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What are the advantages of upgrading the crankset on a bicycle?

For example, my bike (2009 Kona Dew) comes with a FSA Dyna Drive crankset. I'm assuming this is a pretty basic crankset since it lies at the bottom of their product list.

Would there be a substantial improvement by upgrading to something nicer? My (uneducated) guesses are that a higher end crankset would be lighter (e.g made from carbon) and possibly have less flex under power application.

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2 Answers 2

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They will definitely be lighter, and probably shift a little better. More rigid is possible but not especially likely, as the cheap one will be strong enough to take a lot of abuse (they don't particularly care about weight so that's easy to do).

(edit) A cheap crankset very likely has the chainrings rivetted on, and they're not designed to be changed. Sometimes the smallest chainring is bolted on and can be changed. Swapping one of these for a more expensive one that has interchangeable chainrings will probably give better shifting.

Cheap bikes are the ones more likely to be bought by people who either weigh a lot or are careless with their bikes, so are more likely to be overloaded. More expensive bikes get crashed instead. The cranks are designed accordingly.

As discussed in Suggestions for progressive upgradation of bike you're almost certainly better off saving up for a more expensive bike rather than trying to upgrade the one you have. Buying parts retail is a lot more expensive than getting them as part of a bike (manufacturers buy 1000's at a time and don't pay for retail packaging).

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Length of the new crank could have some advantage if it is slightly longer? –  Moab Jun 27 '11 at 23:28
    
@Moab: crank length is an interesting thing to play with, but outside the scope of the question. Longer means less ground clearance and more force on the cassette, for example. –  Мסž Jun 27 '11 at 23:31
    
The question asks about crankset, which I take it is combination of crank arms and chain rings. Your answer is (I think) aimed at chain rings only; what are the benefits of upgrading the crank arms in addition? –  Joe Bronikowski Jun 27 '11 at 23:40
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@Joe Bronikowski: how so? I thought I was talking about cranksets (either the pair of crank arms or commonly on cheaper sets, crank arms with chainrings) –  Мסž Jun 28 '11 at 0:13
    
Maybe just my confusion. I wasn't sure you really meant better cranks would shift better; I guess that's where I started thinking gears. –  Joe Bronikowski Jun 28 '11 at 1:27

Upgrading your crankset typically means shedding grams, improving stiffness, and often getting much better craftsmanship and materials. Usually resulting in improved performance both under load and not under load. Also worth noting, some higher end performance parts are built with weight in mind thus keeping it the lightest possible. In doing so, durability and longevity of the parts are often sacrificed.

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They also sacrifice rigidity... –  Мסž Jun 28 '11 at 1:31

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