28 June 2010

bikefix Initial Review: RaceFace Next crankset

RaceFace's Next are some light cranks. They also broke and I almost shattered my kneecap. I was a little pissed off about this and when my local bike shop contacted them they said that they were aware of a design problem and had redesigned the chainrings so that pedaling force is not solely carried by the chainring bolts but also on the shoulder of the crank arm. Admittedly, I was using the crank on a singlespeed at the time, and after carefully examining it, I could see what they referred to. RaceFace apologized in a typically Canadian fashion -uh, yeah, sorry about that- and sent me a new set of cranks right away. Although the new ones are not supposed to have this problem, the pain of my knee was still fresh in my mind so I've decided not to run the Nexts as singlespeed cranks any more.

I have been using the Nexts on a few different bikes for a while now and they seem to be fine. I don’t feel that they are any stiffer or less stiff than XTRs- but it’s hard to tell. They are lighter though, if only by a bit (730g vs. 770g for Shimano). The price you pay for the lighter weight is shifting that is not on par with Shimano’s. It is close- but not as good. I haven’t had to service them yet (a Phil Wood grease-packed EXI bottom bracket is part of the deal) but where I live it would be shocking if I had to service any manufacturer’s cranks or BB yet. The RaceFace chainrings are very light but the shape of the teeth seem different than those on other chainrings I’ve used. Perhaps that is where a lot of the weight came off. That might also explain the shifting discrepancy between these rings and XTR.

They seem to be holding up just fine to rock impacts and my duck-footed stance rubbing them on every stroke. Their finish is getting scuffed but I knew that was going to happen.

I like these cranks quite a bit. If you are trying to shave every last ounce off you bike then these are your cranks (yes, I know there are some other crazy-light cranks out there, but they all have issues that take them off the table in my opinion). It is hard to recommend the Nexts over XTRs though. They are only a little bit lighter but the shifting is worse. They are close to the same price as XTR cranks (actually a bit less) and replacing the chainrings is cheaper on the Nexts ($120 vs. $400 for XTR). To me, smooth shifting is more important than the 40 grams or so that I saved. Not to mention that XTR cranks have never broken on me. That's got to count for something. I’m on board with carbon bike equipment, but not unless it saves considerable weight, or has some other noticeable advantage over metal.

I’m pretty sure that RaceFace has solved the breakage issue from my first set of cranks, but it did happen. I think the bigger issue now is that their rings just don’t shift as well as Shimano's or SRAM's new XX. The 2010 version of the Next is 20 grams lighter than my 2009s however (710g), and if you really want to save weight, RaceFace make an “SL” version which weigh 695 grams. These bad boys cost about $670.



1 comment:

Matt said...

Race Face cranks have not been on my radar since they stopped making the Turbine LPs......