Race Face have had the Next SL crank in their line for quite some time now. Currently, the cranks are in their fifth design generation. The 428-gram crankset sells for $429.99 USD.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Race Face is a stone's throw away from the famed North Shore and surrounded by some of the best mountain biking in the world. The Next SL cranks are made by hand, in house, with carbon that is sourced from the United States.
The cranks use Race Face's Cinch BB interface and are available in 170mm and 175mm crank arm lengths. They are compatible with both Race Face's SRAM and Shimano 12-speed chainrings which are available separately.
Race Face Next SL G5 Details
• Intended use: XC / Trail
• Carbon construction
• Spindle sizes: 134, 136, 149, 170, 174, 190mm
• BB Compatibility: BB92, 68/73 BSA, PF30 (across various spindle lengths)
• Chainring compatibility: Cinch Direct Mount, 64/104mm Cinch Spider, SRAM and Shimano 12-speed.
• Compatible with Race Face's Cinch power meter.
• Lengths: 170mm, 175mm
• Warranty: 3 years
• Weight: 450-grams (arms, spindle, preload assembly, lockring, 32t chainring, boots)
• MSRP: $429.99 USD (arms only)
Light weight, but at a price - $430 isn't exactly cheap.Construction
This fifth generation of the Next SL is said to be lighter, stiffer, and better in every way from the previous version. Race Face say that they updated and improved the carbon layup and manufacturing process for better power transfer and more stiffness. Riders can run a variety of spindle lengths and have the option of different chainrings/offsets including using a ring from Race Face designed for Shimano's new 12-speed drivetrains.
Race Face say that the design intent for their latest cranks wasn't solely focused on being lighter than the G4 Next SL, but also stronger. The G4 had some issues with strength, especially with the pedal thread inserts pulling through at times and impacts on the ends of the crank arms - this is coming from my personal experience so, logic would indicate that this issue has been addressed in some manner.
The carbon layup in the crank arms now consists of more layers in higher stress areas and according to Race Face, every single designed piece of carbon used in laying up the G5 is new compared to the G4 with the volume of carbon fiber in each zone varying to achieve what Race Face have determined to be the best overall performance. The curing process for the cranks was also changed to increase strength and fatigue performance.
In this development, Race Face made some changes to their testing methods to ensure that the updates to the crankarms netted positive results in real life. In the end, while the weight from the G4 to the G5 only decreased by a couple of grams, the strength of the cranks has substantially increased.
Shimano doesn't make a carbon crankset so the Race Face cranks have become a popular combination for those wanting to use a Shimano drivetrain and then also have carbon cranks. They've also been a common spec from companies recently as Shimano have had issues with delivery of their XTR crankset, something worth noting.Installation
Installing the cranks is a very straightforward process. Riders choose the appropriate Race Face Cinch bottom bracket to fit their bike and follow the instructions. Spacers are included to get the correct spacing for whatever spindle/bb/offset combo is needed.
It is worth noting that you do need a Race Face or 30mm BSA bottom bracket tool if you're installing on a threaded BB, and you'll need the appropriate BB tool for the chainring lock ring as well. While these aren't hard to find tools by any means, they are not necessarily in the toolbox of every home mechanic.
Race Face's Cinch system allows the use of different length spindles and different chainrings for maximum compatibility with different preferences, drivetrains, and chain lines.Performance
The cranks installed and set up as advertised and I've had no issues with creaking, popping, or any untimely bearing wear. There were instances in previous generations where several riders, including myself, had issues with the pedal thread inserts coming loose from the carbon or coming out. This has not been an issue with the latest generation and everything is holding up as it should be.
Deciding that one high-end set of cranks is stiffer than another is a job better left to Olympic athletes and calibrated testing equipment. The Next SL cranks seem every bit as stiff as they need to be, certainly no less stiff than the previous generation, and I have had no complaints with them in that or any regard during my time using them.
Looking at the G5 Next SL compared to SRAM's flagship XX1 Eagle DUB SL cranks, the numbers are close. The Next SL G5 cranks, chainring, and crank boots assembly weighs in at 450 grams, this is a little bit more than the SRAM XX1 Eagle DUB SL kit which tips the scale at 436 grams, also with a chainring. The G5 Next SL cranks cost $430 for the crank arms only. A chainring is going to run you an additional $65,for the 12-speed NW SRAM style chainring or $78 for a 12-speed Shimano ring, and then the BB is about $60. This brings the package total up to a price of $555. The SRAM DUB SL cranks include a chainring and sell for $515 and a BB will cost you $38 more, bringing the total for the SRAM kit to $553...a mere $2 less than the Race Face Next SL in price but with a 14-gram weight savings. At this point, we're splitting hairs and it comes down to brand loyalty and cosmetics.Pinkbike's Take: