One of the first points to remember when buying or setting up your bicycle is that the road bicycle crankset is the point of transmission of your muscular effort into forward movement on the road and is therefore of the utmost importance.
The choice of cranksets available is bewildering, a difficult choice even for the professional cyclist, and in this brief article we will discuss some of the variations now available.
The measurements of the cyclist, hip to knee, knee to ball of foot and many others all have an effect on the comfort and efficiency of the cycle and its rider. Manufacturers of cycle accessories produce a wide range of products, each with its own special character or peculiarities, some of which I will explain here.
One recent innovation has been the non-round chainring. The thinking behind this idea is to even out the mechanical advantage of the pedals for their full circle of movement, since most cyclists press harder on the pedal which is moving down. Another has been the introduction of electric gear shifters and even an attempt at automatic shifting! The possibilities for designers and engineers to improve and refine this basic part of any road bicycle seemingly remain endless.
There is also the ‘look’ of the road bicycle crankset to be considered. A beautifully fine modern frame, fabricated in lightweight alloy or glass fibre, would not look good if fitted with a 1930s road bicycle crankset and gears! I should also mention that a huge variety of ‘experimental’ cranksets have appeared, such as Bent or Rotor cranks, but ultimately it is your choice. If it suits you, make the most of it.