Winter bike drivetrain upgrade

With the charge now out of hibernation (there’s no way I’m riding a brand new carbon bike over winter!) I thought I’d treat the old girl to a few choice upgrades.

I’ve had the bike 4 years and certain parts were starting to age a little. The drive train was one of them. There’s only so much you can do when it comes to removing chain slack! Removing a link, winding back the chain tensioner, and chucking as much solid type lube on in a vain attempt to stick the rollers in place can only stop a chain from sounding like a plague of squealing mice temporarily.

The Charge’s Middleburn cranks were also cracked, had a massive q factor, and creaked on the bottom bracket ISIS splines, therefore leaving some nice room for improvement. So bit the bullet and started looking into the price of replacement cranks, rings, and chains. And that’s where this tasty little combo came in……


My new setup of Shimano 5800 105 cranks, external BB, and Absolute Black oval narrow wide chainring.

Someone had ruined a set of 105 cranks by well and truly rounding off a pedal into the drive side crank arm. Then instead of giving up they cut the pedal off in a vain attempt to give them something to grip, tried their hardest and finally succumbed to its seized position and chucked the crankset on ebay. Me being the have a go type bid on them and picked them up for just over a tenner, thinking to myself ‘yeah i’ll get that pedal out no problem’. Well, optimistic at best, it wasn’t the easiest of removals. But with a couple of days worth of lube soaking, mixed with a few heating and cooling cycles from the heat gun, I worked the stump out with some water pump pliers. Bingo 5800 105 cranks for next to nothing.

On the scales for the cranks/chainring/bottom bracket there was a nice difference of 140g.

I also took the opportunity to replace chain and freewheel so hunted for some upgrades there as well. swapped out my old KMC rustbeater chain and Sturmey Archer freewheel for a Halo Clickster and KMC 8 speed chain (i bought the Clickster in compatible chain width). Not exactly a huge saving but i’ll take another 30g! It all adds up. 170g from the whole drivetrain is a nice touch.

Now I’ve ridden the bike a couple of times since installing the new parts and have probably covered about 50/60 miles. Initial impressions were good, the chain ring gives a nice feel through the pedal stroke and feels more powerful on the climbs. The freewheel engages super fast as it has double the amount of pickup points over those in the Sturmey. The most noticeable difference is in the reduction of the Q factor of the crankset. The bike feels lots more comfortable and less like a mountain bike!

Since last week the bikes also received a bit of a wheel upgrade. I’ve just had the new Mavic Open Pro UST rims built onto the Profile Racing hubs using Sapim Laser spokes. I reckon I’ve made a saving of around 180g per wheel with this upgrade so looking forward to giving the bike a proper thrashing about in the forest over winter.

I’ll let you know what I think of the Clickster/Abolute black chainring/Open Pro rims when they’ve had a few more miles on them!



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