Easton/Race Face launch spindle-based CINCH power meter

Race Face expands CINCH a la carte crank system to work with Easton parts

Late in 2014, Fox Factory Holding Corp. purchased Easton and Race Face. The intent was, as is often the case in cycling industry acquisitions, to share engineering capabilities among the three brands.

Based on what Fox, Easton and Race Face have shown early this week, leading in to the Sea Otter Classic, their plans are coming to fruition. The companies brought forward a new gravel suspension fork, two new wheelsets, various cockpit components and a new power meter.

The new CINCH power meter is compatible with 1x and 2x systems; is road, mountain and cyclocross compatible; works with Easton and Race Face cranks; and is hidden inside the spindle for durability and clearance for chainstays or swingarms.

Claimed CINCH power meter facts:

  • Power Accuracy +/- 2%
  • Cadence and pedal efficiency data
  • Bluetooth & ANT+ compatibility
  • 400-hour battery life 
  • USB rechargeable
  • “Travel mode” for saving battery life
  • CINCH 1x or 2x compatible
  • Fits Next SL G4, Next G3, Next R (new) and Turbine systems
  • Compatibility with BSA 68/73, BB92/89, PF30 68/73
  • App for iPhone or Android
  • 65g weight addition to 134mm mountain spindle

Double dipping

The Easton / Race Face CINCH system allows for direct-mount 2x or 1x set ups with plenty of chainring options
The Easton / Race Face CINCH system allows for direct-mount 2x or 1x set ups with plenty of chainring options

The new power meter is a spindle-based system that’s compatible with Easton and Race Face CINCH cranks. The spindles are the same (except for length), as is the mounting interface. Only the crank arm q-factors and carbon construction differ.

Despite the fact that I already own a CINCH crank, it was still unclear exactly what that term meant. Simply put, it’s a compatibility protocol. CINCH make spindles, arms and chainrings that allow riders to create a la carte solutions. Pick the spindle length you need, choose your arm length and material (carbon or alloy), and then choose your 1x or 2x chainring set up. It’s a “cinch”. Got it.

Adding brain power and mystery

The brands worked with a Danish company for external competencies regarding the strain gauges and electronics inside the spindles. However, Easton and Race Face were tight-lipped when pressed for more details.

It’s unclear what the backstory is for their hesitation, but because neither company is known for their electronics innovations it was clear — as they mentioned outside support to provide confidence for riders — that it’s a legitimate system. For now we’ll just have to take their word for it.

Better than your crankarm meter?

The new CINCH meter is similar to Stages and 4iiii systems already on the market, in that it’s left-sided only. But what makes it unique is that it’s not taking up any space on the crankarm, which is important because clearance can be a major challenge with a lot of mountain frames.

In addition to freeing up space, the new system doesn’t rely on coin batteries. The USB-rechargeable system goes for a claimed 400 hours. 

On the topic of battery life, the system has an auto-wake mechanism when the crank rotates. That's nothing new, but what is kinda cool is that if you’re traveling and for whatever reason find your crank rotating, you can prevent the battery from draining by putting the system to sleep via a smartphone app.

To turn it back on, just plug the micro-USB charger in to the unit and it snaps out of its restful state. The riders I know looking at components like this don’t use trunk racks that allow rotating wheels and such, but Easton / Race Face mentioned this feature several times so it's clearly something they’re proud of. Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time, I suppose.

Inside the non-driveside of the spindle is the elegantly hidden and removable system — with a green indicator for active status
Inside the non-driveside of the spindle is the elegantly hidden and removable system — with a green indicator for active status

Easton / Race Face also claim a ± 2% accuracy for the new system, which is on par with just about any system available. For the product launch, the meters were already paired with a head unit so it’s unclear exactly how that process goes, but once we get our hands on a system for long-term testing you can be certain that we’ll expect it to be, well, a cinch. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Thanks to the arm q-factor and spacing, the Easton system can also be used single-ring if you choose

Although the companies didn’t go in to a lot of detail, they did talk about pedaling efficiency and pedaling smoothness. Despite the fact that I take issue with the use of the word ‘efficiency’ in terms of pedaling, creating an algorithm for pedaling smoothness is no easy task for a single-sided system.

We didn’t have the time to dig too deep in to this claim, although it appeared that this knowledge lies within the Danish company behind the green curtain. Hopefully long-term testing can help expose this feature more clearly because it could be a real benefit to riders.

1x or 2x (that actually shifts)

On the Race Face side of things, most riders are looking at a single-ring set up and will be comfortable with the already proven direct-mount (DM) system. The beauty there is that if you’re in love with rings other than Race Face, like an Absolute Black Oval, you can stick with what you know as long as it’s DM. It’s the same mounting system that generation 3 and 4 Next cranks have been using.

When it comes to the Easton model, there’s a bit more to the news than just a power meter; there's a direct-mount 110mm bolt pattern spider and chainrings, too.

Wait, wait — don’t scoff just yet! They actually shifted well. They aren’t quite Shimano precision, but they aren’t far off. In fairness, the chain was brand new, the rings were brand new, and all the cables and housing were brand new too. On the flip side, it was muddy and it did rain for the 3.5 hours I was riding, but I never once missed a shift up or down, despite trying.

As stated, it is a mechanical system so there wasn’t the benefit of an electronic motor forcing shifts either, which can to some extent make any drivetrain shift well.

The Mavic-style hub tool removes the cover that keeps electronics free from grit and grime and the tool is included
The Mavic-style hub tool removes the cover that keeps electronics free from grit and grime and the tool is included

Thanks to the arm q-factor and spacing, the Easton system can also be used single-ring if you choose, taking us back to the somewhat ridiculousness of the CINCH nomenclature. But regardless of what they call it, compatibility is ideal if you are a road and ‘cross rider.

I’ve swapped my direct-mount ring a few times and it’s so quick I could actually see myself doing this, as long as it wasn’t a daily demand. Swapping back and forth is an artifact of your frame’s bottom bracket standards of course; so don’t get too excited without investigating what you’re working with.

The systems come with all the tools required for light maintenance: a small tool to remove the cover on the non-driveside (which is the same interface as a Mavic hub adjusting tool); and another to remove the crank arms (similar interface as a Campy freehub). The cover tool is high-density resin for hand-tight application, while the crank arm tool is metal due to high torque requirements.

Accuracy and reliability

After four hours of rain and mud, the CINCH meter was still working as expected
After four hours of rain and mud, the CINCH meter was still working as expected

In terms of the data output, Easton / Race Face claim to have benchmarked the new CINCH meter against all the industry standards like SRM and on the first ride it seemed to be well within the numbers I was used to seeing. For readers out there who have been using power for several years, you’ll be familiar with the sensations of certain workloads, and that’s about all I had to go off of during the first ride so I’m not going to make any definitive claims.

Easton and Race Face also have access to environmental stressing systems within their engineering departments and assured us that the sealed nature of the meter will prevent any unwanted issues with water or grime. For the past year they leveraged the Silber Pro Cycling team to look for durability and you know those bikes saw a power washer. (And no, don’t power wash your bike.)

Pricing and availability

The companies say the CINCH meters for both Easton and Race Face will be available almost immediately. Some of the spindles are available now, with the remaining lengths to be ready in the next eight weeks.

While the system is a bit more expensive than a Stages or 4iiii, consider the compatibility, clearance and battery life and ask yourself if it’s the right system for you. We’ll have access to the Easton version of the system immediately, so keep your eyes peeled for more info on shifting, durability and accuracy.

  • CINCH Power Meter with EC90 SL Crank Arms: $949.99
  • CINCH Power Meter with Next R Crank Arms: $1149.99
  • CINCH Power Meter 129 or 134mm Spindle (w/o cranks): $599.99
  • EC90 SL 1x Direct Mount ring (38T-50T in even increments): $74.99–$94.99
  • EC90 SL 2x Chainrings (53/39, 52/36, 50/34) with spider: $149.99
  • EC90 SL Cranks (w/o rings): $399.99
  • Easton BB: $49.99

UK and Australian pricing is not yet available.

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