DMR Axe Cranks - Review

Nov 10, 2016
by Paul Aston  
DMR Axe Cranks - Review


DMR's heritage is steeped in hardcore dirt jump pedals, frames and components, but the Brit's have been veering in a new direction in recent years. Their new path heads towards trail-biking and general thrashing around the woods, as epitomized by the reborn Trailstar frame last year. Similarly, this Axe crankset isn't a pure 3-piece BMX style crank, as you may have expected from the brand, but a tough, alloy setup for all-mountain, enduro or just riding your bike.

The crank arms are chunky, hollow-forged units that sit on a 30mm hollow axle. I was supplied with a matching 36t DMR Blade chainring which uses a SRAM GXP style, direct mount system. A pair of crank arms and axle ker-ching the till at £139.99 / $181.50 USD with various options of bottom bracket and chainrings available separately.




DMR Axe Details

• Intended use: AM / enduro
• ‘Hollowform’ technology
• Sizes: 165, 170, 175mm
• ø30mm axle
• 68/73mm and 83mm axle available
• Weight: 768g (with arms, BB, direct mount Blade 36T and hardware)
• Colors: black,
• MSRP: £139.99 / $181.50 USD (arms only). £240 / $267 USD as tested - includes Praxis BB, BB tool and 36 tooth ring.
www.dmrbikes.com
Most bottom bracket options are available, including euro BB, PF30, BB30 and BB92. Axle widths are the usual 68-73mm or 83mm and a choice of 165mm, 170mm and 175mm lengths.


DMR Axe Cranks - Review
The Sram GXP-style chainring mount uses three T25 bolts: surely the easiest system on the market.
DMR Axe Cranks - Review
Keeping it simple, the Axe uses one 8mm, self-extracting bolt.


Installation


Installation was a breeze thanks to the included bottom bracket tool (a proprietary widget from Praxis). I would prefer to see an 8mm hex wrench over the 3/8" socket-wrench drive for the tool, just to keep my toolbox and life as simple as possible. Laser etchings on the cups indicate the correct side and installation direction and there are no fiddly preload washers or rings to adjust. Just put them on, tighten, and go ride. Removal is more than simple too, undo the single self-extracting 8mm crank bolt and voila.

The Sram GXP style direct mount chainrings must be the best way to install a chainring to date. No special tools required or highly torqued lock rings and the need for a vice. Three T25 bolts do the job, which are the same as found on disc rotors if you're hunting through the toolbox for a spare.

The axle on the Axe is fixed on the non-drive side, the opposite of most cranks, including Shimano and SRAM. This means you can quickly remove the drive side crank arm with the 8mm self-extracting bolt to change the chainring without removing the axle from the bottom bracket.


DMR Axe Cranks - Review
DMR Axe Cranks - Review


On the Trail


The Axe cranks never crossed my mind when riding, like any good crank should, they just get on with the task. They took some incredibly hard rock strikes up in the alpine during the summer and shrugged off all of the blows with ease. The cranks are solid underfoot and have plenty of stiffness.

The hollow forming meant DMR didn't need to externally machine the cranks to save weight. Some cranks like Raceface's Atlas, for example, are machined on the inside of the arm, which can create pockets for mud to collect. The Axe arms are also fairly straight on the outside, and I didn't find excessive pedal rub or any sharp edges bashing my ankles.

The bearings are starting to grind after 14 to 16 long (40-60km) days on the trails, not as good as we'd have hoped or expected, but increasing axle size will take away from bearing depth with current bottom bracket types. Due to the 30mm axle stepping down to 28mm on the drive side, compatibility with other 30mm bottom brackets isn't an option..

I would like to see the inclusion of steel inserts for the pedal threads for added peace of mind, especially for a crankset that feels capable of taking on any kind of abuse, even downhill racing.


DMR Axe Cranks - Review
The Axe cranks took the hits like a champ. The robust build makes me feel like the rest of my bike is going to break before the cranks.
DMR Axe Cranks - Review
The Praxis bearings didn't spin smoothly for as long as I would have hoped.


Pinkbike's Take:

bigquotesThe Axe crankset is a contender for riders looking for a burly crankset with commendable weight, stiffness, price and simplified function. - Paul Aston



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91 Comments

  • + 70
 More expensive than Shimano XT (or Saint), fragile proprietary BB. Why bother?
  • + 22
 XT are simply excellent cranks for little money. best fitting system on market and cheap, good HT2 BB with plenty of aftermarket HT2 BB options.
  • - 2
 I ride M8000 cranks and you're right they're great for the price but stiff they are not. It's not quite a deal breaker (or I'd not be using them) but worth mentioning. They're quite a bit lighter than the Axe and cheaper...so yup...seems daft to look elsewhere.
  • + 31
 Or a Zee which has pedal inserts and is cheap as chips.
  • + 21
 @fartymarty: I would argue that SLX is the most bang for buck crank out there lighter and also with insterts and can be had for 80 euros.
  • - 5
flag iqbal-achieve (Nov 11, 2016 at 1:37) (Below Threshold)
 @feeblesmith: the M7000 crank does indeed look good, claimed weight is very similar to the M8000. My only concern would be, given the M8000 feels a bit flexy to me, the SLX could be even more so. But I'm building a plus bike for my gf (for myself really) and it'll probably get the M7000s, it's hard to argue with the price and weight if the bikes not gonna see much gravity use.
  • + 6
 Get a good old set of hone cranks: -)
  • - 1
 I have bought these over SRAM & Shimano... SRAM BBs were very poor, praxis so far holding up better, Shimano cranks rub all the coating off after a few rides looking tatty. These look better than anything from the S's
  • + 16
 @ThomDawson: How strong must your quads be to make XT cranks flex?! It's more likely flex somewhere in the frame or wheels that you feel through the pedals, or you're seretly Thor Hushovd.
  • + 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: pretty strong. It is the cranks, not something else. You don't have to be a huge or super powerful guy to feel the flex. Try some stiff cranks and keep everything else the same and you can feel it. And it feels nice. I'm not really too concerned about the flex when pedalling, more so when descending. I don't really do sprints if I can help it!
  • + 7
 SLX are 5g more than XT and just as strong probably the best value bit of mtb kit out there, especially if you get them on sale
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson: I've got SLX cranks on my Meta V4 and they have been great. Uplift days have been no problem. I've never felt flex, Im not a heavy guy though. ~175lbs. Weight wise they were 20grams lighter than the expensive e-thirteen TRS+ set they replaced. They are roughly the same weight as XT.
  • - 1
 @inverted180: thanks for the info dude. Before the M8000 I was riding XTR and Saints and they are noticeably stiffer than the M8000. As I said up there it's not a huge thing but after riding nice stiff cranks it's just feels a bit damp. I've had some raceface cranks on a DJ bike too and they are very stiff but like the Saints they're quite a bit heavier. The SLX seem like a no brainer for this thing I'm building.
  • + 2
 @ThomDawson: I rate my Zees. Im 93kg (in my birthday suit) and don't feel any flex. I've just come off a set of Profiles and haven't noticed any loss in stiffness.
  • + 5
 i agree that shimano's are great cranks but there are plenty of people that would prefer to try something other than the "big two" and the fact that shimano hasn't come out with a direct mount chain ring yet is silly
  • - 1
 @fartymarty: I actually tried some Zees just before the M8000s and agree they're plenty stiff enough. I'm hoping to persuade my gf to ride a bit more next summer and the bike needs to be as light and easy to ride as possible! So the weight of the zees means they didn't make the shortlist for my build.
  • + 3
 @timmo8: If you have some work Shimano cranks look up Slik Graphics crank decals, I've used them on my saints and they still look new until you get close and see it's a sticker. The coating really does suck on Shimano cranks and this is the best way I've found of keeping them looking decent.
  • + 0
 @ThomDawson: Fair enough. The Zees are fairly chunky (just like me).
  • + 3
 @timmo8: clear polyurethane tape works wonders. Before I ride any new bike it gets covered and looks like new at sale time.
  • + 0
 @Revanchist: cheers for that, I've had some 2013 XTs on another bike and they are great - light, strong etc, just annoyed at how they wear
  • + 3
 I like how the finish wears off a bit on the xt. Its there no matter how well i clean the bike and reminds me ive done a crap ton of sweet riding.
  • + 2
 The awful chain line on recent Shimano cranks does not play well with 1x drivetrains (see: M8000, back pedaling in low gear).
  • + 2
 @knarrr: this is not an issue related solely to M8000 or Shimano. There's a good work around too - don't back pedal in first gear.
  • + 3
 @knarrr: Pretty easy to correct -- I used 1mm spacers to mount a chainring and now the chain stays put when backpedalling on any gear (34t chainring, 11-40 cassette, m8000 crankset).
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: I'm exactly the same weight as you, using XT M8000 cranks with a praxis BB. I've never noticed much in the way of flex either TBH; certainly not enough to make me want for something stronger anyway.

As for Praxis BB's, So far so good. I've got the PF30 BB which threads the drive and non drive side together - it's rock solid and so far, not so much as a single creak. Highly recommended for those of you with creaking BB's or BB's that walk themselves out of their shell!
  • + 0
 @arna86: Do they have pedal inserts?
  • + 0
 @fartymarty: That's a very good question....I can't actually remember if I'm honest! Big Grin
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson: good luck with that on steep technical climbs. Never realized how much I used the "ratchet" method. I had to space my ring 3.5mm inboard on my cranks to get a workable solution.
  • + 1
 Race Face Turbine for big lads who want no flex
  • + 0
 One journo has a BB issue......... These cranks are better looker than XT, and have a much easier ring changing system. If you dont read the article and get informed, and just quote a price versus another price, that makes you a cheapskate dude. And besides, if I wanted to ride around on the same kit as everyone else, I would have bought a Whyte to show off my individual style.... Some people...
  • + 2
 @Fix-the-Spade: who? You a roadie in disguise Wink

Crank stiffness is tangible....because you thinks it your frame flexing doesn't mean that's actually what's happening. Bit like saying you still think the earth is flat dude..
  • + 2
 @ThomDawson: THE AXE CRANKS ARE STIFFEST.
  • + 0
 @Revanchist: yeah, go buy some stickers to cover up the manufacturers short comings....and then rave about how cheap and great they are....
  • + 0
 @fartymarty: no pedal inserts on M8000 mate
  • + 1
 @Bustacrimes: They are great, with the one flaw of awful decals. I'd rather pay £6 for some decals and £95 for my saint cranks than £240 on a product which is no stiffer and less reliable.
  • + 3
 @Bustacrimes: Nobody seems to make perfect cranks. The Shimano ones are cheap, stiff enough and reliable, but the finish wears easily. Why they stopped having the brushed raw outer faces on the arms is beyond me, that was the perfect solution. Still the best all around cranks.
  • + 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: Agree. My SLX are 2 yrs old and are brushed raw on the outside....they are'nt worn. My e-thirteen was ano black and it's worn right off...so its not just shimano cranks.
  • + 0
 @ThomDawson: That's why I got the Zees and they're relatively cheap. Wear doesn't bother me, it just shows you ride.
  • + 12
 The perfect cranks are the one's you can forget about. Not sure what to feel on the bb noise, it's pretty unfortunately common these days.
  • + 20
 lack of grease from the factory, generally - whether headset, bb or frame pivot bearings


we always repack our new bearings, in the UK its wet/muddy and we ride all year round because of the temperate climate, so bikes get exposed to lots of wet miles.

i use a scalpel blade to pop one of the seals without deforming, repack with PM600 military grease, spin the bearing, repack, seal, wipe. makes a massive difference to bearing life.
  • + 5
 @hampsteadbandit: Every time I read about bikes there's some sort of new specific maintenance. I have prepared a bag'o biketools, and it just blows me away how many items I have in it, and how many I still don't.
  • + 6
 @hampsteadbandit: i do that too except i wait for them to get rough first so i'm really excited that they turn at all after the service. your way sounds better.
  • - 10
flag jflb (Nov 11, 2016 at 1:47) (Below Threshold)
 @Kramz: have you considered skate boarding or roller blading? Or maybe even jogging?
  • + 4
 @hampsteadbandit: Agree! I re-pack the BB bearings with Phil Wood before I install them and I don't even live in a wet climate. Found out years ago working at bike shops that they might not have enough grease. I can't remember what brand it was, but I had to install a $100+ Ti spindle BB (in the 90's) and one of the seals wasn't seated. I removed it to re-set it, it was nearly dry! The dab of grease inside was about the size of one ball bearing. It's kind of crazy how dry they are. I actually put a thin, tapered layer of grease on the inside of the cup if the bearing is exposed and also the inside of the cup, works like water repellent. I have an old Real Crankcase BB with 10,000+ miles on it with one rebuild at 5k, stills rolls pretty darn smooth. It's a square taper, so I haven't used it in 6 or 7 years, but I did put it in my daughters bike (frame build with spare parts). Just couldn't let those Race Face LP's be retired Wink It's all in taking care of your stuff and planning ahead.
  • + 5
 These are or look like rebranded Praxis cranks. They're making some of if not the best chain rings on the market at the moment. I got a turn ziante crankset on my cyclo. Very awesome. Shifting is buttery. They're solid cranks and they make a bottom bracket adapter that is said to remove creaks from pressfit bottom brackets. Haven't tried but reviews are good.
  • + 1
 @dwojo - I put a comment about the Praxis bb adaptors above somewhere but just to reiterate - I have one of those installed now after finally losing it with my pre-insalled shimano BB which walked itself out of the frame's shell on a long, remote ride a while back (that and the constant clicking and creaking). The Praxis has since been awesome from day one. Not a single noise has come from it yet, it seems really well built and price wise, it was pretty reasonable at about £50. Recommended!
  • + 4
 It attaches to your bike and spins around. There are only four things to consider with cranks:
1. Are they about average, way lighter than average or way heavier than average?
2. Do they have an annoying "standard" for attaching them to the bike?
3. Do they break easily?
4. How much do they cost?
  • + 5
 5. How much it increases the sex appeal of your bike?
  • + 0
 @passwordpinkbike: Dude, that's not how you're supposed to 'ride' your bike!
  • + 3
 I'm waiting for a direct mount with a pinch bolt desighn. No axle shaft on cranks that rely only on the end bolt is the reason BB's wear out prematurely.
Any bmx'er that forgot to put the axle shaft on thier profiles knows this Wink
  • + 1
 You are not correct do your reasearch.
  • - 2
 @jflb: no research needed I have experience
  • + 7
 @nojzilla: you've been misled by your experiences.
The end of axle bolt system that mountain bike cranks use is different than in the bmx world.
Bmx cranks dont have a tapered spindle and that's why they come loose, they should have a pinch bolt and some of them do.
Mountain bike cranks use a tapered press fit.
It has nothing to do with bearing life.
In fact the cranks that have a pinch bolt are more likely to kill bearings because it allows people to overload the bearings.
But the two different systems are made by different companies using different bearings and that has more of an effect on bearing life than anything else.
Bearings die because they're shit quality. As well as some shitty concepts.
  • - 2
 @jflb: apart from the ones that don't have tapered ends......
  • + 2
 @jflb: I'm with @nojzilla on this one. Variances in BB widths outside of 73mm, say 73.5, can add additional pressure on the bearings that cannot be overcome with a simple tighten-n-go crankset. Cranksets with a preload system, some use pinch bolts-others do not, i.e. Cinch, GXP, or Shimano's, are a better way to preload the bearings as it allows you to pull all the play from the system, without over torquing the bearings. Yes, this does make it so that hamfists can over torque bearings if they are not paying close attention, but you can do that quite easily on simple torque-n-go system just by tightening your crank on the bike- and never even know. Now, like SRAM's older cranks, you can achieve this with preload washer on the cranks that allows for 2-3mm's of tolerance differences.
Sure, pinch bolts may not be the right answer, but a preload system that pinch bolts brings is one way of doing it. I personally prefer the collar style that Cinch uses, without the use of pinch bolts.
  • + 0
 @jflb: "Mountain bike cranks use a tapered press fit."

This is true.

We are in 1990, right?
  • + 8
 They are sexyyyyy
  • + 32
 Like everything DMR makes Big Grin My vault's are prettier than most of the people on tinder o.O
  • + 4
 *vaults - sorry guys
  • + 9
 @medievalbiking: the bearings will be just as loose as any tinder girl after a few months aswell Wink
  • + 1
 @jaysimp93: I have run two different sets of vaults over the last six years and never had an issue with the bearings.
  • + 0
 @Jokesterwild: Maybe they dont like english conditions lol
  • + 1
 @jaysimp93: well the north shore isn't dry...
  • + 3
 Mine run great after a couple of years, I just need to stop smashing them on rocks
  • - 1
 @Jokesterwild: is it as wet as you?
  • - 2
 @jaysimp93: are you as retarded as you seem?
  • + 1
 @therealtylerdurden:

Unlike this:

"but the Brit's"

from the second line of the article...
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: What is that in regard to?
  • + 2
 no mention of how the the cranks preload works, which eliminates spindle play. This is one of the most important features of cranks i look for. The preload can't be cintzy! also, i can't stand aluminum chainings because they wear out very fast. Does this manufacture offer a steal chaining?
  • + 2
 hollow form .
How about what type of forging are they. near net forged perhaps?
What type of aluminum 6000 or 7000 series.
How much $ for replacement chain ring?
Details please.
  • + 2
 It is nice to see more options on the market. I think these would look nice with a dull matte finish, and more toned down graphics. And custom color bolts.
  • + 3
 Every time, I mean EVERY time I see DMR....I bust out signing "stop, drop, roll."lol
  • + 13
 You have a lot of friends who are deaf?
  • + 3
 worth it for the graphics
  • + 2
 When will companies learn to make a neutral crank that works with any color scheme. Color it up with a chainring or booties
  • + 3
 shimano? saints always look sexy on bikes haha
  • + 2
 So, rebranded Praxis cranks then?
  • + 2
 no steel inserts

30/28 BB

really?
  • + 3
 put the pedal in straight and you don't need steel pedal inserts lol
  • + 2
 They look great and super resistant ????????????????????????????????
  • + 2
 arms looks strong
  • + 0
 No, you may not axe me if I have some crank for sell. I don't speak Walmart and that sh#t kills.
  • - 1
 Crank flex? hahahaha whats next, brake pad flex?
  • + 2
 more noticeable in BMX obviously, but crank flex is definitely a thing. huge difference in stiffness between a SLX and Saint
  • + 3
 @DJDrysdale406: Yea, nobody talks about crank arm twist in mtb. I guess cause it's not really perceptible when mixed in with the frame flex, and lower tire pressure that mtbs have. I had Saint cranks on my race cruiser temporarily till I got a set of Profiles, and the difference was shocking. It felt like instant power transfer and acceleration. The Saints felt mushy in comparison.
  • + 2
 @mecabeat: You're right, I don't really notice it on my trail bike either. My BMX and Track though, it's very obvious when I feel my cranks twist and flex.
  • + 1
 @mecabeat: if you want to ride some stiff cranks get the Box Vector cranks. once again it's a Praxis crank tweaked and re-branded, but they're stiffer than anything else you'll find and they're way lighter than profiles
  • + 0
 RF Sixc all the way
  • - 2
 Slx arms saint bb...perfect combo
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