Monday, February 15, 2010

Bootleg B43s

In the world of fixed gear components, there are a few levels of quality. Top tier components are those which were designed for professional track racing, for example Sugino 75 cranks. Below those are components which could be used for track racing, but are more than likely to end up on a high end tarckx bike, for example red anodized Sugino 75 cranks. And below those are components which are brightly colored, not intended for track racing, are 100% likely to end up on someones color coded tarckx bike, like anodized All City/Messenger/Origin8/Soma/Iro/Bulletproof/Eightinch cranks.
These are usually the same Taiwanese crap with different branding, if you look at some of these the only difference is the brand stamp on them.

Bottom level components usually work fine, sure your cog or chainring is shaped more like an oval than a circle, or the threads on your hubs or cranks strips whatever you put on there, or your chain snaps when you're pedaling downhill, but the point is they're functional. The people who buy them generally care more that they're colored antifreeze green than the fact that what they're riding is poor quality.

Generally, these are imitation products. A few years back, the rim to have was the Velocity deep V. A number of months later, Weinmann DP18s came out in full force in all colors of the rainbow.
Imitation products sort of de-value the original brand, especially if they become more widely distributed. Again, why spend $75 on a Velocity Deep V rim when you could get a complete Weinmann DP18 wheel for that amount? Things like weight and quality control don't concern most people who buy these things. For most of them, a color coordinated "fixie" is their first bike. And for a lot of boutique type track bike shops, this is where a lot of money is made.


If any of you ever check Denver Craigslist, you are well aware of the guy that has a bike shop of some sort and tries to sell products from it through online free classifieds. (This is prohibited, you should flag his posts) It was through this guy, however, that I learned of the existence of knockoff B43s. The Weinmann DP41.

Lets not talk about how the B43 came out after the H+Son Formation Face, the two are distinctly different (besides H+Son wasn't the first 4cm deep rim, think Gipiemme Tecnos and Campagnolo Shamals), but instead think about how this guy, selling shitty Taiwanese components and promoting his shop through free online classifieds instead of traditional advertising hurts more legit Denver bike shops like Track Shack. Its kinda sleazy. Especially when you write things like "I CAN TAKE CREDIT CARDS" in your ad.

But hell, if you don't care about quality or any of the associated benefits, and want 4cm deep rims, go for it.


Anonymous said...

yeah, what that dude is doing through craigslist is bunk, you should always go through shops, and if you can't, go online to like ben's cycle or a good shop.

As far as the deep v thing... When you are building your own wheels and deciding which hoops to get, getting the Weinman's allowed me better hubs and spokes, so I don't think that's as much of a deal, plus Weinmann has a cycling heritage.

And as far as cranks... everything thats not the sugino super 75 grand mighty is crap, and it's not even good for the street since it's designed to be ridden on the...track. tada.
the best you can do is look for new cranks coming out that are made to be thrashed on the street. My new Andel's are awesome, and easily compare in quality to my super 75's, but cost only $20 more than you would pay for a pair of shitty origin 8's or Sugino RD's.
And when I'm choosing parts for my really nice track-only bike, color doesn't trump quality, but if you're spending the money, why not get something good looking?

these are like 2 different issues... brands ripping off other brands (which forces innovation - velocity came out with the chukker, etc..) and the selling of shit on craigslist that is wholesale bought and sold grey-market style. And I guarantee that as soon as or even before velocity released the B43, you could have ordered a bunch from the factory in east asia that makes them as long as you told them you would re-brand the wheel, such is the cycling industry.

ez said...

First of all, I'm old... far too old to be bitching about inaccuracies in blog posts. I mean, really, "who gives a shit", but for the sake of "intro to fixed gear bicycles" I thought I'd throw in my (perhaps useless) $.02.

Well shit, that makes this all sound rather trite, but there you go.

Origin 8, All-City, 1/8 Inch, Soma, often sell the same rebranded parts. But it isn't an across the board rule. All-City only makes one set of cranks that are actually much different than anything Origin 8 sells (technically I think they are made by Andel)... they have a thick box look to them that the Origin 8 cranks do not. Additionally, these OEM products are often not the same grade of metal (like the suppliers let customers pick from a range of alloys and grades of materials)... I know that the iMINUSD folks have talked about the "ordering" process for such things. Jeff and the guys from All-City are quite careful to research their products and more and more, the products they sell are all original (look at their framesets or the New Sheriffs or their double straps).

And as for Weinman rims?

They're tough, they're cheap. H+Son rims have a reputation for breaking (although, truth be told, this all stems from one video) and Weinmans (for all their faults) do not. Velocity are no heroes either: neither the B43s nor the V's nor the Chukkers are welded or pinned. No eyelets on the spoke holes. So they could be designed better (and Sun is trying to make inroads into FGFS with their own ISO622 rims).

But, this is all sort of silly, on some level. If a kid discovers fixed gear bikes and chooses flash over substance, well that's sad but inevitable. A guide to "what kind of bike you should buy/build/buy" would be a little handier, though this is all purely subjective.

To that end, 75s are probably not the best track crank... Omniums are technically better (people have broken 75s) and the 75 BB isn't sealed (I've rebuilt one a few times). If you want a Keirin NJS approved bike, well okay, but if you just want a good bike there are other options that are just as good, if not better (Profiles + Tree Lite, son).

peterabbit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peterabbit said...

Thanks for the responses. I wasn't trying to bash these products too hard. All products fail, some fail harder than others, some fail from overuse and some fail from poor production. I don't know enough about stress and fatigue in bike parts to have any sort of conversation about them. I was jut trying to get the point across that flashy colored bike parts are generally cheap. The way I wrote the post suggested that I think Sugino 75s are the best track cranks, they're not, but for a square taper they're among the best and if you're riding a track bike with sneakers on, how stiff your cranks are don't make a huge difference in power transfer anyway.

I originally wrote the bottom half of the post first, the sheisty dude on craiglist selling parts from his bike shop on online free classifieds. (I've since learned this is none other than the assholes over at fly bike shop) I didn't that was enough for a proper post so I tried to write a segway in about colored parts being cheap. That failed and turned into a rant about people who color coordinate their bikes.

So, excuse the mess up there and be wary of people who advertise Taiwanese bike parts on craigslist.

ez said...


I think over-concern over parts matching is a waste of time. The first concern should be the quality of the gear, no doubt.

Then again, I do like my colors to be somewhat in check, but muted is muted is muted is much, much better.

No one should ride an unsafe bike, but kids do. From freegan dumptser bikes to "shame shame shame" conversions (of classic road bikes, too...) the ubiquity of color matched Oury's and cheap chains is a little startling. However, most of these kids don't ride hard enough to break their bikes. It's not like Pacific Manufacturing is churning out Track Bikes with stamped dropouts and spot welded head tubes to be sold at Walmart.

Not yet, at least.

Truth be told, a first bike is a first bike: unless you are lucky enough to be born with wealthy parents, you will probably buy something rather "econo" and that is just the way it goes.

The best crank thing is purely subjective, in some ways, fixed gear bikes are no longer just re-appropriated track bikes and as such there are many good cranks, some better for a given purpose than others.

I'd be willing to bet that most folks who ride them cannot tell 75s from Superbes, from something modern like the Omnium or something cheap like the RDs. In a blind test, that is.