Antique Tech: Crankset
By Brad Quartuccio
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Pictured is a crankset taken from a 1915 Columbia Racer, featuring a spiderless chainring attachment and a two-piece design with the bottom bracket axle integrated into the non-drive side arm. Manufacturing and engineering technology has clearly progressed since these forged steel cranks were produced, but the fundamental design isn’t terribly far off from some of the latest versions available at the bike shop.
The method that the cranks come together to form a functional drivetrain however does not resemble current methods, likely due to manufacturing differences more than anything else. The bottom bracket bearings have a threaded sleeve spanning them, with each arm threading into the sleeve to force the bottom bracket axle together and form a tight fit.
It is true that modern two-piece crank designs are better by every measure, but this is one case of how looking at where bicycles have been can be a surprisingly good indicator of where they will go.