Fixed Gear Cranksets
To the average person, when someone says 'fixed gear cranks', they probably think of grumpy bike messengers roaming the city streets. While this is sometimes true, a fixie cranks are actually a very important part of the bicycle. Fixed gear cranksets include the gears, chainrings and crank arms of the bicycle at the bottom bracket. On a fixed gear bike, the crankset is one of the most essential pieces of equipment. There are a lot of things riding on this bit: chainline, overall strength of the drivetrain, weight, gearing ratio, and many other things.
This article is intended to teach you a little bit more about fixed gear cranksets and help you make an informed decision. Whether you're looking to purchase a set of fixie cranks today, or you're just casually curious about potentially doing a fixie buildup on your old road bike frame, this is a great article to read!
Fixie Cranks: How They Work
Fixie cranks are usually quite specialized for a few reasons. First off, a fixie crank is always (at least in my experience!) a single chainring piece of equipment. This means that you don't have multiple chainrings attached to the crank arm on the right hand side of the bike. Fixie cranks don't need to be multi-speed; you will never have to change gears, nor could you, even if you wanted to. The reason for this is fixed gear drivetrains rely on the chain being very taut. Since it is a direct drive system, you can't really have any slack in the chain. On bicycles with derailleurs, you need slack for the bike to operate!
Fixed gear cranks need to positioned so the chainring is quite close to the actual frame of the bike. You don't want it so close that it rubs on anything, but you should make sure that the fixie crankset is nice and flush. The reason for this? You want your chainline to be nice and straight. Most of the time, the closer the chainring is to the frame of the bike, the better for the chainline.
You can check out your own fixed gear crankset chainline by simply looking down at the chain from above. Is it nice and straight, or does it angle one way or the other? Also, do you hear a lot of chain noise as you ride? Clicking or jumping sounds? A properly aligned fixie crankset and chain will ensure a smooth, silent ride!
Fixie Cranks: What You Should Look For
Now I'm not normally a brand freak. There are a lot of low budget options in the fixed gear world that I endorse. However, fixie cranks should always be of high quality, so I encourage you to find a reputable brand. Good brands ensure that 1.) your fixed gear crankset is going to be made of quality metal, put together with high end fabrication processes, and 2.) that you have a track record in case it fails.
Low quality fixie cranks just aren't worth it! Fixed gear cranks need to be made of quality allows. Remember, your whole drivetrain depends on this part of the equipment! If you're riding a brakeless fixed gear, your life may depend on it not failing! Low quality fixed gear cranksets tend to shear off at a moment's notice. Teeth may tear off the chainring, or the ring itself might warp. Your fixie crankset is worth investing money in.
Some quality fixie cranksets you might consider are: sugino fixed gear cranksets and origin8 fixed gear cranks. Do your research and check out reviews to find out what other people think of them!