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
Posted by Mike Kone at 7:34 PM