SYSTEM EX CRANKSET

Long Term Test (15 months) 669g  £59.99 

The System EX track crankset is a nicely executed, wallet friendly option for older, road-biased fixed gear; or single speed projects.

 

Sixty quid is pretty low rent for cranks these days. In this instance, it buys cold forged 6061, 170mm arms and 44tooth ring. 170mm arms may alienate shorter/taller than average riders and on the one hand, this is clearly a cost cutting exercise.

That said; I have a 33.5 inch inseam and find longer can ground when cornering hard-say at roundabouts or through sweeping bends. This is especially true of road-fixer conversions, with lower slung bottom bracket shells.

At this price point, finishes tend to be anodised or painted. System EX offer the track in black or white powder coat, which is a great for those who just want to churn through winter’s slushy, salty grot.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover ours was polished. With periodic polymer waxing, regular exposure to the salt monster hasn’t left any unsightly calling cards. 

44 teeth is a similarly sensible default. 40, 42 and 46 are the brand’s aftermarket alternatives. In any case, 130 bcd is relatively popular, so sourcing a 48 (for flat terrain or TTs) shouldn’t prove particularly taxing either.  

   

Being pedantic, detailing around the inner spider and tapers isn’t quite so impressive but better than I’ve seen on some long established European competitors commanding similar cash.

Speaking of which, 107mm axle lengths are almost default among this genre and proved optimal on track/traditional road framesets but chainline and Q factor proved impeccable despite my cross inspired fixer’s broader chainstays and 110mm host. 

 

Firmly in middleweight territory at 669g, lateral stiffness is excellent by square taper standards. Powering away from the lights; or along long, steep gradients with my full 70 kilos dancing on the pedals, it’s never felt whippy, or otherwise detracted from my winter/trainer’s punchy, rewarding persona. 

While other factors, including chain quality play a part, the accurately machined rings’ stiffness certainly help. No hint of squirm under transmission braking, or tight spots- just that meditative, almost symbiotic relationship between rider and machine. 

Ultimately, at this end of the market and for a working bike, the System EX hits the sweet spot between cheap and cheerful perfectly.  

Nice to use, it’s not too pretty, or expensive that freshly gritted roads, or locking up in the street induces an attack of the vapours. 

I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand for entry-level/junior track builds either. However, more experienced or powerfully built riders, seeking an old school set up are better off spending a bit extra. How much? Well, Stronglight Track 2000 comes in at £95, has a choice of crank lengths and is markedly stiffer. https://www.greyville.com/products/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&criteria=Stronglight+2000 

Michael Stenning

Verdict: 4/5 Cheap but extremely cheerful crankset recommended for winter fixed gear and single speed builds. 

www.extrauk.co.uk

 

PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2016

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