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  1. #1
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    Square taper Bottom bracket is it worth it?

    I'm getting a 2013 Kona Unit. I decided to get the complete bike and ride it until I know what I want to upgrade. I was toying with the idea of building the bike but I opted not to go that route this time.

    On to my question, I was thinking of using a square taper bottom bracket instead of an external style. I have searched here and googled it. Still didn't really answer my question to my liking. So is it worth it compared to an external?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by worrptangl View Post
    I'm getting a 2013 Kona Unit. I decided to get the complete bike and ride it until I know what I want to upgrade. I was toying with the idea of building the bike but I opted not to go that route this time.

    On to my question, I was thinking of using a square taper bottom bracket instead of an external style. I have searched here and googled it. Still didn't really answer my question to my liking. So is it worth it compared to an external?

    Thank you.
    My SS has been on Alivio cranks with square taper BB since september.
    Many people would consider it a "downgrade" but with the number of external BBs that I wrecked I think square tapers are more durable... if you can bear with the weight.

  3. #3
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    Spend the money on a top quality external bearing BB like Enduro, Hope, King

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Whisperer View Post
    Spend the money on a top quality external bearing BB like Enduro, Hope, King
    BW always provides accurate advice so don't question this. That said, I've only ever run one crank that is not square taper (a proprietary design) and I can say that if you invest in quality square taper stuff, I doubt you'll be disappointed. Yeah it's arcane in this day & age, but it still works. But in order to make your ST gear last, you have to pay attention. Know what you're doing (like whether or not to grease the spindle -- um, no) plus employ a torque wrench. Check it frequently. Maybe ST requires too much babysitting for some, but personally I've made the investment and it works for me.

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  5. #5
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    Be Square

    I've been using Square tapered BBs for 30 yrs and never had a problem. The fact that a few of mine are 12 yrs old and still in use tells me all I need to know.

    I'm sure a high-end external BB is very good, but I've never needed one.

    Pat

  6. #6
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    My preference is ext bearings. Simpler, stiffer, and stronger.

    That said, I just bought some M900 cranks. Now looking for a retro frame to put it on. Maybe a McClung.

  7. #7
    1*14*29*2.1 & 1*1*29*2.4
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    I like ex BB's but not enough to look past reliability, free spinning, adjustability, customisability of ST. If I didn't need to think about these I'd put ex type first. I do like the feel of them..but the differnece in feel doesn't translate to performance for me.

  8. #8
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    I've had mtb's with external bb's, to me they seem to get dirt in them more easily than a square taper. Perhaps one of my first real mtb's was square taper, I don't know as that was before I knew much about bikes, but I know when I upgraded I thought the ex type were better, nicer, more trendy, whatever!
    Now I'm riding an old 2000 (or there about) Brodie Kinetic which still has the original square taper bb and cranks and even though I pretty much got the bike from a scrap heap the bb was still good as gold! No play, no crunch.

    I don't know why you're asking if square taper is worth it because from what I gather square taper bb's are probably much cheaper than ex type ones. One reason not to go with square taper is if you want to buy more AM / DH or other modern style cranks that aren't available in square taper. But then again square taper bb's and cranks are relatively cheap so it's not going to be a big loss if you do happen to change your mind later down the track.

  9. #9
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    Square taper is a good design that has served cyclists well for many years- throw in a good Shimano cartridge BB and fugetaboutit. However, external bearing is a superior design (stronger, more ridged) IMO and so I would go for that.

  10. #10
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    I am not sure if you meaning you will swap out the stock BB on your new unit or you are speaking about another bike (as you seem to have specified you will purchase the complete unit).
    But another thing worth considering is if you are running some types off eccentric BB a square taper will work against the tightening mechanism and you may experience slippage and creaking, where as an ext BB will assist the seating of the eccentric BB.
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  11. #11
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    This would be if I decided to swap out the BB on the Unit.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiwallace View Post
    But another thing worth considering is if you are running some types off eccentric BB a square taper will work against the tightening mechanism and you may experience slippage and creaking, where as an ext BB will assist the seating of the eccentric BB.
    I guess I don't see how a ST works AGAINST the EBB, but I do see how an ext BB could assist in some EBB designs, namely the Niner. Bushnell, set screw and split shell EBB's won't benefit from the extra clamping force of the ext BB.

  13. #13
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    What sort of crankset do you have in mind if you plan on using a square taper bb?

  14. #14
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    ST does the job but there's a reason why external BB's are so popular. It just depends on how much wear and tear you put on your bike(s). The bearings on external BB's will last longer under the same conditions. If ST is sufficient for the kind of riding you do, go for it, it'll work just fine.

    I was surprised by a cheapo Shimano BB-UN54 I installed. It's the kind with a <a href="http://forums.mtbr.com/drivetrain-shifters-derailleurs-cranks/shimano-bb-un54-plastic-cup-674405.html">scary plastic cup</a> for less than $30. It went on for several thousand miles in good shape with more to go.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by worrptangl View Post
    This would be if I decided to swap out the BB on the Unit.
    The crankset is going to be the expense here unless you have a nice older square taper sitting around. Current nice cold forged square taper crankarms tend to run quite a bit, while the cheap square taper crankarms are usually melt forged or even cast which will be heavy and not real stiff.

  16. #16
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    I don't have any specific one in mind really. Like I said I'm getting the complete bike so this became a back burner idea, but I was still curious. I thank everyone for the replies.

  17. #17
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    I guess the question is why do you want to go to square taper when external BBs are the current standard? The only reason I can think of is if you are going with a White Industries crankset. If so, I say go for it. Especially if you can spend the money on a high quality BB like Phil Wood or White Industries although a Shimano BB will work pretty well for a lot less money.

  18. #18
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    I had to 'downgrade' to a square taper to use with my white industries crank. After trying a few, the Tange LN-3922 is imo the best square taper available today. I tried the WI version but couldn't get it to no creak on efforts. I now have three of these on my road and mt bikes. These are made in Japan but can be purchased from Bikesmiths.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I guess the question is why do you want to go to square taper when external BBs are the current standard? The only reason I can think of is if you are going with a White Industries crankset. If so, I say go for it. Especially if you can spend the money on a high quality BB like Phil Wood or White Industries although a Shimano BB will work pretty well for a lot less money.
    The reason was if I was going to build the bike I wanted to look at all my options. So I did my research but most threads were older and I still was curious.

  20. #20
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    I got the 2011 unit , after going through two external
    BB sets on my stock crank, I did some research and
    read some good reviews on Phil Wood square taper BB
    and W.I. Eno cranks, so that is what I got.
    I got some 1400 miles on this set up now, the P.Wood
    bb is very smooth , I spun the crank freely with out the
    chain the other day and it feels like new,
    it installs with the two screw in cups which makes
    it easy to get your chain line where you want it,
    I got Size: BRS16S - 116mm - Sym - JIS.
    The P. wood bb is not cheap but in this case
    you really get what you pay for and it will last many
    years.
    With the W.I. Eno cranks this has been perfect for
    me, I dont feel any flex and over all just a very sturdy
    set up.



  21. #21
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    I've got a 2011 unit too. In the winter I swap the drivetrain over to 1x8 with a cheap crank with squaretaper bb, because those things last forever. In the summer I put the external bb and crank back on.

  22. #22
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    My 1st impression of external BB it's stiffer, smoother, less friction but at same time you need to spin more compare to internal / square tapered. So it's a good idea for a spinner but bad for pusher.

    It's just that you'll need to adapt and get used to it so there's no problem.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackspade View Post
    My 1st impression of external BB it's stiffer, smoother, less friction but at same time you need to spin more compare to internal / square tapered. So it's a good idea for a spinner but bad for pusher.
    Ride more!

  24. #24
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    People are full of crap stating they feel the difference in stiffness of a external bb compared to a square taper bb. I'm a big " sprinter" sized rider, been running a ti square bb on my own machined Hurricane Zeke cranks since 2003, never felt any flex at the cranks or bb, maybe it's there, but does not hinder forward movement. I'm not ***** footing my bike when I ride either,I'm getting air, cranking up hills, etc. I have no doubt a that most external bb's are stiffer/ stronger than most square taper bb's, my argument is I believe 99.9 percent of riders cannot tell the difference.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonecrow View Post
    I got the 2011 unit , after going through two external
    BB sets on my stock crank, I did some research and
    read some good reviews on Phil Wood square taper BB
    and W.I. Eno cranks, so that is what I got.
    I got some 1400 miles on this set up now, the P.Wood
    bb is very smooth , I spun the crank freely with out the
    chain the other day and it feels like new,
    it installs with the two screw in cups which makes
    it easy to get your chain line where you want it,
    I got Size: BRS16S - 116mm - Sym - JIS.
    The P. wood bb is not cheap but in this case
    you really get what you pay for and it will last many
    years.
    With the W.I. Eno cranks this has been perfect for
    me, I dont feel any flex and over all just a very sturdy
    set up.
    I run a lot of square taper, mostly on geared bikes. They are plenty stiff and keep on spinning very quietly. Phil's are very nice... only two negatives are price and cost of replacing the bearings.

    For the money, the best one of all is Shimano BB-UN-73. Jenson still has them in stock:

    Shimano UN-73 Bottom Bracket > Components > Drivetrain > Bottom Brackets | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

  26. #26
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    Square taper Bottom bracket is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    I run a lot of square taper, mostly on geared bikes. They are plenty stiff and keep on spinning very quietly. Phil's are very nice... only two negatives are price and cost of replacing the bearings.

    For the money, the best one of all is Shimano BB-UN-73. Jenson still has them in stock:

    Shimano UN-73 Bottom Bracket > Components > Drivetrain > Bottom Brackets | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Yeahbutt Jenson doesn't have 127mm x 73... my size (wide spread needed for 195mm arms).

    Anyway, thanks for the link. Never hurts to check.

    --sParty

    P.S. jackspade, what you said make no sense. Sorry, it doesn't.
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  27. #27
    29er and 26er
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    I would only swap this out if your current BB is giving you problems or you need to swap to a square taper cranks. Save your $$'s for beer.

  28. #28
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    Square taper Bottom bracket is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Yeahbutt Jenson doesn't have 127mm x 73... my size (wide spread needed for 195mm arms).

    Anyway, thanks for the link. Never hurts to check.

    --sParty
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  29. #29
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    That brings on another question how do you determine the proper length? I see so many options.

  30. #30
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    i had my best luck with octalink type bb. regarding the ss if you don't know or can't find out the proper bb width take it to your lbs.

  31. #31
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    you know i might be the person to give any input, i still love V brakes.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by worrptangl View Post
    That brings on another question how do you determine the proper length? I see so many options.
    Depends on your BB shell and type of cranks.

    Sheldon Brown's Bottom Bracket Size Database

    I just got my M900's so will be looking at either Phil or good ol'Shimano.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by worrptangl View Post
    The reason was if I was going to build the bike I wanted to look at all my options. So I did my research but most threads were older and I still was curious.
    Well, if you are exploring all of your options, you forgot about splined bottom brackets like Shimano Octalink or ISIS...

  34. #34
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    I was using a Race Face Turbine crankset with a 20 year old (soooper smooth) XTR BB until I won a set of The Hive cranks, BB, and a 34T ring in a raffle at a race.

    The external BB/cranks are quite a bit stiffer (and lighter) even though they're 5mm longer (180mm). I have a new frame on the way and will be switching back to ST, but M900 cranks, and installing the outboard crank set up to the new frame.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  35. #35
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    So the spindle length is used to adjust chainline or am I miss understanding that?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by worrptangl View Post
    So the spindle length is used to adjust chainline or am I miss understanding that?
    Yes, that and crank arm/chainstay clearance.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by worrptangl View Post
    So the spindle length is used to adjust chainline or am I miss understanding that?
    Just to make sure we all are on the same page, the position of the crank shouldn't be changed to adjust chainline (except in some unusual cases). Get the standard BB size for your frame/crank. The adjustment to chainline should be done on the rear hub. Most of my bikes have a chainline of ~50-51mm.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    Just to make sure we all are on the same page, the position of the crank shouldn't be changed to adjust chainline (except in some unusual cases). Get the standard BB size for your frame/crank. The adjustment to chainline should be done on the rear hub. Most of my bikes have a chainline of ~50-51mm.
    Would a freewheel hub qualify as an unusual case or not? I'm curious because I don't really see a way to move the chainline inward if needed (and I'm not sure how far out you can move it with spacers).
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  39. #39
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    Square taper Bottom bracket is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexCuse View Post
    Would a freewheel hub qualify as an unusual case or not? I'm curious because I don't really see a way to move the chainline inward if needed (and I'm not sure how far out you can move it with spacers).
    If by "freewheel hub" you mean a screw-on freewheel as opposed to a freehub, then yes, use ST spindle length to adjust chainline.
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  40. #40
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    As Sparticus said, that would qualify as one of those rare instances where a different spindle length would be required to adjust chainline. However, having owned a couple of sets of "freewheel hubs", the chainline was about right on with the standard spindle length. On my fixed gear road bikes (where a screw-on, threaded track cogs are used), it is the same deal. Most standard BB spacings works.

  41. #41
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    Cool thanks for clarification guys.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  42. #42
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    That's what I though. It's just when i look I see the 68/73 versions but with a separate spindle length. That's why I asked. So how would you decide which you need.

  43. #43
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    The frame has so much more to do with stiff that the BB. Put one hand on your seat - put one hand on a grip and load the peddle with your foot. You will see the flex in ANY frame and you probably won't see any flex in the BB or the crank arm.
    ENO crank with Ti Phil BB lighter than air stiff as a bear.

  44. #44
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    With my limited experience with external bottom brackets, they seem to have quite a bit more drag than any square taper I've used. At least on the workstand, it's a noticeable difference.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    With my limited experience with external bottom brackets, they seem to have quite a bit more drag than any square taper I've used. At least on the workstand, it's a noticeable difference.

    I've noticed that on some as well but I wonder if it would be different if you could measured the drag under load (riding conditions), the mechanical advantage of the external bearings might prove better.

    Also, there is a lot of leverage turning that bearing. I've worked on bikes that had BB's so tight that you couldn't even turn the spindle with your fingers but it was unnoticeable while riding!

  46. #46
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    Yeah, but if I can feel it on the stand, then I just KNOW I can feel it while riding, and it's surely keeping me from gliding easily up the trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I've noticed that on some as well but I wonder if it would be different if you could measured the drag under load (riding conditions), the mechanical advantage of the external bearings might prove better.

    Also, there is a lot of leverage turning that bearing. I've worked on bikes that had BB's so tight that you couldn't even turn the spindle with your fingers but it was unnoticeable while riding!

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