I was wondering about reports of bottom bracket quality/durability.
Same story as the hubs; the impeccable appearance of the product and reputation is in some cases inconsistent with durability observed by some in the field, particularly on bikes that have seen a lot of wet weather use.
However, as you note, the number of variety of size options available for square tapers is of some concern now that the always reliable/durable Shimano UN-72s have gone away. Interesingly enough, FSA has recently reintroduced both steel and ti square taper BB's so there is some recognition that following Shimano's move away from supporting the square taper, the residual / legacy square taper market still exists. There is also purportedly a newer German-made square taper on the market.
All that said and with all of this foreknowledge, I will confess to having installed a Phil Wood standard Ti BB up front and a proprietary Ti BB in the rear of our tandem after looking at all of the various options. I will be closely monitoring their performance / durability and will not hesitate to exercise there heretofore outstanding customer support / warranty protection if they faulter.
Rodriguez Toucan tandem, Rodriguez Rainer Lite sport/touring
Originally Posted by TandemGeek
Same story as the hubs; the impeccable appearance fo the product and reputation is in some cases inconsistent with durability observed by some in the field, particularly on bikes that have seen a lot of wet weather use.
I had a long talk with Dan Towle of R+E yesterday about Phil Wood durability (among other things) and he is adament that he has seen no quality or durability problems with their components - and I'll bet there's not another shop in the country who has more bikes out there getting more wet weather use than his. What data do you have and where does it come from?
What data do you have and where does it come from?
My "data" comes from nearly a decade of personal experience in using their products, relationships with a number of different tandem builders and tandem speciality dealers, not to mention hundreds of other tandem enthusiasts. Moreover, since I'm not a dealer and really have no interest in which components my customers buy, I can speak freely about just about anything, including what are perhaps some of the most expensive / high-margin parts on the market.
In my own experience, and as I have already noted in the forum on other threads, I developed a wonderful relationship with Phil Wood's customer service rep when my '98 Phil Wood FSC hub proved to be defective (pawl engagement issues) early on, as was the first replacement and even the second one which was relegated to a back-up wheelset in 2002 as it never sounded 100% correct. Thankfully, if you don't cut Phil Wood waterproof grease with Tenacious oil when you apply it to your pawls the entire assembly becomes whisper quiet (problem solved). Interestingly enough, my '02 Phil Wood FSC front hub was defective and the rear hub was similar to my 3rd '98 rear hub in that it always had a lobing sound to the freewheel, indicative of everything not being quite concentric. Again, a coating of viscous grease silenced the pulsing ratchets & pawls. Both sets of my Phil Wood FSC hubs always receive(d) monthly service as a hedge against any future problems and that, quite frankly, is something I'd recommend to anyone with PW hubs: it takes 5 minutes. Thankfully, the PW bottom bracket in my Erickson single bike is doing just fine; however, it's a fair weather bike that doesn't get a lot of use. Moreover, as I've already said, despite my own issues with PW's products the support I have received along the way has been outstanding so I've once again rolled the dice and purchased two obscenely expensive bottom brackets from them that are installed on our tandem.
Now, as for other's experiences with PW components, we recently saw one of our own list members hub guts where the ratchet ring and pawls came apart. I have also been at rallies when at least four other Phil Wood rear hubs on road tandems have gone lame for similar reasons. The most recent was at the Tennessee Tandem Rally two years ago when a pawl failed and ruined the engagement ring on a not-so-old / not-heavily used Co-Motion Cappuccino. Again, outstanding support from PW in getting the hub/wheel fixed, and thankfully others loaned a rear wheel to the rally goer so that their several hundred mile journey to Tennessee from Michigan was not for naught. As I've also mentioned, one of my own builders would only reluctantly put PW hubs on his tandems as his own experiences and those of several customers who spec'd PW hubs have been unsatisfactory: his initials are G.E. so feel free to stop by his home-based shop in Seattle to chat with him if you'd like. In the off-road arena, PW hubs are the least reliable and invariably seem to fail when pressed into any serious technical off-road use. The most recent example that I saw four weeks ago when picking up the 36h wheelset for our tandem failed so dramatically that the rear hub shell split in three places. If you'd like, I'll take some photos of that hub and any other PW's sitting in the hub cemetery and post them to this thread when I next pay a visit to my friend's home shop. There are other accounts that I'm aware of; however, since they were second hand /hearsay I'll leave those be.
As for the comments / assessment I've received on their bottom brackets, the most recent came from someone who has personally sold more tandems than anyone else I know and, as I've said, I know A LOT of people in the tandem biz. And, while Seattle is indeed a nasty place, there are many other places that are as hard on bicycles and components, if not more so given that, in addition to being wet, it's often times cold, wet, covered in snow and road ice is attacked with salt. I will tell you that my friend is both candid and objective and will give praise where it is due, and give a thumbs down when appropriate. Moreover, they like many others in the tandem business struggle to find good sources for tandem cranksets and bottom brackets and if, in fact, their experiences with the PW products was not spotty I can only believe that they would most certainly promote them as they afford greater margins than any other bottom bracket on the market. Frankly, they and many other folks in this business find themselves in a tough spot when they have to burst the bubble of folks who continue to want "the very best" but wrongly assume that PW is, in fact, the very best.
Bottom Line: PW's support has always allowed me to excuse any problems I've had with their products and to endorse them for certain applications. I have bought their bottom brackets because if I do have a problem, I have every confidence that PW will take care of me. However, as I've demonstrated, even in my own "limited experience" I'd be telling a bold face untruth if I said I've seen no quality or durability problems with PW components.