Which bike crank is best?

Biking can be a complicated hobby at times. There are a lot of complex mechanical parts on a bicycle and they’re not always easy for an inexperienced rider to understand. The bike crank is a good example of this. This generic term represents a series of parts near the pedals that includes the gears, crank shaft, bottom bracket and spider bracket. Inside these parts are even more intricate pieces that keep them running smoothly. It’s best to get a good understanding of a bike crank before making a purchase. 

Buying the right part largely depends on what bike you have. In general, the best bike crank is the Shimano M361 Hybrid Crankset, which includes three chainrings for multi-geared bikes.

What to know before you buy a bike crank

Cranksets

Cranks make up several parts of a bicycle. All the parts reside in the same location at the base of the bike. This term can be used generally to describe all the parts in the area. Crank arms and chainrings are the most common pieces that you’ll see. However, it also includes a bottom bracket, spider bracket, front derailleur, spindle and several bearings, bolts and washers. When you’re purchasing a new crank for your bike, the chainrings and crank arm are the most important. 

Crank arm length

Before you start shopping for a new crank, it’s important to know what length your bike needs. You can measure it yourself by starting at the middle of the pedal axle and going up to the beginning of the base of the pedal bracket. You can also check below your pedal axle on your cranks. Most manufacturers will engrave measurements there. The most common lengths are 170, 172.5 and 175 millimeters, depending on the size of your bike.

Chainrings

Chainrings are the round metal parts with teeth. They’re a crucial part to the mechanics as they sit at the center base of the bike along with the pedals and chain. It works by the chainring attaching to the chain which is turned by your pedaling. Single-speed bikes will utilize only one chainring, while bikes with multiple speeds can use up to 12 for professional bikes. Chainrings are measured by how many teeth, or spikes, they have. For example, 48/38/28 is a common measurement for a road bike with multiple speeds.

What to look for in a quality bike crank

Aluminum alloy

Aluminum alloy is a highly durable metal. It’s also very lightweight in comparison to similar metals. This makes it the perfect choice for a bike crank. It offers enough power transfer to turn your pedaling into speed and you won’t have to worry about it cracking. It can withstand more bouncing and bumps than carbon. In fact, many other bike parts are made with aluminum, including the handle bars and even some frames. If you’re looking for the best-quality bike crank arms and chainrings, look for a set made with aluminum alloy. 

Included bottom bracket

The bottom bracket is the piece that goes inside your bike frame. It’s a lubricated cylinder that acts as the bridge between each crank arm. Some cranksets come with a bottom bracket. This makes installation easier because you know everything will be compatible. Having to search for very specific parts that will fit with one another can be difficult, so finding a crank set with a bottom bracket already included is much more convenient. 

Single-speed crankset

Single-speed cranksets are the easiest to install. They also offer a great deal of quality thanks to their simple design. Cranks for multi-speed bikes have several more pieces, leaving more room for misalignments and mistakes. Single-speed cranks can be used for mountain bikes, road bikes, BMX bikes and folding bikes. The teeth count on a single-speed crankset can range from 32 up to 46. For fixed geared bikes where the crank can only be moved forward, it’s recommended you purchase a crankset with more teeth. 

How much you can expect to spend on a bike crank

Bike cranks cost $28-$54.

Bike crank FAQ

Why should you change a bike crank?

A. If you’ve logged more than 5,000 miles on your bike, then it’s a good idea to install a new crank. This can make your ride smoother and safer and make pedaling easier. 

Are shorter bike cranks more comfortable?

A. Unless you are a very tall person, having a shorter crank can make pedaling more comfortable. Switching to a shorter crank means less range of motion. This can put less strain on your hips, knees and back. 

What’s the best bike crank to buy?

Top bike crank

Shimano M361 Hybrid Crankset

Shimano M361 Hybrid Crankset

What you need to know: This crankset is built for hybrid bikes, making it an ideal replacement for the casual rider.

What you’ll love: This set includes three chainrings for gear switching. Both the crank arms and chainsets are painted with a matte black finish. It has a 48/38/28 teeth count on each ring. It also comes with a bottom square bracket and chainguard. 

What you should consider: It may not be suitable enough for a high-end mountain bike or hybrid. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top bike crank for the money

Shimano Tourney Square Crankset

Shimano Tourney Square Crankset

What you need to know: This budget-friendly bike crank from Shimano is simple to install for the beginner cyclist. 

What you’ll love: It comes with a triple chainring setup painted in all black. There’s an included chainguard made of plastic and it has a 9/16 inch pedal spindle. It’s compatible with a Square Taper JIS that can be installed in the bottom bracket section.

What you should consider: It does not come with a bottom bracket.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

CDH Power Single Speed Crankset

CDH Power Single-Speed Crankset

What you need to know: This set works with mountain bikes, fixed gear bikes and folding bikes. 

What you’ll love: The crank arms are made with forged alloy, while the chainrings use solid carbon steel to relieve some of the weight. There are two size options: 32 teeth and 36 teeth. It’s compatible with 9/15-inch pedals and is 165 millimeters in length. 

What you should consider: It does not come with more than one chainring. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jordan Beliles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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