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2009 SRAM Force Crankset

February 26th, 2011 [print] No comments

The other day, a buddy of mine emailed me a link about an 2008 FSA road crank on sale at Competitive Cyclist.  I’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to find a good deal on a (used) road crankset to replace the super-low-end EighthInch model on my singlespeed, so this looked like a good possibility, especially since it was new.  So, I spent some time looking at reviews, and ultimately decided against it due to many people complaining about the bottom brackets.

Oh, well, I thought, it could have been nice.  But before I left CC’s website, I browsed through the rest of their sale items.  That’s when I spotted the deal of a lifetime:  a 2009 SRAM Force 53/39 crankset–normally $340–listed for only $89.  Considering it’s difficult to even find lower-end Shimano 105 cranksets under $250, I decided to hop on it before I missed my chance.  Three days later, I had a new crankset.

SRAM Force - Click for larger image

Now, here comes the weird part.  I bought the Force for my singlespeed bike, so obviously, I had one extra gear that I wasn’t going to need.  I also had a crank designed for a typical road bike, not a singlespeed.  Before I ordered, I measured my chainline, from the center of my seat tube to the end of a gear tooth:  47mm.  According to the late Sheldon Brown, that’s a bit wide for a singlespeed set-up–about 5mm too wide, in fact.  But, who am I to argue with a chainline that has worked perfectly for me for a year and a half on this bike?

To get the new crank to work, I first had to ditch the 39T chainring, then use a set of singlespeed-specific chainring bolts to hold the 53T ring in place (yes, that’s 3 teeth more than what I’ve been using for some time).  After installation, I found my chain wasn’t going to reach around the larger ring, which meant I ended up having to add one link to it.  Once it was all finished, I measured the chainline again, hoping for the best.  As luck would have it, it came to exactly 47mm.

After having ridden a non-singlespeed chainring for the past 8 months, I’m confident in the chain not falling off, assuming I keep chain tension just right:  loose enough not too bind, tight enough to keep slack very low.

Now, to address those 53 teeth

Since last June, I’ve ridden a 50T ring with 16T freewheel, resulting in 82.4 gear-inches.  However, as winter set in this year, I swapped to a 17T freewheel to help counter the additional weight from extra clothes, denser air, and additional wind this time of year always brings.  With spring making its way back, I was about to swap back to the 16T again, but instead, I’ll leave the 17T in place.  Matched to the 53T Force ring, I’ll be running 82.2 gear-inches, keeping me right about where I was before.  And once summer makes a return, on those particularly energetic days when all I want to do is sprint around town like a madman, I can put the 16T back on for a total of 87.4 gear-inches (I doubt I’ll do this very often).

As for the unnecessary 39T ring, that will be going on eBay, where I should be able to make back about 1/3 of the price I paid for the entire crankset, bringing my price down to about $60.  That’s right, $60 for SRAM Force.  That’s only $10 more than what you’d have to pay for a new EighthInch (or Origin8) singlespeed crank, which weighs a ton and uses an out-dated square-taper bottom bracket.  Speaking of that old EighthInch crank, I’ll try selling that on Craigslist for $25, bring my total cash out of pocket down to around $35.

So, after getting my fancy new crank put on and laughing all the way to the bank, I was suddenly hit with the realization that I’d probably never get a deal on such a high-end crank ever again.  Too bad, since I plan to build my own frame later this year, and it’ll need a crank of its own.  I thought about it for a while, tried to clear my mind of future bike parts I’ll need, and finally decided it’d be a terrible thing to miss out on.  In the end, I ordered a second one.  And it’s a good thing, too, since I apparently got my order in just before they ran out.

SRAM Force - Click for larger image

Now it’s time to post some ads to eBay and CL, and clear out my parts box of unneeded components.  If anyone needs a 39T ring, I have two available. :)

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