Crank Brothers reinvents wheel, headset
By Jez Loftus, technical editor | Thursday, August 30, 2007 11.00pm
They may be famed for their Eggbeater pedals but Crank Brothers make other stuff too, including as it happens, cranks. Yesterday at Eurobike they showed three new products at various stages of development that should be hitting the shops during 2008.
First up are what the company are calling Directsets, basically an integrated headset for mountain bikes that does away with the need for aluminium cups by having the top and bottom of the headset machined so that they act as bearing races: claimed advantages are an up to 40 per cent saving in weight over standard Aheadsets, ease of fitting and maintenance too. The Directsets are available in three different materials: titanium, stainless steel, and bearing steel and in each material there are colour coded versions: Cobalt - blue for cross country; Iodine - orange, for all mountain; Opium - red, for downhill; and Sage - green for freeride.
As you would expect the Cobalt cross country headsets are the lightest in each material range, and the titanium headset, retailing in the US for $300 dollars (UK prices to be confirmed soon) is only available as a Cobalt cross country model too. Less is more, and your $300 will buy a headset with a claimed weight of a mere 58g. All models will only be available in 1 1/8in sizes except for a 1 1/2in Sage freeride option in bearing steel. Production models of the Sage versions will also have taller flanges.
1/1/8in cross country headset (Crank Brothers point out that all the Cobalt 'Directsets' would also be ideal for road use), they upper outer races are made from 6AI/4V titanium while the upper inner and both lower races are stainless steel. Bearings are sealed 28 ball retainers.
As above but all stainless steel. Claimed weight is 65g and they will sell in the US for $130.
As above in bearing steel. Claimed weight 65g, US price will be $90.
1 1/8in stainless steel all mountain directset. Upper bearing: sealed 28-ball retainer cartridge, lower 34-ball max cartridge. Claimed weight: 65.5g, US price $130.
Made from bearing steel but as above in every other detail, including weight, so unless you really love stainless steel $90 looks a good bet.
1 1/8in stainless steel downhill downhill directset. Upper and lower bearings sealed 34 ball max cartridge. Claimed weight: 70g. US price: $130.
Bearing steel not stainless but same as the SLs in every other respect, except these babies will sell for $90.
1 1/8in stainless steel freeride directset. Upper and lower bearings sealed 34-ball max cartridge longer flanges make for a claimed weight of 92g. US price: $130.
As above but bearing steel and they will sell in the US for, you guessed it, $90.
Sage C 1 1/2in
Bearing steel again. Number of bearings to be confirmed, estimated claimed weight: 110g. US price: $90.
All Directsets will come supplied with an aluminium installation ring and they should be available from October in the US and Europe.
Crank Brothers cranksets
Slated for a winter 07/08 release Crank Brothers were showing a new range of integrated cranksets, again in their favoured material, stainless steel.
The Cobalt SLI is an integrated version of the existing Cobalt SL featuring an integrated spindle on the non-drive side, the reasoning here being that it enables the use of better quality over-sized bearings on the drive side. Chainring sizes are 44-32-22 and the only crank length available at launch is 175mm. Claimed weight is 807g. US price will be $550.
The other new crankset is the Cobalt S an integrated singlespeed setup, again in stainless steel, like the SLI the spindle is on the non-drive side it features an aluminium chain guard and comes built up with a 34 tooth ring, but you also get a 32 tooth version in the box. Claimed weight is 819g.)
Reinventing the wheel
Well it certainly looks different... This prototype wheel [no release date yet] certainly caused a stir featuring two piece spokes which adjust in the middle where what we can only describe as an extremely long aluminium nipple slots into the hub - this should eliminate spoke wind up issues. Spokes are paired and attach to the outside of the rim via a plug holding both spokes - one on each side. Only Cobalt, cross country, and Opium, downhill, versions were on show (production Opium wheels will be red). Depending on the type of wheel a greater or lesser amount of the central ridge of the rim is machined out. The light cross country Cobalt has the most metal machined away, but as strength progressively scores over lightness more is left behind with the freeride Iodine wheels containing the most metal.
Another interesting feature is a two-piece lever for ease of use. All wheels feature 25-17mm tapered oversize axles and all bearings are of the sealed variety. We certainly look forward to getting our hands on a set of these.
There are no plans for a road version at present.
Cranks Brothers were also showing a new post first designed by Maverick and which they have now bought the rights too to the Speedball seatpost and will continue design.
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