Why, Sugino…why?

Of late, the Devil–which I’ve been running single-speed in commuter/all-rounder trim since the thawing of the ground–has developed a mystery noise.

It’s not a rattle, a squeak, a creak, or what have you. It was more of a twangy buzz, intermittent whether I was pedaling or not.

Last night, I finally tracked it down. A loose crank bolt, combined with some grit and the particular combination of a single chainring and a BBG chainguard on a Sugino XD2 crankset. Not the usual loose-crank-bolt sound, but there you go.

But here’s the real problem…

Sugino XD2
Sugino XD2

See what I’m talking about? This is a 110BCD five-bolt crank. But where’s the fifth bolt, you ask?

Yep, it’s behind the crank arm, which requires that it be inserted backwards to get it to work at all. And that still leaves barely enough room to get any kind of tool in there to hold the back of the crank bolt pair so that it can be tightened or loosened.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I love these cranks. I own four sets of them, three of which are in current use. The fourth is slated for my wife’s new, about-to-be-built Soma Saga. They’re good looking, functional, and versatile.

But why the hell–besides some misguided aesthetic notion, that is–would you put a crank bolt in a place that makes it–while not impossible–very difficult to tighten or loosen?

Why, Sugino?

4 thoughts on “Why, Sugino…why?

  1. Four of my six bicycles have Sugino cranks. They are good, long lasting, dependable cranks that don’t break the bank. I have to agree with you on the hidden crank bolt though. I never understood that design. On the other hand, I’ve never had a problem installing or un-installing the chain rings from the crank. A large flat head screwdriver placed in the back of the crank bolt and then leveraged against the back side of the crankarm always does the trick for loosening or tightening.

  2. Yep, that’s how I do it too. I’ve even considered re-grinding an old flat-head screwdriver for just this purpose, to make it that much easier.

    But here’s the thing: the fact that we can do it doesn’t make it any less dumb.

  3. Campy did it long ago and thenTom Ritchey did it first for a 110 mtb crank (and had them manufactured by Sugino) and he is truly responsible for some of our best hardware innovations. The reason is typically cites as additional stiffness in the chainring and/or crank arm, and possibly lower weight since the arm and one fifth of the spider shared metal. This of course make no sense today on any square taper crankset since outboard BB cranksets are way stiffer than any square taper model and folks riding square taper cranksets (like me) nowadays are looking more for aesthetics than performance or low weight. Also, the current SRAM Red crankset also has a bolt behind the arm. Meanwhile, I recall similar Sugino cranks did not have the hidden bolt in the past… See: http://www.bikepro.com/products/cranks/ritchey.html

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