Bicycle Carbon Cranks – The Good The Bad and The Better

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There are now many carbon cranks on the market and they vary in price and styles, so we thought it was about time we took a good look at what is on offer and try to work out which might be the best, the cheapest, the most expensive, the lightest, the strongest etc. Above image flickr

You could start by watching a short video that shows how strong is carbon fiber for cranks.

We also have some questions about carbon cranks that need answering, if you are looking to up grade your chain set and bottom bracket then you should find this helpful

Why Carbon

Well, apart from the fact that they are the most beautiful things to look at, with style and wonderful lines, all that with strength and rigidity, what more could you want from a piece of bike equipment, not much.

Many of the component manufacturers are making carbon crank sets and we try to look at most of them, we might miss one or two but we do try to cover them all. One big question is; why do Shimano not make carbon cranks? We don’t know, maybe they will one day, but at the moment they don’t.

FSA Carbon Cranks

crank-FSA-cool.jpgFSA were probably the first to make Carbon Cranks popular, they make quite a few carbon and alloy crank sets in both standard and compact.

The SL-K Light are made by a pressurized molding process, the crank arms are hollow but with an internal I-beam reinforcement.

The Team Issue crank set has Monocoque crank arms with a forged alloy spider, these are in standard size. In compact there is also the SL-K Light and the Team Issue, but also there is the K-Force Light, very similar to the SL-K, it is also hollow carbon, light, smooth and strong. All the other crank sets are in alloy, very nice, but not carbon, so we are not interested in them.SL-K Light Compact

Carbon fiber cranks buyer’s guide fullspeedahead.com

Fulcrum Carbon Cranks

bfca_1.jpgWe all know that Fulcrum make great wheels, but they also make two sets of Carbon Cranks, the Racing Torq RS in compact and standard and the Racing Torq R also in standard and compact.

Fulcrum says the RS is for top level competition and the R is for keen cyclists.

Both sets of cranks are made with multidirectional carbon fibre with a hollow structure. Nice looking with neat Fulcrum graphics, the cranks use the Campagnolo Ultra Torque bottom bracket system, so it’s light, rigid and easy maintenance.

Zipp Carbon Cranks

The Zipp 300 crank set is smooth and shiny, it also has more carbon and less alloy in its construction, this makes it lighter for the same strength and rigidity, Zipp claim that these crank set and bottom bracket system is lighter than other sets by more than 100 grams. It looks nice, but we don’t know anyone who has tried them, unlike the other, so we don’t know how good they are, but we like the look.

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Zipp

Campagnolo Carbon Cranks

Campagnolo makes lots of carbon crank sets, so you can get a bargain if you buy the older version with the taper fitting, but don’t buy them, spend more and get the new Ultra Torque bottom bracket system, it has a large axle and exterior bearing which spreads the load and the hole thing looks cool.

Just in case you don’t know how to fit a Campagnolo Ultra Torque chainset and bottom bracket, here is a great video on that:

Campagnolo now offer three Carbon Crank sets with the Ultra Torque bottom bracket, the cheapest one is the Centaur, every bit as good as the more expensive versions, but a little heavier, but available in different length cranks.

The mid priced Chorus has all the advantages of the more expensive Record set, Ultra Torque design with wide axle and wide bearings, the carbon is strong, rigid and beautifully finished, also it is not too expensive.

The Campagnolo Record Carbon Crank set is the top of the range and it’s the one most of the professional teams are using, large axle, external bearings, alloy fixing bolts, hollow crank arms etc. and weight 643 grams.

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Campagnolo Record

Other Exotic Carbon Cranks

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THM

There are a few other makers of Carbon Cranks, we found THM Carbones Clavicula crank set which is light at 410 grams with bottom bracket, its not cheap and only comes in 172.5 and 175 lengths, but is available in standard and compact designs.

We also found the Lightning crank set which they say is the lightest available, it looks a little like a BMX crank, not sure about this one.

Time who make pedals and carbon frames also make Carbon Cranks with a titanium bottom bracket and ISIS fitting left hand crank, it also comes in compact chain ring sizes. There are also Carbon Crank sets from Control Tech, Pazzaz and Ambrosio.

What Does the Style Monkey Think?

I like all the Carbon Crank sets, the only one I’m not sure about is the Lightning crank set, it looks a bit strange, but that’s my opinion. If you are asking me which one I would go for, then it would be the Campagnolo Chorus, it’s very similar to the Record, but a lot cheaper, it also comes in all the crank lengths and chain ring combinations in standard and compact, it has it all at a reasonable price.

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Campagnolo Chorus

Carbon Cranks get 10 out of 10.

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Lightning


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5 Comments

  1. Jcat

    Very informative, thanks. I mean no offense by saying this, but your syntax is truly atrocious. I appreciate your expertise, but appallingly ungrammatical writing is distracting and amateurish. Hey, I’m on your side. Just a little polishing and apposite use of semicolons might make you the pro we know you can be.

  2. patrick keohane

    I recently purchased an FSA Team Issue Carbon Chain Set. The set appears to be from a batch manufactured in 06/06. On my first day on the road I lost the crank bolt. I have made some enquiries but cannot source a 17mm bolt with 25mm cap. Would appreciate any info.
    Pat.

  3. Peter

    I was told by Lightning that the crankset cost does not include chainrings, which leads me to two questions:1. I’d like to know whether DA 10 chainrings are compatible with it, and2. I’d appreciate an independent technical review of the crankset including bottom bracket. Please compare it to other Compacts, with specs including 110BCD, 170mm arms, 50-34 teeth, weight and stiffness, and general compatibility with DuraAce components.

  4. Mike

    For me, I’d choose Stronglight Fission Carbon with titanium axle. Its actually the crankset for everyone. The length is adjustable from 170, 172.5 or 175. I have been biking for 2 decades now. I have tried all of these measurements and even a 165 length. They all have different purpose. If you cranks heavy, but slow, try the 175. But if you spin like speed gonzales, go lower. This Crankset will give you a chance to try them all just by changing the length.Hope this helps!Good luck!

  5. Optico

    Hi,to answer the first question. Under the assumption that Lightning crancks are the same as Specialized S-work cranks, yes they are DA compatible. I have pictures for those interested. The summary I think is rather subjective. The article starts so interresting. Why doesn’t Shima go for carbon? The answer is simple, they feel they can build a crank with simular spec’s out of Alu. Alu is their cup of tea, so why take the risk. If you read some tests where they measured stiffness of the cranks you’ll see DA is not the stiffest but it’s not far off. Another interresting one, I believe, is hollowtech Cannondale. They have been on the market for years and pulled it off to build a new standard (BB30). I’d like to see the numbers to help me choose where I spend my money. Looks is personal but important. Nice overview but needs an factual update,Regards,

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