Silly light, sensibly stiff, cheaper than most
In terms of power to weight the Race Face Next SL G4 really is a superb – it’s also silly light, sensibly stiff and cheaper than other carbon cranks.
To allow users to pick and choose, Race Face sells the Next SL G4 with a choice of three rings but you can also buy the arms individually and they add a Race Face ring of your choice. This works out about a fiver more expensive but you do have a greater range of ring sizes (24 to 42t) and six colours to choose from. Like Praxis you’ll still need to buy a bottom bracket (£39.95) and a dedicated tool to fit it, which is £24.95.
As the name suggest the G4 is the latest generation of the Next crank and to cut weight, Race Face has made small refinements to the carbon layup and also removed excess material from the aluminium spindle. These changes only save 18g but the G4 is still the lightest crank here and probably the lightest mountain bike crank on the market. It’s also bit more durable too, with upgraded aluminium alloy in the pedal inserts and tape already applied to the crank surfaces.
Race Face standard BSA bottom bracket is slightly heavier and more expensive than the Praxis Works but it’s better sealed with tighter bearings covers and the all-important central sleeve between the cups.
Both the Praxis Works and SRAM use the same mounting interface so their rings are interchangeable but Race Face has a unique attachment. Called CINCH, the chainring is held in place via a lockring (you’ll need another tool for this) and, while the design allows for a bigger range of ring sizes, you won’t be able to upgrade to a SRAM X-sync 2 ring. Chain security is very good with Race Face’s narrow wide ring but the X-sync 2 is smoother and less grabby.
Despite the Race Face crankset being lighter than the Praxis it’s equally as stiff with a positive feel under the pedal. Like most carbon cranks, there’s a damped feel when riding rocky or hard packed surfaces but it’s still incredibly responsive when charging up a climb.
In terms of power to weight the Race Face Next SL G4 really is a superb –it’s also silly light, sensibly stiff and crucially £50 cheaper than the Praxis. However, the G4 arms are less polished and after three months use are already starting to look pretty scuffed. The thinner boots, designed to protect the ends from rock strikes, have also started to peel back allow grit to get in and scuff the composite.
The CINCH ring offers excellent chain security but it doesn’t quite match the SRAM rings tested elsewhere for smoothness – if we could fit a X-sync ring on this crank it’d definitely be a 10.