Re: [CR]Now: Cranks in general Was: Campagnolo crank breakage?

(Example: Framebuilders:Masi)

Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 09:17:18 -0700
From: "Chuck Schmidt" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Now: Cranks in general Was: Campagnolo crank breakage?
References: <> <>

Archive-URL: From: Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 15:14:26 EDT Subject: [CR]Re: Classicrendezvous digest, Vol 1 #1638 - 18 msgs


Good points (it doesn't offend me at all, but severe Engineering shortcomings? Come on - get real man! :-) ), but I think most people know that lots of brands of crankarms break. Perhaps a visit once again to Damon Rinard's broken crank page is in order. Folks, please see:

You will note that A) many manufacturers' cranks break, and B) the verbage on this page clearly states that these few examples are not meant to imply the only brands that do, or the rates of failure.

If it were possible (which of course it isn't) to generate a valid database of total mileages of crank usage by brand from those days, and then collect all of the failures, tallying frequency of failure and miles per failure from those data, I think you would find that Campy Record arms broke maybe 1% of the time, whereas everyone else's arms broke about 0 -1% of the time (with the vast majority of all of these failures occurring in high-mileage parts). I think today we have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight regarding these cranks.

The Campy stuff generally got used for miles, and often at higher peak loads (particularly the longer arms by the bigger riders), so they broke more often. Yes, the later design with the bumps on the rear reduced the frequency of spider joint failures, but there are many other places where cranks can and do break. Forging voids can occur almost anywhere (you may never see a crack on those - they'll just snap one day). Check for cracks early and often!!!

The Record cranks weren't changed (IMEO) because the failures were all over the place, very low in frequency, and occurred on high-mileage and/or abused parts for the most part. As an Engineer or Manufacturer, how would one "correct" that situation?

With all of that said, I'll be the first to say that Campy R/NR/SR parts had weaknesses - crankarms, headset races that fretted (brinelled) easily, Ti axles that occasionally snapped, etc. That's part of being right at the "leading edge of cutting technology" as the College Recruiters used to say all day long (zzzzzzzz....).

Finally, many on this list have said it before, but some folks also repeatedly break stuff (cranks, spindles, hub axles, frames, etc.). It seems that their strength and pedaling style come into play regardless of who made the crank or frame or whatever.


Greg "175 NR/SR boy*" Parker A2 MI USA (Earth)

*Please keep sending me those NOS & used 175 mm NR/SR cranks, and I'll keep disposing of them properly!
> Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 09:39:33 -0700
> To:
> From: Jan Heine <>
> Subject: [CR]Was: Campy crank breakage, Now: General Campy shortcomings
> Sorry if this offends Campy-fans...
> I have seen a Campy crank break on a friend's bike. He bought the
> crank new, he isn't very strong, he had not that many miles on them.
> This one broke at the spider. He is not even
> The reality is that the cranks were a bad design. Stress relieving
> the spider/arm interface would have helped (can be done by the owner,
> but this should have been done at the factory!), as well as placing a
> little more material in the place where yours broke - or just leaving
> out the nice-looking, but weakening groove. Why this wasn't done over
> the production run of more than 25 years is beyond me. Obviously,
> Campy didn't care. At least until the 1980s, when they finally
> addressed these problems with their non-groove cranks.
> Stronglight cranks were ridden hard by many people, racer,
> randonneurs and others. Especially the randonneurs often put extreme
> distances into a year. Yet the cranks rarely break. I have heard one
> exception: In the early 1950s, Roger Baumann, who went on to win
> Paris-Brest-Paris in 1956 and also set a track 24-hour world record,
> broke all kinds of cranks: Herse, TA and even Stronglight. However,
> Stronglight seems to have lasted best, and he used that for PBP. You
> can read about this in the second issue of Vintage Bicycle Quarterly,
> my newsletter, where I interview M. Baumann about his experiences
> riding for Ren=E9 Herse at the time.
> We should be honest: Campy stuff looks great, is beautifully made,
> has a wonderful history, but also has severe engineering
> shortcomings. Axles that break with alarming frequency, brakes that
> slow you down somewhat, shift levers that slip, headsets that index,
> cranks that break. I have used Campy for years with good results, but
> some careful engineering could have made a 100% product. Instead, the
> money was spent on sponsoring pro racers. It was a good decision -
> look where the people who made superior products at the time ended
> up! (Maxi-Car used oversize axles that don't breaks starting in 1946
> or so, Mafac brakes provided superior stopping power starting in 1956
> or so, Huret shift levers don't seem to have the same propensity to
> slipping, Stronglight headsets - even the older ball-bearing ones -
> don't index as quickly, most cranks don't break unless they are Campy
> NR copies).
> It has to be said that most other component manufacturers were happy
> to copy Campy, but without the quality. So unless you knew where to
> look, you would have been hard-pressed to find something better than
> Campy at the time. But to consider that small operators like Phil
> Wood and Bullseye could take one look at a Campy hub and come up with
> a product that was an improvement (if not perfect, for that, you have
> to go to Maxi-Car) tells you something. You'd think that in the 35
> years since Campy invented the quick release, they'd have got the hub
> design perfected!
> That said, with care and good maintenance, most of these problems can
> be avoided. And the glorious history is there. Just like a Ferrari
> race car - not the most advanced design, but glorious looks and such
> a rich history (pardon my using a car analogy). Finally, the quality
> of Campy stuff always has been beyond reproach (silky smooth
> bearings, beautiful finish), just not the basic engineering.
> Jan Heine, Seattle,
> who has replaced two Campy rear axles this year despite the fact that
> his daily rider uses Maxi-Car! The dropout alignment is perfect on
> both bikes.w