The long awaited resurrection of “Sweetwings” cranks is here!
If you’ve followed the saga, you know eeCycleworks founder Craig Edwards has been toiling away on the eeCranks for more than five years. The crankset, which takes the fabled Sweetwings design of years past and makes them stronger, stiffer and lighter, has been so close to production it hurts, but repeatedly been subjected to poor manufacturing partners and other setbacks.
The most recent of which was Edward’s recall of several older eeBrakes, his bread and butter product. That event caused enough delay, capital drain and heartache to put the cranks project on the backburner.
That is until Kirk Pacenti was introduced to Edwards through Fair Wheel Bikes, who’ve been big proponents of the eeCranks. Pacenti has a full machine shop, and FWB suggested they get in touch. One thing led to another, and a deal was struck that licenses the design to Pacenti for a fixed amount over time, at which point he’ll own the IP. In the meantime, Edwards will continue to provide design expertise.
Craig told us a big part of his interest in making a deal is that it allows him to focus on design. His words:
“Design is my passion. Manufacturing and running the business are just necessary evils to be a will to do what I want to do. I spent five years trying to bring the crankset market, but I had to deal with all sorts of problems and poor manufacturing partners. Then we had the recall. At the end of the day, I’m just a one man show and it was too much.”
In Pacenti’s hands, things seem to be moving along briskly. He’ll be machining them in-house in his Tennessee workshop, and final tooling is en route. Preproduction samples for final testing should be ready at the end of January, and if all goes well, the first batch of 100 units will ship by the end of February. And yes, the design has changed a bit from what you see above. Pacenti told us Edwards had it 98% complete, but through testing they found a few ways to improve its performance.
“There’ll be some changes,” says Pacenti. “Rather than a three piece design, it’ll be two pieces. The non-drive arm and spindle will be one piece. The driveside will have a draw bolt (like a self extracting bolt) to tighten them together.
“We’ve also tweaked the spider a bit to get the spacing between chainrings right and to avoid chain rub between rings on a compact when a rider cross chains small to small. You shouldn’t ride that way, of course, but we want to make sure it’s not going to have any rub. It has a 170 BCD for the big ring and 110 BCD for the inner ring. The 170 spacing is a little controversial, but it lets us make a much lighter ring that’s as stiff or stiffer than what else is out there because the ring is supported at the teeth. Praxis will be making the rings for us, but it’ll be our proprietary (read: exclusive) design.
“(Overall) we think it’ll test better than the original design. If all goes well, we’ll have preproduction samples in late January.”
Pacenti says he’s targeting end of February but is cautious to name a date. It’s been a very long work in progress, and things could extend a bit more depending on final test results, which could push some potential customers over the edge. So, if you’ve been holding out for five years, just know in advance you just may yet need a bit more patience.
MSRP is likely to be $850, and target weight is around 613g for cranks, compact rings and threaded BSA style bottom bracket assembly…possibly lighter as they make final changes. The spindle is 32mm and designed to use an outboard threaded bottom bracket. They have designs to make it work with BB30/PFBB30 frames, too. Oh, and it should test plenty strong enough for mountain bikes, too. Pacenti says those will likely use standard BCD’s for off the shelf rings. That could mean some pretty lightweight 1×10 groups!