EE CycleWorks is following up their popular brake set with a new EE Crank. Although price and weight information is not currently available, we do know the EE crank is scheduled to be released between late 2009 and early 2010. With this crank, EE CycleWorks decided to do exactly what they did with their brakes and looked at the design process as a fresh beginning. They didn’t limit themselves to a standard chainring bolt size and instead opted for a new 170mm BCD for their outer ring. The inner ring will use either a compact (34T) or standard (39T), a standard 110mm or 130mm BCD, respectively. The larger outer BCD decreases flex in the chainring. EE explains that by the inherit flat nature of a chainring it is easier and lighter to increase stiffness in the spider, a more three dimensional shape, as opposed to reinforcing the chainring.
A few years ago, Shimano tried tackling this problem by increasing chainring width and then machining out excess material to create a stiffer chainring. However, EE Cycleworks’s solution was to simply increase the size of the spider, eliminating the need for added width. Also, with the larger spider the chainring does not have a long lever arm to act upon the chainring / crank interface that is present on 130mm or 135mm chainrings. This places less stress on the chainring bolt, increases stiffness and allows less material to be used. Initially, EE plans to produce the crankset in the standard 34T/50T and 39T/53T, however they are open to the possibility of expanding chainring sizes on the big ring down into the 40s and up into the 56/58t area. The little ring will have all the options currently available. I would not, however, hold your breath for these options.
As for performance, from what we have seen so far, stiffness and weight are going to be impressive. We did get some promising data on an early prototype while doing our initial crank review. If these cranks perform even close to as well as that pair, EE has created a new standard for other companies to live up to. EE CycleWorks has plenty of room to maneuver in this market if they continue to produce quality products like this. And as noted by Craig, “It’s the little guys that can afford to innovate, we push the envelope.”