Race Face claimed to have designed the best mountain bike crank available and after several months testing I’m inclined to agree. Access to that super light, color coded but trail tough and lifetime warrantied performance comes with a high entrance cost though. Watt watchers are left out too.
Design and build
Race Face haven’t had the best reputation for carbon crank longevity over the years and while things have certainly improved with recent Next R and Six-C generations, Era is a totally new crank design. The most obvious external difference is a stainless steel mid section scuff plate around the three outer sides of the crank arm.
While Race Face themselves are tight lipped around the actual construction the excellent component torture and autopsy specialist at Fanatik bike have sawn one into sections. That makes it clear that the pedal insert design is totally new, with the carbon fiber molded around a D-shaped alloy piece that fills the whole end of the arm, rather than just a circular insert. The hollow carbon arms are broader and flatter than the Next R cranks but with thinner sidewalls to reduce weight. Standard cranks come in 165, 170 and 175mm lengths but there’s a 160mm e-bike option for Bosch Gen4 and TQ HPR50 motors.
The Cinch 30mm offside attached axle and Cinch chainring attachment pattern are the same as previously, but you can now get a 55mm ‘Wide’ option for Shimano 12 speed and SRAM T-Type transmissions. Race Face also offer seven logo color choices and eight different rubber ‘scuff boot’ colours. Because the axle is anchored in the offside crank you can also use different spindle lengths for Fatbikes etc.
Be aware that chainrings are sold separately for £69.95 / $74.99.
Race Face win points straight away for being very honest with their weights as my 485g set of 175mm (including wide chainring) were only 2g more than they claimed for 170mm. That’s 10g heavier than SRAM claim for their latest XX SL cranks but I’ve not had chance to actually weigh a set myself. Accurate weights are reassuring to know from a QC point of view anyway and they slide into the BB bearings with a satisfyingly snug fit too.
It took a few hours for everything to settle and seals to loosen enough to spin freely but the Cinch BB has been totally fine for several hundred km since, including some properly grim winter weather in Wales. Even with liberal greasing I did have some creak for the first 100km or so, even with regular retaining bolt ‘nip ups’. The first properly wet day of riding drowned whatever was making the noise though and I’ve not had to get medieval on it since.
Despite their very low weight the Eras have felt super solid underfoot whether I’m cranking up Snowdonian steeps with a day pack on or rallying through turns and rock gardens. While I’m not a ‘sendy’ rider, they’ve shown no signs of distress being hammered on a hardtail and feedback from hardcore testers who I trust is similarly trauma free. Race Face also back up the Eras with a lifetime warranty that covers everything likely to happen when riding, including crashes and cases. That’s a very rare level of back up for cranks – particularly carbon ones – and makes the high initial cost more justifiable as a potential ‘last cranks I’ll buy’ investment. Race Face chainrings and bottom brackets last fine these days too and mega mileage riders can always opt for steel rings if they don’t mind sacrificing the carbon arm weight wins.
That leaves only the lack of any own brand built in/bolt on power meter options as a downside, but Stages do a Next SL left hand power crank that would work with an Era drive side setup.
Race Face had some catching up to do in terms of confidence in their carbon cranks, but so far the new Era’s have leapfrogged into the lead when it comes to lightweight cranks with a lifetime warranty to back up their ‘bomber tough’ claims.
Scuff protection plates and lots of color options are appreciated on a component that often ends up being the eyesore on otherwise ‘still fresh’ bikes.
Tech specs: Race Face Era crankset
- Price: $499.00 / £449.00 (crank arms only)
- Sizes: 165, 170 and 175mm length cranks, 52 or 55mm chain lines
- Options: Black, Orange, Green, Blue, Red, Kash Money Gold, Stealth logos and eight different scuff boot colors
- Weight: 485g (175g with 32T ring)