We all like to reminisce about ''the good ol' days,'' whenever those might have been. Maybe you miss the simpler times before 12-speed and down-country bikes (relax, only joking), or when there were fewer channels, no cellphones, and everything seemed more wholesome. Me? I miss the mid-2000s Kanye when he was still making good tunes before losing his marbles, and I miss the 90s because that's when companies still did some crazy, unexpected shit.
Unexpected like a company well-known for their suspension offerings releasing a set of mega-light, mega-posh titanium cranks? Yeah, like that. Cane Creek's new eeWings (say ''/ee/-wings'') crankset features titanium everything - the arms, the 30mm spindle, the pedal insets, and even the freaking fixing bolt and washer are made from the pricey grey metal. And pricey they are; all that adds up to 400-grams (without a bottom bracket) and $999 USD, which is twice the cost of many high-end carbon cranksets.
Cane Creek eeWings Details
• Intended use: trail / enduro
• Grade 9 Ti-3Al-2.5V titanium crank arms
• Grade 5 Ti-6Al-4V titanium spindle, Hirth joint, chainring interface, pedal inserts
• 30mm titanium spindle w/ Hirth joint
• BB compatibility: BSA 73mm, PF92, PF89.5, BB30 (external bearing only), PF30 (external bearing only), 392EVO
• Chainring compatibility: X-Sync
• Lengths: 170mm, 175mm
• Warranty: 10 years
• Weight: 400-grams (arms, spindle, preload assembly, fastening bolt and washer, 1.75mm spacer)
• MSRP: $999 USD
While the impressive 400-gram weight is in the same ballpark as some carbon cranks, Cane Creek says that the eeWings, which are designed for trail and enduro riding, are 20 to 30-percent stiffer and incredibly durable. They come with a 10-year limited warranty, too.
''Through the course of aggressive riding, you invariably hit your cranks against rocks and other trail features which can cause structural damage to carbon cranks, and can lead to them breaking,'' said Sam Anderson, product manager for Cane Creek. ''Titanium just brushes those hits off, so the eeWings can withstand a lot more abuse than other high-end cranks and not end up structurally compromised or broken,'' he went on to say. ''At the same time, they are incredibly stiff, so more of the energy you put into each pedal stroke makes it to the back wheel and helps push you up and down the trail.''
Titanium (nearly) everything. The arms, 30mm spindle, fixing bolt, and even the washer under the bolt's head are all titanium. The preload adjuster ring is the only aluminum component on the entire crankset.
Because it's what a lot of us do as mountain bikers, it's time for some comparisons. Race Face's Next SL G4 setup is said to weigh 430-grams, including a 32-tooth direct mount chainring but no bottom bracket. Keeping things non-metallic, SRAM's XX1 Eagle DUB SL arms tip the scale at a claimed 420-grams with
If carbon isn't your thang, Shimano's XTR arms might be. Their XTR Race 1x crankset weighs a claimed 474-grams (without any hardware), and are forged by machines way bigger than your house and that sound like angry monsters. And guess what? All three of those options cost less than the eeWings. A lot less. But as with anything, the cost is subjective, and there will be many riders who don't care about the $999 USD price tag.
In fact, Cane Creek says that every last one of the eeWings cranksets made so far has been snapped up by distributors who clearly don't expect to have any trouble selling them, and that's expected to continue for the rest of crankset's low-number production run.
The eeWings look a lot like the Sweet Wings crankset from the mid-1990s, and that's not a coincidence, either.
So, where the hell did these titanium cranks pop up from? Their story can actually be traced back to some wild looking road bike brakes, and long before that, a set of two-piece steel cranks from the glory days of the 1990s that bear a striking resemblance to the eeWings. Back in the mid-90s, a guy named Craig Edwards came up with the Sweet Wings two-piece crankset that weighed 520-grams (very light at the time) and employed a press-fit spline on the spindle and an axial bolt to hold them together. They were exotic, rare, and expensive. Later on, Edwards also designed the eeBrake road stoppers, and Cane Creek took over the production, distribution, and sales of the brake in 2016.
That connection between eeCycleworks and Cane Creek was the genesis for the 400-gram eeWings crankset that, while being titanium instead of steel, sure look a lot like those original Sweet Wings arms. It explains the eeWings name, too, with the twin 'e' standing for Edwards Engineering and the rest being a nod to those old cranks.
All the parts, pre-welding.
The arms, which can be had in either 170mm or 175mm lengths, are made from Grade 9 Ti-3Al-2.5V titanium, while the 30mm spindle, chainring interface, pedal inserts, and Hirth joint are all Grade 5 Ti-6Al-4V titanium.
A Hirth joint, in case you're curious, is a way to join two ends of a shaft, usually via tapered, radial teeth. Campagnolo's been using a Hirth setup for ages as it's a very compact method (it needs to fit inside a bottom bracket shell) of joining the spindle by applying an axial load (via the crank bolt) that can handle relatively high torque loads.
The eeWings' Hirth joint in action.
The 30mm spindle will work with BSA 73mm, PF92, PF89.5, BB30 (external bearing only), PF30 (external bearing only), and 392EVO shells, and the chainring interface fits the three-bolt X-Sync pattern. In other words, you should always be able to find a bottom bracket and chainring to fit.
The preload assembly is the only part of the entire crankset that isn't titanium, but it's also not plastic like found on some other high-end options. The CNC'd aluminum adjuster sits on a threaded ring up against the non-drive side arm, and it requires a 2.5mm hex to adjust. The preloader can also be used on SRAM or Race Face 30MM cranks, and Cane Creek sells it separately (with a titanium bolt, of course) for $29.99 USD.
The chainring interface, which is also machined from titanium, is made to work with X-Sync 'rings.
Even the fixing bolt and washer (left) are titanium.
Cane Creek is selling the crank's preload assembly separately for $29.99 USD, and it'll work on 30mm cranks from Race Face and SRAM.
I only just installed a set of the eeWings on my Blur test bike using a Race Face threaded bottom bracket and 34-tooth X-Sync chainring. The job was as easy as installing any crankset, but you'll need to slather on the ti-prep, which is required and very different than normal grease. If you ask me, the brushed titanium arms look refreshing and simple compared to carbon, almost like a throw-back, while the subdued laser etching should still look sharp down the road.
The eeWings will see a load of miles over the coming months, after which you'll be able to read about how they fared.
The eeWings mounted up on Santa Cruz's new Blur.