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A crank is basically the most functional part of a mountain bike. Without a crank, every bike is useless. It is attached to you via pedals, to the frame of the bike via the bottom bracket and to the rear sprocket and rear wheel via a chain. A crank can make or break a good cycling experience.

You must have run into many problems with your chain either going lose or breaking or just not functioning properly. A lot of it is due to a faulty crank. Hence, a crank is a crucial part of a smooth and satisfying bike riding experience. A smooth crank not only helps with the bike running smooth, but also allows better power to speed delivery.

Let’s take a look at some of the best cranks you can get for your mountain bike.

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Best Mountain Bike Cranks

1.

Race face atlas crank arms

Top Choice Item

Race face brings you their atlas crank set that screams durability and performance. In many ways, this is the new racing standard. The crank is made with CNC machined OPTIM-AL which is an alloy 20% stronger than 7000 series aluminium. This means there will be no bends in the crank. It is built for rough rides and is lightweight at the same time for supreme performance. CrMo spindle is also incorporated in the crank that is heat treated and thick walled which reinforces strength. The triple wiper seal retains the grease while keeping contaminants out. The grease is also waterproof which adds to the life of bearings. You get removable granny ring spider for improved chainguide clearance. The crank is a little expensive but it’s go-big-or-go-home with this one. You will absolutely love the product.

Pros
  • OPTIM-AL – 20% stronger than 7000 series aluminium
  • Heat treated and thick-walled spindle
  • Triple wiper seal
  • Waterproof grease
Cons
  • Expensive

Latest deal: Race face atlas crank arms

2.

Race face next R crank arms

Prime Picked Item

Race face comes back, this time with a crank made out of carbon. Carbon is a strong and lightweight material which allows the crank to withstand rough rides and hard pedaling, while keeping the weight of the bike low. The design language of this crank is also cool and sleek. The crank has double chainrings and supports up-to 11 speed drivetrains. Cyclocross is also supported along with other events like enduro. Durability is not an issue at all with this crank as you can take it on a difficult terrain and it will work like a champ. The chain runs smooth and pedaling is also fairly effortless. If you are gearing up for cross-country, enduro or trail riding, this will be one of the best options for you to go with. It’s the ultimate choice and you will love every bit of it.

Pros
  • Carbon built
  • Lightweight and durable
  • 11-speed drivetrain support
  • Smooth chain and pedaling
Cons
  • Pricey

Latest deal: Race face next R crank arms

3.

Shimano saint M820 Hollowtech II

Best Value Item

Cycling has progressed a lot and with gravity in mind, new bikes are made to be lightweight and durable so they can withstand the rough and fast trails and terrains. Shimano keeps that in mind while designing their saint M820 hollowtech II crank set. The material used is super strong and lightweight. Good to go through any terrain without problem. The bottom bracket design uses a wide bearing along with a large axle diameter to improve stiffness and efficiency even further. To help this, the crankset is 10-speed compatible allowing you to have more levels of options when it comes to gear shifting. The pedal and crank arm is reinforced and unnecessary material from the end of the crank is removed to give it more rock clearance. Overall, this is a great option.

Pros
  • Lightweight and durable
  • 10-speed support
  • Reinforced crank arm
  • Large axle diameter and wide bearing
Cons
  • Could use better build material

Latest deal: Shimano saint M820 Hollowtech II

4.

SunRace MX00 spider crank

Finally, a manufacturer brings a relatively affordable crank set. SunRace crankset is made with alloy material to make it durable and lightweight. This allows for off roading on rough terrains easy and keeps the ride feeling lightweight for better power to speed conversion. The crank is also reinforced with CrMo steel that further adds to the strength and durability of the already strong crank. It has double chainrings and supports an 11-speed drivetrain. This offers a smooth ride while enabling variety in levels of gear shifting you can go for. The crank is ready for cyclocross events and runs clean. The chain has plenty of room to rotate and the pedals come on easily as well. You will not be disappointed with your purchase.

Pros
  • CrMo steel and alloy
  • Lightweight and durable
  • 11-speed drivetrain support
  • Smooth and satisfying rotation

 

Cons
  • Could be more lightweight

Latest deal: SunRace MX00 spider crank

5.

Hope EVO MTB crankset

The elegant and modern take on color with the new Hope evo crankset is all the rage right now. It incorporates black and grey in a very minimal way, pleasing a lot of people with its looks. But it’s not all just in the looks as the crankset is well built as well. It comes in various different color options for you to choose from and truly customize your ride. The material used is forged and CNC machined 7000 series aluminium which, as we know, is super strong and lightweight. This enables you to have rough and harsh rides through the trickiest terrains all while maintaining a lightweight experience. The axle also self-retracts which is one less worry when it comes to assembly. It also has different lengths to offer for configuration. The chain runs smooth and the pedaling is also satisfying. Conversion of power to speed is also seamless and quick. You will absolutely love this product.

Pros
  • CNC machines 7000 series aluminium
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Self-retracting axle
  • Multiple color options
Cons
  • Could use a wider base

Latest deal: Hope EVO MTB crankset

6.

Easton EC90 SL 11sp MTB chainset

Easton brings you a crankset complete with the chain gear as well, so you are good to go from the start. No need to buy an extra chain gear as it is included already. The crank has a minimal matte black look that gives it an understated vibe which looks cool. Carbon fiber is used alongside aluminium for the pedals which creates a feathery lightweight experience while riding. It also keeps strength and durability as the prime focus. So, you do not have to worry while taking it off road. Up-to 11 speed drivetrain is supported and the chain runs smooth on the crank. With versatility in the direct mount chainring system, comes the ability to switch between a two-speed and a single speed road gearing drivetrain. So, both simple and complex terrains can be handled easily. Overall, this is an elegant product for the price.

Pros
  • Carbon fiber and aluminium construction
  • Lightweight and strong
  • 11-speed drivetrain
  • Support for double and single drivetrain
Cons
  • Could use a better quality chain gear

Latest deal: Easton EC90 SL 11sp MTB chainset

7.

Race face atlas cinch MTB crankset

Race Face has options to offer when it comes to customization as their atlas cinch crankset comes in multiple colors ranging from black, blue, green to red. You can truly make your bike your own, but it doesn’t end there. The build quality on this crankset is also top notch and superb. The material used is 7000 series forged aluminium which has high tensile strength and is also lightweight at the same time. This enables you to take your ride through the roughest and toughest terrains without causing any damage to the crank. The lightweight nature reduces the overall weight of the ride and you will not feel heavy. The crankset is compatible with a BMX ride also. It runs the chain smoothly and rotates effortlessly to convert more power into speed. The level of versatility is high as this is an amazing option for your ride.

Pros
  • 7000 series forged aluminium construction
  • Lightweight and strong
  • Compatible with BMX
  • 10-speed drivetrain support
Cons
  • Branding could be better

Latest deal: Race face atlas cinch MTB crankset

8.

SRAM NX II speed GXP chainset

The SRAM crankset comes with a chain gear to house your chain. This allows you to get started easy as you do not have to buy it separately. The build quality on the product is also top notch as it uses aluminium construction. We know aluminium is a great product as it offers durability and a lightweight profile. This enables you to ride rough tracks without worrying. The chainrings use tall square teeth edges instead of the traditional triangle edges. This engages the chain more efficiently and allows better and a smoother run. You have different options in crank length as well and it is 11-speed drivetrain compatible. The chain will run smooth and the power to speed ratio is also satisfying. You will love the product.

Pros
  • Aluminium construction
  • Lightweight and durable
  • 11-speed compatible
  • Square teeth edges
Cons
  • Could use variety in color options

Latest deal: SRAM NX II speed GXP chainset

Best Mountain Bike Cranks Buyers Guide

What to look for when buying a mountain bike crank?

Quality: This comes down to the material used for the crank. Usually cranks use one or two materials in combination. The best combination is carbon and aluminium. Aluminum keeps the pedals stiff while carbon allows for a lightweight nature. 7000 series aluminium is a better option than 6000 series aluminium. Some cranks use steel which is plenty strong but not nearly as lightweight as aluminium or carbon.

Smoothness and Pedaling: This is a major aspect of MTB cranks. Smoothness depends on how well a crank can incorporate chainrings and gears. And pedaling is dependent on both chain and the crank itself. A good crank will allow for a satisfying pedaling which will convert more power into speed more effortlessly.

Price: This is an important aspect to consider. Many cranks offer great quality but ask for a hefty price as well. However, there are more inexpensive alternatives available as well that offer similar performance on a lower budget. If you want to take a look at them, this guide is perfect for you.

FAQs:

Can I put a road crankset on an MTB?
Keep in mind there is a difference in spindle length between a road and a mountain bike crankset. Road spindles are shorter than MTB spindles. Hence, it is better to have an MTB crank for your MTB.

Are shorter cranks better?
Shorter cranks can make you faster on a bike. Moving to a shorter crank can improve comfort as it reduces range of motion at the knee.

What is the best crank length for MTB?
Sizes in this regard depend on the bike length, but 175s are what is recommended for more leverage. 170mm crank arm length is the most commonly used.

Summary:

Today we took a look at some of the best offerings for you when it comes to cranks for MTBs. Some offered great drivetrain compatibility while other used great materials for build like carbon. Chain gears were included with some of the offerings, not all. And same was the case with variety of color options. Every product kept performance in mind and delivered on it by providing well built and strong cranksets for your mountain bike.

You will adore whatever option you choose as we reviewed the best ones out there for you right here.

Alex Bristol

Content Manager at Pedallers

ABOUT

Alex is a cycling expert at Pedallers and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.

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