Cranks

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How to choose mountain bike cranks: Cranks deliver power from your pedals to the chain and propel you up or down the trail. Cranks come in an array of styles and designs depending on brand, intended use, price point and technology, so it is important to know exactly what you need before purchasing a new set of cranks.

Cranks

Types

Crank type varies depending on the intended riding style and bottom bracket type they were made for.

Models for gravity riding are stronger and heavier than the rest in order to withstand the more abusive nature of downhill and freeriding, and they generally come with one chainring or as crankarms alone.

Cross-country cranks are extremely light and stiff to provide maximum pedaling efficiency and come with three chainrings, but are not designed for more extreme riding.

All-mountain cranks find a balance of strength and weight, while offering either two or three chainrings.

Cranks are mated to the frame through the bottom bracket. Many moderncranks use a two-piece bottom bracket design, wherein the spindle (formerly part of the bottom bracket) is attached to one of the crankarms. This type requires an external type bottom bracket. There is also the more traditional three-piece crank type which use a cartridge style bottom bracket with an ISIS, square taper or octalink style spindle.

Sizes

Cranks vary in size according to their length. Mountain bike cranks range from 165mm to 175mm, with 170mm being the most common length. Taller riders often opt for 175mm, and similarly shorter riders often ride 165mm cranks.

Materials

Cranks are almost all made from aluminum, but there are some chromoly models and carbon fiber designs for high-end cross-country, downhill and all-mountain applications.

Things To Look For

When shopping for cranks, be sure to look into models designed specifically for the type of riding they will be subjected to. Most manufacturers make it easy to find the right model by categorizing their products according to riding style. Downhill, freeride, skatepark/dirt jump, all-mountain, trail and cross-country riders can all choose from a host of purpose built cranks. Another important thing to consider is the compatibility between bottom bracket and crank typeto ensure proper fit. Most all-mountain, trail and cross-country style cranks include multiple chainrings or even an outer bashring, so being mindful of gearing ratios and ring protection is a good idea.

How Much To Spend

Mountain bike cranks range in price from $50 for basic aluminum models to $900 for top of the line carbon fiber designs.

The $50-$200 range contains aluminum cranksets with one, two, or three chainrings. These are all 3-piece designs, falling into the all-mountain, cross-country and entry-level gravity categories.

Moving up to the $200-$500 range, most models are aluminum, high performance two-piece designs, and are available for all riding styles. There are also chromoly three-piece cranksets designed for skatepark/dirt jump riders. This price range offers great performance and value for competitive riders looking to save some weight and increase strength without breaking the bank.

The $500-$900 range offers top of the line cranksets in both aluminum and carbon fiber options. These products are extremely lightweight and deliver the ultimate in performance.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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