With the Eroica California ride getting underway this weekend, we couldn't help but get inspired by all the images of the Zeus and Sugino Mighty fluted cranks of the 70's. Looks like we're not the only ones looking back when it comes to drivetrains. IRD has created their Defiant Wide Compact Crankset, which has the retro look of those models that bring tears of nostalgia to our eyes.
Yet this is far more than the matter of IRD resurfacing old technology. For one thing, their Defiant cranksets are cold forged before the fluting is added, meaning they should be stronger. For another, with the offered range, it looks like the company has set out to create the ideal gravel crankset.
Their new 46/30 can only be called a wide-range double, aiming to meet the needs of gravel, touring and randonneuring cyclists - in a way that cyclocross gearing (46/36) or compact road (50/34) cranksets can’t. IRD says the crankset will work with standard front derailleurs designed for double chainrings. With a 30t front chainring, a rider may be able to avoid needing to switch to a wide-range rear cassette and long cage derailleur, or avoid needing a heavier triple crankset.
A second rationale for the crankset is that when it is paired with a wide range cassette like a 11-32 or 11-36, a rider can get a lower gear than what you might achieve with a CX1 38t front and an XD-compatible rear cassette (10-42). As IRD themselves admits, the gearing would be perfect for the rider who spends most of the time in the 46t ring, and only needs the bailout 30t ring for the few serious extended grades in a gravel race.
In term of accessibility, the square taper isn’t dead. Sure, crank installation and removal may be a bit slower than with modern two-piece cranksets, but bottom bracket installation and removal is easier and faster than BB30 or PF30 systems, and the internal bearings of your bottom bracket will be more protected from the elements like dust from your gravel ride, and mud and power washer spray from you cyclocross race.
As shown in the slider below, the large chainring features machined ramps and pins for smooth shifting. Our test crankset is a 94mm BCD 5-arm crankset with a crank length of 172.5mm. The weight of this crankset comes to 430g for the right side and 211g for the left, totaling out to 641g.
Want the same look but are more of a traditionalist in terms of gearing? IRD also makes a standard double (53/39, 130mm BCD), a compact (50/34, 110mm BCD) and a triple ( 48/36/24, 110/74mm BCD). The MSRP on the crankset comes to $199.
Prefer external bearings bottom brackets? Soma Fabrications offers the OX601D crankset that can offer similar chainring combinations.
For more information, check out interlocracing.com, and also be sure to use the slider below for the close-up details and the spec guide to the Defiant Wide Compact Crankset.