nice shop bike

nice shop bike
Boulder Bicycle Lugged

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TA Cyclotourist (Pro 5 Vis) Cranks are about to land!

For the few. The proud. The wealthy???????

After months of waiting, and years of hoping, TA Cyclotourist (a.k.a. Pro 5 Vis) crankarms are about to arrive in quantity to the US. These cranks are known for their light weight, their increadible versitility, and very low Q factor.

They are also known for being a bit fussy - to remove the rings, you must remove the arm. And also, the gap between the backside of the crankarm and the chainring is narrow, so use of a modern triple front derailleur is less fun than getting a budget passed in Congress.

So the arms, rings, and hardware will be available for shipment on around May 20th. They are in transit to the US (by air) so we should have them in our shop sometime next week.

Now that your excited - lets talk price. Please read the two paragraphs below which summarize our thoughts on this.

Arm price is $449. Rings, hardware, and kidney sold seperately.

Paragraph one "Such a great deal"
I just looked at the excel sports website - an online retailer of nice racing stuff. A modern Campy record crank in carbon is $625. They make lots of those, and many folks buy them. So they have economies of scale in production. For the TA, demand overall is much lower and it costs more to make something in small numbers. The TA is available in an astounding array of ring and arm lengths. It is also very light (exact numbers not handy), and has very low Q factor. For a high-zoot bike, the TA is priced competitively with other alternatives. There are TA copies out there, but they generally suffer from design or material flaws that compromise their performance. The crank in some ways is the heart of the bike. We should just be thankful that we can get these.

Paragraph two "Are you nuts?"
The past few days I've been riding an old Team 753 Raleigh on go-fast (for me) local rides. The whole bike was $450 at Veloswap. I think there were bikes at Veloswap that had old TA crank (or maybe the similar stronglight) for a couple of hundred bucks. So what that the arms aren't the new design (more gap between outer ring and crankarm). $449 for the arms is a lot. The brand x crank is just a fraction of the price. I'll just polish and wax and maybe sneak that one to the annodizer so it doesn't fail from stress corrosion cracking, and I'll still be ahead a bunch of change. Plus, not everyone benefits from low Q (this is very very true - I myself have less knee issues with higher Q cranks). And if I want a triple shouldn't I be able to have a bike where the front derailleur isn't as fussy as a mid-size pet?

So there you have it. We can argue both sides of the coin. And for good reason. For some high-end ultimate bikes whose owners feel that the attributes of the TA crank are important, this crank is a fantastic opportunity. This must be true as we hear that at the current pricing, lots of these cranks have already been sold. But for others, we readily agree that the price and the crank's attributes might make it seem like an unnecessary indulgence. In fact, since I prefer higher Q, and since I like to be able to easily remove rings for cleaning, this crank makes less sense. To use it, I'd need to space out the pedals.

So which paragraph do you agree with? I think the key thing is that it doesn't matter, but we should respect those with either viewpoint. Or those who agree fully with both viewpoints such as myself.

Mike Kone in Boulder CO USA


  1. Is it that I'm turning into a grumpy and slightly wistful old guy? TA can make what they will and charge what they can get; good for them! It makes me a little sad to see what was once a proletarian crank move quite out of my reach, though.

    The Brand X copy (?) shouldn't be spurned due to a reviewer's comments regarding corrosion, in my opinion. I had a newish left TA arm fail at the spindle hole; a used replacement showed a light crack developing in exactly the same location! I had been under the impression that TA cranks just didn't break: Google revealed that that is just not so.Now that I'm thoroughly hooked on a 28x46 chainring combo, Brand X it is!

  2. I've read some were that the original dies were worn out. So I wonder if this new batch are cold forged or made by a CNC cutter?
    If it's CNC'd, how is the durability and fatigue numbers compared to cold forge?

  3. White Industries VBC is where it's at...

  4. I have the brand x version and it has been fine so far. As much as I like the reviewer he hates everything brand x puts out because he is trying to do the same thing. Anyway if I had way too much money to spend I would buy the a new pair of TA arms but it is out of my pay scale.

  5. Does TA still make a puller for this crank, and will you be carrying it?

  6. Regarding "brand x", the point of a review is to bring to light issues that users might not be aware of. The fact that "Brand X" crank is fine so far is a meaningless point. It is only after a long period of time that stress corrosion cracking can manifest itself. So while multiple brand x users have experienced serious corrosion, it is unlikely that one would fail right away. But over time, that is a different story. The issue is that corrosion follows the grain structure of the metal, and it time leads to a failure. The crank should have been annodized. Note that recently Brand X announced that they are going to annodize their crank. The review most likely motivated them to make this necessary change.

    Mike Kone in Boulder CO

  7. If US$449 was the price for everything it might be reasonable. However when $449 is just for the crank arms, then the same product is for sale in France for somewhat less:


  8. Thank you for this enlightening post! Well, as long as you can afford luxurious stuff, then go for it. What matters most in sports equipment is its quality before the price :)