Meet the crank with bearing cups that make it compatible with nearly every set-up imaginable
There are three key ways to produce a lightweight carbon chainset without compromising stiffness or strength. The first is to eliminate the chainring bolts and produce a dedicated direct-mount single ring. Next, at least in terms of simplicity, is to switch from a standard 24mm steel spindle to 30mm aluminium. The biggest gains in stiffness, however, are achieved by making the crank arms hollow.
Race Face uses all three of these processes on the Race Face Next SL 1x chainset, where carbon maximises the weight savings while seriously boosting its bling factor. It’s one sexy bit of kit. It’s also seriously light. Ignoring the BB, the Next SL is by far the lightest crank in test, lending credence to its claim of being the lightest production carbon chainset on the planet.
It’s actually the BB that’s of most interest, as it brings the Next SL chainset to a much wider audience. Rather than make two cranks, like SRAM XX1, to accommodate different frame standards, Race Face has come up with a more elegant solution and produces four dedicated BBs. Each uses custom bearings, but they allow Race Face to squeeze the lightweight 30mm spindle into any frame. Our only concern is that the super-slender internal bearings needed for the BB92 standard simply won’t last.
Race Face’s modular Cinch design extends to the spindle lengths, which means you could change the axle to fit your fat bike. And, because you can remove the chainring with nothing more than an old Shimano BB tool, swapping from a direct-mount single ring, to a double, or even a triple ring set-up with spider is, you guessed it…a cinch.
So the new Next SL chainset is super-light, incredibly stiff and you can have pretty much every combination of BB and chainring set-up imaginable. It’s not immune to damage, though. And as good as the plastic boots are at preventing scratches, a seriously hard pedal strike on a rock actually loosened the alloy pedal insert in the right-hand carbon arm, rendering it useless. We’re convinced that same impact would have stripped the threads out of an alloy chainset too, or at the very least bent the crank arm. So we won’t be deducting points for reckless riding.