The Sexiest Crank Arms Ever Made
A grand for a set of crank arms. No chainring. No bottom bracket. A thousand dollars for 410 grams of titanium. Two arms and a bolt to hold them together. There are no moving parts, there's no monkey motion, no kinematics, pedaling platform, damping, or even dampening. They won't make you faster—actually, you'll forget they're even there.
But they'll be there. Day after day, year after year, bike after bike, smashing sandstone back into sand. No pansy booties or pedal washers required.
That's because Cane Creek's eeWings are made out of titanium, the original gangster of exotic materials. Titanium had bike nerds drooling long before carbon even met fiber, and in all that time it hasn't lost an ounce of its allure.
No other material has had such everlasting wow factor. Perhaps that's why in a sea of carbon and aluminum, the one and only titanium crank on the market is going for a cool Cleveland.
There's nothing at all practical about this pair of crank arms, other than their complete and utter utilitarianism. They're not forged in a Japanese smelter using top-secret technology, or layed up in a clean room using highly guarded techniques. The eeWings are made from metal and welded together with beads you can see, and they're finished with Scotch-Brite. Mountain bike cranks have literally never had welds.
Forget for a second how ti-tantalizing they are. Forget that memorizing glow. Imagine they're chromoly and painted black. They'd look like a BMX crank, right?
Next to the newest Shimano XTR crank, the eeWings look like unfinished prototypes. The XTR cranks are sleek and beautiful. They have an unreasonably nice level of finish. Oh, and they retail for $420 without a chainring and bottom bracket, the same way the eeWings come. XTR—Shimano's top-tier—for less than half the price of eeWings. And you can pick up a set of SRAM's latest and greatest, lightest ever, XX1 Eagle DUB cranks, with a chainring, for $515.
So why should you even consider getting these crank arms?
You shouldn't. You should buy a pair of Truvativ Stylo crank arms, with ring, for one-tenth the price and put the other $900 in the bank. Because it's just a crank after all, and you literally cannot feel the difference.
If you choose to ignore my sound financial advice, though, here's what makes the Cane Creek eeWings rad: They're light, they're strong and they're timeless. And they’re another thing that starts with ‘Ti.’
If lightweight is what you're after, go ahead and pick yourself up a SRAM XX1 crank. It's wicked light, and comparatively speaking, wicked cheap. XX1 DUB cranks have a claimed weight of 420 grams with a 32-tooth ring. I don't have a pair of these on hand to weigh, but I do have a 32-tooth X-Sync 2 ring, and it's 68 grams. So we're at a theoretical 352 grams for just the arms. Add 32 grams for pedal washers, protective booties, vinyl scuff protectors, sprocket mounting bolts and preload adjuster, which I doubt SRAM weighs the arms with, and we're up to 384 grams, just 26 grams lighter than my set of eeWings. And technically, SRAM recommends them for XC, not enduro, so a more apt comparison would be with X01 DUB, which theoretically comes out to around 435 grams with everything but the chainring, 15 grams more than these titanium beauties, which don't need to be covered in protective crap to keep them pretty.
If strong is what you're after, you might as well grab yourself some Shimano Saint arms. Can't break 'em. They aren't light, but they're really, really strong. And also much less than $1,000. But shoes wear the finish off, and the ends of the arms get all chewed up. A season on the bike will have them looking old and tired.
If you want both light and strong, you have one option. Yup, one single option. For a thousand dollars.
The eeWings are some of the lightest mountain bike cranks in the world. Some of my weights are theoretical, but the differences we're talking about here essentially come down to the weight of a wet fart. The things are light. And they're strong. At least they claim to be, both in impact resistance, and stiffness. We don’t have a lab to test that kind of stuff, but Cane Creek does, and they show some pretty neat stuff in a goofy video they made.
I don't break cranks, though, so the toughness I really appreciate about the eeWings is the finish. I'm already wearing the logos off the arms, but I'm not one for logos anyway, so I'll be happy when they're gone. When my shoes polish the brushed titanium, or when rocks scratch the surface finish, all I need to do is break out the Scotch-Brite to bring them right back to looking brand new. Finish-wise, they're the strongest cranks in the world, and I don't need a lab to tell me that.
I can't really say the same about the timelessness of the interfaces of the eeWings, because standards change. However, Cane Creek did pick ones that have a really good chance of being around 10 or 15 years from now. The spindle is 30 millimeters in diameter and bottom brackets can be purchased for every shell standard that currently exists. My eeWings are running on a Chris King bottom bracket, in a 73-millimeter threaded shell, and it's been a flawless setup so far.
The chainring mount is SRAM Direct Mount, which is insanely common. SRAM's X-Sync 2 rings are remarkably well made, and most aftermarket rings, aside from Shimano and Race Face, are offered with this mounting interface as well. For anyone concerned, the SRAM X-Sync 2 rings are perfectly compatible with Shimano 11-speed groups, and even the new 12-speed XTR.
Other touches that make these unimaginably expensive crank arms unimaginably nice, include the titanium fixing bolt and washer, as well as a well-done CNC aluminum bearing preload adjuster. This clever little guy can be bought on its own for $30 to replace the chintzy plastic ones that come on other BB30 cranks that are continuously stripping out.
Still, it'd be impossible to actually try to justify spending 1k on these, or any, crank arms. If you buy this crank, your friends will ridicule you, and they will be justified in doing so. You have no excuse. The only acceptable way to answer them when they ask why on earth you got them is, "I had the money and I wanted them—because—look at them."
Here’s that Cane Creek video I was talking about: