What's Cool In Road Cycling

Interbike 2007 Cranks Up

Sure this is Inter-BIKE, but one category that stuck out this year was on the drive side – Cranks in particular. Here’s what’s cool from Ingenu, Easton, Zipp, Lightning, SRAM, and FSA with a few versions absolutely taking push power tech to the next level.

The Las Vegas strip might simply be the least cyclist friendly place on the planet. The air in the Hotels is dry and smoky on par with a desert brushfire, the traffic is a combination of distracted congestion and impatience that would make a unicycle through Manhattan at rush hour seem safe. The general casino population is a combination of sad, sedentary, tobacco-cheese and red meat addicts (but hey, they’re low carb dieters…) balanced out only by dazzling displays of anorexia meets implant. But the bike gear was GREAT!

While the press after Eurobike has all gone to the majors where crank sets are concerned, my first stop showed us easily one of the smartest designs from Ingenu. It also happened to be sitting on an 8ish pound bike that I was sure would be “eye candy only” like others in this crazy class.

But to my surprise, the Rue Sports boss was happy to have people handling the bike, and the brains behind Ingenu showed that running this through all 20 gears was no problem at all (stock SRAM shifters and mechs by the way…).

The “Myth” crank set is special enough stand alone though. It will sit under 400 grams in production form, as the form / function combination here simply works differently that most standard sets.

The easiest development to see is this crank’s separated spider that shaves a very large amount of weight from an area that is traditionally beefy to maintain stiffness.

A closer look at these pictures will have you also note that the fastening system is very different from standard as well (and since I am not sure where they are in the patent phase, I’ll leave more info for the review).

What is easy to see, on the non-drive arm is that the axle is massive. What you can’t see unless it’s broken down is that the axle, fastening and bearings (Ceramicspeed Hybrid) are all at a level of integration that is simply outstanding. The price was also a surprise. Yet to confirm it, but $1249 is directly competitive with the uber-tech THM cranks.

Another set of spinners that you probably have seen to some degree are the new cranks from Easton Sports Bicycle Products Group.

These feature a steel axle and large silicone wiper sealed cartridge bearings and a plastic sleeve.

The crank arms are very large (they’re also a dual core molding process that’s going through its final development phase) and should provide excellent stiffness. They also feature a nice recessed area…

That allows the bearings (ano black to hide) to rest inside the arm in a tighter, cleaner package than most current outboard bearing tech.

Easton have these hitting market at 660 grams complete and retail is TBD, but prices here sound VERY competitive in the 600 dollar range.

Also out with a new crank set are the folks at Zipp Speed Weaponry. This is pretty interesting new launch as their “old” cranks are still young and are great, but I’m not surprised at all that Zipp didn’t rest and popped the new version…

The first thing that’s recognized is the 4 bolt spider. This let Zipp toss out a bolt and arm and shave some weight and also allowed them to run a larger crank arm profile (wide enough that it could interfere with a 5 bolt system.)

Chainring bolts are standard size (are you listening Campy?) and the fourth bolt simply mounts into the arm…

What you don’t see is all of the work Zipp did in collaboration with Cannondale that brought them an exceptional chainring design. And that’s important as loosing a spider arm and contact pount means chainring stiffness needs pumping up.

Everything was in play in making a 4 point fastening chainring as stiff as possible but at the lowest weight. Both the thickness and depth of the sections throughout were massaged to maintain consistent stiffness (you may or may not be surprised to know that some manufacturers chain rings have substantially different stiffness in different places on the ring and seem to only test the stiff places). The teeth are also heavily profiled for better shifting and chain holding performance And less movement means longer the chain life(and so longer cassette life).

Zipp call them the stiffest and the lightest available complete set (not a ratio, but class leading in both categories for mass produced product) at time of testing. 570ish grams complete along with the massive sections providing great stiffness combined with the fact that these pass the new Euro-nutball safety testing make these very high on the wish list…

I wish I could say that my super-nerd sense directed me to notice these cranks from Lightning Bikes. But it was a quick tip from a friend that pointed me to them… (Thanks RT).

The integrated crank and BB design is pretty slick and will tip in at 570 grams with rings for a (53-39) double. The design is also pretty smart (as one would expect as the designer holds the patent for an integrated crank design used by Specialized) in its simplicity, as the axle sides are joined together with a center retainer and braced (ala Campy).

No word on stiffness, but the profile of the arms is substantial and “looks” and feels in hand like it will perform pretty well. (not that hands and looks count…)

One other new crank set came along with several other parts from SRAM with its new Red Kit.

Carbon arms and spider and new chainrings at the very least are a visual statement versus their Force set and are a respectable 760 grams for the full unit. These also go with Ceramic hybrid bearings to deliver the drive to the newly designed cassette that is visually one of my favorite parts at the show this year.

We’ll have a close look at the whole RED gruppo soon (including PEZ’s first ride), but today’s theme is cranks…

Astute fans will recognize this next one from Fabian Cancellara’s Tour Prologue & World Champs’ TT rides:

FSA’s ‘NeoPro’ TT crank just plain looks aero – but FSA wouldn’t tell us if the windtunnel data backs up the eye tunnel, so we’ll have to settle for ‘looks’ fast.

The solid chainring surface offers fewer places to create drag, and the inner part of the crank arms extend to cover the external bb on both sides. Mated with FSA’s Ceramic Mega-EXO bb and the unit comes in near 1000 grams (though weight at the BB on a TT bike isn’t exactly the most critical).

More to follow with bikes and bits, but this gets us cranked up!

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan

Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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