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Six areas of cycling tech crying out for standardisation

At the last count there were 12,682 different types of bottom bracket available within the cycling industry. Okay, that might be a ‘slight’ exaggeration but choosing the correct bottom bracket for your bike can be a nightmare.

As a frame builder the first thing you will have to consider is how you want the bottom bracket to interface with your frame – at this point you can choose between threading the bottom bracket shell (in a metal frame), bonding in a threaded metal insert (for a carbon frame) or leaving it as a smooth tube. Threading the tube/fitting an insert does at least create some standardisation in terms of the bottom bracket (to a point) but then the frame builder can choose between an English (BSA) style measuring 33mm in diameter and 68mm in width or Italian style (34mm diameter and 73mm width) or the more modern T47 (46mm diameter) to add a little spice into the mix.

And then we come onto the bottom brackets that fit into a smooth shell. Not threading the shell is obviously a more cost effective way of constructing a frame but it does allow for an even wider range of choice. BB30, PF30, BBright, BB86, BB90, Specialized OSBB, Colnago Threadfit, BB386 Evo, Praxis M30 – these are just some of the shared or proprietary bottom bracket systems that rely on bearings being pushed into the shell.

Oh and don’t get us started on bottom bracket axles….

Seat post diameters

Luckily seatpost diameters have seen a reduction in the number of different diameters being used by manufacturers over recent years. Whereas seatposts could be any number of sizes incrementally varying by just 2mm, the industry has settled upon 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm as the three main options.

Sadly the fear of potentially all agreeing on a simple range of standards has proved to be too much for the brands and now many are producing frames that require proprietary shaped posts limiting your aftermarket replacement options.

Helmet testing

A cycling helmet is a piece of personal safety equipment. There is a long-standing industry safety standard, EN1078, by which all UK sold helmets have to adhere to, which states that a helmet must be designed to withstand an impact similar to an average rider travelling at 12mph falling onto a stationary kerb-shaped object from a height of one metre.

You would think this was good enough but recent studies have suggested that the way a cyclist hits their head during a crash is very rarely uniform to EN1078 testing procedure and thus more rigorous and stringent testing is required. Both the Road Safety Trust and Virginia Tech have released data of the ‘safest’ helmets after carrying out testing using more realistic protocols.

And, of course, the industry standard varies by country.

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