Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Old Idea Reborn: Cane Creek Cranks

The original Sweet Wings crank set in CroMoly
I saw an image on Twitter and I had to do a double take. Wait a minute! I checked the calendar. Yep! It is 2018 alright! I thought I was swept back to 1996 for a minute there. I look at the image on Twitter again...... Nope! It's 1996 again! 

Ah! The 1990's and mountain biking. You could hardly keep up with all the "new" tech that was burbling up out of garages, failed military contract company's materials technology, and whatever color anodization was in vogue at the moment. It was a seemingly ever flowing stream of "the new".

Of course, we didn't have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or the internet, (at least schlubs like us didn't), back in the 1990's. We had monthly periodicals. You might remember them as "magazines". Ya know........print media? Yeah, and it refreshed at a rate of once a month. It was really something else. We had a lot of time to do other stuff back then. Not like today where you are checking social media every half a second when you aren't answering push notifications between surfing the innergoogles and trying to eat lunch. Or something..........

Anyway, the Sweet Wings cranks were something that was the answer to a lot of our brainstorming about cranks and bottom brackets back in the old Advantage Cyclery days. My old boss, Tom, actually pretty much conceptually figured out two piece crank sets and outboard bearing bottom brackets one day while we were musing on the deficiencies of square taper crank/bottom bracket designs of the day. I never forgot that conversation, especially when Sweet Wings came about. They were the two piece design done right, not like Bullseye cranks, and they were light. At least for that time they were. A titanium version was teased back then, but I am not sure they saw the light of day before Sweet Wings kind of passed from the scene.

Cane Creek's eeWing Cranks in Titanium
Apparently, in the years that have since passed since those halcyon days of yore, Cane Creek picked up a brake design from a guy with a company called "Edwards Emnginerring". The brake was some CNC'ed masterpiece dubbed the "eeBrake". ("ee" for Edwards Engineering) Apparently this is the design source for the Sweet Wings crank idea, and so now we see in 2018 what you could call a modernized version of Sweet Wings dubbed "eeWing Cranks" by Cane Creek.

You can go read all the amazing hoopla about them here. They really are not a whole lot different than they were over 20 years ago. Same basic concept with some tweaks on the finer details. The big thing is the interface of the two parts of the crank arms. Instead of the splined interface of yore, Cane Creek has gone with a Hirth Joint, which is similar to how Campy road cranks are joined. Of course, the new eeCrank is made from Titanium, fully realizing Edwards Engineering's intentions for the design way back when.

So, why? 400 grams and a thousand bucks? Well..........yeah. You can spin this a thousand ways to Sunday and the fact is that these are insanely expensive crank arms. Cool? High tech? Yes. Better than high end carbon cranks? Probably. At least you shouldn't pull pedal spindle inserts out of these, like I've seen with a certain carbon crank a time or three. And 400 grams is pretty dang light, so......

Anyway, what is old is new again, only better. You could say that about a lot of current bicycle technologies. I just find the eeCrank intriguing as I did over 20 years ago when I saw its ancestor, the Sweet Wing crank. It's a really great idea, but it is just too danged expensive. So, in a way, that hasn't changed in the years since I was a younger shop rat than I am today!


Cory said...

For the man that has everything?.....Man I don't think so. They are pretty though. Working men like me put our money in more important areas like wheels and derailleurs and stick with something like SRAM Rival or Race Face Ride lol. For me any cranks over 200 bucks are overkill.

KC said...

The real story here for me was the all metal preload adjustment that they were smart enough to make available for purchase separately. $30 and I don't have to deal with the janky plastic mechanism on my SRAM cranks? Sold!