We discussed how he and his partners built a concept store and restaurant in the former stables of the De Koninck brewery, how they turned a 200 year old building into a modern bike shop.
Velodome was the exclusive Rapha dealer for the entire Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg. We look at the new brands they found and promote since Rapha decided to end their presence in retail stores.
Another interesting subject was the enormous rise of e-bikes in Europe, how they took over the majority of bike sales in a shop that was mostly aimed at road and mountain bikes. We look at how the EU supports people with tax benefits to get them out of their cars and onto e-bikes, but at the same time is struggling with regulating these hyper fast bikes on public roads.
Thanks to all partners: Philippe, Stijn and Maarten for their time in producing this video and for bringing better bikes to the people. See the interview on the Kogel Bearings Youtube channel
With the days shortening and Kickr season right around the corner, I thought this is a good time to share some of the best cycling documentaries and tv-shows I have seen recently. Nothing helps kill time like staring at the screen when the indoor trainer is testing your mental stamina.
Being a lover of most things on two wheels, I hope I managed to find a good mix of all cycling disciplines. I have posted links to Youtube where I could find them. Others are available on Netflix.
Here’s a cycling block buster, but consider it for a second viewing if you have seen it. Where everybody knew the basics of the Armstrong story after the collapse of his empire in 2012 and early 2013, this movie shows how much force he used to silence his opponents. What ‘winning at all costs’ really means. As much as it established my opinion about Armstrong being the best of the cheaters and therefore his achievements are still somehow respectable, it mostly left me with a sour feeling seeing the lengths LA would go to to protect the fame and fortune he built for himself. The most interesting parts might be the interviews with Dr. Ferrari, a man who is known to not speak much in public.
Clean Spirit (available on Netflix)
After the doping riddled history of cycling, Clean Spirit shows a new generation of cyclists. It follows the Argos Shimano team (currently Team Giant Alpecin) participating in the 2013 Tour de France. It documents the rise of new sprinting super star Marcel Kittel, who beat Cavendish and Greipel multiple times and we see a young Tom Dumoulin and John Degenkolb as parts of Kittel’s sprint train.
The most impressive part for me was the famous takedown of Tom Veleers by Mark Cavendish in full sprint. The aftershock of Cavendish apologizing via Twitter, but not willing to meet Tom face to face is shown in great detail.
One of the OG freeride mountain bike movies on a larger budget. This movie predates the wide acceptance of action cameras, so the directors got very creative. Cameramen hanging from zip lines, setting up rails in the forest. It’s all amazing. Watch this trailer first to get an idea of the behind the scenes work involved in making one of the best freeride films in history: https://youtu.be/bjuAUTarbdA
Here’s a look into the heart of Flanders. It’s known fact that Belgium has cycling flowing through its veins. The 9 episode series was shown on national television, telling stories about the lives of several families on the day of the 2010 Tour of Flanders. It’s dark humor, mixed with touching stories and amazing cycling footage. The directors had access to place cameras in several team cars and got the Sporza presenters to act in the show. Everything just flows perfectly between the race footage and the fictional story. The first episode is a bit slow and many characters are introduced, but as soon as the race kicks off it’s al gogogo. Subtitles are available on youtube.
Disclaimer: European TV is very liberal. Even though this show was broadcasted on national tv at 8pm, please don’t come knocking on the Kogel Bearings HQ door if you’re offended by images that would have to be shown on HBO in the US
Part of a reality show called Superfans, Frans is not a fan of Eddy Merckx, he thinks he IS Eddy Merckx. The two clips kick off with Frans mixing raw egg and Flemish sour beer for breakfast, just like Eddy. Frans shows his Eddy Merckx replica bikes and jerseys and how he rides the indoor trainer like Eddy. The second clip shows Lookalike Eddy gluing a tubular in 30 seconds, racing his orange bike across the cobbles just like… well you get the idea. Unfortunately, no subtitles on these clips, so you will have to sit through the parts of the wife frustratedly saying ‘I married Frans, not Eddy’, but it’s a good watch.
The same Superfans series followed fans of Sven Nys and how they dedicate their lives to chasing their hero to the races and on training loops. I’m sure you can find it with a Google search.
Ride the Divide (available on amazon prime for a few bucks)
The longest mountain bike race in the world stretches 2700 miles from Canada to Mexico, following the Rocky Mountains. The race is non-stop, so whoever sleeps is losing time. Brutal! The race footage is good (don’t expect any Nino Schurter speed climbing or artificial rock gardens), but the scenery is the real winner here.
I hope this is enough footage to pull you off Zwift Island or the Sufferfest videos when its time to cruise through a snow storm.
We visited the outdoor demo at Interbike with the intention of shooting a lot of video and interviews, but unfortunately a strong wind disagreed with our plans. Instead we collected some photos from the coolest new products we found. In no particular order, here’s lowdown:
Alchemy Bicycles Oros paint job
Alchemy Bicycles won the best carbon lay-up at the most recent edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. The hardtail frame on display at outdoor demo was painted in a mix of matt and shiny black. The shiny parts were sometimes transparent, exposing the raw carbon and sometimes full of sparkles. I spent a good couple of minutes moving around this frame.
Walking from the parking lot to the entrance of Outdoor Demo, e-bikes were flying by me left, right and center. Seriously, they’re everywhere. This brute caught my eye, it looks like it fell straight out of a Batman movie.
The friendly German men in the booth told me it was an 880 watt motor that can run 150km on a single charge on a flat road and hits 75 kilometers an hour (In miles per hour that means Scary Fast).
Unfortunately the batteries did not make it on the flight so I could not take it out for a burn-out session. The batteries were supposed to be delivered later that day, so I might go back for some action.
The website of M1 seems to be down, but here’s their Facebook.
Have a look at the end of this video, it sure looks like a lot of fun.
Tufmed recovery products for athletes
The Tufmed booth had so many people standing around it, it made me turn around and have a look at what they had to offer.
Comes out it is a relatively new company that makes recovery creams for people that deal with muscle soreness and bruises from training. As a person that, according to my wife, grabs every opportunity to bash my head in, this seems like a product I have been waiting for. It’s all odorless and natural, no chemical ingredients, so it definitely won’t hurt to give Tufmed a try.
These hubs have been featured on several media, but actually holding them made me realize how crazy light they are. Weighing in at 73g for the front and 160g for the rear, according to the bikerumor.com scale it is just unreal. The popular combination of matt and shiny carbon makes them look extra fast, the wavy flanges look unlike any hub on the market. They run on DTSwiss internals and Ceramicspeed bearings for that little bit extra speed.
Availability should be in a few months. Just take my money, OK? All 1350 dollars of them. Wheel sets built with these hubs are going to take $3.5K out of your wallet, which seems like a better deal.
Stay tuned for more amazing finds in the next few days!
People ask us a lot of questions about Kogel’s ‘very few questions asked’ warranty. I thought this is a good moment to explain in detail why we offer this service and how we handle it. With premium bike parts having big dollar price tags nowadays, nothing is more frustrating to me than buying parts and having them blow out before I feel I got my money’s worth out of it.
My most vivid memory is a set of mountain bike tires that I saw on Christoph Sauser’s mountain bike during a world cup event in Belgium. His team even brought a tire guy. In other words, someone who only handled tire installation and pressures for the team. How pro is that? I chatted a bit with this pneuchanic and walked away from the conversation, determined to find these magical tires and getting myself up to Sauser speed.
Of course I was not the only bike nerd watching the race, so when I went out to buy the new black gold addition to my bike, it was sold out everywhere. After finding them in an obscure web shop and paying well over msrp, I ripped the sidewalls on both tires during the second and third ride. I don’t remember ever buying tires from the same brand again.
Another story involves myself using a long list of profanities in a forest in the Ardennes, 11km in one of my main races for the year. In my hand was my brand new, ultra light saddle. Or at least the top part of it. The rails were still firmly attached to my seat post. (I would like to state here, that I was well within the weight limit for said saddle. At least at time).
Point of this story is that I do not mind at all to spend my life savings on shiny bike parts, but I absolutely hate it when they do not live up to reasonable expectations. There was absolutely no form of warranty on the tires I shredded within a few hours and it took a long battle with the manufacturer to get the saddle replaced.
When I started Kogel, I wanted it to be the company that I would love to be a customer of. This means high quality products that actually improve performance for cyclists, but as well a company that people like to connect with. This is why we pick up the phone when you call, or we return your call if we missed it. On a product level that means we want you to be happy with your ball bearing purchase. If that means we have to replace a product every now and then when your mechanic was a bit ham fisted, or occasionally if a good customer was not aware that cleaning a bike with a pressure washer is a no go, so be it.
I always felt that as long as we make a top quality product, we are going to have a low number of returns and that rule holds up until today. We have calculated a small margin for error in our pricing, because we know our products are not perfect. How can we expect everything to work flawless if you imagine the forces we send down from our quads to the tiny contact surface between our races and ceramic balls. It is an engineer’s nightmare if you think about it. That small buffer allows us to turns frowns upside down when we get warranty claims. If we do our job so well that there are no claims, we can add it to our bottom line at the end of the year. How good is that?
With that said, at Kogel Bearings we believe in the honor system. Our golden rule is: if you claim your fifth warranty and the neighbor shop has not claimed any, that’s when we start asking our ‘very few questions’. I hope this mentality works as an inspiration for the rest of the bike industry (I am calling on you, tire, ball bearing and wheel makers!). If we all back up our products with a flexible warranty, it will be a strong motivation to build a better product.
This image and many cool ones are for sale at www.123rf.com by the way.
With all the bottom bracket standards on the market, it is quite shocking that the bicycle industry did not find the one that works perfectly for all applications. At Kogel Bearings we spend a good amount of our day looking at bottom brackets, so I felt it was time to share the pros and cons of all systems with our friends. This information should help you find the bottom bracket and crank combination that best fits your needs.
I’m not here to burn any frame builder for their choice for this or that system, or to push users into a certain direction. Opinions get strong when discussing bottom this problem area of the bicycle, so I have tried to stay objective and Kogel Bearings will keep on striving for the best possible solution given your choice of crank and frame.
BSA-ITA threaded bottom brackets
The good old threaded bottom bracket. Many times on forums people wish they could go back to the days where everything was simple. I argue that it was never simple, with Italian vs BSA, Campy vs. Shimano and all the different spindle lengths, but that’s another discussion.
The fantastic thing with threaded frames is just that: it’s threaded. The cups lock into place and align themselves. Also the system is very easy to remove and reinstall should there be an issue. All modern day set ups have the bearings running nice and wide, so stiffness is never an issue.
The main down sides of a threaded set up is that not all cranks fit. A true BB30 spindle will be too short to make it through the frame. Another problem is that it is not possible to cut threads into a carbon frame. Any carbon frame will need an aluminum bottom bracket shell glued in, which in itself could be a source of creaking and it is a no no for any designer trying to make the frame as light as possible.
Introduced by Cannondale in the early 2000s, BB30 was supposed to increase crank stiffness with it’s ‘bigger than Shimano’ spindles. While that may be true for a shorter and thicker spindle, my experience is that the narrow set up does the exact opposite: the bearings are so close together that the system becomes unstable and power is lost through flex. This narrow build also ramps up the stress on the bearings.
With the standard being designed to make sure the bearings do not fit too loose in the frame, another common problem is bearing compression. The bearings are pressed into an opening that is too small to fit, which causes the bearings to seize up. With this point and the above mentioned narrow spacing, BB30 bearings are known to have a very short lifespan.
On the positive side, if you are looking to ride with a super narrow Q-factor BB30 is your friend.
PF30 was introduced by SRAM as an open standard for anyone to use. It built on the narrow Q-factor of the BB30 but tried to fix a few BB30 issues by pressing the bearings in a cup before they were placed in the frame. The first one is the super tight tolerances that come with a BB30 frame. The PF30 tolerance is four times bigger, which allows the frames to be built with all carbon BB shells. The down side of a larger tolerance is that it is almost impossible to make the cup press perfectly in every frame. Results are creaking and (again) bearing compression, depending where your frame sits in the range.
Shimano’s answer to the press fit craze is called simply ‘press fit’, but more commonly known as BB86 for road bikes and BB92 for mountain bikes. It has the wide set up of a threaded bottom bracket and keeps the bearings in a cup similar to PF30. The system is typically very stable and stiff, because there is a wide BB area that the other frame tubes and grab onto.
A minor down side is that the BB86 shell is smaller in diameter than a PF30, so the down tube can be wide but needs to be flattened where it meets the BB shell.
A big issue with the smaller diameter of the Pressfit shell is that it does not accept 30mm spindles very well. The different solutions that are on the market between Rotor, Enduro Bearings, Race Face and our own, show that the jury is still out on how to tackle this problem. Even though I consider the Kogel Bearings solution best in class, I would still advise anyone to stay away from this combo if you can avoid it.
In our next post we will be looking at BBRight, 386EVO and a few other standards before we try to come to conclusions on all these options.
**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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Sponsorship is a sensitive subject at Kogel Bearings. We get questions about it almost as much as we get questions about how to install a bottom bracket. And I understand it. Cycling is an expensive sport for most people, although that is relative if your other hobby is racing Aston Martins on the weekend. Add race registrations and travel expenses to your bike purchase and you’re looking at a pretty penny.
I also understand that everybody loves free stuff, as you can witness if you ever visit the Tour de France caravan. People ending up in fist fights over beer coolers with the name of an insurance company printed on it or even better: used water bottles thrown out by pro riders. The big problem for Kogel Bearings is that by giving you our products in exchange for only your race results, it becomes just like the used water bottle: free stuff. The shine wears off within minutes of scoring what looked like a precious gem at one point.
Will Kogel Bearings sponsor our team? We will put your logo on our jersey.
So, you have a team and some are landing podium spots. Awesome! At any time we will be happy to give you a team deal if it does not conflict with the below points or one of our local dealers. Here’s the catch though: The entire team proudly wearing the Kogel Bearings logo on their jerseys but Chris King and Shimano bottom brackets in their bikes makes us look silly. Before you ask that question, have a team meeting and see if every single rider is willing to make a discounted purchase.
How do you represent our business?
Here’s an obvious one: if you ride around with our logo on your jersey, you all of a sudden become the face of our business. If you race like a douche or tell the slowest person on the training ride to hurry up because you need to be home in time to watch Bar Rescue, this person is probably not going to become a Kogel Bearings fan. Be nice to people, even when you don’t want to. After your worst racing day ever, we still expect you to go to the podium ceremony and applaud the winners.
While you’re at it, make sure your social media makes us want to be you. Athletes posting pictures sunsets and post ride espressos are more likely to get our support than athletes having strong opinions on controversial political topics.
When you approach a business and ask to receive their products for free, always keep in mind the number one goal of any business, which is to show a profit at the end of the year. By sending you a free bottom bracket or set of wheel bearings, you have just put a $200 negative transaction in our account books. Always keep in mind what you do to replace that money and a bit more. That makes the transaction valuable to your sponsor. This could come in the form of promoting the brand to your friends and fans in such a way that they want to buy, it could be in getting a review written on your personal blog or better yet in a magazine. By doing that, you have just saved the company some advertising dollars or generated a sale for them. Imagine if you would talk to your local bike shop and turn them into a devoted Kogel Bearings dealer. You’re guaranteed a spot on our team for a good while.
Be an ambassador for the brands that support you
So now that you have decided to be nice, sponsor logo correct and understand the business side of your deal, try to have fun with it! This womens team recently came on my radar. At the time of writing, Fearless Femme p/b Haute Wheels Racing still have to start their first race and I already consider myself a fan. A team of badass girls in well-coordinated kits, riding expensive custom frames and with Lexus team cars. On top of that they will kick most people’s rear end on a thirty minute climb or in a sprint finish. What struck me most is that every single post on their Facebook is about having fun and shows that they think outside the box. We would be honored to have them promoting our brand next year. In fact, Amy Cutler is already part of the Kogel family for some time.
But, I asked if you will sponsor ME?
That’s entirely up to you. Although road and mountain bike racing season is in full swing, cross season is coming up. Reach out at any time with a well thought out proposal andKogel Bearingswill be all ears.
At Kogel Bearings we get a lot questions about the service interval of our bearings. The official answer is that you should service your bearings once per year. It is not difficult to see that this is a very generic, almost randomly chosen time period. It does not take the mileage, weather conditions, bicycle type or overall maintenance of the bicycle into consideration.
In order to give a more detailed answer to the questions about bearing service, let’s have a look at what causes the need for service.
This one is very obvious: just like mud on your chain, water and sand make an excellent paste to grind the internal parts of your precious bearings to pieces. In our production facilities we spend an unbelievable amount of time to polish the balls and races that are used for our bearings. After that, we consider the process to be finished. You are probably not going to improve the polish quality during your ride.
When your bearings are contaminated, you can easily feel this by removing the cranks or wheel axle, sticking your finger inside the bearing and spinning it. Smooth spinning is good, the slightest hint of gritty feeling is due to stuff inside your bearing that should not be there.
Being not much of a scientist and a lot of a common sense guy myself, being honest with yourself brings a lot of answers. Did your last mountain bike adventures involve river crossings? Have you been out riding in the rain? Did you take your bike to the carwash and not tell anyone about this horrible offense? In all cases it is good to give your bearings (and complete bike while you’re at it) a quick check.
Our high quality hybrid ceramic bearings require very little lubrication. During production we usually fill them a bit more than necessary, since we feel that your bearings should be for everyday use and not a race day or velodrome only product. While the road bearings feel very smooth rolling out of the box, they usually feel better after a couple hundred miles. This is due to the grease being pushed to the sides of the bearings, leaving only a thin film on the raceways and balls.
Since the bearings are made to run with minimal amounts of our Secret Grease Mix, I consider it not so much of a factor for the service interval. A light swishy swishy sound (as opposed to scraping and grinding sound to stay fully scientific) coming from your bottom bracket while spinning the crank is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of our bearings sound like that after break in.
The 1 year interval is probably a good indication here, unless you are lucky enough to find time to ride over 10.000 miles per year of course. Remember common sense!
Have a look at this video, which was shot while preparing some sample bearings for the UnitedHealthcare team time trial camp. These bearings are running completely dry. The riders were given bearings that had only a drop of oil with the intention to give them a top level performance that lasts for about 50 miles.
The bearing seals are one of the few parts on your bike where a non-moving part is pressed against a moving part. By definition this causes friction and friction causes wear. Compare it to skidding your rear tire on the road or trail.
Bearing seals wear out over time, changing the quality from ‘fully sealed’ to ‘fully unprotected’. They are also cheap and easy to install. For anyone that has ever tried to remove a bearing seal without damaging it, you know it’s a gamble. I have tried it once or twice myself and consider it a 50/50 chance of success. Let us take the frustration out of it for you, it really feels good to be able to yank those seals out without caring if you bend or break them. It will save you some time too. Do this with every bearing service and you will live a happier life, promise!
In conclusion to all the above: Officially we recommend to service Kogel Bearings once per year, but this does not mean you can ignore these hard workers that sit at the center of every rotating part of your bicyle. Keep an eye out for contamination, at least minimal lubrication and replace those seals with every service.
In a next blog post we will show a step by step of how to perform a bearing service.
Ceramic bearing upgrades come in all shapes and sizes. First there are the different parts of the bike that can be upgraded, then there is a plethora of brands and non-branded products to choose from.
There are three main parts of the bicycle where ceramic bearings can bring benefits over steel bearings: the wheels, bottom bracket and derailleur pulleys.
The cost of a ceramic Bottom Bracket
The bottom bracket is a central part of the bicycle. It is similar to the transmission in a car in a way that it handles all the power transfer between the engine and wheels. Where a car transmission only handles forces along the central axis, a bottom bracket deals with oscillating movements and side loads due to the pedaling. There can be some lateral load due to wave washers or crank bolts that are tightened too much. Our bottom bracket is living a rough life down there! Needless to say that quality is key here.
A quick search on Ebay teaches us that ceramic bottom brackets are available from $35 plus shipping. From the tests we have done, these bottom brackets are hit and miss. Some are decent, some take only a few weeks before the bearings are pulverized.
Enduro bearings makes two types of ceramic bearings: Zero and XD15, with the main difference being the quality of the ceramic balls and the fact that Zero are radial ball bearings and XD15 are angular contact. Their bottom brackets are priced around $200
Ceramicspeed is the gold standard by which all other bearings are measured. They sponsor many of the world’s best athletes, and like your Oakley shades, that reflects in the price. Their bottom brackets typically cost $269, or $369 if you choose to go with the coated bearing races.
As a reference: Kogel Bearings range between $160 and $190, depending on the model.
The cost of ceramic wheel bearings
A typical bicycle wheel set runs on six bearings: two in the front hub, two in the rear hub and two in the freehub. The biggest challenge is often to find out which bearings go where. With the wheel set in hand, it is easy for a mechanic: just open the hub and note the bearing numbers, or measure the size of each bearing, which usually can be done without removing the bearings. An internet search can sometimes prevent this work, but some brands are notoriously secretive about their bearing sizes.
For easy comparison we have determined the cost of an upgrade for two common hub types.
Ebay search results tell us a cost of $58 for a set of DTSwiss 240s and $54 for a set of 2015 zipp hubs of whichever was the cheapest we could find.
Enduro zero comes in at $224 for the DTSwiss hubs and $234 for the Zipp hubs.
Ceramicspeed leaves the shop with you for either $519 or $779, depending on your choice for coated races.
Kogel has a flat fee pricing of $260 for six bearings, regardless of wheel type.
In part two of this post we will look at derailleur pulleys and draw conclusions on the total cost of ownership.
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 email@example.com. 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.
The good old bottom bracket, the silent work horse, hidden deep down inside the bicycle. Well, silent is referring to the ideal world in this case. With the explosion of bottom bracket and crank standards we have witnessed in the last decade, the bottom bracket has turned into a bike part that seems to be in constant need of attention. Today I will try to find out what led to this situation and if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Bottom Brackets have always had their problems
Many times in magazines, articles or forum posts we read that the bottom brackets of today are too confusing, and that is absolutely true. As a former shop owner, I always dreaded the moment when a customer walked into the shop with a random crank and frame in hand. I know I lost 20 minutes at that point: first determine the standard of the frame, then the crank, then try to find the right pieces to fit them in a huge online ordering system.
But has this ever been different? Way back when bottom brackets were still called ‘square taper’, there was Shimano which would not fit with Campagnolo. There was Italian or English and in none of those cases a road BB would fit on a mountain bike. And then there was chain line: I found the right bottom bracket, but need a 118mm instead of a 113mm to keep my crank arms from jamming into the frame.
Pushing the boundaries of bicycle development
After square taper we were ‘blessed’ with ISIS , Octalink, hollow tech II, Ultra Torque, BB30, GXP Power torque and Over Torque. And that is only on cranks! Frames spun out of control in a very similar way with a dozen press fit variations: BB30, PressFit30, PressFit without 30 which is also known as BB86 unless it is on a mountain bike, then it is called BB92 but it might measure 92.5 or 89.5 millimeter depending on the brand.
You lost me somewhere in there? I don’t blame you. Trying to fit a crank and frame seems about as easy as predicting the Euro/Dollar conversion rate for the next month.
The reason for this is that bicycle manufacturers are constantly looking for stiffer and lighter frame constructions. Sometimes this involves true innovations, sometimes it involves innovating for the sake of changing things for the new model year. Heck, one of the biggest players in the industry has used ‘Innovate or die’ as an advertising slogan for years.
Diversification of the bicycle industry
Another trend I have seen in the bicycle industry is a constant diversification. The village bike shop that does everything on two wheels has long vanished. Nowadays there are specialized shops for commuters, road bikes and mountain bikes.
Looking at the car industry, this development has gone much further. It is close to impossible to drive your Dodge into a BMW dealer for an oil change or to replace a light bulb, leave alone if something has gone off in the electronics. This is the auto industry’s way of making sure that the car they sold at low margin will keep coming back to the dealer for expensive service visits.
Along this path, almost every major frame designer is trying to integrate proprietary parts that can only be bought through their dealer network. It is not possible for a Trek dealer to order spare parts for a Specialized frame or Roval wheels.
How can we fix all these bottom bracket fitting problems?
I see a few solutions. The most obvious one is to always buy a complete bicycle from a brand. For the lifespan of the bike you will be replacing parts from the same manufacturers as the one that came in the catalogue. This is a good solution, unless you did not like a certain part that came on the standard build. What if you love your new cross country racing rig, but the brakes came from a brand that is notorious for quality issues? It also takes all the fun out of customizing your bike or completely building it part for part from the ground up.
As for bottom brackets, at Kogel Bearings we see a future in smaller boutique brands that have the ability to do small production runs and be quick to act when new fit issues arise. We pride ourselves in fitting any crank and any frame without adapters. Similar solutions are available from other brands for chain rings and setting up mountain bikes with a non-proprietary 1X drive train.
As long as the bicycle industry runs on creative people and small-time entrepreneurs, you will always be able to find a solution for your problems. It might take a bit of digging, though.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
An entertaining view on the bicycle world. Always professional, rarely scientific.