Fighting Friction: A Conversation with Ceramic Speed's Jason Smith
Josh is, apparently, not the only person in the world obsessed with creating a frictionless world (or at least chain). In this conversation, Josh and modern-day chain pioneer Jason Smith — currently with Ceramic Speed and known for his groundbreaking work at Friction Facts — deep dive into what works, what doesn't, and why.
Got a question you’d like to ask? Text or leave a voicemail at the Marginal Gains Hotline: +1-317-343-4506 or just leave a comment in this post!
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Hi, I have enjoyed listening to the Marginal Gains crew and the many contributing fellow bikers and free-thinking pioneers in the industry. I have noticed most of the episodes have been about achieving gains by reducing either chain drive friction or some component of aero drag. I do not recall mention in any of the past podcast of what I believe might be the final unexplored frontier for marginal gains â€“ bottom bracket and wheel hub bearing grease.
I have deep dived through the internet and cannot find a quantitative analysis of bottom bracket grease aligned to specific bottom bracket designs. Without mentioning brand names, there are clear historic favorites among bikers like legendary white lithium-based greases, the various green water-proof greases, black graphite-infused greases, and more â€œexoticâ€ lubricants used in automotive and maritime applications. I have also reviewed a fair number of annual â€œtop 10â€ bicycle grease articles from the usual suspect bicycle forums and media outlets, but these are rankings are generally based on the openly declared opinion of the author; with a few brand name marketing talking points thrown in to give weight to the pros and cons comparison.
I could find only one relevant performance-based study that reviewed bottom bracket efficiency from Jason Smith in the Friction Facts archives. However, Jason was focused on the comparative efficiency of 35 bottom brackets of the most modern design under different loading conditions. His report did not publish the performance of specific lubricants in this application. When I recently asked my local bike shop owner what he used for repacking bearings, he could not quantify why he was using that specific brand of grease other than many years of favorable results.
I look forward to your spin on bottom bracket maintenance and the potential marginal gains for bikers with bottom brackets of all designs we could all enjoy in future performance.
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