair of identical BB units will give me better data for my write up, and it something that magazines and other bloggers usually overlook - long-term user reports of really low-end kit.


  1. I have 2 UN54 one of which is 10 years old, no no 11 years old. Still sweet as a nut.

    1. Excellent.
      I really only went for my cheaper BB units on cost grounds - the lower-priced Shimano units are really the "benchmark" against which others are measured.
      But the true measure is not only time, but also mileage, and type of usage.
      What kind of mileage have you done on them?
      What kind of usage?
      All-weather (when salt and grot can get past any faults in the seals), or just "fine-weather" use?