In the hierarchy of bicycle components, cranks fit in right between hubs & forks. They're a relatively high-dollar upgrade, and you expect them to last quite a while; in some cases longer than your bars or even your frame. When choosing a new set of cranks for your ride, the options at your fingertips are extensive, but each variation creates a different riding experience. Crank material, arm length and drive configuration are all important variables to think about, but for this week's column, we're going to focus on spindle strength, which is provided in spades with the new Subrosa Big Bitchin' cranks.
The evolution of crank spindles has picked up exponentially over the last 10 years. Since the dawn of the sport, 3-piece cranks have primarily been built around a 19mm spindle – strong enough for the abuse of jumping & early street riding, yet light enough for racers and weight weenies. Primo was one of the early brands to step up to 22mm, but it took a few years for competitors to follow suit; Solid Bikes, however, went overboard with a 1" spindle, which needed special bearings and a guarantee that you had to file or mill out your sprocket just to get rolling. Somewhere around the mid-2000's, it seemed like everyone started running 22mm, which made a lot of sense being that it had a larger diameter for increased stiffness, and because it was larger, you could safely drill out more from the center of the spindle, making them lighter than many of the 19mm cranks from yesteryear. Next came 2pc cranks, which offered ease of installation but came with their own set of problems, and finally 24mm cranks appeared – much like Solid, bottom bracket options are limited. Subrosa's new Big Bitchin' Cranks, however, include many of the positive points discussed above, while managing to avoid most of the potential installation or compatibility issues of their competition.
By now, you've probably seen Subrosa's original Bitchin' cranks somewhere, and if you'll recall, they were based around 2pc design with a 19mm spindle. These cranks were great; the deathproof heat-treated 4130 arms were super strong, and the boxed arms made locking into crankarm grinds a breeze. The design team at Subrosa is always looking to improve their product though, and with the rise of spline-drive sprockets, one thing not many people took into account when designing 2pc cranks is that you can only run a sprocket on the side of the spindle with the bolt-on crank arm. Spline-drive sprockets straighten up your drive train while at the same time removing a bolt (thus saving a life changing ounce or two), so it's no surprise to see more riders rocking them, but with as many riders running LHD setups, you're limiting your compatibility. Suborsa solved this problem by building the Big Bitchin' Cranks around a traditional 3pc design, while also bumping up the spindle size to 22mm. The new setup opens up a world of sprocket options, adds only .6oz to the weight, and if you're trying to build the cleanest drivetrain possible, you can even find a bossless option.
The Subrosa Big Bitchin' Cranks are available now from J&R Bicycles and all other Subrosa dealers. They're available in 2 different lengths (170mm and 175mm), in either black or chrome, setting you back $169.99 (add $10 for chrome). If you're in search for that bossless version, hit up www.subrosabrand.com for more information, and don’t forget to check out the matching Bitchin’ Bottom Bracket.