Being Frank: To Hellbender With Bottom Brackets

Brent Graves
Brent Graves – President and CEO

We like to say that we do the products that we want to do, the way that we want to do them. But that is not the full story because we also strive to ensure that each of our products has a reason to be – that it provides real benefits that riders appreciate. Our eeWings are the toughest cranks in the world while being one of the stiffest and lightest as well. The eeBrakes offer a massive weight reduction over the competition as well as offering unmatched modulation adjustment and a patented quick-change pad design. In creating the lowest stack headset possible, we had to remove cup and cover seals and create a much more corrosion repelling bearing to make the SlamSet happen. These are some examples of products that merit being in production as a Cane Creek product.

For years there have been requests for us to make bottom brackets. These requests have been both internal and external. When we asked why, we got responses like “Chris King has bottom brackets” and “because some riders like to have matching headsets and bottom brackets”. While there was little doubt that we could sell some bottom brackets, those responses fell well short of meriting our entry into the bottom bracket business.

There is no doubt about riders’ anxiety about bottom bracket “standards”. If one is building up a frame, it can be hard to determine the compatibility and proper spacing set-up. This was more evident to us when we entered the crank market with the eeWings. While there are literally millions of bikes that will accept a 30mm bottom bracket spindle, we saw that fitment anxiety was possibly limiting our eeWings sales. But was that enough for us to offer bottom brackets? We thought not.

A couple of years ago, mega bearing and seal conglomerate SKF, announced MTRX “solid lube” technology for bicycle bearings. It turns out that an SKF employee was also a hardcore marathon MTB racer frustrated over short-term bearing life in his bike. This motivated him to explore SKF’s various bearing technologies. He found that technology created for the food processing industry was great in bicycles. This MTRX technology was developed to withstand the rigors of being pressure washed repeatedly to ensure that equipment was free of contamination that could infect food. The MTRX solid lube could not be flushed out, left almost no room for contamination to reside, did a much better job at keeping the ball bearings lubricated, and lasted much longer than grease. Those benefits are great for bicycles too!

So when eeWings began selling and fitment anxiety became a concern for us, we eventually recalled SKF’s MTRX announcement. It took a lot longer than expected to make contact, navigate bureaucracy, and validate with testing. But when we did, we found the missing piece to offering a bottom bracket that had a reason to be –  a bottom bracket offering much longer bearing longevity. When we added precision and detail in the form of minimal mass, aluminum dust covers, dual anodization, and tight tolerances, we had our Hellbender Neo bottom bracket.

Here’s a bit of Cane Creek trivia: The “Neo” part of the name is a nod to the main character in the Matrix movies. You see, MTRX is pronounced as matrix.