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Crank Upgrade for P38

I am looking to upgrade my cranks and was wondering what is the best bag for the buck? What is the advantages of two or three chain rings? Do I need a certain type of bottom bracket?

There is a long tradition of cyclists obsessing about bike weight. If you are a fit and slender rider who does hill climbing competitions, or races in a hilly area, getting your body and bike as light as reasonably possible makes sense. It gives you a small edge over the riders who weigh more and have heavier bikes.

The higher the level of competition, the more closely matched athletically the riders. So every little advantage can be the difference between winning and losing a race.

For the vast majority of people who cycle for fitness, fun, and practical purposes like commuting to work, spending a lot of money on light weight bike frames and components is mostly a mistake. The real-world difference knocking off a few pounds will make is so tiny that it will be very difficult to discern.

Suppose you are in the first group. Some of the Shimano road cranks like the Ultegra are hard to beat in terms of bang for the buck. If you are willing to spend more, Lightning makes cranks that are even lighter. Most modern cranksets use external bearing bottom brackets.

If you want to go faster, and if you mostly ride in a flat area or an area with smaller rolling hills, focus on aerodynamics instead of light weight. Get an F40 fairing for your Lightning recumbent and your increased speed will be huge. This will cost more money than even a fancy Lightning carbon crankset. But the real-world speed benefit will be dramatic, not subtle.

Oh, about double versus triple chainrings: a triple gives you a wider range of gears. For most recumbent riders this is a good idea. You can get a super low granny to haul supplies up a steep long hill, and a super tall high gear to crank down the other side of the hills at warp speed.

If you only ride in a flat area, and rarely if ever haul anything on your bike, a double may be a better choice. I would rather have the granny gear and be safe, even if it means a few more ounces of weight. I do not like walking my bike up steep hills.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

Thank you for your comments Joel.

I have gone with a triple for me and whilst I don't use the granny that often it is handy to have it there. In my case I have a square tapered bottom bracket as that is what is required for my Stronglight Impact Triple crankset, however I could have fitted an external bottom bracket if that was appropriate.

My Stronglight Impact Triple is 46/36/28 but I am swapping out the big chain ring for a 52 to get me a bit more top end speed.



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