The bicycle business/industry relies upon - and thrives upon - innovation, both in new products but also in the area of new standards. Some are surefire hits, some are swingandamiss, some need the passage of time to really judge the impact of the new technology. With these points in mind I'd like to discuss two innovations that are quickly gaining traction here at HampCo/Huge Bicycle Industries (and one that hasn't yet):
PF30. This is the Press Fit BB30, y'understand, not the other kind - or any other kind for that matter. Instead of a 40mm threaded bottom bracket (BB) shell we use a 50mm smooth-bore BB shell and then we simply press in bearing cups.
Advantages: cranks and bottom brackets designed for PF30 are about four ounces lighter and the spindle is stiffer than the other kinds. The larger BB shell is easier to attache large tubes to.
Yeah, but: you don't need it if you're not using a PF30-specific crank and the BB shell is marginally heavier than a 40mm BB shell. Unless you're using mondo tubes the tradeoff advantages are debatable. Stiffness is overrated in our book.
InSet headset from Chris King. It's like PF30 but for your head tube - on steroids! It has bigger bearings! And they're hidden away in the (massive) head tube! Supper stiff! 44mm OD!
Advantages: allows the builder to use a bigger down tube - and this is usually in titanium, not steel - when needed. Gives a more rigid front end since we can use a larger steerer or tapered steerer. It looks good and makes sense on mountain bikes and ti cyclocross bikes.
Yeah, but: jeez it's massive and heavy. I'm putting my head in the sand and saying that it's overkill for road bikes but WelderMax has done a few frames with InSet and he says his customers love it and appreciate the extra oomph. We haven't done one yet here but never say never.
D-11 headset and headtube: The D-11 headset is from Chris King with design input from Dario Pegoretti who has been using it on his bikes - I think we'll be the second or third builder to work with these. It uses the standard 1.125" headset bearing but it expands the cups and head tube in diameter by about 4mm.
Advantages: visually it pairs better with the Enve forks we like and with the new Falz fork from Pegoretti which we hope to try soon. Since we have increased the head tube from 36mm to 40mm we can use a 38 to 42mm down tube without significantly squishing the DT, something we avoid when we can. We don't do a ton of 38mm down tubes - except in titanium - but we're starting to, in steel, as with our La Dolce Vita model. Now what we need is a 41mm head tube in titanium and I'll be looking to source those as we move ahead.
Yeah, but: the D-11 tube is marginally heavier than what it replaces. Unless you're using mondo tubes the tradeoff advantages are debatable. Looks better with molded forks than with skinnier Wound Up or steel forks.