Few bikers give a second thought about what cranks they use.
In fact, the bike cranks are often ignored and usually don’t get enough love as the other parts of the bike.
But in a real sense, they’re arguably among the most vital parts of your BMX bike. In most cases, BMX cranks affect your overall riding performance and control.
Nevertheless, I don’t blame it on you because I didn’t know much about the cranks either until I learned the hard way after acquiring a Cervelo P1 with 180mm cranks.
The cranks were too long and caused excessive knee flex, resulting in pain, especially after an extended ride.
I also had clearance problems and often hit my heels on the frame standers. My riding experience also felt a bit awkward, and my bottom bracket felt so loose.
I wished I could ride normally, but even after overhauling the entire crankset, changing the wheels, and doing a lot more, nothing seemed to work.
But that changed when I visited my local bike shop for assistance.
As it turned out, there was nothing wrong with the bike, but only the bike cranks.
Yes, you heard it right.
Peter, my childhood buddy, recommended I change the cranks and reduce them down to 175 mm.
Of course, I didn’t think a simple change on the cranks would be of any help. But I didn’t have any option, so I did it anyway.
And man, I regretted not having done it earlier.
Sure, the change didn’t revolutionize my ride, but I can tell you it helped improve my performance, control ability and shed some weight from my bike.
The upgraded cranks meant I could do more with my bike, whether racing, performing ricks, or handling the tricky corners, while still retaining control.
That’s when I came to realize the importance of these nifty but often overlooked parts. Cranks play a huge role in the performance of your bike while ensuring comfort, control, and stability.
Now, whether you need to upgrade your cranks for racing, doing spin tricks, or anything else, I’ll share with you some of my favorite BMX cranks.
Yes, I prefer the BMX cranks to other bike cranks for no other real reason than performance and the amount of abuse they can take.
I know I’m biased because I was first introduced to the BMX cranks, but I can assure you they’re performance-oriented and incredibly durable.
Table of Contents
The Best BMX Cranks For The Money
#1 ODYSSEY Thunderbolt+ Cranks - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I was a big fan of Wombolts and Twombolts.
So, I was pretty sure the Thunderbolts, the latest incarnation of the Odyssey cranks, wouldn’t disappoint.
And true, like my previous Odyssey cranks, the Thunderbolt cranks are sturdy and have less squeak than every other crank I’ve ridden.
Unlike the originals, which often snapped after frequent use, the Thunderbolt is redesigned for great performance and ease of use.
They’re the best cranks, in my opinion, and I love that they come backed with a lifetime warranty.
I must also say I like the 2-piece design. It just gives me one less headache installing and removing the cranks when it comes to time.
And not only that, it eliminates the possibility of a wobble due to the splines wearing out.
Everything on this crank feels stiff and rigid. It’s nice and tight, and with no wobble, you enjoy your paddling even more.
ODYSSEY Thunderbolt is also quite sturdy, thanks to the heat-treated Chromoly construction.
The cranks are as solid as they come, and even after regular use and frequent abuse, they remain stiff-just like the day I purchased them.
I’m confident using the cranks even more because I no longer fear I’ll sustain knee, ankle injuries, or a potentially ugly face because of a broken crank.
Another unique feature of the ODYSSEY Thunderbolt is that it lacks a spline. Instead, it uses a wedge cluster band.
It has a hexagonal interface, helping to keep things tight and stay tuned. The wedge interface eliminates wobbling and squeaking.
I’ve used it for over a year now without an issue.
I never get the wobbly feel when riding, and I feel exactly how I like- No flex and no need for constant tightening.
It’s a clever design, and for a BMX rider like me who does a lot of crank arm/pedal grinds, I love that it has held up so well, and I see no reason for going back to the 48 spline spindle cranks.
Size-wise, I thought the 22mm hollow spindle size would be weak, but I was wrong.
While not as strong as the 24mm cranks, they don’t leave me stranded with a weaker bearing because it’s not so thin for accommodating the spindle width.
The Thunderbolt 22mm is a game-changer and the perfect all-around cranks, especially for street racing.
They are available in different sizes, from 165 mm to 180 mm, so you can never miss the right size for your BMX bike.
Installing the ODYSSEY Thunderbolt is a breeze. It doesn’t require any effort or knowledge. Even if you’ve changed the cranks before, you shouldn’t have any problems doing it.
Overall, the ODYSSEY Thunderbolt is a great purchase, the perfect all-around option for those looking for more performance, greater power, and better control.
#2 Redline Monster II Crank Arm Set – Best Value BMX Cranks
If I had to build another bike today, I would use either Thunderbolt cranks or the Redline Cranks.
And if I were really on a budget, I would pick the Redline Monster II Crank Arm Set.
These are my favorites, and I would suggest you stop reading this and go for them now!
The Redline Monster II Crank Arm Set is the perfect starter crankset for beginners and casual/average riders.
You can’t beat them for the price. I mean, for less than a hundred dollars, you get a complete crankset and BB.
They offer the best value for your money, and I would highly recommend these to those on a budget.
They’re not meant for the hard street BMX riders, though, but they should be fine as long as you don’t put it in a hole.
Personally, I’ve had a Redline Crank Arm for about six months now, and they’ve held up so well.
I don’t take really good care of my cranks because I like doing big hop gaps and lots of pedal grinds, and they’re just doing fine.
The heat-treated Chromoly helps with the durability and will ensure that the cranks outlive the frame and other bike parts. I don’t feel like I’m going to replace the Redline Crank Arm any time soon.
Plus, the Redline Crank Arm looks and feels amazing on my bike, especially when they’re mated with the 28-oil Slick coated sprocket bolt. They spin like a dream!
I’m also pleased that they work as they should. Very sturdy and flex-free.
When riding them, they seem strong, stiff, and don’t creak or pop. The pedaling transitions are nice and smooth, allowing me to enjoy my ride even more.
Lots of reviewers say the Redline Monster 2 is heavy, but to me, it’s just as light, and for the price, you can beat it.
It doesn’t weigh more than the frame, and honestly, it’s comparable to many other BMX three-piece cranks.
Size-wise, Redline Monster Crank Arm comes with 138 mm long spindle arm length. It’s the size of a regular spindle on any three-piece crank and is pretty long and good for tall riders.
Installing this bad boy is a breeze and won’t take a lot of your time.
Unlike the standard three-piece designs, the Redline Monster 2 Crank Arm is very user-friendly. It is mostly due to the single-pinch design and welded pedal bosses that allow for an easy and quick install.
#3 Animal Akimbo Cranks Black – Premium BMX Cranks
After using the Akimbo for several seasons now, I can’t think of anything wrong with these cranks, save for the greasy pack.
My first impression of the Akimbo is they’re well-thought-out, and the choice of material is nice.
As with all our previously reviewed BMX cranks, Akimbo utilize heat-treated Chromoly, so you can tell they’re built for the streets.
They will hold to the roughest treatment, abuse, and much more.
I’ve put mine through hell, pedal grinding on them on metal and other rough surfaces, and they remain sturdy.
They don’t show any signs of wear, crack, or anything, and it seems like I’m not going to need replacing them anytime soon.
The other draw to this rank is on the design.
Animal Akimbo Black has a well-thought-out design, consisting of a strong but not overly-built design.
It keeps the shape slim and classy, so you are definitely going to see heads turning a lot. I love how it complements my black sprockets.
At the same time, it remains a solid piece and will withstand the test of time. It’s an absolute classic and the dream street machine to many riders.
Using the Animal Akimbo Black is also fun and super-convenient. Unlike the invasive designs from other cranks, this one has a smooth tubular arm design.
It’s a clever design that helps with more than just aesthetics. I love using the Animal Cranks Black because it prevents ankle bashing. I no longer have to worry that I’ll hurt, scrape, or injure my knees when riding.
Plus, the 22mm, 48 splines hollow spindle keeps the weight to a minimum, and I barely feel like I’ve extra weight on me when installed.
This way, I can handle the foot air tricks with relative ease, and I don’t fatigue easily, even when street racing/ street riding.
Convenience with the Animal Akimbo Black doesn’t end there.
The Animal Akimbo Black assembly can work with both right-hand drive and left-hand drive. The crank comes complete with a sprocket pedal and spindle bosses on one crank arm and spindle on the other, so it’s easy to accommodate both the drive and splined sprocket.
My only quibble with the Animal Akimbo Black was the installation.
It takes some elbow grease and will be more challenging and time-consuming than with the Thunderbolt.
This is because you’ll need to grease your spindle and crank arms, then ensure they’re lined properly before pushing them with a crank installation tool. Hectic.
But the good thing is once they’re in place, you’ll not need to tighten them anymore. They remain nice and tight and have no flex or wobble.
Overall, the Animal Akimbo Cranks Black provides the performance you need while adding an aesthetic touch to your BMX bike.
#4 Sunday Saker v2 Crank – Best Three-Piece BMX Crank
I wrecked my old FSA Comet crankset, and I needed a cheap replacement and fast.
So, I ordered the Sunday Saker v2 Crank, and it has held up perfectly so far.
While it may be a budget purchase, I like everything about it. It’s easy to install and can accommodate my weight without flinching.
Plus, I couldn’t help but marvel at the overall production quality and construction of these cranks.
Remember Sunday Saker v2 Crank is made in conjunction with the best BMX brands, Sunday and Odyssey.
I’ve had the crank for quite some time now, and I love how well they’re made and that I don’t have to worry about them breaking or anything. It helps to push every bike part to the limit.
They’re a 3-piece crankset, but unlike the typical 3-piece sets, they’re easy to install and convenient to use.
Like our previous pick, the Animal Akimbo, Sunday Saker v2 Crank comes with a single pinch bolt design, so it should be easy to install and use these bad boys.
Plus, the cranks come with tubular hollow crank arms painted black. Beyond aesthetics, I love the tubular crank arms because I hate riding cranks that hurt and scrape my knees.
The Sunday Saker v2 Crank is different, and I love the 48 spline spindle design because it’s safe, convenient, and easy to use.
The fully heat-treated Chromoly construction is also a plus in my books, and I no longer have to worry about the integrity of these cranks.
I usually bunny hop, so I’ve been really hammering on this crankset, and I’m amazed how it holds up so well. I’m honestly kind of surprised because I had much lower expectations.
Plus, the Sunday Saker v2 Crank comes in different arm lengths, starting from 155mm, 165mm, to 175mm. The arm lengths are suitable for different riding styles, and even after downgrading my size to the 165mm option, I barely felt any difference.
On the other hand, the 19 mm spindle size is long enough for the tall riders, while the spline assembly is easy to align.
Installing Sunday Saker v2 Crank is super-easy, and I love how it perfectly fitted my old bottom bracket. On top of that, it comes with a mid-bottom bracket. But since mine wasn’t broken, I didn’t bother with the new one.
My only concern with the Sunday Saker v2 Crank is that it might be a little heavier, but it’s equally stronger and will take on all the abuses like a champ.
#5 CYSKY Crank Arm Set – Best BMX Crank for Mountain Bikes
I was skeptical about how cheap the CYSKY Crank Arm Set was, but I took the chance.
Out of the box, I was impressed and couldn’t believe I got them for less than $50.
They were impressive to look at, and the black coating and machine work were nice and clean.
But what sold me to this was that it was tailored for mountain riding.
In fact, I’d go to say that it’s a Shimano Hollow tech clone, and coming with high axial strength, it’s one of the most durable BMX cranks I’ve come across.
I’m a 200+ plus guy and do jumps and hops quite a bit, and so far, it has held up, and I’m pleased with its performance.
It’s a great value purchase, especially for mountain bikers who want to upgrade to a 1x or even 2x setup.
Of course, I thought the aluminum construction would be flimsy, but I was wrong. While not as sturdy as the heat-treated Chromoly, it’s definitely much stronger than I thought.
Apart from helping reduce weight, I went hard on it even when standing on the pedals, and it remained strong.
And when I hit the read, I loved the seamless paddling and performance.
It didn’t feel gritty like my previous BMX cranks, whether standing or riding.
Plus, it doesn’t wobble or flex, so I’m assured of great riding performance.
Using the crank is also super convenient, thanks to the 170mm crank length. I loved that I could use it as a single or double chain system.
Installing the crank was also one of the easiest jobs I could perform. It’s pretty straightforward, and there’re lots of good install videos if you find difficulty in the process.
Just ensure you install everything on a clean surface and that you use grease sparingly.
Plus, riders also benefit from tools that are helpful during installation and future maintenance.
Overall, the CYSKY Crank Arm Set was a nice budget purchase and a great option for mountain riders.
My only wish was that the threaded end plug wasn’t plastic. It doesn’t look strong enough to handle all the torque.
Best BMX Bikes Crank Buying Guide
If you’re still undecided on what crank to choose, our comprehensive guide below will help selection.
This guide looks at everything you need to know about selecting the right crankset for your biking needs.
Here, we’ll look at the different types of BMX cranks, factors to consider when selecting BMX cranks, and even answer some of the frequently asked questions about BMX cranks.
Types of BMX Crankset
There’re four main types of BMX cranks, and they’re:
- Two-piece cranks
- One-piece crank
- Race cranks
The 3-piece crank is the most popular crankset type. It utilizes two separate crank arms and a spindle of different varieties.
On the other hand, the 2-piece crank has a spindle fixated on one of the cranks.
The 1-piece cranks are available for the kids and entry-level Haro bikes. In the 1-piece crank, both the crank arms and the spindle are integrated.
Finally, we’ve the race cranks. These are built with weight in mind and usually use a crank-style used on MTBs.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best BMX Cranks
Now that we’ve seen the various types of cranks let’s consider the factors
to consider when selecting one.
Usually, these factors will determine whether the crankset you get is the right one for your BMX bike.
Usually, the choice of material used on a crank determines the overall weight.
Some of the popular materials used on the cranks include aluminum, carbon, steel, and titanium.
The carbon fiber cranks are the lightest.
Bottom Bracket Size
You need to consider the bottom bracket because it’s where the crank spindle passes.
The most common sizes for the bottom bracket are 19,22, and 24. This refers to the internal diameter through which the crank’s spindle passes.
So, if you’re to buy the crank and mid-bottom bracket set, ensure you purchase matching sizes.
The spindle is the leverage that co-joins both the cranks.
Usually, most BMX spindles are available in 19,22, and 24mm.
The 24mm spindles have a more hollow spindle diameter than the 19mm spindle, so they tend to be stiffer and lighter.
Crank Arm Length
The arm length of the crank refers to the distance between the spindle and pedal.
Usually, most BMX bikes have an arm’s length measuring between 160 to 180mm.
A longer crank arm length gives you more leverage for power paddling. On the other hand, a shorter arm length is ideal for those who need more speed.
Shape: Tubular vs. Square
Crank arms come in different shapes, but the tubular and square heat-treated Chromoly arms are the two popular shapes.
The shape doesn’t have any functional effect other than aesthetics.
Bolt-Drive Vs. Bossless
The bossless or bolt-drive (spindle boss) system refers to how the sprockets fit on your crank.
On the spindle bolts-drive (spindle boss), the sprocket is connected using a sprocket boss.
On the other hand, the bossless cranks feature 48 spline hollow spindles inserted into the sprocket.
Most of the high-quality BMX metal cranks are heat treated.
During the manufacturing process, the metal undergoes different processes, which ultimately alter the material’s properties.
However, the treatment process strengthens the overall material, thus improving the overall durability.
Remember, BMX cranks, just like the BMX pedals, need to be strong enough to sustain the abuses.
It should be long-lasting and sturdy.
From experience, I would recommend the heat-treated Chromoly with socket interface and forged heads.
Of course, the durability will also depend on the manufacturing quality and so much more.
Best BMX Cranks Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Can I use a BMX crank for all types of biking?
A: Sort of.
BMX cranks are an ideal all-rounder option, especially for casual bikers.
However, if you’re a specialized rider, you need specific cranks for that purpose.
Q: Is installing a crank easy?
A: Yes, it is.
Of course, each model has a different difficulty level; most BMX cranks are straightforward to install.
You can do it even if you’ve not done it before.
Q: Are new cranks expensive?
A: It depends on the individual models.
Some BMX cranks are a little pricey, while others are a budget option.
Of course, I never associate price with quality, but the general agreement is that the more expensive cranks are better constructed and of better quality.
Q: Is there a need for upgrading my BMX cranks?
A: This will depend on the type of biking you often do, and maybe if you want to spice your experience with added comfort, control, and performance.
For most users, however, the stock BMX cranks are sufficient. If you do, however, upgrade, you’ll realize more power and performance.
Q: Should I consider the choice of material on my BMX crank?
A: Yes, you definitely need to.
This is because the choice of material affects the overall sturdiness, lightness, and performance.
For example, the carbon cranks are relatively lighter than those made out of steel.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
The best BMX cranks to buy, in my opinion, are the Odyssey Thunderbolt Crankset.
I would feel confident and comfortable saying no other cranks come close to what they offer.
From the performance, strength, to ease of use, the Odyssey cranks are the real gem.
Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty against bending, breaking, wobbling, and so much more.
This is not to mention the super convenient edge interface.
You couldn’t want more for your BMX cranks.