Blackspire is a name that has flown under the radar in recent times. Whatever the reason may be for that, the Canadian brand is still at it and producing up to date components such as narrow/wide and oval shaped chainrings, 1x-specific guides, and their latest offering, the Badger C carbon crankset.
The new carbon fiber cranks weigh 540 grams, including a 28-tooth narrow/wide chainring, and retail for $450 CAD with a bottom bracket and chainring of your choice. This price also includes shipping to anywhere in North America. Due to the Badger Cs only being available for purchase on Blackspire's online store, there is no USD pricing.
Badger C Crankset Details:
• Intended use: cross-country / all-mountain
• Length: 175mm only
• Carbon construction
• 30mm aluminum spindle
• Not compatible w/ 83mm BB shells
• Weight: 540 grams (175mm, 28t chainring)
• MSRP: $450 CAD (arms, BB, chainring)
The crank employs a similar system to Race Face’s Cinch setup, making it possible to fit them onto a wide variety of bikes regardless of what bottom bracket interface is being used, and a fatbike-compatible spindle can even be installed. The aluminum spindle itself is of the 30mm diameter variety, and the chainring is attached via a GXP direct mount system. The Badger C is built using carbon to keep the weight down but there will be an aluminum version available for those not interested in rocking carbon in their transmission.
With so many different types of bottom bracket shells on bikes these days, the ability for the Badger Cs to fit most of them due to their adjustable bearing collar is a great option, but the correct bottom bracket is obviously required. Blackspire will offer bottom brackets to cover all options in the near future, including BB92, BB107, PF30, and 68/73mm threaded; the latter of which being the interface that I tested them with.
Additionally, the GXP direct mount chainring system on the production cranks provides riders with a wide selection of options. A number of aftermarket manufacturers offer direct mount rings with the GXP fitting, in addition to Blackspire’s own selection, so there should be no trouble finding a chainring that suits anyone’s needs. The crankset will come with either a 28, 30, or 32-tooth round chainring, or oval 30 or 32-tooth chainring, depending on the rider's needs. Installation
Installing the Badger C crankset is similar to some others on the market. With the same focus on compatibility across a wide range of bottom bracket types, a number of washers of varying sizes are required to make it happen. It's quite straightforward but can take a bit of trial and error to adjust and figure out. These washers are included with the cranks and which ones are used, if any, is dependant on the bottom bracket and type of bike they're going onto. As it turned out, the bike that these were tested on - which has a 73mm threaded BB shell - didn't require any spacers.
It also needs to be mentioned that the Blackspire bottom bracket requires a proprietary tool - it's slightly larger than other outboard bearing tools - which they do include with the cranks.
The Badger C's use a lockring to essentially adjust the length of spindle available, but after noticing some wear on the anodized inner surface during a once-over, I reached out to Blackspire to see if I should simply remove it altogether. They said that yes, this would work given the 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell of the bike they were installed on, so off it went. I had zero issues with the cranks coming loose prior to this, nor did I after I removed it.
I did find that the tiny 2mm hex key used to clamp the lockring down in place to be small and finicky, and can see some riders, especially those who aren't known for their patience or mechanical finesse, having an issue with this. It'd be nice to see some slightly larger hardware used here considering that the tiny screw is likely to round-out over time. Performance
Once setup, the cranks spun smooth and freely on their 30mm spindle and regardless of the weather ridden in, or the condition of the trails, the interface has remained creak-free and smooth to this day. That said, I have noticed some corrosion on the spindle and inner race of the bearings, indicating potential for improvements to the seals used. While this hasn’t negatively affected my experience on the trail yet, it may become an issue in the future. We also had some trouble removing the cranks because of it, with the spindle requiring a fairly ham-fisted whack to break it loose and push out the driveside of the bottom bracket.
Blackspire has since changed the inner bearing races to stainless steel so as to minimize that chance of any corrosion occurring, something that riders who spend a lot of time in the rain and mud will appreciate.
There have been no issues or experiences with the crank being overly flexy, or too stiff for that matter, though some others provide a slightly firmer and more positive feeling under foot. Their weight is admirable yet their durability grants confidence to ride how you want. Speaking of durability, after subjecting the Badger Cs to a lot of varied riding, including plenty of rock strikes, everything continues to run as it should. The inclusion of rubber booties with the crankset will be a good addition (Blackspire will ship all production Badger C arms with protective rubber caps) but despite this, they have faired well. The shape of the crank arms is slender and foregoes any odd lumps or bumps that could catch your ankle when riding, something that's important and sometimes overlooked, especially for more aggressive riders.Pinkbike's Take:
|While not the stiffest crankset out there, their relatively low weight and competitive price mean that the Badger C arms are worth looking at. Their versatility, thanks to the adjustable spindle and GXP direct mount chainring setup, mean that they should work well for the majority of riders, just so long as you're not riding in the mud and rain every single day. - AJ Barlas|
Visit the feature gallery for high resolution and additional images