A first look at some new* stuff out of California locals, Crankbrothers.
A few weeks before Sea Otter, I got an email from one of our guys in the blogoshphere for the Jenson USA Journal about going down to the Crankbrothers headquarters in Laguna Beach CA to get a pulse on some of CB’s new product offerings for this year. You see, Crankbros has been hard at work revamping the internal design for all of their pedal lines as well as releasing a newly designed clipless pedal and a revolutionary new idea in flats, not to mention their Highline dropper post. Of course the internet has been swarming about the product since last August when Crankbrothers showed them off at Eurobike. Now, however all of this product is out on the market for consumers, and everyone wants to get their hands on at least one of these new products. I was stoked to drive down from Jenson USA through Orange County and down PCH to Laguna to get a good look at CB’s headquarters and an even better look at their new products.
I arrived right in time to meet up with Andy Hilliard, the Product Line Manager at Crankbrothers, who showed me around the office. I have to say, their HQ is pretty rad. They are just a few blocks off the beach, in a town full of art culture, surf spots and great trails. The first floor houses a showroom with every make, model and color of Crankbrothers pedals, wheels, and components. Their showroom opens upstairs with a lounge for meet and greets with sponsored riders like Laguna Beach local, and legend, Hans “No Way” Rey, or Anneke Beerten, UCI World Champ in 4x. Then, behind closed doors is where all the magic happens. The Crankbrothers offices are rife with employee bikes, which line the walls. All the important parts of the business are there in Laguna Beach from product design to customer service, although manufacturing takes place in Asia like most of the bike industry. After the quick tour, we got down to business and I was finally able to get my hands on some the new product that CB has to offer.
Highline Dropper Post
First up, and new for this year, is Crankbrothers Highline dropper post. The new post has been completely redesigned from the ground up to replace the company’s last dropper model, the Kronolog. The Highline spent a much more substantial amount of time in development and testing compared to previous models, and Crankbrothers is ready to stand behind their product with a 3 year warranty. The post has a fully sealed and self contained hydraulic cartridge which is actuated by a jagwire shift cable and an all aluminum, paddle type actuation lever. The post’s body and stanchion are sealed by a special Trelleborg seal. The post also uses Igus LL-glide bearings and slotted keys to keep things smooth throughout the product lifespan and pointed in the right direction.
The Highline features 125mm of infinite travel adjustment, a 50mm stack height, and an overall length of 400mm. It has a 0mm setback, and comes in 2 seatpost clamp diameters of 30.9mm and 31.6mm, the former weighing in at just 580 grams with cable and remote included. Other travel options are reportedly in the works from lengths at 100-150mm, however the release time for those options is still to be determined.
The new post has some great features, besides the sealed hydraulic cartridge and Igus bearings, including a stealthy internally routed cable quick-connect, and easy to adjust 2-bolt quick release head that allows for hassle-free saddle adjustment and replacement. The remote for the Highline has also been redesigned and is claimed as the “World’s most ergonomic remote.” It has a paddle-type shifter that cleverly utilizes a ball-and-socket type interface which allows the rider maximum customization for better ergonomics. It uses a single bolt hinge locking system that is secure and easy to adjust with 360 degrees of rotation and up to 22 degrees of tilt. The lever can be mounted just about anywhere, on either side of your handlebars, and has a full aluminum construction for strength and rigidity.
The Highline spent a much more substantial amount of time in development and testing compared to previous models.
Perhaps, even more impressive than the redesigned lever is the ease of maintenance, if necessary. Should you ever need to grease your seals or replace the fully sealed hydraulic cartridge all you need is an open end wrench and a 2.5mm hex to open it up or put it back together and onto the bike. It’s an easy and painless job that can be done in less than 10 minutes. The new Highline post has definitely been thought through and designed to be the easiest to use and most reliable dropper on the market for only $350. We have a test unit and will be putting it through its paces to make sure that it lives up to these claims.
Full Highline Dropper Post Review Coming Soon!
Malet E Pedals
Crankbrothers also has several new pedals out to market. Rounding out the company’s clipless offering is the Mallet E, a smaller, lighter, (dare I say it) more enduro approach to the mallet DH. The new compact pedal is 12% smaller and 50 grams lighter than its big brother. It has a smaller extruded 6061-T6 aluminum body with 6 adjustable traction pins on each side. The new pedals have a 53mm Q factor, to keep your pedals away from trail debris when things get tight and feature a new chamfered leading edge for more clearance against rock strikes. The Mallet E features a new traction pad technology for extra grip. The traction pads are premium removable polyurethane which can be removed and customized in 2 thicknesses (1mm-2mm.) The Mallet E comes in two colors, an anodized blue or black, and weigh in at 419 grams per pedal. Of course, Crankbrothers’ premium brass cleats and shims are included with the pedals in the box.
While already feature packed, the new Mallet E pedals have 1 more new trick that may be less noticeable to the eye but much more impressive. The pedal internals for the Malet E and all of Crankbrothers pedals for this model year on ride on Chromoly spindles and a new Enduro cartridge bearing system in conjunction with Igus LL-glide bearings and a double-lipped seal to keep out debris. The new bearings are corrosion resistant and performed up to 74 percent better in their in-house testing than other configurations. The pedals also noticeably use a metal end cap with a hex head instead of the traditional plastic flat or slotted type cap that had been used previously. Best of all this new bearing and spindle, which is said to be far superior than previous generations, is available in a retrofit kit for Eggbeater, Candy, Mallet and 50/50 pedals going back to 2010 models. The new spindle and bearing design helped earn Crankbrothers an industry award, the 2016 Design & Innovation Award in the components category. The Malet E retails at $165 and the refresh kit is only $24.
Full Mallet E Pedal Review Coming Soon!
Last but certainly not least on the new-product front are Crankbrothers new flat pedals, the Stamp. Not wanting to leave out those of us who rock the flat pedals, Crankbrothers has a new flat pedal in 2 sizes, or maybe it’s really 2 new pedals? The Stamp Large, or the Stamp Small. This pedal is unique since it was designed to have the optimal contact patch for riders with different foot sizes. That gives you an excellent opportunity to tailor your grip or utilize a smaller pedal for more rock clearance on tighter trails. The small is designed for riders with size 5-10 (37-43) sized shoes and the Large is for size 10-15 (43-49.) The Stamp is an aluminum forged pedal with a 13mm-11mm concave profile for extra grip. The pedal has 10 adjustable pins per side that are set up in a symmetrical pattern. The center shaft also has a knurled texture for extra grip. This new pedal also has a uniquely designed chromoly spindle that uses specially designed Igus LL-glide bearings on the inboard and outboard ends of the spindle. The Spindle is held in by a steel plate on the inboard side of the pedal unlike most pedals which have a bolt at the end of the spindle that sandwiches everything together. This helps to create the thinnest platform available down the center of the pedal. The Stamp also includes a grease port at the end of the spindle for easy servicing if you need to lube things up. These pedals come with an excellent 5-year limited warranty and are available in a sweet red anodized color as well as the standard black, and weigh in at 375 grams per pair in small or 405 grams per pair, size large, respectively.
Full Stamp Pedal Review Coming Soon!
It was super rad to head down to CB for a day visit and check out some of their newest offerings, and even better is the fact that they sent us a set of each new item listed for a full review. We are stoked to be riding them and will be giving you all a thorough review of the products beyond our first impressions very soon.