S-Works Carbon Crank and Spider Review: Will it Make You Faster?
So I’m at the club ride Tuesday night and I’m showing off my new S-Works hollow carbon fiber crankset and spider and a friend smirks and asks, “Does it make you any faster?”
Let me put it this way: I went from an FSA Gossamer crankset to the S-Works and dropped 3/4’s of a pound – and I didn’t even have to go with the S-Works chain rings. I was able to use the rings off of my old set:
In a rare stroke of genius, a bicycle manufacturer made their proprietary top-end piece of awesomeness compatible with other products… They saved me $265 and made it so going this route was cheaper than virtually any other high-end carbon crank set I could have bought. It took a couple of extra spacers for the bolts that hold the chain rings to the spider, but that’s so minor, it hardly requires mention. They’ll eventually make the sale on the chainrings, of course. They have a relatively short lifespan, maybe three chain lifetimes (call it 10,000 or 15,000 miles at the most) – or at least that’s as I understand it.
So, discarding the presentation, which was exceptional (opening the box was like when they opened the lid on the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark [but without all of the people melting]), and skipping to after the installation (which was anything but simple – two special tools are needed to install the crank – and that assumes you won’t need new bottom bracket cups, if that’s the case, prepare for an additional $50 worth of epoxy), the fit and finish are obviously awesome:
Where this gets cool is that the chainrings appear to be just a little bit closer together with the S-Works crank than the FSA. What this means is that I get a better range of gears in the back without the chain hitting the cage for the front derailleur. It’s quite an excellent little bonus.
Folks, I’m not going to kid you here. This a no-blowin’-smoke-up-yer-butt post. I could have bought an entire high-end entry-level mountain bike for less than what I paid for that crank. One should expect, for that kind of cash, a crank to work flawlessly and this one did not disappoint. It’s quiet, clean, light and excellent.
But did it make me faster, and if you buy one, will it make you faster?
Seriously? Of course it didn’t make me, and won’t make you, faster. But you gotta admit… It looks frickin’ awesome on my bike! One important point though, is the weight. 3/4 of a pound is a lot of weight to drop in one component. I can feel the difference climbing.
Still, that’s a style watt upgrade right there… And it worked.
Style Watt Bonus: Engaged
UPDATE: After something like 600-700 miles on the S-Works crank, it was worth every penny. And technically it did make me faster… Climbing hills. The weight was enough to notice – but keep in mind, I have 10,000 miles on that bike, or close to it. I know that bike like the back of my hand.
UPDATE Deux: Another year on the S-Works crankset and I can confidently say it’s the best upgrade I’ve ever bought. Given the need, I’d buy another without batting an eye.