The 180mm Experiment

Two years ago or so, my Langster arrived with stock Sugino 175mm crankarms. I rode them and they were fine. I rode the piss out of them in fact. And not only were they fine, but I had one of the greatest rides ever on them.

So in classic dumbass fashion, I found a way to take them off my bike and replace them with something else. I sought out a set of SRAM Rival 180mm crankarms, believing that the extra leverage would really help out on some of the nasty extended climbing we see here in NH.

I rode the 180s for well over a season to see what I thought. And then very recently, having re-purposed my old 175s to another bike, I bought and installed a set of SRAM Force 175mm arms to judge the difference going back the other way.

180s. Ugh. All I can tell you is that the difference is tangible. Singlespeed climbing sucks, but every climb sucked more. It just did. At low cadence, everything felt like more work. I had no problem spinning the things, but climbing is all I do, and I never ever felt like these things were some kind of secret weapon. Plus, I could never get the damn play out of the crankarms/bb, in spite of reading the directions.

So recently I went back to 175s. Oh what a relief. I can’t even explain the relief. It has been a year and a half on 180s, and it’s a small miracle going back. Climbing is still hard, but it feels different – it feels better, and that’s as specific as I can get with it.

I completely poached the cranks – got them just as last year’s stuff was turning over. They are really, really nice looking, and as a plus, I ironed the play out of them with minimal effort.

Some say they can’t tell the difference between 175 and 180. I can. It’s certainly worth your time to give it a shot.

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