By Vernon Felton
I haven't been shy about my feelings regarding Press Fit bottom brackets. I hate them. Well, most of them, anyway. After having suffered through my fair share of creaky models, I've developed a serious distrust of the genre. Yes, the basic idea has merit (It's a headset for your bottom bracket! It allows for wider, stiffer downtubes!), but when bottom bracket-shell tolerances (on either the width or bore) are anything other than awesome, the end result is often crappy performance.
But….here's the rub: a lot of my favorite bikes are now equipped with the damn things. In fact, I think it's fair to say that the Press Fit bottom bracket will soon be the only bottom bracket in your future. Anything that allows manufacturers to reduce the cost of making bicycles has a bright and happy life ahead of it. Damn it.
Accordingly, I'm on a mission to find the best of this breed. In Monday's Web Monkey column, I noted that Chris King, Praxis and Wheels Manufacturing offer aftermarket solutions and, lo and behold, the Chris King version arrived on my doorstep this evening.
I opted for the Chris King solution for four reasons: (1) I have Chris King headsets that are old enough to walk into a bar and buy a round of drinks—King's bearings have a well-deserved reputation for durability; (2) This bottom bracket is going into a Press Fit 24-equipped frame and there aren't a ton of Press Fit 24 options out there. For whatever reason, PF30 has gotten more attention from manufacturers; (3) Chris King backs the bottom bracket with a five-year warranty; and (4) The King bottom bracket is actually serviceable–this isn’t a product that’s been designed to be tossed into the garbage bin at the end of the season.
Chris King meet Giant Trance Advanced SX. Giant meet Chris King—may the two of you mate and stay together in a blissful, complaint-free union. That's my fervent wish anyway. We'll see… This sucker is going in my frame tomorrow and will experience a full season of mud and abuse. I'll post a review at the end of the season; in the meantime, you can catch Gear Editor, Ryan Palmer's review of the PF30-flavored Chris King bottom bracket in an upcoming issue of Bike.