Choosing the Best Bicycle Crankset Today
There are several things to think about when choosing the right crankset for your bicycle. You want to have a crankset with durability as well as high-performance but choosing one that fits your budget may be just as important. We’ll share what different features matter the most and how to compare them with each other.
Length of the Crank Arm
Assuming you have a mountain bike, the standard length of the crank arm is going to be 175mm. Frames that are smaller or designed specifically for women are often going to have a slightly shorter crank arm, often clocking in at 165mm. However, crank arms can range from 165 to 180mm in increments of 5mm.
The first thing to be aware of is that crank arms should be proportional to the length of your legs. However, long arms are better equipped for downhill cycling while short arms work better going up hills. Calculating the right size for you may take some experimentation which can start by determining how natural your current cranks feel.
Chain Rings and Gear Ratios
When we talk about gear ratio, what we are talking about is how hard you have to work to turn the wheels on your bicycle. The ratio is determined based on the number of teeth found on the front chainring to the number found on the rear cog. This can be confusing since higher gear applies to the large front chainring as well as the small rear cogs. Lower gearing is found with a small front chain along with a larger rear cog.
With higher gearing, you can expect to expend more energy but generate more speed and power, which is why it works well for flat and downhill environments. Lower gearing takes less energy but also makes for less power, which makes it excel at steep ascents. You will also want to consider the number of chainrings, and their sizes as compared to your back cog.
Choosing Between Single, Double, and Triple Chain Rings
The original chainrings were singles where a rear cog was used to change the ratio. Over time, double and triple chainrings were used to offer higher speeds and greater range. The first double chainrings were known as 10-speeds due to the 10 ratios available through the five cogs and two chains.
Mountain biking pioneers created bikes by welding bike chainrings onto beach cruisers for a larger range of gears. A third chainring was also added down the line along with increased numbers of cogs. However, as time goes on, people are moving back to single chains for simplicity’s sake. With multiple chainrings, there is a need for a front derailleur which adds weight, complexity, and cost to the bike.
Power Meters and Need for Use
Some people feel that having a power meter is a good idea when cycling, while others find that it isn’t needed. If you aren’t familiar with this accessory, it measures and stores data about the power output from the pedaling you do. These meters are common with road racing but seen less often with other biking types.
If you choose to add a power meter, it will amplify the price of a crankset. They also aren’t compatible with every brand so making sure they will work together is a must.
Construction Material of Crankset
A crankset is composed of two parts which include the crank arms and the chainrings. In some cases, each of these will be made from a separate material. Some of the materials you may see include carbon fiber, chromoly steel, aluminum alloy, titanium, and other types of steel.
When you look at materials in a crankset, you should also look at other components. If these are made of carbon fiber, you may want cranks of the same material. These are stiffer and lighter than steel will be while offering a look that matches your bike. However, these also tend to be more expensive.
Steel tends to be the least expensive and heaviest material. Chromoly steel is more reliable and durable if you go with a steel option. Aluminum is just in the middle of steel and carbon and is a great option for those on a budget. Titanium tends to be quite expensive and less common these days with the advent of carbon fiber.
Now you know what to look for when choosing a crankset for your bicycle. You also have a list of some of the best cranksets on the market, one of which will likely meet your needs. A crankset is an important part of your bicycle and can seriously affect its performance, so upgrading may offer a better cycling experience!