Race Face Respond Crankset Review

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Here is yet another great MTB product from the Great White North Shore for ya, eh. Race Face was nice enough to send down the Respond component group for my dream project bike, the Opus Nelson Freeride. Today I’m going to give you the skinny on just the crankset – you’ll have to wait to hear about the rest later.

Whoever said you can’t have performance, light weight, and low cost in one package obviously hasn’t see the Respond crankset from Race Face. At just $160 MSRP, this crank is a big time value. Not only are you getting a high performance crank at a budget price but you’re also getting DH strength at all-mountain weights.

The Respond crankset is all about the features. Made from 7050 aluminum, the crank arms are not only relatively light but super strong. The newly designed DH Race bottom bracket, which starts out its life as a forging and is then machined in a CNC, keeps the crank arms all lined up and spinning smoothly. The over-sized bearing cups hold 35% more bearings and are packed with Phil Woods lube to prevent water wash out; and Race Face keeps it all contained using completely revamped triple seals.

The “Whitemare” model pictured above (love that name), comes with a ton of fitting options. Choose from crank arm lengths of 165 / 170 / 175mm and BB cup sizes including 68/ 73mm / 83mm. On top of that you also get choices on ring sizes. I opted to get a single chain ring with 36T and a matching light weight bash guard.

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Installing the Respond took a bit of work but nothing a semi-skilled home mechanic couldn’t handle. Just make sure you have all the necessary tools on hand: an external BB tool such as the Park BBT-9 and an 8mm allen wrench or 8mm allen socket and wrench. Seeing that everyone out there has their own favorite chain retention device and various chainlines, it is also wise to have a ISIS crank arm puller.

Once you have all the tools gathered, it’s time to remove the old BB cups and give the BB shell a good cleaning. After that, read over the instructions and pay close attention to the width of your BB shell so you can match the correct number of spacers and get their respective positioning (keeping in mind the chain retention device if you’re using one). Once the spacers are configured, tighten up the cups to get the shell all squared away. Install the cranks and check alignment.

For my installation I found I had to shuffle the provided spacers to get a no noise condition with the chainrings and top guide on my e-thirteen SRS+. After all is said and done, expect to spend about 30 minutes getting the cranks set up. Be sure to check the final torque (61 N-m) and don’t forget the pedals before you head out.

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Hitting the trails with the Race Face Respond crankset was awesome. Off jumps and rockgardens there was zero perceivable flex from the cranks on landing. Hammering the bike in rock gardens and bashing the crank on the occasional rock didn’t seem to affect the crank at all and I really enjoyed the smooth pedal feel from the new bottom bracket. Even after a few good rides with all kinds of crud and repeated washings, I didn’t notice any loss in bearing smoothness or performance. Clearly the bearing cup and seal re-design made a big difference in how well this unit seals out contamination.

The beefy DH specific chain ring and the relatively light bash ring also make a good combo on the trail. The strong chain ring kept my chain moving along nicely and the bash ring saved the teeth of my chainring more than once. The bash ring also kept the chain from getting pulverized, giving me a confident feeling when wailing over the sharp and unforgiving Canadian Shield granite. I found myself looking a bit further down the trail than usual instead of worrying about my cranks getting bashed.

Stay tuned for more on the Race Face Respond group as well as some other great goodies from RF as well. If you’re on the fence on getting a new AM/DH/FR crank, then check these out for sure.

Specs from Race Face

BUILT FOR:AM/DH/FR
SIZE: 165,170,175 68/73, 83mm BB SHELL
WEIGHT: 1092g (22,32 & BASH)
RING CONFIGURATION: 22,32 & BASH
24,36 & BASH
DH & BASH
DH RING
COLOR: Whitemare

I would like to thanks the great folks from Race Face for providing the Respond cranks for a review. Ehh..

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