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Race Face Chester 4-bolt Crankset

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Timeless, sturdy cranks with great adjustability

Rating: Featured Member Review
Timeless, sturdy cranks with great adjustability
The Good:
-Chainline adjustability from 48mm-53mm on 68/73mm BBs
-Siff and durable
-4x104mm bolt pattern makes for creak-free chainrings
-Loogs good
-Cromo pedal inserts
-No sharp edges = less anodizing and shoe wear
The Bad:
-A bit heavy
-The arms’ thickness might reduce clearance with the chainstays on some frames
Overall Review:

The Race Face Chester crankset appeared on the market in 2013, but it’s still sold on this year’s bikes (like the 2020 GT Fury Expert) and there are a few good reasons why. It’s a cheap, simple, nice looking and sturdy set of cranks, using the long standing 104mm 4 bolt BCD chainring mounting standard, and has a lot of chainline adjustability. What could you want more? Keep reading.

Adjustability and future-proofing

I bought my Race Face Chester crankset when it came out in 2012/13 and it’s been on 3 bikes with 3 different chain line requirements since then. The first one was a 2009 Norco Shore that had a 12x150mm rear hub with a 68mm bottom bracket, which required an ideal chain line of 53mm. The only other option on the market at the time was to use a Truvativ crankset with a 55mm chain line Howitzer bottom bracket, which is what came stock on the Shore at the time (with a Hammerschmidt crankset).

The Chester crankset installed on a Norco Shore that used a 12x150mm rear hub and 68mm bottom bracket

I sold the Shore a few years ago, but kept the Chester with my Absolute Black oval chainring and installed it on my old Rocky Mountain Reaper hardtail from 2011. This bike was rolling on a 9x135mm QR rear hub with a 73mm BB and needed a 49mm chainline. Perfect fit once again. The last bike it was on was a 2018/19 Marin Rift Zone 1 with a boost 12x148mm rear hub and a 73mm BB, which needed a 52mm chainline. Still fit perfectly and the shifting was as good as could be. If I didn't use a 12-speed Shimano drivetrain I'd have installed the Chester on my new bike build.

The magic is in the five 1mm plastic spacers that Race Face include with this crank. They can be switched on one side or the other of the BB to give a 48-53mm chainline. I had originally bought the Chester crankset because it was one of the few options for the Norco Shore, but ended up keeping it through all that time (and it’s back on the Rocky Mountain hardtail after selling the Rift Zone!). As a side note, the crank bolt needs to be tightened quite a bit and last summer I had 2 plastic washes split, but they're cheap and still easy to find.

Also of note is the fact that the Chester included a Race Face Team DH bottom bracket (which had never given me any trouble), but it’s also compatible with Shimano BBs and other 24mm spindle diameter BBs. I’ve used it with a Marin house-brand bottom bracket and a Shimano BB and without any issues.

The 4 bolt 104mm bolt pattern makes finding chainrings easily, in many different quality and bling levels. Mine worked wonderfully with Absolute Black 30t oval and 30t Race Face narrow-wide chainrings and never made a creaky sound. For this reason alone I think that I prefer the 4 bolt pattern over the new lockring mounting systems, but I'll have to get used to it as pretty much every manufacturer now uses some kind of lockring system for the chainrings.

The good old 4x104mm bolt pattern is slowly disappearing but it's still easy to find good chainrings, like this Absolute Black 30t oval.

Sturdiness and good looks

With its wide symmetrical construction, simple lines and sublimated graphics located in the arm’s recess, the Chester still looks good after 7-8 years on the market. No weird machining shapes or sharp lines to get the anodizing worn off in a week or eat through your shoes. I have used a home-cut clear protection vinyl and Race Face crank end boots since day one so it still looks almost like new after all those years. I prefer cranks with vertically wide arms, which makes them look studier in my opinion. I haven’t heard any creaking coming from the cranks and it feels as stiff or stiffer than any other crankset I’ve tried. At 755g on my scale for the 165mm crank arms and axle it isn’t the lightest but it’s not too bad either for a stiff forged 6066 aluminum crank. (The Race Face X-Type DH that comes with it weights 115g.) 

Conclusion

It might not be the flashiest, lightest or latest option on the market, but if you need a dependable crankset that won’t creak, bend or look bad after a week, I think the Chester is still relevant today. I have used it on my 2018 Marin Rift Zone and it didn’t look out of place at all in my opinion on a recent bike. GT still specs them on the 2020 Fury Expert and I think that it’s the perfect kind of bike to have them on. It’s available in 68/73mm or 83mm BB widths, in 165/170/175mm lengths and can be adjusted to fit the most used rear hub widths/chainline standards so it could be one of the parts that you’ll still have on a bike in 10 years. I know I’ll keep this one for a long time!

 

Specifications

Product Race Face Chester 4-bolt Crankset
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park
Arm Material Alloy
Arm Material Details 6066 alloy-T6
Arm Lengths 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
Bolt Pattern 4 bolt; 104/64mm BCD
Ring Options 1x10, 1x11, 2x10
BB Shell Widths 68/73mm, 83mm, 100mm
Spindle Interface EXI spline interface; 24mm x 170mm
Colors Black
Weight 2 lb 1.5 oz (950 g)
Miscellaneous Reinforced CrMo steel I-lock pedal inserts
Weight given for 36t single ring, with bottom bracket
Extended spline interface length on the fixed left crank arm ensures long term durability and no loosening or creaking
3mm of chainline adjustability ensures the ability to achieve perfect drivetrain alignment even with difficult suspension frame designs and is ideal for fine-tuning chainguide set-ups
Bearings are factory filled with Phil Wood waterproof grease
Price $129.99
More Info

Race Face Website

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