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2011 Sea Otter Classic: A new bottom bracket standard

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Apr. 17, 2011
  • Updated Apr. 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM EST

MONTEREY, Calif. (VN) — OK, we have another bottom bracket standard to consider.

The BB386 EVO bottom bracket is a press fit with plastic cups that doesn’t require any postproduction machining.

FSA and BH Bicycles have teamed up to develop the new BB386 EVO and before you start rolling your eyes about yet another bottom bracket standard, please read through this and the photo captions, because this is one that could actually stick and become “the” standard for a while.

The advantage of BB386 EVO to bike companies is that the plastic press-fit cups make it possible to mold the frame in carbon without any subsequent machining to fit the bottom bracket, while allowing frame designers to make the down tubes and chainstays both taller and fatter. Taller down tube and chainstays are features that BB30 and Cervelo’s BB Right also offer, while wider down tube and chainstays are features that BB90, BB95, BB86, BB92 and BB Right (only to the non-drive side) offer. Being able to increase the down tube section in both directions of course can add stiffness and strength, yet the crank system is not exclusive to frames with a BB386 EVO bottom bracket shell.

So what’s the big deal, since there are other bottom bracket “standards” that achieve greater stiffness and manufacturing simplicity yet have not really become the go-to standard, as they fit only a small percentage of frames?

The difference with BB386 EVO is that it has a 30mm integrated spindle and fits any threaded frame as well as any frame with a BB30, PF30, or, of course, BB386 EVO bottom bracket shell. It will not fit BB90, BB95, BB86 or BB92 frames (which are designed for 24mm integrated spindles with press-in bottom brackets).

The BB386 EVO road shell is 86.5mm wide – same as on BB86, but it has the same ID as PF30, namely 46mm. The BB386 EVO mountain bike shell is 91.5mm wide – same as on BB92.

The BH Ultralight BB386 EVO frame is 747 grams. Out of the mold, it weighs 730 grams, and its Parlee-developed clear coat only adds 17 grams (paint jobs often can add 200 grams to a frame). The frame has a limited lifetime warranty and no rider weight limit. The 810-gram (with integrated seat mast) BH G5 frame sells for $3,000; but due to the price point difference, the $4,200 Ultralight frame does not replace it. The Ultralight will be available in July. Price includes frame, fork, headset and seat collar.

The BH Ultralight BB386 EVO frame has a crisscross grooves in the under-bottom-bracket cable guide so the cables come out to opposite sides of the head tube, reducing cable kinking and friction, without having to cross each other under the down tube. The cables can also be run straight through the same guide with normal routing.

The FSA BB386 EVO K-Force Light crank is slightly heavier by 28 grams than the FSA BB30 K-Force Light crank (due to a 15mm longer spindle) and is 50 grams lighter than the FSA MegaExo K-Force Light crank.

FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech TAGS: / / /

Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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