A crankset is undoubtedly a vital part of your bike’s drive train. In simple words, it is the engine of your bicycle. The crank is responsible for converting the reciprocation motion generated by your legs into rotational motion. That way, you can turn/drive the chain which in turn propels the rear wheel.
That being said, modern cranksets are advanced and well equipped. For instance, most of them come with BBs (bottom brackets) to improve their performance. And yes, they are lightweight and will not add unwanted weight to your bike. Below are some of the best single speed cranksets that will take your mountain bike to the next level.
+ Intended use: Track, Fixed, and Single speed roads
+ Crank arm length: 165mm, 170mm, and 175mm
+ Define Color: Black
+ Chainring options: 48T
+ Crank arm material: Aluminum
+ Chainring material: Aluminum
+ BCD (bolt center diameter): 130mm
+ Chairing included: Yes
+ BB Included: Yes
First and foremost, I think that at around $130, this single speed crankset is an absolute steal, but this might be due to the materials used. It is made from the7075-48T aluminum alloy material that guarantees stiffness and lightweight. This feature alone should be enough to convince you that you’ll get an exceptional performance once it’s fitted on your bike. The SRAM S300 also comes with an English GXP bottom bracket to maximize the performance.
Additionally, the crank arm length is up there with some of the best in the market. In this case, you’ll get different length options that will suit any riding style and leg length. The three distinct arm lengths available include 165mm, 170mm, and 175mm. Don’t forget they come in black color, which seamlessly blends with most bikes.
• Pocket-friendly price
• Stiff and durable thanks to the forged aluminum alloy
• Includes a GXP bottom bracket
• Variety of arm sizes
• Looks good
• Doesn’t include installation tools
+ Intended use: Track (103mm BB), Road (110mm BB)
+ BB Included: No
+ BB shell width: 70mm, 68mm
+ Chain compatibility: Single speed
+ Crank arm length: 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
+ Included Chairing: 48T
+ Chain line: 45mm
+ BCD: 130mm
+ Color: Silver, Black
Sugino is a Japanese road and track bike component manufacturer founded in 1990. They have specialized in making chainrings and chainsets. However, their popularity took a hit in the 1990s thanks to Shimano’s dominance. Recently, the company has experienced some success thanks to the RD Messenger crank. This component is famous for its excellent performance on single speed bikes.
Moving forward, Sugino’s latest release, the RD2 Messenger crankset is constructed using forged aluminum. As we have mentioned earlier, aluminum material is known to produce lightweight and stiff components. Again, just like the SRAM S300, the crank arms come in similar sizes. The crank is compatible with the 103mm/68mm BB, and can also fit well on 110mm road square-taper BBs. Moreover, you can get it in two distinct colors – Silver and Black.
• Durable and lightweight
• Crank arm lengths available in different sizes
• Comes with a chainring and bolts
• Compatible with several BBs
• Doesn’t come with a BB
• At $129.99, I think you can get a better deal
+ BCD: 104mm
+ Construction material: 6061-T6 aluminum
+ Cranks arm length: 160mm, 165mm, and 170mm
+ Q-factor: 167mm
+ Color: Matte Black
+ Laser-etched graphics
+ Includes an external Euro BB and two pedal washers
Remember the Box One and Box Two, the 11 and 7-speed derailleur systems that offered an affordable alternative to SRAM and Shimano cranksets? Well, beyond these two top tires, Box has done it again with the all-new affordable Box Four crankset. This BMX specific crankset (but good for MTBs) continues to keep it simple, just like its predecessors. It’s made using cold forged 6061-T6 aluminum, which makes it stiff enough while at the same time remaining lightweight. It weighs just under 800g.
Also, it features a classic 4-bolt 104mm BCD spider and a 24mm Chromoly spindle. These features should work well with most single speed chainrings out there. You can also get the Box Four in different sizes, including 160mm, 165mm, and 170mm. Keep in mind that this crank is compatible with both press-fit and threaded bottom bracket shell. This crankset is undeniably the perfect fit for single speed mountain bike riders
• Forged hollow crank arms for stiffness and lightweight
• Includes a BB and pedal washers
• Excellent finish with laser-etched graphics
• Pocket-friendly price
• The chain line is way off if you’re planning to fit it on an mtb frame
Single Speed Crankset Buyer’s Guide
Now that you already know one or two things about some of the best cranksets out there, it’s now time to show you how to pick the right one for your single speed mountain bike. Keep reading!
Crank arm length – It’s the distance from the Pedal Boss to the Spindle Boss. In general, crank arm sizes for 20-inch plus range from 160mm to 180mm. That said, shorter crank arms tend to deliver easier spin tricks since both your feet will be closer together. Shorter arms also offer more room for your feet. This way, your heels won hit your rear pegs. On the other hand, longer crank arms are more comfortable to pedal with, since they offer more leverage over the drivetrain. They also make your bike less twitchy and more stable.
Bolt-drive or Bossless – Cranks come with different sprocket compatibility. You can get the bolt-drive cranks, which features a boss for screwing your sprocket bolt. The bossless design (Spine drive) doesn’t use the sprocket bolt boss located on the back of crank arms. Some riders like bossless cranks because they are sleek and lightweight, same way as some MTB riders like a spiderless crank.
Spindle diameter – This refers to the crank’s axle thickness that runs through the BB of the frame. The consensus is that larger spindles are lighter and stiffer but come with smaller bearings. This way, they are more likely to blow out.
Crank arm materials – Forging produces the strongest and stiffest aluminum since it aligns the material’s grain structure. You should in insist on hollow forged arms but be prepared to pay slightly more.
I’m pretty sure that after reading this comprehensive guide, you can now shop around for the best single speed crankset for your single speed MTB. If you find the selection process stressful, scroll up to our crankset review section and choose one of the top 3 cranks.