5Dev came to market around this time last year with a new crankset, the Trail/Enduro Crankset that uniquely has large voids cut in the crank arms. These cranks are eye catching with their unique design and CNC finish, but more than just the look, these cranks have a sound design behind them.
5Dev is short for 5th Axis Development Group, which is part of parent company 5th Axis- a world leader in CNC manufacturing. 5th Axis produces clamps and vices used by machine shops around the world for precision manufacturing. Their shop is in San Diego, CA where they proudly produce all of their manufacturing supplies and bicycle components.
There isn’t a lot of technology that can be applied to a bicycle crank. Your crank arm simply connects your pedal to your bottom bracket, and while there are some key factors that set different crank sets apart, it may be tough for the average rider to notice the difference between the top tier and worst crankset on the market.
Weight, stiffness, ergonomics, durability, and a functional cinching mechanism all contribute to the overall quality of a crankset. Industrial design, or the look of the crank, is also a consideration as it is with many products in the cycling industry. These factors can be of varying degree of importance to each rider depending on the application. Weight and stiffness are easy targets to shoot for- I can’t think of a situation where a heavier crank arm with more flex would be beneficial. Ergonomics seem like they would be simple, don’t irritate the rider’s ankle, but this happens more often than you’d think. Durability is essential on mountain bike cranks. An MTB crank arm is one of the few components that regularly comes in contact with rocks, the ground, and obstacles on the trail. The cinching mechanism of the crankset, or the way it is tightened and aligned in the BB, can bring a lot of trouble when installing or working on your bike.
The 5Dev Crank checks all these boxes for me. At first glance, it’s obvious to see that removing material to produce a lightweight crank was a design objective for 5Dev. The Trail / Enduro crankset, which is what I ride for DH, weighs 525g. For comparison, SRAM XX1 cranks intended for XC or Trail use weigh 433g and their XO1 DH Cranks weigh around 700g. Both SRAM options are carbon fiber. Shimano XTR cranks intended for XC or Trail use weigh 472g and their Saint DH crank weighs 749g. Both Shimano options are forged 6061 aluminum. While weight is important, it’s probably the furthest down on the list for me.
5Dev cranks are stiff by design and material selection. 7075 aluminum alloy is one of the strongest and stiffest alloys for its weight, combine with the triangular braces cut from the crank arm, make for a stiff and responsive crank. Stiffness is hard to quantify into numbers, but the 5Dev cranks feel on par with the stiffest cranks available. 5Dev achieves solid ergonomics using smooth edges and a thin overall crankarm thickness.
Durability is the criteria where the 5Dev cranks punch above their weight. An alloy crank is much more resistant to rock or ground strikes than a carbon fiber crank, and considering their weight and stiffness, the 5Dev crank is much lighter than other alloy cranks of similar durability.
One thing that I have noticed with the 5Dev cranks is how they have removed any extra material around the end of the crank around the pedal threads. When comparing the 5Dev cranks to other cranks on the market, there is significantly less material that extends past the pedal threads. This means that you have more clearance to the ground and therefor strike rocks even less. When comparing to carbon cranks with a crank boots, the 5Dev cranks can be up to 10mm shorter.
The cinch mechanism on the 5Dev crank works flawlessly, which is something I can’t say is a given for all cranksets out there. 5Dev uses a 3 piece design where each crank arm and the spindle are all separate pieces. Upon installation there is an expanding spacer that helps align the crankset in the frame. Tightening both cranks to the right spot, centered, and without drag comes with ease. Removing your cranks can be a pain on some designs leaving crank arms ceased to the spindle or cinch bolts ceased in place. The 5Dev system works great with no issues, which is something that isn’t common to see from a manufacturer outside of Shimano or SRAM.
All things considered, 5Dev offers a crank that delivers across the board. In my experience, they are more durable than any DH specific cranks that I have used. I bent one crank arm in a full season of racing in a situation where any crank arm would have bent. They weigh in at around the mark of cranks intended for much lighter use, and have a no hassle design. Will you notice the difference between these and a pair of $100 NX cranks? Possibly not, and if that’s your stance then these cranks probably aren’t for you. If you want a high end crank that balances weight and durability, are made in the USA and are reasonably priced for what they are, you will not be disappointed with the 5Dev Trail / Enduro cranks.