With the recent advancements in drivetrain technology, its never been a better time to be a MTB biker. The single ring drive train used to the exclusive territory of those who went up to go down, but times are a changing.
Between the advent of SRAMs revolutionary XX1 groupo, narrow-wide chainrings, clutch derailleurs, and a dozen other little innovations along the way, anyone can shed their front derailleur and enjoy the simplicity of a 1x drivetrain.
The new TRS Race Cranks from E13 are part of this new wave . They are built enduro tough and trail light. Setup with the company’s direct mount Guide Ring M, that uses a narrow-wide profile to aid chain retention, the cranks offer considerable weight savings in a svelte package.
Spin past the break for more…
E13 doesn’t list any weights for their BBs on the website, but our came in at 79 grams. The package also included 3 BB spacers (not pictured), which barely registered on our scale. Our installation only required one spacer.
With a 30T Guide Ring M installed, the TRS race crankarms weighed a paltry 595 grams on our Weight Watchers approved scale. E13 claims the Cranks, BB, and 34T chainring should weigh ~665 grams. Our complete setup came in a little over budget at ~675 grams.
The most unusual thing about the E13 cranks is the funny triangular spindle where the crank arm mounts. The shape is borrowed from the Germans and dubbed the P3 Lobe Interface. We are told the technology is found in many high torque applications -such as tank drive shafts – and provides better surface contact which eliminates the spindle wear that often causes competitors cranks to creak or loosen up.
The TRS Race cranks utilize a direct mount spider to mount different chainrings. By eliminating the conventional spider/chainring bolts combination from the equation, E13 can make incredibly small rings without running into clearance issues. The only downside to the integrated spider is that you’ll need their special tool to switch between rings. You’re also required to run their proprietary chainrings, unless you purchase an adapter that allows you to run normal 104 BCD rings.
Pictured above is their popular single ring offering, but E13 also offers a one piece double ring that mounts directly to the spider. It is available as either a 22/36 or 24/38.
The new Guide Ring M has a narrow-wide profile to help aid in chain retention. The rings are available in even increments from 28-38 and are designed to work with either 1o or 11 speed drivetrains. In addition to the spiderless version reviewed here, the chainring is also available for 104 BCD cranks.
The majority of MTB cranks on the market use a 24mm steel spindle. In order to win the weight game, E13 utilized a 30mm aluminum spindle. This system is claimed to be lighter and stiffer, but must be paired with an E13 BB.
Price for the crank arms and a single ring is $370 USD but the BB must be purchased separately.
Once installed, only 3 understated arrows serve to remind you that you’ve departed the realm of “righty tighty, lefty loosey.”
After removing the tangle of cables required to shift a triple, then disassembling the linkage on our demo bike to access the BB , installing the TRS Race cranks was a pleasure. For those who have installed previous iterations of these cranks, E13 has come along way. There was no need to use any shims or respace the BB. We just followed the directions and installed one BB spacer on the non drive side.
If you’re at all nervous about installing these cranks, you should schedule a visit at your LBSs service department. But if that’s not you’re style, E13 has one of the best online service guides we’ve ever encountered.
On the underside of the BB (and the backside of the cranks) are careful torque specs.
To install the BB, a special tool is required. It’s included in the package and can be used in conjunction with a regular BB tool or a 10mm hex head and torque wrench.
Once installed, the cranks slide in, and are torqued to spec. To remove any play, a preload ring on the non-drive side can be adjusted by hand. It that’s simple. After years of grinding down granny tabs and carefully shimming BBs and chain guides, this install was downright fun. Total install took no longer than it takes to drink a quality IPA.
As an aside, I’ve installed numerous cranks and BBs over the years and rarely use a torque wrench. So I was surprised by how much force was required to tighten the cranks to spec. Had I not been using a torque wrench, I probably would have stopped ~10 N.m below the recommended threshold. If you are having issues with your cranks loosening up, you should consider borrowing or buying a torque wrench.
On The Trail
The 2013 GT Sensor arrived at our doorstep a few weeks ago with a three speed contraption from 1996 bolted on and for obvious reasons – it was horrible. We snapped the chain on our first ride out so swapping to a 1x drivetrain was a no-brainer. The switch to the E13 TRS+ Cranks shaved nearly a pound and pushed the bike weights into the low 26 lb range (w/out pedals.)
Since this is a review bike, we decided to not trim the excess chain links. Instead, we opted to tighten the clutch mechanism on the 10 speed Shimano XT Shadow derailleur and cross our fingers.
On the trail, even with more chain links than a bad rapper, the E13 Guide Ring M worked as advertised. It’s also eerily quiet. The only sound you’ll hear when pedaling is that of your tires in the dirt. Although we did notice that after getting into the gas after a rock garden, you can sometimes feel the chain shifting on the ring, but no matter how hard we’ve tried – we have yet to drop a chain.
We’ve only had the cranks installed for a few weeks but they’ve been rallied under some fast riders and none have complained about a lack of stiffness. Despite being sloshed around in the back of the truck, bashed into rocks and logs, the components look no worse for the wear.
Overall, the new E13 TRS Race Cranks are an impressive piece of kit. Since the last time we reviewed a set of their cranks, they’ve made huge improvements to the installation process. Gone is the bag of shims and in its place is a mechanics delight. Not only are the parts easy to service, but the aesthetics are great too. With the exception of the proprietary tools required for installation, there is nothing to complain about. Everything just works. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing drivetrain, these cranks are well worth your consideration.
Stay tuned for a long term report after we’ve logged a few hundred miles of muddy winter ridding.