Forum home Mountain biking forum MTB general

Why the love for Middleburn cranks?

NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
edited April 2010 in MTB general
I was trying to figure this one out, people keep recommending and buying Middleburn cranks but I can't see why?

OK, you get a lifetime warranty, that's good. You get square taper cranks, which are generally said to be more reliable than HT2 (my experience matches this). But they're not light, and they're not cheap. (claims of lightness just seem to be pure bobbins, the crank arms + spider + a shimano BB weigh in at about 784 without rings, and costs about £150! XT is 850g complete with rings, bolts and BB, and cheaper to boot. So for a triple setup, it's pretty heavy.

The duo setup is lighter, but then, so is XT with no big ring. I can't find a measured weight for the Duo but it seems like it's 556g without BB, so add a UN52 and that's about the same as a full triple XT.

So, what's the big fuss? Aren't they just nichey, expensive throwback parts?
Uncompromising extremist
«1

Posts

  • ilovedirtilovedirt Posts: 5,798
    And don't forget how heavy internal BB's are compared to external ones. I think maybe people like them just because they're a bit bling? Personally i think they're too retro looking for any modern build. I also find hollowtech cranks are much less ball ache than square taper ones, personally. Not sure what the love for middleburn cranks is about tbh, i've never seen anyone using them IRL anyway.
    Production Privee Shan

    B'Twin Triban 5
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I never saw the fascination either. And they simply are not as stiff as hollow arm designs.
  • The SpidermanThe Spiderman Posts: 5,625
    This is a question for the STW forum! :lol:
    2006 Giant XTC
    2010 Giant Defy Advanced
    2016 Boardman Pro 29er
    2016 Pinnacle Lithium 4
    2017 Canondale Supersix Evo
  • benpinnickbenpinnick Posts: 4,148
    I like them because they have a tendency to snap. Oh wait, thats a bad thing isn't it?
    A Flock of Birds
    + some other bikes.
  • magicrhodesmagicrhodes Posts: 123
    I've had Middleburn cranks since 95. I broke a spider and they replaced it FOC and now I have odd colour ones which I love. They were the lightest back then but prob not now. They're a nice bit of bike bling!
  • bomberesquebomberesque Posts: 1,701
    for triple ring setups I couldn't say but when I was speccing my singlespeed I looked comparative weights (as it is a weight weenie build).

    iirc my RS7 uno setup with a titanium ISIS BB is almost as light as an XTR with one ring but cost only a little more than XT at the time. Add the lifetime no strings attached warranty and the only things you need to get past is whether you like the look and (as SS points out) the fact that HT2 cranks are stiffer . although I believe that the gap is narrowed by ISIS. ofc everyone moans about ISIS BB lifespans but they're at least as good as HT2 and the CB one I have has a 5 year warranty on it, although we'll see how well they stand behind that (as I really don't think it will last 5 years).

    btw, Middleburn have recently developed a HT2 compatible crank. Not sure if it's available to market yet but I've seen pics of a prototype ... it was either here or on STW (which I censored , for my sins)
    Everything in moderation ... except beer
    Beer in moderation ... is a waste of beer

    If riding an XC race bike is like touching the trail,
    then riding a rigid singlespeed is like licking it
    ... or being punched by it, depending on the day
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    This is a question for the STW forum! :lol:

    I'm going to ask there and see if I get the same answers, I think I might get lynched though :lol:
    Uncompromising extremist
  • VWsurfbumVWsurfbum Posts: 7,881
    my mate runs them on his HT handbuilt rock lobster, he thinks its the bees knees, i like the look of them but once you weigh them against modern HT2 its just not worth it, if that HT2 compatable crank comes out then it will be really interesting,
    i like the ratio's he has, not quite granny- not quite road.
    Kazza the Tranny
    Now for sale Fatty
  • SarnianSarnian Posts: 1,451
    I have a very battered one laying around In the shed, did me well about 5 years ago before HT2 came about. fd
    It's not a ornament, so ride It
  • schmakoschmako Posts: 1,982
    Had the middleburn chainrings on my old xt cranks, they were awesome. Much more longevity than the shimano ones.
  • theblendertheblender Posts: 201
    I like them because they made me some 160mm cranks in black with a blue spider for my sons bike, gert lush I tell you.....
  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    If they were half the price they would have quarter the sales.
    Fig rolls: proof that god loves cyclists and that she wants us to do another lap
  • HebdenBikerHebdenBiker Posts: 787
    Yep - they're a bit nichey and cool. Going back to 1994ish Middleburn really were the height of "trickness" :lol: but, as others have said, the design is dated now in terms of weight and style.

    One day I will build a nice steel HT and put some MB cranks on it. Middleburn sums up British manufacturing quite well: "Outdated, expensive and the Chinese do it better, but it's OURS" :D
  • switchback18switchback18 Posts: 617
    edited March 2010
    I like them for the guarantee. I actually use ISIS ones! People will laugh, but there are a few ISIS BB's that last really well. I went through too many external bearing sets* that I decided on a step backwards and these seemed like a decent option. They were cheap on Activesport I think.

    One thing I've never got is the talk about crank stiffness. Can anyone actually tell? Even when I was a fair bit heavier I never thought any half decent crank set felt any different to any other. And I ride out of the saddle a lot.

    I'm also not obsessed with lightness. Strength is a bit more important, so a lifetime guarantee seems like a good indication, although having said that I reckon a pedal generally has to be the weak link rather than a crank arm

    *[edit] Yes, the BB shell was faced
  • .kyle.kyle Posts: 12
    I've got the RS8 crank on my new XC bike. Absolutely love the look of them

    Yes I could have gone for a lighter setup, but I wanted to support a British company.
  • Seem to remember reading they're doing a HTII type soon. Might interest people who want lighter weight.
  • warpcowwarpcow Posts: 1,448
    External BB version has been out for a few weeks now seemingly (since it's already been mentioned: check STW :wink: ).

    I have an RS7 on my 1x9 and an SLX triple. Stiffness isn't something I've really noticed, they both do what they should. I like the fact that Middleburns are so versatile and the BBs last forever (changed mine for the first time last year after 10yrs of abuse). They're British (sort of) too, which is nice.

    Tbh the weight isn't too much of an issue either. If I changed my lockons for a foam grips, then that's probably the difference between the RS7s and XTs right there.

    Then there is the nicheness. I'll admit that I like being one of only 2 people I've ever met who run them here in Sweden.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Going from a square taper LX chainset, to a HT2 set up - was an amazing difference in stiffness! With the former you could see and feel the cranks bow inwards under hard efforts.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    warpcow wrote:
    Tbh the weight isn't too much of an issue either. If I changed my lockons for a foam grips, then that's probably the difference between the RS7s and XTs right there.

    I've not seen the numbers for a fully built crank- middleburn don't publish them afaik- but I doubt that's the case. Unless you're comparing your single to a triple? Depends on the BB of course, some are heavier than others. But tbh I could accept "Not too much heavier" if it wasn't also so much more expensive.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • lesz42lesz42 Posts: 690
    supersonic wrote:
    Going from a square taper LX chainset, to a HT2 set up - was an amazing difference in stiffness! With the former you could see and feel the cranks bow inwards under hard efforts.


    went from square taper Alivo chainset to deore (m590) ride does feel different, more rough


    guess less movement/flex in the arms?
    Giant Trance X0 (08) Reverb, Hope Hoops 5.1D, XT brakes, RQ BC, Works Components headset 1.5
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Suspension cranks!

    It could be a reason I suppose. I ride a very stiff frame anyway - the bike just rockets forward now.
  • bomberesquebomberesque Posts: 1,701
    All this talk of middleburn cranks being heavier yet more expensive than XT so I got my geek head on and looked it up....

    From weigth weenies;

    RS8 XC (triple) 175 mm 22/32/44 - 601g
    Crank Bros cobalt Ti - 185 (steel is 234g)

    Total 786g with a Ti BB, 835g with a steel one

    Deore XT FC-M770 175 mm 22/32/44 863g incl BB
    XTR FC-M970 (1997) 175 mm 22/32/44 786g incl BB

    No-one lists the RS7 in triple but the difference is the arms afaik so;

    RS7 arms are only about 20g heavier so RS7 in 3 ring setup is only 20g heavier than XTR when paired with a Ti BB and actually a hair *lighter* than XT when paired with a steel BB

    MSRP (discounted) prices from CRC

    M770 (XT) - 180 (140) Euro
    M771 (XTR) - 385 (310) Euros
    Middleburn XC - 272 (230) euros (remember you're getting middleburn rings with that)
    Cobalt Ti - 192 (55 :shock: )
    Cobalt Steel - 70 (22)

    So, while the price lies between XT and XTR, when looking at street prices at least, so does the weight so just why does everyone keep insiting on calling them heavy? plus remember you're getting middleburn rings and a BB with 5 year warranty (ISIS may not have the best longevity, but it's better than HT2 and I don't know an HT2 that has lasted 5 years yet.

    I think they deserve some love, myself.
    Everything in moderation ... except beer
    Beer in moderation ... is a waste of beer

    If riding an XC race bike is like touching the trail,
    then riding a rigid singlespeed is like licking it
    ... or being punched by it, depending on the day
  • warpcowwarpcow Posts: 1,448
    Damn you bomber, I was just reaching for the credit card when I noticed the Cobalt Ti was ISIS only :evil:
  • bomberesquebomberesque Posts: 1,701
    warpcow wrote:
    Damn you bomber, I was just reaching for the credit card when I noticed the Cobalt Ti was ISIS only :evil:

    :D should have bought an ISIS crank then, Middleburn make 'em :D

    5 year warranty aswell..... can't imagine an ISIS BB lasting that long, see how well they stand behind it when the inevitable happens
    Everything in moderation ... except beer
    Beer in moderation ... is a waste of beer

    If riding an XC race bike is like touching the trail,
    then riding a rigid singlespeed is like licking it
    ... or being punched by it, depending on the day
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    edited March 2010
    Crank Bros cobalt Ti - 185 (steel is 234g)

    Total 786g with a Ti BB, 835g with a steel one

    So, while the price lies between XT and XTR, when looking at street prices at least, so does the weight so just why does everyone keep insiting on calling them heavy?

    I'm pretty unconvinced by that weight for the full triple, Middleburn claim 416g for the 2010 model Isis arms alone, no rings, bolts or spiders. A 3-ring set, also from weightweenies, comes in at 139g. The spider is 58g. 31g for the crankbolts, 21g for the ring bolts,(Middleburn's weights) so that alltogether comes in about 66g above the weightweenies weight- which is from 2003 so I think might well just be a little out of date.

    On price, I noticed that you can't actually buy the triple at that price, it's out of stock. £250 on the nose from CRC if you want slickshift rings, which obviously you do. Plus £20 for the crank bros steel BB if you want it, so £270, for a crank which seems to weigh 901g all in. Or, about 850g with the titanium BB for an extra £30 or so.

    Now, XT M770 is around the 860g mark- some WW listings are a bit higher, the claimed weight is 853g, leaving aside one very high measurement the average is about 860g. SLX is lighter than 900g for that matter. £120 for XT, £90 for SLX. M970 XTR is somewhere between 750g and 800g depending on who you believe- current claimed is 747g but the last weight weenies weight in 2008 was 800g- and can be had for £255

    So yeah, that looks like expensive and heavy to me.

    Oh, also that ISIS BB doesn't seem to come in 118mm? One last comment, Middleburn's guarantee while good does NOT cover threads,tapers or splines. So you're covered if you break them, but not for some of the common failure modes of a ST/ISIS crank.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Plus we have the issue of stiffness.
  • bomberesquebomberesque Posts: 1,701
    Northwind

    if you want to quote weight weenie figures then you really should be graceful enough to accept them.

    whatever, I like mine and find it comparably stiff in ISIS form to an XT HT2 (which I have 2 of, I do like the XT, don't get me wrong there.) I do think the HT2 is stiffer, but marginally so (and so not sure if that's real or juat perceived)

    remember also how long the RS7 has been about. If you want to make the point that XT today is as light as Middleburn then you must conceded that middleburn got there (what 10?) years ago and the industry is only now catching up

    on pricing, All I can say is when I bought mine I got it from CRC in Uno form with a steel BB (since upgraded if that's the word to the Ti one as the price was so good) compared with XT, but then XT did spend a while where Shimano were charging a fortune for them (after the GBP crash I expect) plus I would have stripped off 2 rings from the XT and put them in the spare parts bin anyway so that may have skewed my judgement at the time
    Everything in moderation ... except beer
    Beer in moderation ... is a waste of beer

    If riding an XC race bike is like touching the trail,
    then riding a rigid singlespeed is like licking it
    ... or being punched by it, depending on the day
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    If you want to make the point that XT today is as light as Middleburn then you must conceded that middleburn got there (what 10?) years ago and the industry is only now catching up

    That is not quite true, the Octalink XT chainset triple was just 617g (with all bolts), and some versions the XTR octalink well below 600g for a triple.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    if you want to quote weight weenie figures then you really should be graceful enough to accept them.

    I did :? If you go just off claimed weights Shimano comes out massively ahead, WW closes the gap a lot for Middleburn. But you can't take it as gospel, most are now pretty old and some are just plain wrong. I'm taking Middleburn's current claimed weights over WW in general because they're so much newer, but the only reason I'm taking WW over Shimano is that it paints a worse picture for Shimano not a better one. But even with the worst weights on there they still do well.

    I think it's probably true that the RS7 was a great option in the past though, wouldn't argue with that myself, but it seems like they've stood still for an awfully long time.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • bomberesquebomberesque Posts: 1,701
    I'm like a moth to the flame with this thread....

    [lights up peace pipe for a final round]

    My point is that all my figures were WW numbers but you're right ofc, there's little verification (for example; what rings were on the RS8 XC I quoted? it doesn't say) I chose the most recent model in each case, which for the RS7/8 I would think make little difference but for XT/XTR they update every year it seems.

    I must admit I've been thinking about this overnight, this didn't start off as a XT vs Middleburn *fight* thread but that's what it's turned into. It started with you asking why people like middleburn and as such what I've said stands. However, as we've morphed into XT vs Middleburn, in a straight choice for a triple ring I suppose the pros and cons would be as follows;

    Middleburn Pros
    Better rings (although actually XT rings are pretty good I think)
    Lifetime , unlimited use guarantee (on the RS7, the RS8 has some use restrictions on the guarantee but is still lifetime)
    Better BB life (although not really a credit to the crank itself, but even cheap ISIS BBs tend to last a year and the cobalt ones are guaranteed for 5, UN71s will survive the bomb)
    Buy British (if it bothers you)
    Looks (depends on your tastes)

    Middleburn cons
    (arguably) weight. It's either just lighter or just heavier than XT with a steel BB
    (Unaguably) cost it's 100GBP+ more expensive than XT
    looks (depends on your tastes)
    stiffness (dep on BB choice, with ISIS I don't think this is a problem)

    So, you need to decide if you'll pay an extra hundred or so for the pros list

    at the end of the day I bought a new triple ring crank for Mrs B's Blizzard 4 weeks ago and in the current market I chose an XT. Current pricing definitely favours XT however I would still choose a middleburn for SS use, the uno solution is so simple, I love it.

    as for standing still, that is a fair accusation and on that note, they have a HT2 compatible version out later this year afaik.

    And SS, Octalink passed me by, sorry for missing it!

    [/passes pipe]
    Everything in moderation ... except beer
    Beer in moderation ... is a waste of beer

    If riding an XC race bike is like touching the trail,
    then riding a rigid singlespeed is like licking it
    ... or being punched by it, depending on the day
Sign In or Register to comment.