As cyclists, we have a tendency to spend a ridiculous amount of time (and money) on making our bikes faster. Lighter frames, stiffer wheels, improved aerodynamics, taking out weight and maintaining a highly efficient drive-train are all arguably easier than giving up wine, chocolate and pastries right?
As an competitive racer, I do try to stay on top of my weight and body composition (no point being skinny if you are not strong) and in parallel to that, I train hard to improve my strength and fitness – but gains are gains – so I am always looking for ways to make the machine between my legs as quick as it can be.
I was very excited when the brown package covered in all sorts of stamps and marks turned up from Belgium – containing a brand new C-BEAR bottom bracket for my mountain bike.
My S-Works Era is running a 1×11 setup consisting of a SRAM XX1 rear cassette, XX1 rear derailleur, carbon cranks and now a PraxxisWorks 32T chain ring. I usually put a new chain on at the first signs of wear and I am absolutely meticulous about making sure the whole setup is clean and lubricated before every big ride or race. A clean bike is a fast bike!
In all honesty, the one aspect I have previously overlooked has been the bottom bracket and bearings. Maybe this is because unless it’s making horrible noises you don’t really acknowledge the existence of your bottom bracket. It also seems to be a bit mysterious, especially for a beginner or someone with only a basic level of mechanical knowledge.
However when you consider the role this important part plays in the transfer of power and overall drivetrain efficiency, it quickly becomes clear that a good bottom bracket is critical. That and bottom bracket creaking can seriously drive you insane!
Installing the new C-BEAR bottom bracket was straight forward – the boys at Cyclery Northside literally just pressed it in and put the drivechain back together (leaving me bemused with how rotten by old bearings were). Given C-BEAR makes a wide range of specific bottom bearings (over 70 different combinations), the need to fiddle with adapters to make it fit is greatly reduced.
Once on, the cranks were spinning with practically no resistance. It didn’t occur to me that my old bottom bracket was bad until I had the new one on – which instantly felt amazing. It is also as quiet as a little church mouse (C-BEAR pride themselves on making a super quiet product), which is more than can be said about my pedals at the moment.
The first big test for the new BB was the Kowalski – a dry and dusty race though 100km of single-track. C-BEAR not only make products with incredibly low friction, but they have a range of specific mountain bike bottom brackets which give extra protection against water and dirt – which as every mountain bike rider knows, has a way of getting in every small nook and cranny.
Since a flawless performance at the Kowalski, I’ve done a few hundred kilometres in a variety of conditions (including mud, water, sand and dust). I have two mountain bike marathons and a stage race this month, so there are many more opportunities to put it through it’s paces. A long term review is definitely on the cards, although given C-BEAR offer a two year warranty, I have confidence I’ll still be happy in six months time.
So far, I have been incredibly happy with C-BEAR’s product. Apparently so has the Andre Gripel and the Lotto Soudal professional team, who have been using them for years.
If you are looking for high performance bearings for your high performance bike (road, mountain or cyclocross), visit the C-BEAR website. They don’t have an Australian distributor just yet, but it is easy enough to buy online and either install it yourself or like me, get your local shop to do it.
Finding the right bottom bracket for your bike can be bewildering – for Specialized bikes, C-BEAR have created a Quick Reference Guide that makes it simple to identify which one you need. This Chart can also be of help for other brands and models.