Race Face has earned a decent reputation for its cranks over the years, offering lightweight models for XC riders and burly DH friendly versions, and some in between. The release of the all-carbon Race Face Next SL chainset though is a significant step forward in the pursuit of lightness and stiffness. Prototypes have been doing the rounds for a little while, but we’re told that production items will shortly be hitting the shops.
This isn’t Race Face’s first foray into carbon cranks – some years ago it released the Next LP, with thin-wall aluminium arms around a carbon fibre core. With “windows” in the aluminium so you could see the carbon, the Next LP was certainly distinctive, but it was also very expensive and didn’t necessarily deliver a huge performance benefit over the company’s own all-aluminium cranks.
The Next SL is a very different beast, though. For a start, the arms are 100% carbon fibre (if you don’t count the aluminium pedal thread inserts), unlike most other “carbon” cranks that rely on an aluminium core. The long tradition of using “aerospace materials” continues, with the carbon fibre used being the same as that found in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Race Face claim that the Next SL is the “strongest 100% carbon fibre cranks ever made”, although we feel obliged to point out that the all-carbon crank field is not a large one.
At 750g, including chainrings and bottom bracket, you’re certainly not going to describe them as heavy. That’s about 30g lighter than XTR and 50g lighter than Truvativ’s Noir offering.
7075 aluminium chainrings are equipped with the usual array of shift-enhancing ramps and pins, while the revised EXI bottom bracket spline interface promises to give easier installation and removal. Bearings receive new triple wiper seals for better sealing and are factory fitted with Phil Wood waterproof grease.
Next SL cranks will be available with either 170mm or 175mm arms, both with 22/32/44 chainrings. And the cost of all this performance? £369.00…