Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
And why in the hell would a shop not know, or know how to find out, the the bottom bracket on a bike they sold two years ago. If a car dealership or auto parts store did that, they'd be out of business.
Excellent point, and one that's just as confusing on the other side of the counter.
I sent off for some software that promised to have complete specs for every bike from 1993 to 2008. It's called Bike-alog, and the CD I received is just a sample demo they sent in the hopes that our shop would pay them a monthly fee for a new CD to keep it up to date. Bike-alog advertises themselves as the ONLY bicycle industry database. 1000 parts vendors, 1500 manufacturers, all in-house and through one resource to make us appear as professional as any auto parts house. Sounds handy, eh? I thought so too...
After reading your post I installed the software, looked up the specific model and year you provided, and in the column for both bottom bracket and shell width, it says "unspecified".
All I am left to think about that is Bike-alog must use the specs provided to them by the manufacturer. Nothing more than what the consumer catalog states, no pertinent technical info crucial to selecting the correct parts, and as Bill Kapaun demonstrated, nothing not already available with a few seconds in a search engine.
Believe me, I would love to see a single universal database for all bicycle tech specs as much as anyone, but there are a lot of factors preventing this from becoming reality:
-The manufacturers may not provide specs in the first place. This could be intentional to allow them to make running changes in specs during the model year, to avoid confusing consumers with technical jargon, or perhaps they just hadn't made a firm spec decision by the date of publication.
-There's no money in it (Pt.1). Let's face it, bicycles are on an entirely different economy of scale than car parts. The average bike shop may pull gross sales in the hundreds of thousands, the average parts house in the millions. A single chain of auto parts stores could pull more per year than the entire bicycle industry, and at a larger percentage of profit. This doesn't leave much extra for installing and maintaining a database system, which is why many bike shops are still operating purely on paper.
-There's no money in it (Pt.2). With the tight competition and relatively low profitability of a bike shop, software vendors aren't exactly clamoring to develop a customized database system to sell in a poor market. Software or access fees are not within the "necessity" column of many shops' overhead budget, and would have to be set very low or considered crucial to see a near-universal adoption. If I were to own a software development company, I'd also choose a more profitable market segment.
-Manufacturers may want to keep technical information within the industry. Take Mavic for instance: There was a thread a while back complaining that Mavic did not allow public access to their online tech and service info...and in that same thread a password was posted to allow public access. Mavic wished to verify that only qualified vendors of their products serviced them, to keep the competition image that they have strived to uphold, and to keep the perceived value of their products profitable for authorized dealers exclusively. This may seem "mean", but they felt that their products are best serviced by trained professionals to maintain quality standards and overall customer satisfaction.
-Manufacturers fear industrial espionage. There is a saying in the bicycle industry that goes, "You have a year". This refers to the fact that once a new product is developed and shows promise, there are slews of manufacturers waiting in the wings trying to find out how to copy and mass-produce it for cheaper. The more technical info a manufacturer provides, even within the industry, the easier they make it on the copycats, and the less time they have to successfully market it. While this may be an issue that the auto parts industry also faces, it doesn't appear to be anywhere near the same degree.
-Software distribution and security. Were a resource to be released on DVD that contained wholesale prices and detailed specs that allowed a home user to forego the need to consult a bike shop and to leverage prices, it'd be pirated and spread all over the internet in a matter of hours...perhaps even before the official release.
-There's still room for experience. Having swapped out many bottom brackets myself, I can tell you that there are many times when there is no more reliable spec resource than physically measuring the bottom bracket and/or removing it to read the part number. Even if a manufacturer does provide stock specs, cranksets/BBs may have been changed without informing the mechanic (sometimes with incorrect parts), clients may want non-standard configurations set up, the part is a discontinued or OEM component and not available through standard channels, and at rare times the manufacturers or their subcontractors get the specs wrong, requiring the field technician to make adjustments accordingly. This is the "hard work" of bicycle mechanics that requires some intuition, deductive reasoning and troubleshooting savvy. Unfortunately for the consumer, especially those that "just want the right part" to do the work themselves, this sometimes requires labor, research, specialty tools and skills...and comes at a price in labor for the shop for the sale of a part with very little profit margin. There is no database I know of that will remove a crank or bottom bracket for you, but I sure wish there was.
-Manufacturers do not agree on standards. For whatever reasons, be they creating the need for proprietary parts available exclusively through the OEM, engineering/philosophical disagreements or honest marketing concerns, most manufacturers are not willing to share compatibility information, especially through a single resource that they no longer have control of. If their part could be substituted for another cheaper one, it'd be much tougher to sell. New standards are created all the time, patented, and held very close to the chest to retain market share....often with no "true" reason for the changes.