As you can see from the photograph, I was able to get a red anodised spider, red anodised chainring bolts and red self-extracting bolts. So far the whole package has held together very well, but I did discover after about 20 miles the chainring bolts needed a tickle just to make sure everything was nice and tight.
After a very easy installation (as almost all chainsets are!), I went for a spin on them. I noticed almost immediately how stiff they felt (although I'm also putting this down to an alloy frame), with very little flex felt at all.
I set the front mech as close to the rings as possible as I've found that this helps create a very fast shift, so I was very surprised to note how fast the shifts were - I hadn't got through a half push on the shifter before the chain was already on the next ring - downshifts were just as fast (I've found setting the mech spring to a stiffer position helps with the downshift).
The chainset has now had about 500 miles use and in all fairness it has been primarily middle and big ring use, the shifting isn't quite as crisp as it was - which I'm putting down to cable stretch - as the shifting is still more than adequate, although the inside of the middle and big rings are showing some scuffing.
As is the case with most things off-road I have had a couple of scrapes of the big ring on the usual suspects - rocks and roots but I can honestly say that the rings have sustained no damage at all and are still running very straight - which I'd hope to be the case with all chainsets with only 500 miles on them!
I'm using Shimano SPDs and the installation was a breeze, the threads seemed to be very sharp and smooth and the pedals have stayed tightly on the cranks since they were first installed. I have noticed however that the non-drive side crank is making a creaking noise when I apply pressure on it, I think a simple removal, clean of the taper with some meths and re-install should do the trick - if not I'll apply a very thin film of Cooperslip to the taper and hope for the best!
I have spoken to Middleburn about the creak and they were surprised it was the non-drive side as most of the calls have been from the spider creaking - the remedy according to Middleburn is to tighten the spider - I've had no problems whatsoever with the drive side crank. Middleburn suggested some PTFE tape or Copperslip on the taper as they said that machined cranks sometime don't mate 100% with 'normal' Bottom Brackets (in this case a Shimano UN-72) but they get a 99.9% mating. Middleburn also recommended a 107mm axle length but I am using a 110mm axle and find that the rings wouldn't clear my frame if using the 107mm length.
So overall I'm really impressed with these cranks and rings, the cranks look very nice from a distance - they are shaped and really stand out (in a crank arm sort of way!) and in close-up inspection you notice the scalloped inside and realise what lovely works of art these are. Both cranks and rings seem to be very durable, stiff and long-lasting (going on the face value of appearance after 500 miles as well as other riders feedback on them). I have heard of some really heavy riders i.e. dirt jumpers, breaking them but for normal riders - folk who ride whatever is out there without too much slant on heavy landings or silly amounts of air, these cranks are superb.
In summary, I would recommend these cranks and rings to anyone and everyone, however I do think the price puts them out of reach of the 'younger' riders who crave hand crafted bits of kit but don't have the wallets to match their taste. However as every youngster finally grows up, these should be on the wish-list of evreyone who has a wallet that can afford them.
If you are interested in these products, Middleburn can be reached on - 01420 23832, or visit their website at www.middleburn.co.uk
I'm going to give this product 4.5 out of 5 as the price is quite high - comparable to other high-end cranks/chainsets but still not in the reach of everyone (which does allow a certain element of exclusivity!). Nice cranks that seem to be performing no matter what the conditions are.