Race Face Next SL 2014 Crank Set: First Impressions -by c_g
While sharing the same name, the 2014 Next SL is a completely new design and built on a completely modular basis – meaning you can swap and exchange any part you want. RACE FACE calls this the CINCH SYSTEM and it currently is only available with the Next SL (but we bet this will trickle down to other RACE FACE cranks eventually, too). The CINCH system serves almost every current bottom bracket standard, allows you to run and exchange for any chain ring combination you desire to run (single direct-mount, 2x and 3x in every conceivable tooth count and BCD) and in case you are a fat bike lover – there is the option to order a 100 mm axle, put it on the cranks and run them on your fat bike for the winter months. All in all it is one of the most versatile cranks we know.
When pushing hard on those pedals I could not detect even the least bit of crank arm flex. They are super stiff and while I have never had any reason to complain about the current cranks feeling flexy, these do indeed feel even more direct. I may be imagining, but all this put together – the low weight, the great stiffness and the super smooth bearings add up to the bike feeling faster and more efficient than with the original SRAM XX1 cranks I had been running there previously … while still being more than 160 g lighter!
As you know I am running the cranks with the RACE FACE direct-mount chain ring and it hasn’t dropped a chain even once during this test. I am starting to take the narrow-wide tooth concept in conjunction with clutch type rear derailleur to be the real thing – speaking of several such deigns, not RACE FACE in particular :)). The 30t ring is perfect for my winter riding here and has not left me wanting for a wider gearing range. I love it!
Aesthetically there was one problem with our pre-production cranks, which has already been addressed by RACE FACE for the production models: Our cranks had the decals unprotected, so part of them had already been eroded after the first ride (!) already – see images. To keep the investment looking new long term the Next SL production cranks are receiving a protection tape covering the crank arms, just like many other carbon cranks out there, so this should be of no relevance to you anymore. I did the same, simply adding a layer of some clear automotive protection tape and haven´t had any further issues since. While the pricing of these cranks surely is not „budget“, considering they are 100% developed and manufactured in Canada and their weight & modularity (which should enable you to run them on several generations of bikes) – they are by no means overpriced. So three months into the test – we haven´t found even one functional or technical flaw in them so far.
So far the cranks have seen mostly typical XC riding with very few jumps or very technical trails or rock strikes – but as you can conclude from the above they have performed perfectly so far. If this keeps up and we find no long term deficiencies the RACE FACE Next SL cranks are bound to become one of our favorite cranks out there.