Crank it up


Sealed bearings, a remarkable innovation you don’t even see, represent the greatest advance in bicycle technology from 1994 when the Campagnolo Athena components of the Cloud Bike were made to 2015 when Hugo Black’s Chorus 11 group was manufactured. Sealed bearings were not unheard of in 1996 and the remainder of that decade, century and millennium, but the loose or cage-retained bearings of the Athena group were much more common. Even if meticulously tuned and lubricated the combination of races and cups and bearings reliant on a threaded nut to hold it in perfect adjustment is bound to loosen or tighten one and score those races and cups irretrievably with grooves or pits one. And then there is no maintenance, adjustment or bearing replacement that will make a difference, allow for proper performance. Instead headsets stick, hubs spin rough, cranks catch more than they turn.

Not so with sealed bearings, even more so with advanced-material precision bearings. Turning parts do so more efficiently, more easily yet accurately adjusted and maintenance free. The only maintenance is replacement, but not the entire component – only the sealed bearing ring.

crankarms inside.jpg

The spin is superior.

Chainrings, too, are improved materially and by design. There are more and better ramps built into the larger chainring.

Initially I’d ordered up a compact chainring set, with fewer teeth: The better to eat you with, hills. That went away with the esthetic choice of crankarms – the integrated titanium axle was a bonus – though I stubbornly persisted in my effort to outfit a 50/34 chainring set, the bolt-center diameter is smaller and replacement rings would not fit leaving me with the standard 53/39 combo.


This would prove preferable in practice, entirely because of the wider range of the freewheel cog and its 11 gears.

Realizing this would take a ride. Let’s do that. 

Frame:  1070 grams

Fork:  410

Seatpost:  304

Saddle:  540

Headset:  85

Stem:  155

Handlebars:  269

Levers:  350

Cables and housing:  354

Brakes:  623

Bottom Bracket Cups:  29

Cranks:   585

Running total:  4774 grams, 10.52487 pounds

Brakes:     623

Bottom Bracket Cups: 29

Running total:       4189 grams, 9.235164 pounds