Why I’d Choose Stronglight
I’d prefer a drilled Stronglight 105 crankset on my bike to Campagnolo Super Record, though many would disagree with me. The great imitators of the day, Shimano, also made a very desirable crankset, the lovely 600 Arabesque, to compete with the best of Europe. However, I just think the iconic Stronglight models, the 93, 49D and 105 look more beautiful, and there is something special about these cranks over the rivals of the same period. Especially, I believe, in the case of the Nuovo Record, which is quite bland compared to this Stronglight model above, the 93. Who cannot notice the striking pentangle design, a stand out feature on any bike?
Velobase describes the 93 as “Lighter than just about anybody and pretty much indestructible”, which is why I think these cranks are still on many bikes today. I weighed one recently, with its bolts and dust caps, and it came to 618 grams. It may not have been the lightest of all, but it certainly was one of the leaders of the market. I’ve seen some fitted with drilled chainrings, and they look even more snazzy. The 5 arm model graced some of the best bikes of the day, including the Peugeot PX10 and top flight Motobecanes and Merciers, like this Mercier 300 here. The 93 had a BCD of 122, common to Stronglight models, arm lengths could be 165/170/175.
The 105 and 105 ter
The 105 came after the 93, but kept a lot of its looks. It’s arms are thicker and the design and logo on them is slightly different. My less favoured ter version came with black chainrings, which was quite unusual at the time. The 105 weighed 678 grams complete, so it was heavier than its elder sister, the 93, but it was stronger and was able to take a lot of abuse. Later versions of the 105 had a Spidel logo beneath the dust caps. BCD was 122, there were more variety of arm lengths, ( by extensions of 2.5mm ), and threading was either French or standard. These 105 cranks often had drilled chainrings, like the one above. Sold for £35, to a rider in Italy.
I had never come across one of these before, and I thought it was a just a beautiful thing! A 104 double with drilled chainrings, weighing 634 grams. At first glance it looks like it is a triple, but it’s not; it had 53/44 rings and had standard threading, was in excellent condition for its age and even retained its dust caps, undamaged. I sold this for £65 in June 2016, and it was worth every penny, in my view. The non drilled version looked more like a Campagnolo Nuovo Record, which says something of how Stronglight were looking more to their Italian competitors at this time. 122 BCD, and more often in standard threading than French as this model was being fitted to high end French bikes in the early 1980’s.
The 49D Model Depose
The most celebrated Stronglight crankset, first produced at the beginning of the 1950’s and made all the way up to the mid 1980’s. The pentangle design remains the most notable feature of this crankset, like the style of 93. The one above had had its dust caps replaced, they should have been silver and not black. This 5 arm crank was made in 1977 and had French threading, 14 x 1.25. It weighed around 670 grams, and I sold it for £46 on Ebay. I think this is the best crank to have on a vintage bike, because it has the perfect balance of delicate style and quality of design, the thinner arms and its stamped logo in the centre of the arms were its trademark to four decades of success. 122 BCD, arms of 165/170/175, this crank was French threaded and has to be contender for the best 5 arm crankset ever made.