Update: Shimano Dura-Ace Bottom Bracket Review

Last May, I posted a one-year review of Shimano’s Dura-Ace SM-BB7900 bottom bracket.  Since then, that original bottom bracket has accumulated an additional 2500-3000 miles.  It’s been ridden in rain and snow, and seen plenty of hard, off-pavement use.  And just like the previous twelve months, I employed a maintenance program that basically amounted to complete and utter neglect.

Eventually, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to check the bottom bracket’s seals and bearings.  Pulling the Vaya’s cranks revealed very little dirt on the external seals (and no uneven wear patterns).  After a quick wipe-down, I checked the bearings for signs of play or roughness.  To my amazement, I wasn’t able to detect any indication that dirt or water had infiltrated either bearing.  By contrast, a comparably priced external bottom bracket from another company became contaminated by water and dirt (and was devoid of lube) in ten months and less than 1000 miles of use.

If my original Dura-Ace bottom bracket lasts another year, it will have cost me just under $1 per-month.  And based on the past two years’ performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if it kept going for at least another couple of years.

Things I Like: DeFeet UnD Shurt Base Layer

I am not what you would call a fair-weather rider.  Whether it’s below freezing or when the mercury hits the triple digits, I love riding my bicycle.  And whatever the weather, DeFeet’s UnD Shurt base layer has been my go-to gear for remaining dry and comfortable.

GRAVELBIKE.com DeFeet UnD Shurt base layer

Weighing only a few ounces, the UnD Shurt takes up very little room under form-fitting jerseys or other clothing.  The athletic cut is slim, but-comfortable, and there’s no annoying bunching or “riding up.”  And despite being whispery-thin, it’s not fragile, nor does it require special care.  One of my tank-style base layers has seen near-daily use for over a year, and is still going strong.

DeFeet recommends the UnD Shurt for 40° to 80° weather, and I’d say that their ratings are a little conservative.  While it may not offer as much warmth as the company’s UnD Wool model, it does an excellent job of keeping you dry when you’re layered-up for winter conditions (which there are no shortage of here in Colorado).  As someone who tends to sweat profusely, I’ve found that the UnD Shurt is ideal for staying dry and comfortable.

For more information on DeFeet’s entire range of base layers, please visit DeFeet’s website.

Things I Like: King Bottle Cages

Judging by the sheer number of different water bottle cages that are available, some riders surely must value (low) weight or aesthetics more than functionality.  Me, I just want a cage to hold my bottles securely, and not require herculean efforts to get bottles in or out. For the past 15 years, Ron Andrews’ handmade King cages have been my number-one choice.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Rawland rSogn 650B stainless bottle cage

The split-base design offers clearance for front derailleurs.

Ron Andrews began producing titanium bottle cages in 1991, with stainless steel cages following in 1996.  Andrews now produces the cages in his Durango, Colorado, garage, and has expanded his offerings to include a tool pouch and bronze-brazed foot cages.

I’ve used both the titanium and stainless King cages, and never once lost a bottle.  Getting bottles in and out has always been as easy as it should be.  As a bonus, the King cages don’t discolor or mar bottles like alloy cages sometimes do.  And should the cages get grungy from spilled energy drinks, you can clean them with a Scotch-Brite pad to get them looking good as new.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Salsa Vaya King stainless bottle cage Lezyne pump

Wide mounting tabs offer a secure interface for cage-mounted accessories.

If you’re frustrated with your current cage, put an end to launched bottles, and check out the King line of bottle cages.