Race Face has completely redesigned their Next SL carbon crankset for 2014. Inside we take a look at the new Next SL carbon crankset that features their Cinch (modular) design that makes it quite easy to adapt to a wide variety of bikes and ring configurations.
Words / Photos : Jason Nixon
Introducing the lightest production carbon crankset on the planet. Proudly designed, tested and manufactured in our Canadian facility with US sourced carbon and aluminum. NEXT SL combines proven Race Face proprietary hollow arm technology with our new ‘Cinch’ interface. Imagine interchangeable spiders, limitless ring combinations, a 30mm alloy spindle and compatibility across all relevant frame standards. Quite possibly the most versatile crankset you will ever own. –Raceface.com
The 2014 Race Face Next SL is a beautiful carbon crankset aimed at the XC/Enduro/Trail rider. At the heart of this new crankset is their Cinch system that allows you to swap axles, direct mount chainrings, bash guard, 2x/3x spiders (64/104 , 80/120 BCD), endcaps, and more on the 30mm spindle.
If you’re worried about fitting a 30mm spindle in your traditional BSA 68/73 bottom bracket, fear not as Race Face offers a BSA 30 bottom bracket and tool (sold separately).
If you’re after a Press Fit bottom bracket option (such as PF30), Race Face also sells one to fill your needs there. The cups used here are metal in their design. A lot of manufacturers typically are only a plastic setup for their press-fit bottom brackets. Both designs have their merits but the metal interface seems designed for longevity. The plastic setups can be cheaper, lighter, can reduce any creakiness, but are less likely to damage a frame. Additionally they are geared more towards one and done application as re-usability is not really an option as the plastic cups will be damaged upon removal.
The installation of the cranks is straight forward and the instructions we felt were pretty clear in a nice color diagram. The non-drive side crankarm generally houses the spindle (the spindle can be removed however) and an adjustment collar spins to reduce any spindle play with a 2mm allen used to snug it up once the driveside crank arm is screwed firmly onto the axle.
We’ve had good luck with this the Race Face system but tend to really love the Shimano implementation for alloy cranksets. In this carbon fiber crankset application it makes sense that the Shimano system can’t easily be used however.
Moving back into the Race Face details, one of the really nice things about the Cinch system we feel is in its modularity.
Options for the Cinch setup allow the NEXT SL to be offered with a multitude of options. All of these options you can swap in-between (except for the obvious crankarm length) as well should the need arise.
Bottom Brackets: BB92, 68/73 BSA, 100mm BSA, PF30
Spiderless Direct Mount Chainring with their narrow-wide rings (26,28,30,32,36,34T) (10 & 11 speed compatible)
The Race Face narrow-wide direct mount chainirng has CNC machined steps in the chainring that allow it to hug the chain more closely to improve chain’s grip on the chainring.. SRAM’s latest 11speed XX1 / X01 components feature a similar implementation. It is designed to work best with 11speed drivetrains.
A big selling point for us is the dedicated direct-mount chainring setup they offer but if you’re after a bashguard setup or triple, this system can accommodate that as well (specific tooth options listed above).
Additionally along with the flexibility of chainring setup, it is also possible to use a longer spindle for seasonal bikes (e.g. Fat Bikes) that you may not be able to justify spending big money on exclusively.
The Cinch system uses a traditional ISIS-tool and lockring that secures the spider or chainring onto the Next SL carbon crankarm in a clean fashion. I never thought my Park BBT-22 would see the light of day again after the days of Octalink/ISIS seemed to pass but it’s back!
With a dedicated single ring setup there is no un-necessary spider to deal with that can get flogged with dirt. This should help reduce cleaning times and cervices that debris to hibernate in. Flex is also minimized since the chainring is integrated into a spider and there’s no tiny torx bolts to come loose to name a few additional benefits. Typically a chainring design has to try to meet weight targets on the chainrings as well as being stiff enough to not wobble under power but Race Face is able to avoid some of these hurdles as they can design the chainring and spider as one unit.
The problem with that is chainring longevity and stiffness can suffer making for a poor performing / lasting drivetrain. With the spider integrated into the ring itself it’s a lot easier to design a robust system if you’re going into it knowing only one ring is needed. A dedicated 1x setup has a lot of advantages going for it and you can add this to the growing list of benefits.
Next SL box contents are ordered based on your needs (bottom bracket excluded)
Weight wise, the Carbon Next SL also clearly bests a lot of the competition. Shimano XTR, Sram XX1, and others are heavier from our comparisons of verified weights. It’s hard to do a direct comparison to just weigh the arms as the competition includes their chainring spider in their weights as most of them are integrated.
The crank arms are completely hollow with all unnecessary material being removed from the centre core – no internal aluminum spine. Industry standard 30mm spline interface CNC machined from a newly commercialized aluminum super alloy that is 20% stronger than 7050 alloy – raceface.com
To assist in protecting your crankset, Race Face also includes some booties for it. Currently the crank boots are available in 7 colors to pick from as well but black are typically included in the box. We’ve found the boots also work on a variety of other manufacturers cranks like SRAM so if you’re looking to protect the ends of your crankset these might be the ticket at $9.99. Race Face lists a compatibility list of even more cranks from SRAM/Shimano / FSA.
Next SL – Dual Ring and Triple Ring Setup : $599.99
Next SL – Single Ring Setup with a Direct Mount Chainring : 499.99
Next SL – Fatbike (Arms only) – $459.99
CINCH Spider – (2x or 3x) – $59.99
Direct Mount CINCH Chainring – $69.99 for 26-28-30t and $74.99 for 32-34-36t
BSA 30 – 68/73 mm Bottom Bracket – $59.99
PF 30 Bottom Bracket – $59.99
BB 92 Bottom Bracket – $59.99
Overall the new Next SL carbon crankset is impressive and we’ll be mounting them up to a few bikes throughout the year to test them out further. It stands to reason that this new CINCH system is the way forward for crank systems Race Face. It offers some future-proofing to their products as well as giving riders the ability to pick and choose their setup easily without fear of obsolesce.