• Shimano Deore LX M752 cranks
  • £69.95
  • Madison
  • 0845 603 4612

Where would we be without cranks? Riding hobby-horses and scooters, that's where. And that would never do. There's been a bit of an explosion in crank development over the last couple of years, with splined bottom bracket interfaces of various kinds and new manufacturing technology making things stiffer, lighter and rather more confusing...

This latest incarnation of Shimano's mid-range LX crank uses their Octalink spined bottom bracket, but just to make things slightly awkward you won't be able to take off an old LX or Deore Octalink crank and pop this new one on. For the 2003 LX cranks require a longer BB axle - if you were running a 118mm axle before, you'll need a 121 for these. That's no big deal, really, as BBs are cheap and likely to need replacing anyway, but it caused a bit of head-scratching for a while until we read the instructions. What with the inner ring colliding with the frame and everything. There's a moral there somewhere.

We like the Octalink system. It's never given us any problems, anyway. The increased stiffness of the crank/BB interface is complemented here by the funkily flared and bulged Hollowtech crankarms themselves. Hollowtech because they're, yes, hollow which means they can be bigger (hence stiffer) without being ridiculously heavy. Which they certainly aren't - Shimano claim 644g, ours weighed 627g, either of which compare very favourably with the (substantially more expensive) XT cranks at a claimed 617g.

It's actually quite tricky to find substantial differences between the LX and XT cranks, and the ones that there are almost work in favour of LX. XT gets one-key release bolts so you don't need a crank extractor to take the cranks off, but LX has rather splendid oversized hollow bolts that let you see right through to the other side. XT has three aluminium chainrings, LX has a steel inner - given the choice we'd take a long-lasting steel inner every time. And LX is grey rather than shiny silver. Any other differences really aren't anything you're going to notice when riding.

The standard ring selection is 22/32/44, which is pretty normal these days. The four-bolt mounting is, again, fairly conventional by now and there are plenty of replacement rings available to fit. Generally other people's rings won't match the shifting smoothness of Shimano's SG-X ramps, cutaways and pins, though.

In use, they're essentially invisible, in a good way - you don't notice them doing anything untoward. Shifting is smooth, they don't wibble about or make funny noises, they just sit there and work. Can't really ask for more...

Verdict: Stiff, light, adequately strong, reasonably priced... Try as we might, we really can't come up with any very good reason not to buy these cranks. If you're looking for crazy XC light or mega freeride strong then you might want to look elsewhere, but for most people these are nigh-on perfect.

Performance: 5/5

Value: 5/5

Overall: 5/5