Join Date: Jul 2011
Bikes: Santa Cruz Blur TR, Cannondale Quick CX dropbar conversion & others
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7000-series AL rings are tougher and do cost quite a bit, but not as much as a crankset that would be a worthwhile upgrade. My favorite 'good enough' crank on a budget is SRAM/Truvativ X5. It's the cheapest SRAM crank that comes with a GXP bottom bracket, and a triple 9 speed will run about $150 new. You will need specific tools to remove the FSA crank and also to install the GXP bottom bracket cups.
Going down the new chainring path, you'll need a chainring nut wrench. The park tool cnw-2 is basic but works fine.
If you mix brands on the chainrings, there is a risk that the ramps and pins will be spaced the same between all of them, causing a loss in shift performance. However, if you rarely use your small ring, this may not be a big concern. I like race face turbine chainrings, assuming you can get them in 9 speed. A 9-speed specific chainring or crankset is ideal, since 9 speed chains are a bit wider than 10 speed. This will reduce chain drop.