Spanish Soap Opera

Darcy Saccucci is an admirer of small bottom brackets. And those undervalued bits of tube have been at the centre of untold amounts of net chatter and drama recently as a result.

Darcy is the product designer at MacNeil and the man responsible for the pivotal seat post - one of the biggest design innovations made by a bmx company. There's actually a nice Brian Tunney interveiw with Darcy on the Dig website where he talks about designing the pivotal and the general ins and outs of being a bmx product designer if you're interested. But either way, he's got credentials.

^^ I've been looking for an excuse to use that drawing ^^

Back to the drama: It all kicked off when Darcy made a blog post a while back titled Spanish BBs are the Shit. He just laid out a few arguments for MacNeil sticking with the Spanish set up over the Mid.

Basically he put it down to saving some grams, about a hundred or so when you include the smaller bearings and bb shell, as well as what I suppose you could call "style issues":
"I think it looks way better. With all of the frame tubing diameters getting smaller in the last couple of years the Mid BB looks a little big and bulky."
I mean, I just don't think anyone else really gives much thought to how their bottom bracket shell looks in proportion to the rest of the frame. But I suppose when you spend hundreds of hours zoomed in modelling all the little CAD details of a bunch of frames it begins to get important. Anyway people went to town on this little piece of MacNeil propaganda. There was a SPRFLS post about it and Darcy got savaged in the comments there as well as on the MacNeil blog. Then Darcy made a retaliation post, then another on SPRFLS etc.

It was like a little bottom bracket soap opera. Those humble little machined pieces of tube that work so hard for so little thanks really got their five minutes in the sun.

And despite some comments from industry types like GSport George and JPR from FBM, and a whole range of anonymous and semi-anonymous people geting opinionated, nothing was really resolved and we still have two bottom bracket sizes. Which, as someone somewhere pointed out, is a damn site fewer than road bikes and similar sub-cultures of bicycle enthusiasts.

Can't really blame Darcy though, he was just towing the company line and all. How much say do designers even get? In my experience they just get orders - mostly to do with "cheaper alternatives". Of course I'm sure that bmx is a selfless industry that prioritises quality product over profits with the good of the brotherhood a in mind.

I run a Spanish and have never really had any problems with it. Mind you I also run a 19mm spindle and in my opinion that's probably a more worthy debate to be having - What's the point of 22mm spindles? Aren't they just a left over from the days where heavier was better? If we stick to a single sized spindle the bb stuff should just work itself out.

People were a little lighter on Darcy for the weight saving stuff. I guess like it or not there is no questions that light weight parts sell.

WeThePeople are even putting out a little adapter kit so that you can run Spanish BBs in their Mid shells to save some weight. Here's what they've got to say about that:
"ah yeah and we're also gonna do a new BB version So we can use a Mid BB shell, Alloy out casing and the Spanish bearings - means you can keep the standard BB, but lighten it up if you prefer or are not so hard on bearings"
Weird. It's all about the bb's.


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