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I never upgraded my 3 speed Suntour XCT302 I got with my Cycle 7 years ago. It seems to work well and I don't find the need to upgrade it anytime soon in the future but what I wanna know is how do expensive cranksets affect the performance? Initially, I thought it was some marketing gimmick and I didn't bother much but lately, I have found cranksets that are ridiculously priced. I do wanna mention that I am a beginner and I don't have much experience with cycle parts so please forgive my ignorance. Thank you!

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In my opinion the most obvious difference with double and triple cranksets is shifting. Front shifting works noticeably better with the stiff chainrings with machined ramps that come with higher end cranksets than cheaper stamped chainrings. I can't write from personal experience, but I've understood that machined narrow-wide teeth hold the chain better than traditional single chainrings.

Of course, it is possible to put nice aftermarket chainrings on cheaper cranks that have replaceable chainrings, but that kind of upgrades are always more expensive than buying what you need in the first place and you miss out on the other fancy features.

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    Narrow wide teeth will hold the chain so well that you can't shift :-) seriously, they're for 1x only. We don't know the OP's cutoff for ridiculously priced, but 1x rings aren't inherently that expensive in general (although obviously an XTR or highest end SRAM ring will be very expensive).
    – Weiwen Ng
    Oct 4, 2020 at 18:12
  • I thought it would be clear from context that narrow wide correspond to single chainrings, and no shifting. But apparently I'd need to spell out everything.
    – ojs
    Oct 4, 2020 at 19:21
  • it would have been clearer if you wrote 'single traditional chainrings'.
    – thelawnet
    Oct 4, 2020 at 20:48
  • ah, I missed the "traditional single chainrings" bit, my bad.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Oct 4, 2020 at 23:05
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Firstly, most people use higher-end craksets, because they enable higher number of speeds in the rear by using a narrower chain. A 7 speed crankset cannot be used, if you have 10 or maybe even 12 (13!) speed chain.

That affects the speed you are going only indirectly. What also comes with higher-end cranksets is smaller weight and stiffer construction. For many people the weight difference is not that big and not worth the money. One can lower the weight more cheaply elsewhere. The stifness is a marginal point to most.

Many carbon fiber frames also require press-fit bottom brackets. That means you cannot use the cheapest square taper bottom brackets that are threaded and therefore the (often) cheap square taper cranksets. The frame of your bike then requires you to go somewhat higher (although less expensive options still exist).

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  • To me, the first paragraph reads weird, as if cheap cranks like FC-MT300 that have replaceable chainrings (compatible with any 1x, theoretically) and 24mm spindle (PF compatible) suddenly become "high end". I'd reword it. Two other points are good, though. Oct 4, 2020 at 17:50
  • @Klaster_1 I wrote why most people have them. That does not exclude there existence of any cheaper compatible cranksets. Also, most Shimano cranks have replaceble chainrings, true. That does not mean you can take a Claris crank, put on 105 (Ultegra, Dura-Ace) chainrings and have an 11-speed crankset. It does not work like that. They can be mounted there, but the distances will be all wrong (if using front derailleurs). Oct 4, 2020 at 17:59
  • Thanks for clarification. Oct 4, 2020 at 18:01
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    I mostly considered 2x and 3x setups, and thus a front derailleur, not 1x, beceause the OP mentions a 3x setup. Oct 4, 2020 at 18:05
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    Very true. This gets trickier when talking about MTB, which XCT302 is for, where "high end" is synonymous to "1x" nowadays and you can get by with rather cheap crankarms (not square taper XCT302, but almost). That's the angle I viewed the answer from initially and why I left the first comment. Cheers. Oct 4, 2020 at 18:13
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Weight. Cranksets are one of the heaviest parts on a bicycle, after the frame itself, fork and wheels. The difference between the cheapest (heaviest) and more expensive (lightest) cranksets can easily be 300g while still being stiffer.

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