Old 07-15-16, 10:23 AM
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Anyone using a 46/30T crank on a road bike?

I'm 53, live in a very hilly area (Santa Cruz mountains), and am in the late stages of recovering from a nasty ankle break. Currently I have an Ultegra 50/34T 11-speed crank and a 11-32T cassette (Di2, which was bundled with my hydraulic discs as the time). On some hills I could use a lower gear, and realized that replacing a 50T ring with a 46T ring would only entail losing the 50/11 combination, which I very seldom use. (50/12 = 46/11 0.01).

Has anyone here switched over to a 46/30T crank? I have a conventional BB shell, so I can't use BB30, and my Di2 system limits me to a double chain ring and a difference of 16T. My absolute ideal would be a drop-in replacement for my hollotech Shimano Ultegra 6800 crank.

On most climbs, the 34T front with the 32T rear is fine. We have one road around here (called Alba Road) with some 15% to 18% grades, and even with this low combo, it nearly put me in the coronary care unit. Having entered my declining years about a quarter of a century ago, this will only get worse I suppose.

The main problem seems to be limited options, which in turn is probably driven by consumer interest (and the idea that you are a wuss if you have an expanded range of gearing). People get old, get injured, carry loads, go off-road, climb very steep hills, etc, so the prejudice is in my opinion not entirely justified.

Here are some examples I have been pondering, just to get a conversation going.

I've come across a few options, and experimented with one on an old bike. I'd love to see other options, and hear about other's experiences, especially with Di2.

Defiant Wide Compact Road Crank Set (50/34T square taper, about $200)

Defiant Wide Compact Road Crank Set: IRD

I purchased this for my 1987 Bianchi renewal project. My original crank is a Gippeme 52/42, which combined with a corn-cob freewheel, was fine when I was 25. Now I am 53 and am riding the steepest hills of my life, I thought this was worth a try. The crankset is silver-colored and looks like a classic crankset that complements Campy parts if you don't look very closely. It is nominally rated for 10sp. (I have a 7 speed, and I have also heard it works ok on an 11-speed.) The crank arms are very pretty. The chainwheels are very basic but functional. Seems to ride ok.

White Industries VBC Crank (many gearing options, square taper, $250 crank + $150 for two chainrings = $400 ( + $125+ bb ) = expensive

ROAD CRANKS: White Industries

These look like a thing of beauty in the website photospread. I have not seen them in person. These also seem to be by far the most versatile option, and with both black and sliver-colored options, could complement either a classic or modern look. The negatives I have heard mentioned are clunky shifting compared to Ultegra, the requirement for a square-taper bb (although a BB30 version is said to be in production -- no use to me but perhaps to others), and cost (although it is said you get what you pay for in terms of manufacturing quality with this. Made in CA.) I've been very close to pulling the trigger on this, but having broken a square taper bb axle 25 years ago (and when I was 20lbs lighter), I worry about the bb. I would love to have more feedback on this option.

Middleburn 'Super-Compact' Crank 46/30T 24mm axle 417.00.


[image no longer available]

This looks like it could be a drop-in replacement for my Ultegra 6800 crank. The price (> $600) and shockingly ugly appearance keep me from pulling the trigger, but otherwise this is ideal from my point of view. The website has a bunch of other options. I would love to hear about other's experiences.

FSA Omega MegaExo (48/32T and 46/30T and more standard options, BB30 and 'MegaExo' versions).

FSA Omega MegaExo - Full Speed Ahead

(This is an older 50/34T. FSA's Website won't allow display of image)

I just found this (with help) on the FSA website, but I haven't seen it offered for sale anywhere. I don't know anything about their cranks or bb, but there seems to be a lot of negativity on the internet. The standard-size version seems quite inexpensive. I don't understand what 'MegaExo' means, but I am hoping it means it could fit my conventional bb shell.

Praxis Works Alba Crankset 48/32T, BB30 only (?), $175


This is named after the road that is inspiring me to find a solution. If I could fit it on the bike, I would buy this, as it is local, named Alba, and the company is well-regarded. Alas, it seems they only make bb30 stuff, unless I really missed something.

More Info
I found this link with some similar listings last night:
Low Gear Range: Road Shifters & Gears For Easier Hill Climbing - CyclingAbout CyclingAbout

Last edited by wgscott; 09-14-16 at 06:59 PM.
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