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  1. #1
    Patria O Muerte!
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    Keep the square taper?

    Hello all,

    I posted this question before, on the Touring forum, but wanted to see what people here think.

    Setup - Commuting/Touring bike, square BB. Last crank had to be replaced after about 5K km, due to worn out middle chainring. The replacement was another cheapo square taper crank, found at a LBS for ~20$, that now probably has a ruined BB interface on the left crankarm.

    Q1 - I'm thinking to go Integrated. Square taper BBs are becoming increasingly difficult to find (I live in Israel, it's impossible to find them here, and it's not very easy online either).
    Should i stick with the SQ or move up to the integrated Shimano design? Costs aside, is the integrated design better in any way? Are SQ BBs and cranks really in deficit, or is this temporary(AEBIKES won't sell Shimano SQ BBs at all, for example)?

    Q2 - If i do keep the SQ, i'll probably go for the Sugino XD-XXX. Recommended spindle length 113/118. Right now i have a 122.5 spindle. How do i know which spindle length BB to order online? The rear dropout spacing is 135.


    Thanks a bunch.
    When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

  2. #2
    campy is for lovers
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    well phil wood will always be making a square tapper.

    there are billions of bikes out there with square tappers, with that kinda market I'm sure some one will continue to make and market square tappers.
    my wife vetoed the name Merckx for our son...

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    It sounds like you have installation and/or maintenance problems with square taper bottom brackets rather than any inherent weakness in the design. Wearing out a chainring in 5K is extremely fast unless you ride in very abrasive and gritty conditions or never clean your chain. The ruined crank arm interface was either from a poorly made crank or, more likely, from installing it with inadequate torque.

    Square taper bottom brackets are still readily available here in the USA and should be obtainable from Nashbar, Performance, etc. if they will ship internationally. Harris Cyclery claims to ship world wide and lists both cartridge and the older cup-and-cone type square taper bbs. They also carry Phil Wood sq bbs which are consider the ne plus ultra in both quality and cost. Finally, Harris also lists several square taper cranks in a variety of types.

    The integrated design is supposed to be a bit stiffer than a square taper since the spindle is larger and the bearings are farther apart. Whether this makes any noticeable difference to most riders is highly debatable. Some claim it does, most say they don't see any change.

    One thing for sure, there are no really low cost integrated bb cranks available yet and there are several competing design which are not interchangeable. The only "bargain" I'm aware of is Shimano's R4550 Compact crank (50/34) which Harris offers for $90 and the required bb cups add another $41.

    Another thing to consider is that integrated cranks from all makers are intended for 9/10-speed or 10-speed only drivetrains and will probably require at least a "9-speed" chain width to shift properly and run without chain interference.

  4. #4
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FidelCastrovich
    .. now probably has a ruined BB interface on the left crankarm.
    Why would the BB be ruined? The axle is steel; cranks are much softer metal. The only time you need to replace a non-integrated BB is when the bearing surfaces are shot.

    Q2 - Recommended spindle length 113/118. Right now i have a 122.5 spindle. How do i know which spindle length BB to order online?
    The required spindle length is determined by the particular crankset and the rear chainline. And sometimes getting the right fit just comes down to trial and error.


    Read and heed the post above about maintenance.
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FidelCastrovich
    Q2 - If i do keep the SQ, i'll probably go for the Sugino XD-XXX. Recommended spindle length 113/118. Right now i have a 122.5 spindle. How do i know which spindle length BB to order online? The rear dropout spacing is 135.
    You want a 118 spindle. It's a chainline issue. Since the rear cassette is indexed from the right dropout, the wider 135mm rear dropout needs the wider 118mm spindle.

  6. #6
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    HillRider's post is excellent, listen to him.
    In addition:

    It's usually a lot simpler to buy a new middle chainring than replace the crank when the middle chainring wears out. That's true unless you had a cheapo crank where you can't replace the chainrings, or perhaps because you can't get single chainrings due to living in Israel (but I doubt the latter is the case).

    Square-taper BB interface works well and has for years. Integrated design flexes less (so you're far less likely to notice chain rubbing on the front derailer cage under hard pedaling) but the square-taper design is fine. Campagnolo used square-taper stuff on all their groups until last year.

    On chainline: I have a Sugino XD triple on my Centurion Comp TA, and get proper chainline for a 130mm-spaced road hub with a 107 or 110mm bottom bracket (which give the same chainline; only diff is that 107 bb is symmetrical while 110mm has the non-drive-side sticking out an extra 3mm). You'd get ideal chainline for a 135mm-spaced rear hub by using a 113mm bottom bracket, which is asymmetrical with the non-drive-side spindle sticking out 2mm further than the drive-side.
    A 118mm spindle is also slightly asymmetrical (1 or 2mm longer on non-drive-side) but would stick the crank out unnecessarily far from the bike's centerline, it's more something that's useful on mtb's with flared chainstays where the small chainring would hit the chainstays with a shorter BB length.

  7. #7
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    I think ST is the way of the future. Because ST BBs are sturdier, and because there is 1.000.000.000 bikes that have ST BBs. Also, they have ST cranksets. It ain't never gonna die. Also, because ISIS drive and octalink suck. I think that's a scientifically well proven fact. Also, because ISIS and octalink aren't compatible among each other. Heck, not even octalink is compatible with itself (watch out for octalink version).

    Offtopic question: what is it like cycling in Israel? I have been to TA and Haifa. TA seems like a cyclist-friendly place, while Haifa looks like a... umm.... not anyone's friendly place. Traffic in Haifa sucked monkeyballs, in all possible and imaginable respects.

    How is the situation with bike lanes in Jerusalem? I guess in the old city, cycling is very much slowed down but not impossible (no cars = good; many pedestrians = not good for cyclists, but still ok). Never personally been to Jerusalem, just judging from pictures I saw.

  8. #8
    Patria O Muerte!
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    Hillrider - You're probably right, the mechanic who replaced the crankset probably didn't do a very good job. I replaced the left crankarm today, and noticed that the pedal wasn't screwed in tight enough either - my guess is that he didn't eat breakfast that day, and didn't torque up the spindle bolt, ruining the BB interface.
    Next time this crankset gives me problems, i'll replace it without giving it a second thought. Probably to a Sugino/UN54 bb.

    Timcupery - Single chainrings are available here, although i've never looked into it - i bet the variety is not vast. And yes, my old crank was cheap, riveted chainrings. Otherwise i would, of course, replace the chainring alone. The new one is the same - bought as a temporary replacement until i decide whether to go integrated or not, and because i needed something fast and this was the only thing i could find.

    Retro Grouch/Timcupery - So who should i listen to? One says 113, the other 118...Should i give you a minute to talk it over?

    wroomwroomoops - "...scientifically proven fact..." hehe, i hope the FSA ISIS crankset on my Pinarello doesn't hear you.
    Other than that, ISIS and Octalink are being faded out by the integrated design, no? They'll be gone in a couple of years, i believe. That's the trend, at least.
    Cycling in Israel - that's a toughy. MTBing is great, from what i hear. Very developed here, lots of cyclists, cycling events, races, etc. Roadies are coming along as well in the last 5-10 years, from what i hear (I've been seriously cycling for only two years now). Most roads have wide/wide-ish shoulders, unlike Europe, for example. But, contrary to Israel, the driver there respects other road-users. Here, the driver fears/antagonizes other road users. From what i hear, the automobile culture/market here resembles the one in the States. So you stay deep inside the shoulder and think happy thoughts. The main problem here is lack of education on road-etiquette, especially among Arab drivers. These comprise 20 per cent of the population but are responsible for about 40 per cent of accidents.
    This goes for Haifa and Jerusalem, especially. Large Arab populations dictate a road behaviour that is not cycling-friendly. I go through an Arab neighbourhood on my daily commute, and it's the scariest part of the ride - even though it's only 40 seconds long.
    Also, Jerusalem - like Haifa - is mountainous and not very hospitable to amateur riders, which leads to a lower number of total riders, which in turn leads to less awareness to our existence. I solve all these problems with the Delta Airzound airhorn.
    Cycling in the Old City is not something i do on a regular basis, but i can say that it is probably not very easy - lots of peds, lost tourists, animals+narrow streets+the occasional car=not very attractive cycling milieu.


    Overall, other than being a tiny country, Israel is great for cycling. The weather is great most of the time, except for maybe two months of (so called) winter.
    I just did a 6 day mini-tour with my fiance - it was great, gave us a taste for the future, and showed me that even though i may think i've seen everything that's there to see, i'm far from it.

    Thanks everyone! If anyone else has any thoughts on my 2 questions, i'd be grateful for more useful input.
    When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

  9. #9
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FidelCastrovich
    Retro Grouch/Timcupery - So who should i listen to? One says 113, the other 118...Should i give you a minute to talk it over?
    Well, the point is to have the chain parallel with the bike's longitudinal simmetry line. Please read this excellent chapter about chainline.


    Quote Originally Posted by FidelCastrovich
    wroomwroomoops - "...scientifically proven fact..." hehe, i hope the FSA ISIS crankset on my Pinarello doesn't hear you.
    Let it hear me, I don't care. It won't last all that long anyway, and then you'll have to replace it, possibly with a nice ST BB and crankset. I think by now you realize that ST rulexors.

    Aside all my bull****ting: truth is, some of the old stuff, like square taper and less-than-9-speed drivetrains, work really well, and last longer than the new stuff, but they have been introduced by the bikepart industry to force people to re-buy their equipment. Shimano and co. aren't stupid - they know how to make cyclists pay for stuff they don't need.



    Quote Originally Posted by FidelCastrovich
    Cycling in Israel - that's a toughy. MTBing is great, from what i hear. Very developed here, lots of cyclists, cycling events, races, etc. Roadies are coming along as well in the last 5-10 years, from what i hear (I've been seriously cycling for only two years now). Most roads have wide/wide-ish shoulders, unlike Europe, for example. But, contrary to Israel, the driver there respects other road-users. Here, the driver fears/antagonizes other road users. From what i hear, the automobile culture/market here resembles the one in the States. So you stay deep inside the shoulder and think happy thoughts. The main problem here is lack of education on road-etiquette, especially among Arab drivers. These comprise 20 per cent of the population but are responsible for about 40 per cent of accidents.
    This goes for Haifa and Jerusalem, especially. Large Arab populations dictate a road behaviour that is not cycling-friendly. I go through an Arab neighbourhood on my daily commute, and it's the scariest part of the ride - even though it's only 40 seconds long.
    Also, Jerusalem - like Haifa - is mountainous and not very hospitable to amateur riders, which leads to a lower number of total riders, which in turn leads to less awareness to our existence. I solve all these problems with the Delta Airzound airhorn.
    Cycling in the Old City is not something i do on a regular basis, but i can say that it is probably not very easy - lots of peds, lost tourists, animals+narrow streets+the occasional car=not very attractive cycling milieu.


    Overall, other than being a tiny country, Israel is great for cycling. The weather is great most of the time, except for maybe two months of (so called) winter.
    I just did a 6 day mini-tour with my fiance - it was great, gave us a taste for the future, and showed me that even though i may think i've seen everything that's there to see, i'm far from it.
    israelnationalnews has a section dedicated to hidden gems in Israel. I was always surprised where they find all this stuff, in such a tiny country. The section is (or used to, didn't check them in about a year) updeted weekly.

    I heard from a friend, that traffic in beirut is total suicidal chaos. Now I wonder how it is in places like Egypt... I'll ask around.



    Quote Originally Posted by FidelCastrovich
    Thanks everyone! If anyone else has any thoughts on my 2 questions, i'd be grateful for more useful input.
    Read the Sheldon Brown article I linked to. Your cycling IQ will increase by at least 3 points.

  10. #10
    cab horn
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    ST cranks are more plentiful than molecules of air in the atmosphere. Literally. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case where you live which really blows. Square taper bb's are also plentiful online.

    You can pickup a square taper crankset around here for cheap, cheap like $10-$60 will get you about a billion set of selections. On the other hand with the blingy blingy octolink/isis garbage you're stuck with expensive "road cranks".

    If you're ever thinking of singlespeeding or fixed gearing this stuff, ST is the way to go. So many cranksets to choose from, easy to install, and bb's are cheap (105 level bb for like $25 CAD).
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  11. #11
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops
    Also, because ISIS drive and octalink suck. I think that's a scientifically well proven fact.
    Absolutely not true of Octalink. I've used Octalink mtb cranks for years and NEVER had a problem. Shimano got the splined thing right with Octalink........That being said, I've got nothing at all against ST bottom brackets/cranks, like a lot of folks I've got years of trouble free experience with those, too, particularly when cartridge bb's are used. I think for the OT's purposes the Sugino XD cranks would be hard to beat if an appropriate ST bottom bracket can be shipped to Israel. I've had excellent luck with Nashbar's ISIS touring cranks so far, along with a Nashbar brand ISIS bb. I've only got a few thousand miles on those, though, so I can't vouch for their long-term durability yet-

  12. #12
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    The only problem with Octalink is would-be mechanics who crank down on the bolt without first aligning the splines.
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMF
    The only problem with Octalink is would-be mechanics who crank down on the bolt without first aligning the splines.
    +1 on that. Properly installed, both the cranks and Shimano's Octalink bottom brackets have been very reliable for me and other owners I'm familiar with.

    Some ISIS bb's have a bad reputation for early bearing failure but Shimano seems to have done their splined bb's right.

    Still, the square taper bb is a well proven design and there is no need to avoid it if you get good components based on it. As mentioned, Campy used it through last year on all of their cranks and their current triple groups still do.

  14. #14
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMF
    The only problem with Octalink is would-be mechanics who crank down on the bolt without first aligning the splines.
    Square taper cranks can be installed improperly, too..........But I was referring to the aspect of durability in my post (assuming correct installation, of course ). There is a tendency for folks to lump Octalink with ISIS in the durability department since they share a very similar design. And ISIS bb's did indeed have a rash of premature bearing failures early on, and maybe there are still problems, I don't know. Probably depends on which brand you get since ISIS is available in different brands. But Octalink is very good stuff from my experience (and everyone I know who's used it as well), I was mainly taking issue with the implication that Octalink, like ISIS, has had widespread durability problems-

  15. #15
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    I have to agree with most of the posters here. Square taper and Octalink are the two best BB interfaces we have seen yet, outside of Campy's new Ergopower and Cannondales SI system. The durability and low friction, plus put-it-in-and-forget-about-it mainentance/service on my SQ taper and Octalink BB's has been PHENOMENAL. The current Octalink BB in my freeride bike I got new in late 2003. It has been in four different bikes, one an XC bike that was ridden daily on tough trails in all conditions for a year, plus road time. Second was a singlespeed XC bike, third was a dirtjump bike and now its in a freeride bike that I've bent both axles and the crank spider on. Its been through Moab twice. Anyways, long story short, it feels better than it did new. Same goes for the sq. taper in my fixed gear, its been in 3 or 4 bikes and feels flawless.

    Now, the external bearings in my road bike? Well after removing the chain to clean the bike I spun the crank (after about 300-400mi of use) and the cranks stopped after 3 or 4 revolutions because of the drag. My sq. taper and octalink spin for days. Most external bearing systems, save for the Campy and Cannondale systems, put a load on the bearings because the crank arms actually bottom out on the bearing shell. This results in increased bearing wear and friction. TERRIBLE system. I'm actually in the market for a NOS 9spd Ultegra crank if you know anyone who has one!

    Also, sq taper availability is excellent. Shimano has re-released a large variety of sq. taper BB's, and there are a few other companies that make almost exclusively sq. taper BB's.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

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