- get another cheap Shimano cartridge BB and hope that this time it will last longer?
- get the really nice SKF bottom bracket that has a 100 000 km/10 year warranty?
- move away from square taper BBs and try a external bottom bracket system?
I was really tempted by the SKF bottom brackets, currently only distributed by Compass Bicycles. A 100 000 km warranty (given my annual mileage it would probably be the 10 years that come first) is pretty impressive, and as exchanging bottom brackets is one of the more time consuming maintenance items it can make a lot of sense -- install and forget! The price for those carefree 100 megameters is fairly steep, though: 129 USD plus shipping (and probably taxes and customs for us Canadians). Compare that with the cheap Shimano option: at the LBS, a UN-55 bottom bracket costs 30 dollars, meaning I can buy four to five Shimano BBs for the price of one SKF (if you live in the US you can get them for less than $17 shipped on Amazon. Simplistic rational choice economics would probably tell us to go for SKF: if my new Shimano BBs are going fail like the last one, at only 10 000 km, five of them will only last for 50 000 km -- versus the at least 100 000 km of the SKF. But what if the SKF breaks down before that and I'll have to pay for the shipping back to the US? And are kilometers the right metric if I'm riding less then 10 000 km per year anyway? What if my bike gets stolen (not that unlikely in Montreal)? What if the new Shimano bottom bracket will last much longer than the previous one, as they do for a lot of people? On the other had, isn't buying cheap but crappy things horribly unsustainable and making me a bad person?
Those are all legitimate questions and to some of them there are no easy answers. In the end, I bought another Shimano BB UN-55: The LBS had them in stock, a 30 dollar hole hurts much less in my wallet than a 150 dollar hole, and I'll just have to hope that this time I'm more lucky.
Which trade-offs do you make in the realm of bottom brackets? Have you moved beyond square taper and Octalink? Or are you a retrogrouch with good old cup-and-cone bearings?