b Kevin Shiramizu
E*thirteen has always had their roots in parts that don’t mess around, and that push conventional ideas out the window. Remember back in the day when you said “there’s no way I’d run a plastic chainguide” … well look at us now. Those who do run guides have plastic tacos and bashrings all over the place. Could that same evolution of mindsets apply to cranks too? There’s no way you could have convinced me to run an aluminum spindle on my cranks before, but I was happy to put my disbelief to the test with the new e*thirteen TRSr cranks. Read on to see how we got along.
E*Thirteen TRS Race Crank Highlights
- Material:Exalite Race Forged Aluminum with APS and Quick Connect Lockring
- Arm Lengths: 170mm, 175mm, 180mm
- Bolt Pattern: Removable Spider with 64/104mm 4 Bolt Double/Triple and 4x104mm Single Versions
- Ring Options: Dual Width Guidering M in 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 Tooth or Dual 36-22/Dual 38-34
- BB Shell Widths: 68/73mm BSA, PF30, BB30, BB92
- Spindle Interface: 1 Degree P3 Connect, EXA Race Alloy, 68/73mm
- Colors: Black with Silver Spindle
- Weight: 522g (Single 175x73/APS/Quick Connect Lockring), 598g (32T M Ring), 581g (28T M Ring)
- Extras: Removable Quick Connect Dual Width Guidering M, Quick Stick Crankarm Protectors, Steel Crankarm Tool and Chainring/BB Removal Tool Included
- MSRP: ~$370 USD (crank arms only)
After a flustered afternoon spent fumbling through various combinations of spacers on the BB and the spindle, I got the crank mounted up in a process that reminded me of setting up a chainguide in 1999.The TRSr features an "Adaptive Preload System" ("APS"), which adjusts to take up slack between the crank arms and the BB. It can only accommodate a couple mm of play though so it's more about fine adjustments rather than a cure-all for any bottom bracket and spindle combo. In short, once you take the big bites off with spacers, you can then dial in the fine tuning very quickly with the APS system. Personally, I had to juggle my setup a few times before I was able to get it within the range of the capacity of the APS. Once I did, it was all smooth sailing. Getting to that point included some colorful language.
It should be noted that the chainring and BB tool is unique to e*thirteen so try not to lose the one that comes with the crank or buy yourself a spare. Also of note, the self extracting crank bolt will only work if your crank has seated pretty much all the way onto the spindle.The crank puller is a bolt that threads into the crank arm and has a nub on the back side that will push the spindle off. It lacks the range of a more conventional crank puller so I ran into situations during installation where I couldn't catch either enough thread or get enough push to remove the non-drive crank arm. I was lucky to have an old Park ISIS crank puller kicking around which did the trick.
The chainring was straight and true on installation. Ample grease application during assembly was employed to ward off creakiness. The included pedal washers stuck in place and were a nice finishing touch. And with that, I was ready to hit the trails.
On The Trail
A crank only has to do one thing for me to consider it a successful product and that’s to stay in one piece and not leave my ankle broken in the dust. The TRSr crank did exactly that and never developed creaks nor tightness. It may not be as stiff as some carbon cranks but it’s doubtful that any average consumer has the legs to be feeling any measurable power loss. The TRSr is also not quite as light as some carbon cranks on the market, but in return it is cheaper.
The chainring worked as pretty much all of my other narrow/wide style chainrings have. The chain stayed on the ring and never got deflected by errant sticks, rocks, or wildlife. I also tested out an extended range 10sp 42t cog from e*thirteen and like other similar products, it provides a wider gear range at the price of compromised performance in the rest of your cassette (because you have to sacrifice one of the smaller cogs of the cassette to make room for the range extender). In the case of the e*thirteen version we should note that it does offer a nice finish quality that keeps your cassette looking classy.
I spiked the ends of the crank arms on many things and it may just be my imagination but they didn’t seem to be as sticky as the ends of carbon cranks that I have previously smashed into things.
Things That Could Be Improved
Anything that requires me to add another tool to my case is something that I am often weary of in a product. It’s not a big deal when that tool is included, but it’s something you should not count on being in your friends’ toolboxes if they don’t run e*thirteen cranks. To be clear, I don’t expect e*thirteen to change their tool set up in this case, it's just something I feel I should point out.
The sticker on the crankarm seems like a corner cut in regards to finish quality. But hey, stickers can always be peeled off if you think they look tacky. Anodized finishes are harder to do anything about if you don’t like the way they look.
In regards to MSRP, there are cheaper options out there with comparable features, but history teaches us that e*thirteen products will quickly be available at a discount and on that basis, the TRSr should be able to compete.
Long Term Durability
The crank arms never developed any play nor creaks during testing and I suspect that if you aren’t the fiddling type that has to rebuild your whole bike every weekend, the spline interface will stay snug for several seasons. Previous Vital testing of e*thirteen's polygon interface produced excellent results, and with further design improvements brought to the 2015 version we have no reason to believe it would be any different now. Use a torque wrench and you should be fine.
The BB felt perhaps a bit less fresh after a couple of months of testing but then again, it’s hard to recall exactly how fresh it felt out of the box. It was not crunchy by any means, just not the smoothest. The sticker on the face of the crank arms has started to show some wear from my sloppy flat pedal posture. I didn’t get enough time on the previous generation of the crank to determine if the anodized 2014 version held up any better than the stickered 2015 version in the looks department.
What's The Bottom Line?
This slice of the crank market has some tough competition from several manufacturers but as I see it, the TRSr provides a stiff enough crank setup with a clean looking chainring, and it has convinced me that most riders could easily get away with an aluminum spindle. The TRSr isn't all that "fancy", but that’s not what I want in a crank. I want something that won’t shear off and destroy my ankle, and if it looks good and remains relatively affordable, then even better.
For more information, head on over to www.bythehive.com.
About The Reviewer
Kevin Shiramizu has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years. During that time he accumulated multiple state championships in Colorado for XC and trials riding, a junior national champ title in trials, and went to Worlds to get his ass kicked by euros in 2003. His riding favors flat corners and sneaky lines. After a doozy of a head injury, he hung up the downhill bike for good in early 2010 and now foolishly rides a very capable trail bike with less protection and crashes just as hard as ever. He likes rough, technical trails at high elevation, but usually settles for dry, dusty, and blown out. He spent five good years of his youth working in bike shops and pitched in efforts over the years with Decline, LitterMag, Dirt, and Vital MTB. He also helped develop frames and tires during his time as a guy who occasionally gets paid to ride his bike in a fancy way in front of big crowds of people.