Kogel bearings Q&A: Sem Gallegos

This week, our  blog  will feature an interview with Sem Gallegos. Sem has been a big promoter of Kogel Bearings ever since I first set foot in his work shop at Crazy Cat Cyclery in El Paso, TX.

Since then Sem has been helping us with product development and recently joined as a  team member to support our growing brand.

  • Tell us about yourself, where are you from?

I was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and still happy to call this little big city my home. Although I ventured out of town for college and other personal and business ventures, I could not wait to come back home and explore our beautiful mountains, on and off the bike.  Wearing shorts and a t-shirt in December is one of my favorite pastimes (Sorry, rest of the country haha). But I also enjoy skiing and snowshoeing, so I am glad I am only a couple of hours away from the alpine forest that I call my second home: Ruidoso, NM.

Besides the passion I have for cycling, I enjoy listening to music, the occasional trail run to keep the ankles nice and strong and my personal delicacy of various cheeses…yes I love cheese.

sem gallegos kogel bearings 1

How did you get into cycling and racing?

If it weren’t for my older siblings whom discovered the sport, I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with cycling. I started as a weekend warrior, where I thought riding 4 miles was epic. Then quickly became more interested in the racing and training aspect. Now I can say that I have participated in every discipline of cycling: from the full-face helmet and 40lb bicycle of downhill racing to the skinny tires and paperweight bike of road racing. I did my time as a young rebel on the BMX bike, only to soon find myself in a tight skin suit in 20-degree weather with mud flinging off my cyclocross bike. Soon I realized that my passion in cycling was and will always be in mountain biking. Whether it is a short lung busting cross-country race or a long mind boggling endurance test on sweet sexy singletrack that makes me smile. Every time I feel like a grade school kid when discovering the freedom and fun to be had on two wheels.

 Can you share some crazy moments from your races?

Crazy moments? Hmmmm…. I believe riding a bicycle on trails that are obviously not meant to be ridden on a bike is crazy enough.

 sem gallegos kogel bearings

Bend, Oregon, host to 2011 Marathon Nationals was the setting for a good race experience, with a major fail! Ten minutes into this long day in the saddle I found myself in a spot of trouble, I was redlined!  The primary reason for this oxygen depletion to my brain was Peter Stetina. Fresh off the Giro d’Italia, he appeared to be making my destruction his first task. Ka-Boom! Only 20 minutes into this 4-hour affair, I had blown up and recovery had become my new goal…. Hours later I crossed the finish line still waiting for that to happen. Ouch!

How did you get started as a bike mechanic?

I was simply thrown to the wolves. At the ripe age of 17, I began my journey as a bicycle mechanic. I did not know what to expect and didn’t know what was expected of me. I was always intrigued with my father and his passion for breaking and fixing vehicles. Although a car mechanic and bicycle mechanic are completely different, working with my hands and solving problems is something that quickly became second nature to me.  Since then I have moved up the many ranks of a bicycle technician (giggles). I am still pleased to be getting my hands dirty and help customers tune their ride.

 Which are the best bike hacks or McGyver projects you worked on?

I work in an industry were bike hacks are almost mandatory. Guess I don’t think of it as out of the ordinary when you have to conduct a b-hack as the last resort.

Never question a mechanic and his favorite tools.
Never question a mechanic and his favorite tools.

 Some bike hacks are there, just to get home or make things work. Like using a power bar wrapper to fix a torn tire, or using duct tape and a stick to support a broken frame after a crash. Others, I am proud to have helped accommodate the rider to his ride. The ultimate hack for me was setting up all the control levers of a Di2 setup on the left side using a correct brake/shift lever and climbing shifter on the same side for a passionate amputee. Along with that, we recreated the brake line with a splitter to allow the use of one lever to control both brakes, of course with independent modulation for each brake.

 How did you get involved with Kogel Bearings?

Ard, the founder of Kogel Bearings, came through the shop door and asked if I wanted to aid my customers in improving their experience. And I said hell yes! I have always believed in high quality upgrades to improve the customer experience and why not put confidence in them where it is necessary? With all the new and different bottom bracket standards in the industry and its run of bad luck, I was running out of options as to solving those problems. But here was my answer. Good-bye creaking frame! And the quality of the bearing itself compliments the cups to the fullest. It’s a ceramic revolution and I knew I wanted to be involved further with the development of this product.

 How are you involved in Kogel’s product development process?

I am lucky to still be a full time service manager at a shop. This provides me the opportunity to test the cups and bearings on all of the industries bottom brackets. At Crazy Cat we are a dealer of all major brands on the market. On a daily basis I make sure that the tolerances are exact and the quality of the bearing is up to our standards. I make sure that the installation procedure is easy enough for the consumer to install, although I always recommend a certified technician to install them with the proper tools. I am basically in charge of finishing the samples in such a way that it causes the least amount of headaches to the user.


Sem at work putting  his Cross bearings through a mud test.
Sem at work putting his Cross bearings through a mud test.Which other tasks to you have at Kogel Bearings?


Which  other tasks do you  have at Kogel Bearings?

Besides helping with product testing, I handle sales in Arizona, New Mexico and South Texas. I am also pleased to be available for any customer service question you might have. This includes technical questions and/or product availability. Along with this, you may be at the receiving end of my super fast shipping and handling.

What are your future plans, any dreams, professionally or in your personal life?

My goal and dream when I first began my career in cycling was to reach the professional level in mountain bike racing, and I was fortunate enough through lots of hard work and dedication to attain that goal. Although I am currently semi-retired in racing, my current focus will be to continue racing occasionally with an emphasis on being an ambassador to the brands I represent. There is always a chance that I might reinstate myself to the life of competitive racing and set new goals for myself.  I will continue as service manger for Crazy Cat Cyclery, vice president of the Borderland Mountain Bike Association, and working for Kogel Bearings. 

Road or mountain, Sem will  is happy to put people in the hurt box.
Road or mountain, Sem is happy to put people in the hurt box.

With the integration of these three, busy but very exciting times are to be had. I will continue to spread the word and craving for this amusing lifestyle, one tune up, bearing upgrade and group ride at a time!

 As far as my personal life is concerned, I will continue to shred snow and single track lines in winter and repel off sketchy lines in the summer. And who knows, I might just move closer to the equator in the future.

 Coffee or beer?

Not a fair question…but I choose coffbeer.

Any funny jokes about balls?

What is the difference between a snow man and a snow woman?

Snowballs….  Hahahaha, that’s pretty fun, right??


Sem is mostly working behind the scenes, but he will be traveling to stores in the Southwest, Texas and he  will visit events with us. He also might pick up the phone when you try to reach Kogel Bearings. Don’t be a stranger! Hit him with a technical challenge, he gets a kick out of that.

We’re excited to have you as part of our Ball Bearing Adventures Sem, Welcome to the team!



Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, TX. What the heck just happened???

I am a firm believer of everyone being the king or queen of their own Facebook page. I choose to keep my private and the Kogel business pages on social media upbeat, positive and supportive at all times. But boy, do I have a hard time today. I came home from the Cyclocross National Championships in Austin, TX, ten hours earlier than planned. I am left questioning how this fantastic event spun out of control in a matter of minutes.

Hashtag CXNATS was going to be a teambuilding trip for Kogel Bearings. Mind you, we are a team of two in the US, so we could have called it ‘two dudes in a minivan’ as well. During the 9 hour drive across Texas we were looking at pictures of Tim Allen ripping his Kogel bearings to a podium finish in the single speed category. Sem and I knew this was going to be a good ‘business trip’, on par with the Louisville, KY worlds of 2013.

kogel bearings tim allen single speed cxnats

Friday morning we hit the course and it was full of life: riders training, expo booths open, people  having a good time. Not bad for 8am. The rest of the Friday  was spent visiting shops and going to the movie premiere of For the Love of Mud, a ninety minute documentary about  the history and current state of Cyclocross. Spirits were high!

On Saturday we watched the girls’ collegiate race. The course had gone from ‘people trying to ride it’, to ‘people trying to walk it’ overnight and these youngsters were attacking it like true soldiers. Another spectator came up and mentioned that we were almost more fun to watch than the girls racing, enough said.

kogel bearings coryn rivera cxnats

Sunday morning started with watching the Belgian Championship. This race was hit with four days of consistent rain before the event. The puddles were well past ankle deep and we saw images of bulldozers scraping the mud off the course because the show needs to go on. Sem and I were racing to layer up our clothes and head to the park until we saw a tweet about the event being delayed, then cancelled, then being rescheduled due to rain, mud and erosion of the ground. What the heck?? CX Nationals cancelled due to that what makes it so much fun??

The video on this page shows the Belgian CX course being prepared with bulldozers scraping mud off the course.

I am trying to wrap my head around why this event went belly up so fast. Clearly the mud in Belgium did not stop anyone from riding, the Louisville worlds course was about to be flooded in 2013, but somehow the city worked it out to create one of the most memorable events in my personal cycling history. The city of Louisville clearly had a different approach to cycling as does the city of Austin. Many feel that Austin was happy to take the economic impact of thousands of cyclists coming to town and spending their money, but not so happy to take the physical impact of bike racing in a public park. People are feeling robbed. According to Twitter, it took a phone call from Austin’s most famous cyclist to reschedule the event instead of canceling it all together.

My heart goes out to the racers and their fans, who spent hours training and thousands of dollars to get to this event, only to not race their biggest race of the year. Sure the event is rescheduled, but even riders at the elite level of this sport have day jobs to support themselves. Katie Compton had to spend a bunch of money to rearrange flights, rental cars and hotels, which is bad. But my toes curl when I read that Jess Cutler, one of the most badass women in US pro cycling, needs to miss the delayed  event because her day job is calling. Marian University is returning home without letting their U23 and elite riders compete, since the kids have classes and exams to go to. I really wonder if the decision makers at Parks and Recreation understand the impact of their actions. Why can a small town in Belgium and Louisville, KY make  the best out of a challenging situation and  Austin fails on all levels. Those events will be talked about for years. In a good way.

To add insult to injury, news  is starting to come in about bikes being stolen from teams overnight. Mosaic lost one, the Pony Shop team had to hand over another five to Austin’s criminals. I sincerely hope that Austin Police will work as hard to catch the thieves as they did to keep riders off the course on Sunday.

What remains is a sour after taste and the cycling community picking up the pieces of this explosion. For me, I will be ringing my cow bell in front of the live feed to support the riders that did manage to stay overnight and race the race they worked so hard for. We took a few steps back during amateur hour, let’s hope that everybody involved is taking a good look at their work and tries to cover all the potholes on our way to success. We have another chance to show the world that US cycling is not to be messed with. Let’s make the 2015 Richmond Road Racing Worlds an event that is on everybody’s mind for the years to come!


What makes a good bottom bracket a great bottom bracket? Part 2

In part 1 of this blog post, we looked at different bottom bracket types and at adapters. Part two will go a bit more in depth about the best location for bearings and installation techniques.

Bearing stance and bottom bracket stiffness

Imagine the bottom bracket area of your bike to be very similar to the transmission in a car. You can have the strongest engine and the widest tires with the most grip. As long as the parts connecting them are not as stiff as they should be, all that power is not going to result in maximum acceleration.

Bottom bracket stiffness is super important. Besides avoiding plastic and unnecessary parts, you want to look at a bottom bracket with a wide bearing stance. The closer the bearings are to the crank arms, the wider the base for your spindle to rest on. This translates in a stiff set up and speaking from our experience, a lot less wear on the bearings.

bottom bracket adapters
A clear demonstration of a narrow bottom bracket shell mated with a long crank spindle. All the adapter space is wasted real estate. Moving the bearings as far out as possible will increase stiffness and bearing life.

Installation and removal

This is something to consider for any press fit type bottom bracket. Threaded bottom brackets are installed with the appropriate tool and removed with the same.

Installing and removing threaded cups is done with the same tool.

Switch to anything pressed and information is all over the place: instructions range from using Loctite to epoxy to grease or nothing at all. In our opinion, you should think about removing a bottom bracket before installing it: anything glued into the frame is going to leave a residue, which needs to be removed before installing something new. In the case of epoxy, this could mean you spend the next twenty minutes toying with a box cutter or Dremel tool. Kogel Bearings prefers grease for installation. It helps the bottom bracket slide into place, helps to silence potential creaking points and can be cleaned with a rag after removal.

install kogel bearings with grease.
any loctite or epoxy used in a bottom bracket is going to dry out and needs to be removed before the next installation. This can be a time consuming task.

While you are thinking about removing a bottom bracket, have a look on the inside of the cups. Press fit bottom brackets are often removed with a hammer and some sort of punch. Now look on the inside of your cup, is there something your tool can grip on and take a beating if the cups are tight in the frame?


In short, there are many things to consider for a quality bottom bracket:

  • Type: threaded, press fit or threaded press fit, whichever fits best with your frame
  • Materials and small parts: look for a high quality build with as few parts as possible
  • Bearing stance and  stiffness: look for bearings placed as far apart as possible
  • Ease of installation and removal: how easy is it to get the bottom bracket in the frame and how easy is it to remove and prep the frame  for the next bottom bracket

Notice how we did not speak about weight? If you follow all these steps (alu cups, wide stance, quality build), you  will no doubt end up with a bottom bracket that  is a handful of grams heavier than a plastic, narrow  stance  bottom bracket with adapters. In our eyes, there are only a few grams to be saved on a bottom bracket and if choosing those extra grams is going to help you transfer more of your watts to the road, they are well spent.


If you have any questions about Kogel Bearings, ball bearings in general or our Ball Bearing Adventures, please ask them either in the comments section below, one of our social media channels or by email via info@kogel.cc. We will answer them in a highly professional, but not always scientific way. We do not shy away from many subjects. Please ask, we are here to answer.

What makes a good bottom bracket a great bottom bracket? Part 1

At Kogel Bearings we spend a lot of time looking at one particular part of the bicycle: the bottom bracket. We tend to nerd out over the smallest possible details. With my personal history in product development for fashion companies, the discussions about bearing types and insert depth are not unsimilar to the discussions I used to have about raising a collar height by two millimeters. As with many things in life, the devil is in the details. In this blog post we will try to give you the tools to determine what makes a good bottom bracket and what makes the best bottom bracket for your bike.

Threaded, press fit or threaded press fit?

When it comes to bottom brackets, traditionally there have been two types: those that thread into the frame and those that press into the frame. Your frame will determine which one you will need. A few years ago, a third option was introduced. What we like to call the ‘threaded press fit’ bottom bracket. Basically this is a press fit bottom bracket where the two shells thread together in the center.

Threaded or Pressfit is determined by your frame. Threaded cups are stable and relatively problem free. The downside of this is that it is only possible in metal frames or carbon frames with a metal bottom bracket shell.

A traditional threaded bottom bracket by Shimano.

With frame makers looking to build the lightest possible frames, press fit bottom brackets are most popular on higher-end bicycles. The frame has a hollow sleeve which is made with high precision to accept bottom bracket cups. The bottom bracket is pressed in with specific tools. ‘Precision’ is the key word in that sentence. Cups and frame need to match together within 1/20th of a millimeter. Too loose and the cups will fall out of the frame, too tight and the bearings will seize up or the frame could even crack during installation.

A Kogel Bearings PF30 bottom bracket


The idea behind the threaded press fit is to securely lock the two press fit cups together to avoid creaking issues and increase stability. At Kogel Bearings we believe that this type of set up puts stresses on the frame in a direction that it was not designed for. Most brands use rubber O-rings in their construction to compensate for tolerances in the BB shell. Some require a lot of torque on the installation tool to fix the bottom bracket in the shell.

A threaded press fit bottom bracket by Hope. Courtesy of Bikerumor.com


What is the best solution here? It depends on your bike. We believe in press fit solutions for press fit problems. All Kogel bottom brackets are designed to maximize the contact area between the frame and cup to ensure a proper seating of the bottom bracket. If your frame happens to be on the large side of the BB shell tolerance and suffers from constant creaking, a threaded press fit might be able to lock the bearing cups laterally.

A threaded bottom bracket is generally seen as the trouble free solution, but it requires a metal insert in the frame (which in itself is prone to creaking if glued in a carbon frame) and limits the cranks that can be used.

Bottom bracket adapters, materials and small parts

At Kogel Bearings we realize that lots of bottom brackets have issues with creaking, popping and knocking. One way to stop this is starting from quality materials. As a general rule, aluminum is better than plastic, since aluminum can be produced to much tighter tolerances and will be better at retaining it’s shape over hundreds of thousands of crank revolutions.

Stacking spacers and adapters on top of each other, just to make things fit, is not helping the situation. In order to avoid unwanted sounds, we design all bottom brackets with as few parts as possible. One press location on each cup, one contact point per cup for the crank spindle. By reducing the amount of parts, we avoid possible locations to develop play or gather dirt.

stashing a pile of spacers, washers and adapters on top of eachother, just to make things fit, is never the best solution.


In Part 2 of this blog we will address bearing stance, installation and try to come to a conclusion. Stay tuned to our ball bearing adventures.

If you have any questions about Kogel Bearings, ball bearings in general or our Ball Bearing Adventures, please ask them either in the comments section below, one of our social media channels or by email via info@kogel.cc. We will answer them in a highly professional, but not always scientific way. We do not shy away from many subjects. Please ask, we are here to answer.