Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Van Nicholas VNT ceramic bottom bracket



Superbly made, super smooth bb well suited to high end bikes

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

External ceramic bearings and space age materials translate into almost the ideal bottom bracket for high-end bikes in demanding applications and the VNT from Van Nicholas is without doubt the smoothest I’ve come across in a very, very long time.

Our 122mm test model weighed a remarkable 100g and contrary to my initial feeling there’s been no power robbing flex when climbing out of the saddle or dancing on the pedals and almost no discernable resistance when turning the cranks by hand. However, remember to give the bottom bracket shell and threaded sections a liberal swathe of Ti prep to prevent infuriating creaks. Skimping on this saw our maiden voyage rudely interrupted five miles and two climbs later- I managed to cheat in the short-term by pouring some molten Waxoyl down the seat-tube but such laziness isn’t recommended on cross, audax or mountain bikes spending a lot of time exposed to the elements-sure the ceramic bearings will laugh as will the titanium but you wouldn’t want it reacting, seizing permanently in the shell.

Fitted to my crosser and consciously abused for a fortnight hasn’t revealed any obvious weaknesses, river riding making no impression upon the bearings and while I don’t wholly subscribe to claims they can forgo lubrication completely, there’ll be huge mileages between services.

Reassuringly refined and undeniably well made, for sub £1200 builds one of the less exotic aftermarket external models with ceramic bearings might come with a slight weight penalty but will deliver similar levels of performance for a lot less dough.

Shaun Audane



Superbly made, super smooth bottom bracket well suited to high end cross and Audax bikes. test report

Make and model: Van Nicholas VNT ceramic BB

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's a TI external bottom bracket. The most obvious market is high end (read titanium)Road, Audax and cross mounts. However,it would suit anyone with a high end, money's-no-object build regardless of frame material.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Ceramic bearings claimed not to demand lubrication, resistant to chemical and other corrosion. 100g is very impressive for a 122mm unit.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

The most refined bottom bracket I have used to date.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:

Undeniably superb but pricey.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Incredibly smooth, highly impervious to water and other contamination. My choice for an ultra modern top flight build but not totally fit and forget-remember to liberally regrease the frame threads annually

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Super smooth bearings, weather sealing and low weight.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product


Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly

Would you recommend the product to a friend? In certain contexts-would depend on the application.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 1m 81  Weight: 70 kilos

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

Add new comment


Shaun Audane | 15 years ago

Freudian Slip on my part-sorry for any confusion.

neilwheel replied to Shaun Audane | 15 years ago
Shaun Audane wrote:

...Freudian Slip...

Great name for a 'technical base layer' B)

dave atkinson | 15 years ago

you're right of course nw - sometimes the circuits in Shaun's head get mixed up. and sometimes it's late at night when we sub his copy  1

i've changed the ISIS references to say 'external', in case anyone's wondering what we're jabbering on about down here.

neilwheel | 15 years ago

Its not an ISIS-pattern BB - ISIS BB's have a spindle.

It's a Hollowtech II-type BB, suitable for the likes of Shimano, FSA and other hollow-billet spindle style chainsets.

At least, the one in the photo is...

Latest Comments