High-end three-piece cranks
Solid gravity cranks
Carbon twin ring
Smooth shifting cranks
Crank arms, spider and axle
Light, stiff – and good!
Trail classic with disappointing bottom bracket
Limited edition light yet strong cranks
Easy-off bolts for ISIS cranks
Staggeringly light, stiff & expensive road cranks
Our chosen representative from the dirt-jumping contingent, this three-piece crank from Gusset is known to be one of the strongest cranks on the market
Tough steel cranks that are well worth the money
A good choice if you want a light crank but don’t like carbon
Carbon has been touted as the next big thing in cranksets for a few years now, but the WMB test team remain to be convinced.
The 7050 alloy is cold forged into smoothly flowing 'I beam' cross section arms and spider with a medium walled hollow steel axle that's fixed permanently into the drive side.
Race Face's mid-range XC cranks are purposeful looking units that'll pimp any bike. The cold forged construction is obvious in the largely rough finish
External bottom brackets are great, but the cranks aren't always tough enough for the abuse that some riders dish out. For DMR, though, making tough stuff is what they do.
Despite the amount of long travel suspension bikes blurring the XC/Freeride boundary, there's surprisingly little tough but not overweight componentry to equip them. Race Face's Atlas cranks are bang on, though.
For dirt/jumping, there are three-piece cranks and there are Profile three-piece cranks. Since 1979, Profiles have been the benchmark products in this hard-fought category. The arms are made from tapered 4130 chromoly steel, the 48-
Shimano has already hinted at significant changes for the chainset in its new 2006 group set (more on this next month), but XTR is still king of the heap in lightweight XC terms. The low profile, Hollowtech Duralumin arms are forged in the
Rotor are an Italian firm who brought us their dead spot-eliminating cranks some time ago. More recently they've turned their attention to conventional two-piece designs which, thanks to an aluminium axle, are around an impressive 200g lighter than a Shimano Ultegra crankset.
The Atlas crank was one of the first components designed for tough XC 'All Mountain' bikes, and it's still a super tough, premium piece. The stiff 'I Beam' arms are fully CNC machined from 'Optim-Al' alloy with crisp, clean edges giving the unique Race Face look. A medium walled cromo axle is fixed into the offside crank for an impressively stout feel underfoot and we've beaten the crap out of them without any worries. They are a real strain to install/remove though, so have your spinach before any spannering.