Recently Campagnolo announced a new crank called the Over Torque coming in Jan/Feb of 2014. So far we’re told only one of these cranks has come to North America, and today we got to spend some time playing with it and installing it on a bike to see how it works.
The crank comes in two versions the Comp One and the higher end Comp Ultra. Neither crank will be branded with a group label and will instead be a stand alone product. I was told that currently there are no plans to add them to an existing group in the next few years, but what does that really mean? Well not too much in most ways, but there is one key factor about branding is the available options, in this particular case the bearings. Being that this won’t be branded as Super Record, Campagnolo’s famous Cult bearings won’t be available for it. Instead the Ultra will use their USB bearing which is between their standard bearing and the Cult. For comparison sake I was told about bearing testing that they do in house and was told that under the same conditions the USB bearing will continue to spin on it’s own twice as long as the standard will. For comparison the Cult is more than four times the standard bearing.
The crank is different from the Ultra torque mostly in it’s bb/spindle design. It still uses the same hollow carbon arms with a slightly different shape, spiders, bcd etc… However the Hirth joint is gone in favor of a one piece spindle design. The spindle increases from 24mm to 30mm. It had been mentioned previously that the new crank uses an aluminum spindle, which turns out to not be the case. It’s a thin wall steel.
For the bottom bracket options it was said that it would be available only for BB30, PF30 and BB386, and that BSA would not be an option. This also turns out to be incorrect. It is correct that it will be available for BB30, PF30, and BB386, however it WILL also be available for BSA. What won’t be available is Italian threaded and bb86/90.
The crank does require a few special tools as we would expect from Campagnolo, and having a chance to use them, they are, as we would also expect, very nice to use.
Campagnolo wants to fit the PF30/386 bb options in a semi-permanent way using a primer and sleever retainer compound. There was also mention of using a plastic epoxy for a permanent mounting solution. The bearings are removable from the cups so bearing replacement would not be affected, however if mounted in a permanent solution removing it to change to a different crank at a later time could be a problem. Mounting of the bottom bracket is very nice, it’s a very snug press fit and while Campagnolo will likely not recommend it, my feeling is that it would probably be fine to mount it using a simple carbon assembly compound.
Weight. Campag noted that they believe this is the lightest non-proprietary production crank on the market. And as far as most people are concerned it’s probably true. It’s definitely true when comparing it to the main manufacturers like Shimano, FSA, Sram etc… But not quite true when looking at some of the smaller boutique brands. The complete crankset with BB30 bottom bracket, spacers, rings, arms etc… was 620 grams. Pretty darn light when comparing to Sram at 650grams and Shimano Dura Ace at 722grams. Just for comparison the actual lightest crank on the market the Thm Clavicula, which when fitted with Praxis rings and Kcnc Chainring bolts is 550 grams and the Cannondale SISL is generally around 570 grams complete.
Installation and adjustment. The crank was a breeze to install and I have to say the preload adjustment done via a small ring between the left arm and bb was just brilliant. The crank comes with sealed bearings, but then also includes a secondary set of external seals. In my opinion and in our dry conditions the external seals could be left off to reduce friction even further, but I’m sure Campagnolo would not recommend doing so.
Overall I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with this crank. Campag claims that it tests stiffer than their ultra-torque versions and with the larger spindle, I have no doubt that is the case. The Ultra Torque crank was one of the stiffest cranks we’ve tested to date and depending on how much of an improvement has been made in that department, it could end up moving into the top slot for the stiffest available crank. Overall the new Over torque Ultra crank looks to be a fantastic option for most frames. I think Campagnolo has really done something pretty special with this crank. I hope they continue to develop this crank further as I’d love to see it with an aluminum spindle to reduce the weight even further and the addition of Cult bearings.