06 July, 2006

Impact Cranks

The selection of attractive compact cranks is very small indeed. The photo is of a Stronglight Impact crank. It is a, not well guarded, secret that the Impact is actually forged for Stronglight by Sugino.

The advantage of the Impact is that it comes with the superb Stronglight chainrings and is available in every size from 165mmto 175mm. Plus, being French, there is a certain "cool factor". It weighs a reasonable 630gm and uses a 110mm square-spindle bottom bracket. I've tested a set of these cranks on my bike for a month and am very impressed.

We've been thinking of asking Stronglight to assemble a run of these in silver with 48/34 rings. They would cost around $110. What do you think? Black rings or champagne rings? Are there other good alternatives?

Of course the long term goal is to make reproduction Rene Herse cranksets.


Anonymous said...

This is just the Sugino XD forging, correct? The XD is a fine crank and it's great that Sugino still makes it, but, in my opinion, very ugly with its bowed and too thick arms.

I've never seen one in the flesh, but the Sugino Cospea looks like a finer finish to my eye. Jitensha has it and a guy is selling them on eBay.

I'm also intrigued by this new IRD compact double: http://www.interlocracing.com/cranks.html#impala
It isn't available in square taper, which is a bummer.

Now, if you could convince Sugino to start making their PX crankset (Cyclotouriste bolt pattern) and matching rings, then you'd be in business.


Velo Orange said...

Hi Andrew,

The Stronglight/Sugino is not perfect, but with contrasting chainrings it's not that bad looking.

I like the arms on the IRD, but what is that thing crawling out over the spyder? Now the does Cospea looks great, but at twice the price it should. I'll look into getting some.

The PX would be nice, but in a small production run I fear they might cost as much as a real TA Pro 5 Vis (or around $290 with rings).

So if you guys would please just pre-order 5000 copies of the Rene Herse cranks I could solve this whole problem once and for all ;<)

Dad said...

Oh how I would dearly love to have a Herse-style chainset. It's extraordinary how he came up with such a timeless design.

Anonymous said...

i'll hold out for the repro Herse. That thing is frickin beautiful. the rings too/especially!

make it a triple, please, and then I can incongruously install it on my touring mountain bike. gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

The ultimate goal is to repro the whole Herse bike. Right? Then we (you)have to start somewhere. The crank is the heart of the animal. As fanatical the Japanese are about French bikes there may be more of a market than it would initally appear.

C said...

Have you talked to Paul Components? They were making a Herse-esque crankset recently. They're good people and easy to deal with though the prices will be in the TA range.

Anonymous said...

I don't think a cheap crank is necessarily the goal, right? I mean, have you seen how much carbon cranks cost? Yes, the TA Pro 5 Vis/Cyclotouriste is pricey, but it isn't incongruous with what other high end cranks cost, especially given that you can use a $30, non-proprietary bottom bracket (a great $30 bb, at that, in the form of the sealed Shimano UNxxxx).

I agree that the Herse crank is beautiful, but isn't it interesting to think that some of its beauty (the ornate rings and the three-arm spider) are driven by function--a function I happen to find kinda questionable? Unless I'm mistaken, that design allows replacement of rings without removing pedals (correct me if I'm wrong).

I think cranks provide a critical central visual element on a bike, so if a goal is aesthetic perfection, cranks are no place to penny pinch.


Velo Orange said...

Neil, Actually the ultimate goal is to clone Monsieur Herse himself ;<)

C, Thank's for reminding me about Paul's cranks. It's on my to-do list now.

Andrew, I think we need to carry both cheap and expensive cranks. We have the latter in the TA we now carry. The cheaper one is the problem. It's easy enough to build a proper cyclo-touring bike for $4500, but it would be nice to see a functional equivalent for $1800.

Anonymous said...

We don't need no Monsieur Herse. We got Monsieur Kulczycki. I think $1800 is a tough goal. That would require a fork and frame at what, $1000? Plus racks, fenders in addition to standard components. There's also tooling and one time set up charges that have to be covered somewhere. I also assume you'll want to make a profit on it. Aw forget it, the higher end stuff is more fun to spec anyway. Maybe the real question is, what would Herse spec if he had acess to modern components?

C said...

For what it is the TA crank is over priced. It's not a terribly difficult crank to make, the tooling was paid for decades ago, and TA isn't exactly spending big bucks sponsoring pro teams or advertising. Despite all this, a TA crank still costs more than a crank from Shimano or Campy. It's a great looking crank and I don't mind paying for great products. I just fail to see how this crank with rings can cost $300 (you can find Record alloy and non-integrated DuraAce for less!)

C said...

My last comments should in no way be seen as implying that Chris or anyone else stocking TA is overcharging. I work in industry and know how little the margins are on these things. The high price is TA's issue, not the sellers.

Anonymous said...

I think the 110 bcd cranks are good for a lot of people, much better than the 130bcd or 135bcd that only allow a 38T ring. BUT, My personal choice, and one I wish you might concider if you want to make a real useful road crankset is 86bcd, i.e. Stronglight 99 and the SR copy that went away in the 80's. With a 46-28 wide range double you are all set in the real world with actual hills.

Personally I don't like the look of black rings, but to each their own.


Anonymous said...

Chiming in months late for what it's worth. I put the IRD polished compact crank (Octalink BB) on my wife's new Luna frame and it looked pretty good. But she thought the non-drive side was ugly due to the pinch necessary on the outboard BB model (two extra bolts). I thought that was ugly as well. And the contours on the spider aren't as subtle as the photos (uglier in person).

Then unfortunately (luckily?) we had problems with the crank because her mechanic (me) botched the original Octalink installation. The spider/BB mate got bugged up and the crank loosened after every long ride.

In the end we took the nice polished chainrings off the IRD and installed them on a Sugino XD-600 double spider. Clean, rounded, beautiful package. Especially when we substituted a 48t TA 'ring which mirrors sunlight onto the pavement...