the setback post

Month: November, 2013

Hubris: (foreshadowing)

Title because I’ve been watching too many #SVENNESS videos instead of actually riding aforementioned kross biek.

#SVENNESS 2.8 from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

In hub news, this is more interesting than you think it is:


Photo: Shimano via

Meet the catchily named FH-CX75. No, it’s not a MTB hub, although it is 135mm spaced. In fact aesthetically, it owes rather more to the current Ultegra 6800 hub than any of Shimano’s bouncy bike offerings:


Photo: Shimano via

The reason this matters is that currently, the FH-CX75 is Shimano’s only 11 speed compatible disc hub. Granted the vast majority of ‘crossers are probably still on 10 speed or lower for reasons of not-being-that-guy-with-the-overly-nice-bike (or like, economy or something) but if future proofing is a concern then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be buying hubs that aren’t 11 speed compatible at the moment.

As far as I can ascertain the new hub is going be available in 28h only, both front and rear. Yes, a front is coming too:


Surprise! It’s grey too! Photo: Shimano via

There are doubtless already lighter, shinier, more spiritually enriching alternatives out there, but I for one feel safer knowing that Shimano is looking out for us. And by us, I mean people who find this sort of thing interesting and smell faintly of GT85 and loneliness.

Winter Riding: Welcome to the Suck

This is the time of year that separates the men from the boys, the sheep from the wolves, and the lazy from the uh… whatever. My newsfeed is full of exhortations to buy a turbo trainer or a megawatt of LED lighting so I’ve acquired the former and put it under the bed for safekeeping. It’s like the shit follow car they use as a threat in a Top Gear challenge only I’m under no obligation to use it, regardless of how little I ride my bike outside because it’s too cold and I resent the feeling of intrusion I get when my genitals retreat inside my torso in a futile bid for warmth.

Rapha would have us believe that cycling in the winter is a Herculean struggle pitting man against the elements which of course is true but rly guise?:

Rapha Winter

Outside was hard: winter is hard like the truth is hard. But the only place in winter where a bike rider can find warmth isn’t under the sheets with their head turned to deny the day, it is in the moment that you walk back through the front door with the harshness of winter defeated behind you. Only there you will find your warmth; only there you will find your comfort.

Actually I find quite a lot of comfort by staying under the old 13 tog.

There’s a problem with winter riding – it sucks. No matter how perfectly judged your attire, you’re on a constant knife edge when it comes to controlling your body temperature. Two base layers, a jersey and an insulated jacket are great when you’re cruising on the flat but should you choose to climb a hill, cue overheating, getting covered in sweat, and then freezing on the descent. For a delicate flower like me, no amount of ‘technical clothing’ or forward planning seems able to overcome the fundamental incompatibility with Mother Nature.

So what’s the solution? What I do on a bike couldn’t accurately be described as “training” but like most roadies I’d like to suck less. I’ve also been stupid enough to enter a ‘cross race in January and I’d like my humiliation to be of the ‘whimsical anecdote material’ variety rather than the ‘bringing eternal shame to the family name and being forced to woodchipper my bike and ritually eat the fragments’ kind.

Giant TCX

I’ll remove the Ass Saver and Strava my ride first, naturally.

All of this is just an excuse to post a picture of my ‘cross bike really. That’s 9 speed Tiagra baby, no expense spared. Will it rekindle the joy I may or may not have once felt about riding in the winter? We shall see. It would perfectly valid to question why I do any of this, and question it I do. The best justification I can come up with is that just occasionally, in spite of the frozen fingers, constricting layers and crushing sense of futility, it’s just fucking fantastic.

Winter ride.

Hubris: Shimano M750 Deore XT

XT hubs

I cannot help but appreciate hubs like these. They’re boring as hell to look at and they certainly aren’t light, but they just work. And if you look after them, they’ll last a very long time too. Of course you probably won’t look after them if you’re anything like the typical owner who doesn’t know his cup from his cone, which is why you don’t deserve them.

No XT for you.

Hubris: T.F. Blumfield Duralite

T.F. Blumfield Ltd flip-flop road hub, made in England.

Shimano Pressfits and the Naming of Things

Like all spanner grouches I have various axes to grind when it comes to press fit bottom brackets, but I’m not going into that now. This is about nomenclature, or the lack thereof.

A great many mainstream road bikes and mtbs (cf. Scott, Giant etc.)  are specced with Shimano pressfits, variously described as “Shimano Integrated”, BB86, BB92, BB71, BB91 and countless other helpfully similar alphanumeric combinations. They’re all talking about things that look like this:

Looks pretty innocent, amirite? (Photo from the Haribo hounds at Wiggle)

Park Tool has a pretty good article on dealing with these bad boys, but it skips rather quickly over the naming confusion. Shimano further muddies the waters by using the codes SM-BB71 and SM-BB91 which are product hierarchy designations (like groupset levels), and not the names of different standards.

Essentially, Shimano pressfits fit Shimano Hollowtech II cranks (which have a 24mm spindle) into bottom bracket shells of 41mm diameter with a width of 86.5mm (road) or 89.5/92mm (mtb). The 86.5 and 92mm dimension give rise to the BB86/92 name. The cups themselves appear to be identical between road and mtb, the only difference being the length of the plastic tube doohickey in the middle.

You’ll sometimes hear people call the Shimano pressfits “BB90″, which is extremely misleading. BB90 (or BB95 for mtbs) is a Trek proprietary standard that is completely different. Although it also accepts 24mm spindle cranks, it uses ‘slip-fit’ bearings that sit in recesses moulded into the bottom bracket, a system which probably seemed terribly elegant when the engineers drew it in CAD but which is a pain in the arse in practice.

By the way, Shimano isn’t the only company that makes bottom brackets to fit 41×86.5/89.5/92mm shells, but if you have a Shimano cranks then you’ll keep things simple if you stick with their product. SRAM have their own version to match their cranks, and there are expensive third party options too if you like that sort of thing:

If you’re too lazy to read all that, here’s the short version:

  • BB86 and BB92 are both the ‘Shimano standard’ using the same cups but with different shell widths, to accept Hollowtech II cranks.
  • BB71 and BB91 are two levels of the same Shimano standard, and are not bottom bracket standards themselves.
  • BB90/95 is a different, Trek specific standard that you only need to know about if you have a Trek.
  • If you don’t have Shimano cranks, you probably didn’t need to read this.

Hubris: Ultegra 6500


A study in cup and cone elegance.