Blackspire Badger C Carbon Crankset - Review

Jul 19, 2016
by AJ Barlas  
Blackspire s new carbon cranks and direct mount narrow-wide chainring


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)
www.blackspire.com


The inboard side of the cranks is smooth. The attachment to the spindle is beefy and strong
The 30mm aluminum spindle is attached to the driveside crankarm while spindle length adjustment is done via a threaded collar on the non-driveside arm.
A common GXP direct mount attachment for the chainring boosts the cranks versatility
The production version of the Badger C crankset will use a GXP chainring interface, making them compatible with many other offerings.


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.


The supplied 28t narrow wide ring and the drive-side hex keys for removing the spindle.

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 pre-load ring and the 2mm hex key that could cause issues for those removing cranks fairly regularly
The lockring is held in place by a 2mm hex key that could cause issues for those removing their crankset fairly regularly.
The supplied bottom bracket required a separate tool which Blackspire provided
The bottom bracket requires the use of a proprietary outboard bearing tool, which Blackspire includes.


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.


Corrosion from inner race of bearings making it s way to the alloy spindle
Corrosion visible on the spindle where the inner bearing races reside.
Crank arm wear from hits to the ends without any rubber booty
The ends of the arms looking a little beat up. Some protective rubber booties might be good here.


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:

bigquotesWhile 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



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114 Comments

  • + 63
 Is it just me or did the Blackspire graphic crew get confused between a picture of a beaver and a badger?
  • + 2
 ^ lol
  • + 3
 @larryssman7: That's a terrible description of badgers vs beavers. Haha pleas say that was a troll...
  • + 4
 @PJD1: I like pictures of beavers but the rest of the graphics are yucky.
  • + 10
 @enduro86 - The triangle with the beaver in it is their long time company logo.
  • + 13
 @enduro86 The Beaver has been our company logo for 25 years now just like @h82crash stated.

Thanks
  • + 5
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: how can people chirp the logo. Its the great canadian beaver! Lol.
  • + 4
 @PJD1: Must be a New Zealand thing eh? Haha
  • + 3
 Beavadger???
  • + 3
 @jeffhall124: hairy beavadger.
  • - 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: why are all carbon cranks looking the same between brands could it kill you to throw a little style into these arms? I mean they can make frames any shape so why are the cranks so bulky and dull looking?
  • + 2
 @mhoshal: realistically they could do what? A zig zag..
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: when is it going to be available?? It is not even on the website
  • + 7
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: Whoa rude, insulting my nationality knowing full well time zone differences meant I was asleep unable to defend my nations pride haha Razz Hadnt seen Blackspires logo before so my apologies. I dont have anything against Canadian beaver either, one can hardly hate on another nations animal when you're from a country who's national animal is a bird that can't even fly Wink
  • + 2
 @enduro86: Just messing around man haha. We got a chuckle out of it anyway.

@Ryanrobinson1984 They will be available late summer/early fall
  • + 1
 @enduro86: ya man, no harm no foul. It is the innergalactic web Internet portal after all..
  • + 1
 @PJD1: Ever owned an aluminum crank there smart ass?
  • + 0
 @mhoshal: all I own is aluminum cranks, they all look like cranks, some have an indent or grove if you will,some have an outdent or ridge. What else can you do??? From a far, a rawed set of any crank is going to look the same. Kinda rounded rectangular thing with a pedal attached to it....

Really, zigzag would be about as stylish as it could get while staying functionl. After that, how would you like your ridge?or concave. Haha
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components @PJD1: Its all good I was being tongue-in-cheek. Its sweet to see a company happy to have a laugh online btw Props for making an effort for taking the time to reply to our comments and questions tup
  • + 2
 Sorry my Aussie friend aka enduro86........that's definitely a beaver.
  • + 1
 @primodeelux: Calling me an Aussie. Now you actually have offended me. Whats you address? Give me 24hrs and I personally punch you in the face for such an insult lol
  • + 0
 @PJD1: so you are saying that all aluminum cranks basically look the same clearly you're not the smartest guy out there put any race face crank next to to a shimano and still tell me they look the same because from what I can tell you are either blind or a complete idiot who just likes to argue with people that actually have a point
  • + 1
 @mhoshal www.jensonusa.com/Race-Face-Turbine-1X-Crankset

www.tbsbikeparts.com/shimano-m640-68-73mm-zee-crankset-36t/?gclid=CJ3VoLmjgs4CFYSAaQod36kPqg


One has ridges and indents, oh wait so does the other...but wait they aren't just rounded off rectangles that had material removed for "style". And neither of them have a 4 bolt pattern or a spot to thread in a pedal. Why the f are you chirping a company about "plain" cranks. Really? Anyone here agree that in the end, "style" is either an indent, grove, ridge or material that's been shaved away? Or form pressed, but that the general profile is obviously the same..not to mention between the two above, the zees look a hell of a lot cleaner.
  • + 5
 In the next episode of "My first world problems" we will discuss: does my $450 CAD worth carbon crankset show a picture of a beaver or a badger? Stay tuned any you'll find out.
  • + 0
 @PJD1: exactly my point MORON they DON'T LOOK THE SAME. You sir are a f*cken tool clearly and your last post proves it!!!
  • + 1
 @mhoshal: my point is that they are so close it really doesn't matter or make a difference in performance. Guess your missing the point.
  • + 1
 @PJD1: "They look the same but the zee looks a he'll of alot cleaner" So clearly they don't look the same retard read your own words
  • + 1
 @PJD1: no clearly you missed the point and can't read your own words apparently
  • + 2
 @mhoshal @PJD1 Alright guys. Settle down now.
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: lol I'm good I just think it's funny he clearly said they don't look the same right after he said they look the same lol it takes some kind of stupid to say that!!!
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: and why didn't you answer my honest question why do all carbon cranks look the same between brands. Is there reasoning behind the design as opposed to actually sculpting out a pair? Are you limited to design with carbon or is it because carbon cranks are still in their infincy?
  • + 1
 @mhoshal Well its clear that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. You cant change very much without comprimising performance. Most differences with carbon will be in the manufacturing than the appearance.

Thanks
  • + 0
 No they have customer service through Taiwan however it appears to be produced in China according to the website.
That said I have a buddy with the Wilma crankset as they call it. And it is really a nice set. Here's my source.

www.s-shun.com/about02.php

www.s-shun.com/product_list.php?id=0&key=WM&p=2

This will also explain the logo. They look nice in person. Don't be shy. They are light I don't remember exact grams but the claimed weight is probably correct.
  • + 20
 Looks like a price-friendly alternative to RF NextSL. Under $400 USD for cranks, BB, ring, and BB tool? Well done.
  • + 9
 Most of blackspire's stuff is spot on, nothing glamorous/overpriced, only stuff that works well. I have the narrow wide ring and it's afordable, has a lot of colour options plus it's made in canada ! Also been rocking the 520 pedals and have zero complaints on them
  • + 8
 @nilswalk Since we are only selling on our website to keep the price down we have also included the shipping in the MSRP for all of North America and those that will be purchasing from the states will have the duties covered aswell.

@Brakesnotincluded Thanks for the kind words! Glad your liking our products.

Thanks
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: any chance a honeybadger dh is in the works, or would that name have copyright infringement with kenda?

anywho, any plans for a sixc/xodh rival coming in the future?
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: when will this crank be up on your's website??
  • + 2
 @Ryanrobinson1984: They will be available late summer/ early fall

@jewpowered We do believe that the Badger C is strong enough for DH but we aren't going to offer the 83mm spindle because we dont want to have the same issues that SRAM had with the XO cranks. We might offer a DH version for late 2017 if we get enough sales from the Badger C. All depends on the need of what the consumers will be wanting.
  • + 1
 @jewpowered: I'd call it a wolverine dh if it was me being that honey badgers don't come from North America and wolverines do. I would honestly love to know who would win a fight between a honey badger and wolverine because they are both tough as nails!!!
  • + 18
 175mm only? Boo.
  • + 8
 @dberndt Sorry to let you down Frown

Thanks
  • + 0
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:

Need to have 170mm for sale
  • + 9
 Comes with everything you need including bb and chainring. Weight is good. Fitting tool included. Compatible with a huge range of after market chainrings. You get the choice of normal or oval ring. Stainless bearings. 30mm axle that again is widely compatible. Look great too and the price is more than competitive! Wow nice one blackspire. Excellent!
  • + 4
 Love Blackspire. Their standard taco bashgaurd has been going strong on 3 different bikes for me and their chainrings have a really good lifespan. Glad to see they are expanding and moving into some new markets. Supplying the proprietary parts tool is a great touch as well... Welcome to the carbon game Blackspire!
  • + 2
 Been beating the crap outta a TrailX and two Der Guides for a few seasons now. No complaints.
  • + 4
 @gonecoastal @2bigwheels We are stoked to hear your both happy with our products! We have alot of new products coming out this year aswell.

Thanks
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:

Already thinking about this crankset and the offset rings for the next bike build come next year. And I mean I'm a North Delta boy, gotta rep the hometown company!

And don't you ever stop building that super simple lower taco bashgaurd! Don't do it! Though a lower taco bashgaurd with a upper mini chain guide that can hinge out of the way would be dope Wink
  • + 1
 @2bigwheels: Glad to see the local riders support us!
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: good to hear. I also recommend the two guides I have. My dad runs your 2x rings on his bike. I'm contemplating a Snaggletooth ring for future builds. Always good to support CDN manufacturing! ????????
  • + 2
 @gonecoastal: Almost everything we offer is made in house here in Delta!
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: LOL those question marks above are a mobile emoji
  • + 4
 Closer to $350 USD at today's FX rate.

I like how responsive they are. Including the tool, changing to stainless bearing races, including rubber ends...this is a great deal vs. the NEXT SL.

I wonder where RF found an extra +100g in weight savings? I'm also assuming the review is comparing the stiffness to the Next SL's...lighter and stiffer?
  • + 1
 Does raceface weight include bb and a ring? I thought their weights were crank arms only?
  • + 1
 Just checked Rf website - next sl 430g is crank and ring weight - no bb.
  • + 2
 @onemind123: and that is with a 32t ring, at least another 10g to be saved by going to the 28t Blackspire are advertising the weight with. So that is approximately 120g lighter, around 25%.
  • + 1
 @dugglesthemuddled: doh - I thought the blackspire weight included bb.
  • + 0
 'Responsive'??
  • + 0
 @dugglesthemuddled: actually 9.76895 grams
  • + 2
 @Ryanrobinson1984: Funny guy huh?
  • + 6
 Meh I'm still rocking my race face diabolus
  • + 2
 Literally the heaviest aluminum cranks ever made(that I know of.)

They're on my DJ.
  • + 2
 @groghunter: I'm not a weight weenie. Could careless about how much my bike weights as long as it gets me from top to bottom in once piece I'm happy
  • + 1
 @soulless: Wasn't meaning it as a criticism, just an interesting fact. As I said, I own a pair, & intend to keep them(just not on a bike I have to pedal to the top of a hill.)

That said, you could probably drop pounds, plural off your bike without changing reliability one bit, the Aeffect cranks are probably just us durable, & weigh less than half what the Diabolus did, & can be found for as little as $100.
  • + 1
 @groghunter: fair enough man I'm a gravity guy always have been but I see you point when pedaling uphill you want a light bike. I will check into that crankset for a future build.
  • + 1
 Wow, you can get a carbon piece of hardware like that, with BB & a ring weighing only 540g for $450 nowadays?

This is very tempting & I don't even need a crank. I just bought one last year actually.

Taiwan FTW!!! Smile
  • + 4
 I love you Blackspire but that those graphics are turrible
  • + 6
 @ICAS We are sorry that we failed you Frown

Thanks
  • + 2
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:

My bruiser bash guard has saved me on many occasions so I'll look past it :p
  • + 2
 @ICAS: Thats a deal we will accept. Cheers
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:

Not a carbon crank man but I might have to look at the aluminum one now. Appreciate your time and playfulness Smile

Goes a long way
  • + 1
 Logged in first thing this morning to order one, web direct is great for the masses, but no pro deal through distributors makes it less competitive for the few. Great job anyway, sweet looking crank.
  • + 5
 @keewi We do offer discounts for Industry workers. Also these cranks wont be available til early fall.

Thanks
  • + 2
 "just so long as you're not riding in the mud and rain every single day". Not made for us in the UK then!
  • + 1
 New spindles that will be sent out remedy that issueSmile So all pairs sent out should be good!
  • + 4
 @sewer-rat: The problem with the corrosion was the regular steel bearing races. Since we have seen this happen we decided to change the bearing races to stainless steel to prevent this from happening to our customers.

Thanks
  • + 3
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: no, thank you!! You have made me seriously consider these now as I loved my old Blackspire stuff
  • + 5
 @sewer-rat: Glad to hear! These will be available late summer/early fall. We also have a lot more new product that is yet to be released aswell.
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:

smart move. fretting corrosion is seen on many crankset axles. Shimano anti-seize is great for metal/metal crank installs because it stays put and doesn't effect the torque setup.

I'd advise all your crank users to never use a ball-end hex key on the lockring clamp - quick way to cam out that small hex bolt. always use hex-end on that size Wink
  • + 1
 Comes with 28, 30 or 32t chainring!
How about some fast gearing?
  • + 4
 @turbohippy Those are just the most common sizes these days. We have alot of different chainrings that will be offered aswell. We offer 0mm offset in 26-36T, 3mm offset (Boost) in 26-36T, 6mm offset in 26-36T and 30 and 32T Oval in all 3 offsets. Not to mention each ring is availbe in 7 different colours.

Thanks
  • + 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:
Triple ring set up or is that just silly these days?
I still use a front mech and my 44t chainring
  • + 1
 @turbohippy: We wont be offering any spider options as of now. For those that are wanting to run a 2x setup can purchase a 2x SRAM GXP spider which is compatible with our cranks aswell. Unfortunately there will be no 3x spider for them.

Thanks
  • + 1
 Anvl pedals? Blackspire makes pedals!
  • + 2
 Wheres the 36t?
  • + 2
 And the 35 tooth too! Narrow/wide of course...
  • + 4
 @properp These are just the most common size chainrings that we sell which is why we only listed them. We have alot of different chainrings to offer such as: 0mm offset in 26-36T, 3mm offset (Boost) in 26-36T, 6mm offset in 26-36T and 30 and 32T Oval in all 3 offsets. Not to mention each ring is availbe in 7 different colours.

Thanks
  • + 2
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: All your stuff has always served me well. So thanks for the reply. I knew you had bigger rings.
  • + 1
 @properp: Glad to hear our products have served you well. We just didnt get them to list every size as that could be an entire article on it's own haha.

Thanks
  • + 2
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: if there's one thing I completely hate about cycling it's all these new sizes and industry standards. What happened to the good old days when you could take a bit off this bike and it would fit perfect on that bike. So I completely understand about the size of your list. Feel sorry for you all trying to keep up with it.
  • + 1
 @properp: It's been the 90's since I worked in the bike industry so memories are fading but, we had to make square taper BB's in about 10 different lengths and several BB shell widths. I feel what people are saying about changing standards but the past is always viewed with rose tinted glasses. It wasn't so awesome back in the day as people would like to think.
  • + 0
 Yeah, the 2mm grub screw is a pain in the arse when its tucked behind a crank arm on my RF turbine cinch.
  • + 3
 @blueprrinttt We also agree that the 2mm screw is a pain some times. The only problem is you cant put any bigger of a screw in since it will have clearance issues with the BB.

Thanks
  • - 1
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: So you're saying that you know the design is flawed?
  • + 5
 @blueprrinttt: Not neccesarily "flawed" as it works perfectly fine if you are careful when installing. Tightening torque is 2NM so there will be no issues unless people decide to crank the bolt as tight as they can.
  • + 3
 @Blackspire-Super-Components:

I'd advise your crank users-

always use 'hex-end' of your wrench, never 'ball-end' sure fire way to cam out that small bolt even at lower torque

decent hex-end from Bondhaus you won't have any issues

www.bondhus.com/bondhus_products/tool_categories/l-wrenches/goldguard_hex.html
  • + 1
 Can a crankset be too stiff?
  • + 1
 Canadian made?
  • + 8
 @downhere67 Unfortunately these our from our factory in Taiwan. If we made these in house in Canada they would be extremely expensive and there isnt really any benefit as the quality would be the same but price would be around double.

Thanks
  • + 2
 @Blackspire-Super-Components: Thanks for a honest reply! Too many companies try and talk about molds, costly revisions, proprietary weaves and industry leading blah blah insteading of just acknowledging the simple cost problem...
  • + 0
 Nicely written review
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