Interbike 2011: Praxis Works Prototype Crank, M35 BB, and Forged Chainrings UPDATE: Carbon Crank Is Go
Praxis Works chainring, and their M35 BB system have been around for a little while now. What we did see that was new this year was a prototype crank. Adam pulled me over to the side, slid out a large black storage container filled with foam, and proceeded to pull out a pretty awesome looking prototype crankset.
Want the rest of the details, hit the jump.
They had two versions of the crankset. First up was the aluminum version. It reminded me a lot of the Cannondale Hologram SI cranks, only larger! However, due to the design, manufacturing costs would be to high to ever produce it. Back in the box it went, and no photos were allowed.
Next, he pulled out a carbon fiber version of the same crank. It turns out, the carbon version has a more realistic chance of being produced, as the manufacturing costs would actually be less than the aluminum version. That being said, there are no plans at this time of actually producing this crank for public consumption.
Update: I just spoke with Adam over at Praxis Works and they have decided to move forward with production on the carbon crank! The timeline is not set in stone, but his best guess is that it’s 9-12 months out. Who knows, maybe we will see the production version at next years Interbike?
What sets this concept piece apart from other cranksets is that it uses a one piece ring. The ring is designed with splines in it where the chainring bolts to the crank. This helps prevent chainring wind-up (similar to wind-up on a rear wheel).
The other major difference between this crank and everything else on the market is that it uses the M35 BB. This is not a new bottom bracket standard by any means. It is just a different way of putting it all together. The system fits in a standard PF30 or BB30 frame (via the use of a standard headset press) and it uses a larger 35mm spindle to make for an even stiffer platform. The advantage Praxis Works claims is that the spindle can be produced from light weight materials such as carbon fiber or titanium. This new system is targeted at OEMs for now. However, it is easily convertible for use with a Shimano crankset.
Speaking of OEMs. Praxis Works is now making the rings for LOOK cranksets. If you notice, the teeth on all the chainrings are the same color as the ring itself. None are machined silver. The reason? Praxis Works found that leaving the hard anodized coating on the teeth provides better longevity and improved shift performance as the coating is a bit slippery. I overheard that it was a bit tough to convince LOOK to go with the black teeth, but in the end Praxis won that battle.
Moving on beyond working with OEMs and showing off prototype parts, Praxis Work’s bread and butter as of now is their chainrings. The trend these days is to sell a bike with a higher end drive train, but spec a bargain crank. I get that it’s for cost savings, but it irks me a bit. Poor front shifting performance can really be a downer on an otherwise great performing bike. Shimano has set the gold standard for front shifting performance for years now. However, Praxis Works has something to say about that. They have been heavily hyping their forged chainrings for a while now, and at Interbike, I had the chance to sit down and talk with them about what makes them a good choice as an upgrade.
For starters, Praxis Works chainrings are forged, not CNC’d like most after market rings are. CNC can yield a good performing product, but its longevity is not the same as a good forged ring. Praxis Works has partnered up with Dragon Technology Manufacturing in Taiwan to produce these rings. They have a reputation for being one of the best when it comes to making forged metal products.
They call their forging process a “One-Shot” process. Praxis Works claims it allows them to add in more features on the ring than a traditional CNC process would be capable of.
From their site, ” With our “One-Shot” forging, we not only create a stronger ring, but we are able to increase the amount of shifting features on a chainring which normal CNC manufacturing won’t allow. Individual tooth profiles, alternating tooth angles, timed ramps and tactically placed shift elevators are all jam packed onto a Praxis ring.”
Does this actually equate to a better shifting performance? We will find out. Adam was kind enough to send me home packing a 50-34 for my road bike, as well as a 48-36 for my cyclocross bike (46-36 is coming and would be preferred, but was not on hand at the show) The rings will be replacing a Shimano compact set on my road bike, and stock FSA rings on my ‘cross bike. This should give us a good A/B comparison on how they compare to the competition. I should have the rings mounted soon, and I will post my initial impressions after a few rides.
Want to try the rings for yourself? As of today you can. Praxis Works just droped us a note saying their online store is up and ready to go. A raod compact set runs $160, traditional 53-39 goes for $170, and a mountain triple will set you back $145.