Your bicycle’s crankset is one of the key pieces of its drivetrain, which is why it needs to be light, yet strong, and provide you with the best value for your money. The best crankset is determined not just by the type of bicycle you own, but also by the type of riding you prefer engaging in most. Road and mountain bike owners are best off with a lightweight bicycle crankset, whereas BMXers are best off with a super-strong unit that can withstand the abuse that comes as a result of performing stunts, jumps, and drops.
For mountain bikes, not only do you want a lightweight crankset, but you also want a bicycle crankset that comes with a range of gears. Most mountain bikes have a triple chainring with 22, 32 and 44-tooth chainrings. However, there are some riders who prefer driving with a double or single chainring up front, and a 12-,11- or 10-speed cassette in the back. The main reason some riders prefer double or single chainrings is that they reduce the weight more than triple chainset. Most mountain bike cranks are 17.5cm long, but people who are shorter or taller than average may feel more comfortable with ones that match their size. That being said, you’ll frequently find cranks that are anywhere from 16.5cm to 18cm long. Most mountain bike cranksets use aluminium or carbon fibre cranks.
As far as road cranksets are concerned, you’ll find traditional and compact cranksets. Traditional ones are for the more advanced riders who participate in competitions, whereas compact cranksets are for leisure riders. Traditional cranksets feature a double chainring setup with 52- and 39-tooth chainrings, whereas the compact ones feature a double chainring setup with 50- and 34-tooth rings. When it comes to their length, the same rules apply to road bike cranks as for mountain ones. Similarly to mountain bikes, most road bike cranksets use aluminium or carbon fibre cranks. However, unlike mountain bike cranksets, where most riders prefer aluminum, most road bikers prefer carbon fibre cranks.
And lastly, BMX cranksets are generally sold separately to the chainrings to the bottom bracket instead of as a single unit chainset. As is the case with most BMX parts, the crankset needs to be tough enough to withstand the abuse you’d put it through when riding on rails, stacking jumps and performing tricks. The two most important factors to consider when buying a BMX crankset are the axle diameter and the crank length. The two most common diameters are 22mm and 19mm. Further, different axles are made with different spline patterns, with 8-spline, 16-spline and 48-spline patterns being the most common ones. As for crank length, most stock BMX bikes have 17.5cm or 17cm cranks, but you can find them as long as 19cm and as short as 14cm.