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Old 07-15-16, 10:23 AM   #1
wgscott
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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.

ROAD CHAINSETS EXTERNAL BB | Middleburn Shop

[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

https://www.praxiscycles.com/product/alba-m30/



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

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Old 07-15-16, 12:12 PM   #2
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Great that you started this thread - and thanks for all the links (my understanding is manifestly a long way behind you!).

I will be very interested in what comes out in the discussion.


I did gather from one conversation (with a specialist bike builder) that having a road Di2 gives more flexibility in changing the chain rings than using a mechanical system, and that it was a fairly frequent request from their clients.
Trouble is, at my age I am no longer sure which bike builder told me this
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Old 07-15-16, 12:32 PM   #3
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Thanks.

It restricts you to a 16T or smaller difference between the large and small ring, and the chainrings have to be 11-speed compatible. If it clamp-mounts like mine, the actual diameter shouldn't be problematic.
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Old 07-15-16, 01:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
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.

ROAD CHAINSETS EXTERNAL BB | Middleburn Shop



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

https://www.praxiscycles.com/product/alba-m30/



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
Yes you missed something. Praxis has worked with Turn Cranks to cover most different bottom brackets. http://blog.fairwheelbikes.com/2015/02/12/turn-cranksets-praxis/

I replaced my SRAM Red crank set with a Praxis Turn but going from a compact 50x34 to a mid compact 52x36.

Two things that caused me to pick Praxis/Turn was cold forged rings and oversized bottom brackets. There seems to be even less flex with Turn.
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Old 07-15-16, 01:15 PM   #5
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Yes you missed something. Praxis has worked with Turn Cranks to cover most different bottom brackets.
Thanks for posting the link, but now that I have read the blog post, it still looks like you need a bottom bracket shell capable of accepting a 30mm spindle.

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Old 07-15-16, 01:45 PM   #6
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I have two of them. My AWOL gravel bike has the Sugino OX601 and my custom Zukas road bike has the White Industries VBC, both with 46-30 chainrings. I'm running 12-36 10sp on the rear of the AWOL and 11-28 11sp on the Zukas. Both setups provide very usable gearing range and spacing for the terrain they are used on and my preferences. Both fit on 68mm threaded BB shells, the Sugino with external bearings with an interface similar to Shimano and the White Industries with a square taper BB. I have heard that White will soon be releasing an external bearing version of the VBC crank.

ready for the first ride by Benny Watson, on Flickr

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Old 07-15-16, 05:38 PM   #7
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First, and most importantly, outstanding bike P0rn. Here is mine:



I think I need to take some newer photos, to show off the blue handlebar tape and matching blue XTR trail pedals.

Both of those options sound great.

I weigh almost 200lbs and have previously snapped a square taper bb axle, which is the main thing holding me back from the White Industries crank. How is the shifting, and the bb flex? The new White Industries crank I believe will be a 30mm spindle, which, unfortunately for me, won't work. I didn't realize the Sugino had non-square-taper options. I will check that out. How do you like it? Are those the Clement tubeless? You like? I drove a sheetrock screw through my MSO yesterday, and it went all the way down to the rim tape.

Here's more:





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Old 07-15-16, 06:45 PM   #8
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Not related to the gearing, but I have the WI SS crankset. A thing of beauty and one of the stiffest crankset a I have ridden. I am about 180, so not a lightweight in the bike world.
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Old 07-15-16, 10:53 PM   #9
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Not sure how you managed to snap a square taper BB, but it's not because of any inherent weakness in the design. I rode many thousands of miles on square taper BBs when I weighed 210-220. I broke a lot of parts, but never a BB spindle. BTW, you mentioned $125 for the BB on this. I'm running a $25 Shimano UN-55 on mine. Stone axe reliable and any weight difference is at the absolutely least impactful location on the bike. Spend you money where it makes a difference.

As a bike shop employee, I hate to admit that I got my Sugino crank from eBay. They no longer seem to be available.

I'm running my Clement MSO 40 tires tubeless and have had zero issues. I know a few people who never managed to get them to seal and have read where others had their internal surface rot from exposure to Stan's sealant. I left mine mounted to Stan's Iron Cross rims for several months and they still had air in them when I pulled them out of the room where I had stashed them. I closely examined the I moved them over to Roval carbon rims and they are still sealing up well. Was Stan's sealant before, now Orange Seal.

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Old 07-16-16, 08:21 AM   #10
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Not sure how you managed to snap a square taper BB, but it's not because of any inherent weakness in the design. I rode many thousands of miles on square taper BBs when I weighed 210-220. I broke a lot of parts, but never a BB spindle.
I'm not either, but I was about 20 lbs lighter then (late 1980s), and I cracked the frame, which Bianchi replaced for free, but dragged it out for a year. I was a penniless grad student (having already blown my life savings on the bike), so didn't have the $100 at the time to have the bike shop put the parts on the new frame. I put the rest together myself, but I was afraid of bottom brackets, and they took pity on me and put it on for free. I soon learned they put the fixed cup on the wrong side to get it to fit the new frame, so it could be the spindle, which broke a few years later, was compromised because of that.

Quote:
BTW, you mentioned $125 for the BB on this. I'm running a $25 Shimano UN-55 on mine. Stone axe reliable and any weight difference is at the absolutely least impactful location on the bike. Spend you money where it makes a difference.
That was for the cheaper of the two options if I wanted the White Industry BB. The titanium one is more expensive. If it really doesn't matter, that is good to know. I know next to nothing about bottom brackets. I'd probably pay the paranoia premium and get Phil Wood if WI didn't have one, but if it really doesn't matter, Shimano is more than fine with me. I don't want it breaking or flexing any more than absolutely necessary, so if more money gets me something other than a label that no one will see ...

Quote:
As a bike shop employee, I hate to admit that I got my Sugino crank from eBay. They no longer seem to be available.
Well, that explains why I can't find it.

Quote:
I'm running my Clement MSO 40 tires tubeless and have had zero issues. I know a few people who never managed to get them to seal and have read where others had their internal surface rot from exposure to Stan's sealant. I left mine mounted to Stan's Iron Cross rims for several months and they still had air in them when I pulled them out of the room where I had stashed them. I closely examined the I moved them over to Roval carbon rims and they are still sealing up well. Was Stan's sealant before, now Orange Seal.
I may give it a try, but in over two years, this is the first non-user-error flat I have had, and even if the sealant had worked to get me home, I would have run the risk of driving the screw into the rim.

Again, thanks for all the info and advice!
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Old 07-16-16, 01:27 PM   #11
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Here is the IRD 46/30T crank on my Bianchi. (Try not to laugh at the stem. I did post this in 50+, after all.)

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Old 07-16-16, 01:44 PM   #12
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Some Guy did the east to west Trans Con self support race , and ended Here .
we Box & ship Tourist's bikes Home to them.

He had one of Compass Bike's Herse Replica double cranks . a 46-30.
on a 650B Rando (more French Herse Copy) bike .
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Old 07-16-16, 02:14 PM   #13
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Just looked it up. Square taper, many possible configurations: https://www.compasscycle.com/shop/co...-double-crank/ $435

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Old 07-16-16, 04:35 PM   #14
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Yes. 46/30 from VeloOrange.
Being used on a vintage bike that accepts 32mm knobbies = trail/gravel roadie.
With 25/28mm tires on pavement, I spin out on a small cog of 14. My issue is compounded by a short crank. Upside is: you work on spinning fast, aerobic workout over mashing, great 'recovery ride' bike.


edit: saddle tilt adjusted. Oh yeah, this is a square taper BB crankset.
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Old 07-16-16, 04:48 PM   #15
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Here is the IRD 46/30T crank on my Bianchi. (Try not to laugh at the stem. I did post this in 50+, after all.)

Looking at that worn saddle - no one should criticize your handlebar height. Especially if you are riding in the SC Mts. Zayante, Mt Charlie, Felton Empire, etc are long enough to warrant being comfortable in the drops.
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Old 07-16-16, 04:53 PM   #16
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I did that to the saddle long before I changed the stem. I tried to match the reach etc on the new custom bike as closely as possible. (The stem unfortunately is slightly too high, but it doesn't bother me.) That was the saddle that came with the bike, and I have never found anything more comfortable, except a Brooks.

You sound familiar with the area. I live right off Ice Cream Grade, if that means anything (the extension of Felton-Empire).
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Old 07-16-16, 05:29 PM   #17
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You sound familiar with the area. I live right off Ice Cream Grade, if that means anything (the extension of Felton-Empire).

Nearly 20 years in Scotts Valley (1986-04), Los Gatos before that, Campbell before that.
Seattle weather is becoming more California-like except for about 3 months a year.
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Old 07-16-16, 06:43 PM   #18
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46-30 is an excellent combo, and very popular with randonneurs. It seems like this popularity has generated quite a few more options. 50+ teeth is sized for racing, so is too much gear for a solo cyclist. I don't want a wider gear range, or more gears, I want more gears that will actually get used.

More options, with a traditional look, (from $$$$ to $) are the TA Carmina, IRD compact, and Sugino XD500.

Can't seem to add any pictures since the new website.
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Old 07-16-16, 07:24 PM   #19
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Thanks.

I've been embedding them with the [img] tag. IRD is the first one I listed, btw (and I have on my Bianchi).
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Old 07-16-16, 08:11 PM   #20
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Obviously some of the options in your first post (@ the OP) will not help you compared to your existing crankset.

But, have you considered a triple? You can still buy one new, and there are many triple cranks available on the used/clearance market. You might have to give up on having a DI2 functioning, but if you're a cardiac patient (just guessing here) or need for other reasons to accomplish climbs without massive efforts, a triple-based gearing system is a viable option.

Giving up some technology? Maybe so, but it seems we are about keeping it going, not getting there first.
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Old 07-16-16, 08:18 PM   #21
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But, have you considered a triple?
Yes. I had one on my touring bike, and have one on my mountain bike, but in this case, a 30T small ring would be more than adequate, and since the 46T won't cost me more than one gear (vs. the 50T I have now), I shouldn't need it, and can then hang on to the Di2.

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if you're a cardiac patient (just guessing here)
No, sorry, I didn't mean to give that impression.
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Old 07-17-16, 06:52 AM   #22
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There are two kinds of bicycles - "factory original" and "otherwise".

As soon as you venture into "otherwise" you start to encounter all kinds of situations that you hadn't considered. Some stuff you can adjust for, some you decide to just live with. Occasionally something actually works as well or even better than you had envisioned. Some things turn out to be expensive mistakes. If that happens, you can always switch it back so all you've lost is some amount of money. Whatever happens, it's never a total loss because you are gaining knowledge through the whole process.

As far as other riders reactions are concerned, at least 95% don't care and won't notice. Of the balance, there is a big body of folks who disapprove of any deviation from factory stock. They'll never approve. If you ever decide to sell a bike, "otherwise" generally reduces it's resale value.

Personally, I love "otherwise". About a month ago I bought myself a new Catrike. It's already "otherwise" and it's never going back.
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Old 07-17-16, 08:51 AM   #23
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Well, this is a custom steel framed bike, so I doubt a boutique crank would look out of place.

How is climbing hills on the Catrike?
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Old 07-17-16, 10:47 AM   #24
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How is climbing hills on the Catrike?
Folks who I can ride with and generally keep up will gap me on a long upgrade. I'll usually catch back up going down. I was worried about the trike being too slow but overall I'm guessing it's about the same.
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Old 07-17-16, 10:54 AM   #25
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This is why a triple still makes a lot of sense but then of course you run into issues with your brifters. My bikes are all older than yours and I run triples on a lot of them. I'm getting ready to do the Dairyland Dare in August and I'm taking my granny with me, .

https://www.dairylanddare.com

Have you thought about a 11-36 in the rear? That will probably mean a new RD and perhaps a chain but it's cheaper than a new crank.

That said, I think your plan of going with a 46/30 makes a heck of a lot of sense for the kind of riding you do. The sugino OX601D or OX 801d would be near the top of my list for a modern bike but it is expensive, Sugino OX601D Cranks Arms w/BB Cups

Alternatively as someone else pointed out you could check out eBay; there are Japanese online vendors you can buy this from as well which will be could save you some coin.

https://alexscycle.com/products/sugi...act-plus-crank

https://alexscycle.com/products/sugi...601d-with-bb-1

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