First Impressions: Sugino OX601D Crankset

Compact road cranksets have been a boon to riders seeking lower gears without the added complexity of a triple chainring setup.  The ubiquitous 34/50 combo has proven popular with racers and recreational riders alike.  But what about the rest of us?  Not everyone wants–or needs–a 50t big ring, and the compact crank’s 110mm BCD (bolt circle diameter) can’t accommodate anything smaller than 34t (33t if you use T.A.’s Zephyr).  Alternative solutions have been available in the form of vintage setups such as the T.A. Cyclotouriste and Stronglight 49D (and their copies), but they lack the ramped-and-pinned chainrings necessary for compatibility with modern integrated shifters.

For those riders seeking to break out of the 34/50 box, Sugino introduced the OX801D crankset.  Instead of a 110mm BCD, the Japanese company designed their new crankset using 74mm and 110mm BCDs.  The dual-BCD design enabled the use of inner chainrings as small as 24t, and the ability to run large chainrings much smaller than the ones usually found on compact-double cranks.  To the delight of mechanics everywhere, Sugino spec’d their new crank with ramped-and-pinned chainrings, as well as making it compatible with external bottom brackets such as those from Shimano and Chris King.

There were a couple of gotchas, however.  First was the price–over $500 when it was initially introduced.  Contributing to the high price were the highly polished finish, and cold-forging and machining the units in Japan.  The second gotcha was the extremely limited choice of available chainring combinations in the US (34/50, and later, 34/48).  The latter limitation could be circumvented by ordering directly from one of the specialty retailers in Japan, but the price put the OX801D out of reach for many riders (including yours truly).

GRAVELBIKE.com Sugino OX601D Black Mountain Cycles Campagnolo Pacenti KMC Schwalbe

Sugino OX601D crankset (34/48) on the author’s Campagnolo-equipped test bike.

Then, in late 2012, Sugino brought the OX601D crankset to market.  This new model featured the same cold-forged arms as the OX801D, but with a less-costly matte silver finish.  To satisfy the pickiest gearhead, the OX601D can be ordered with the customer’s choice of chainring sizes.  With a suggested retail price of just under $400 (including sealed bottom bracket and all necessary hardware), the new Sugino crankset is on par (price-wise) with similar offerings from Rene Herse and White Industries.

One of the first things you notice about the OX601D is that the outer chainring mounts inboard of the spider.  Positioning the outer chainring this way allows the use of the 74mm BCD for inner chainrings smaller than 34t.  On setups where both chainrings utilize the same (110mm) BCD, the inner chainring is attached to the outer chainring via spacers and the large chainring’s mounting hardware.  If the smaller 74mm BCD is used, the inner chainring uses a separate set of mounting hardware.

GRAVELBIKE.com Sugino OX601D Black Mountain Cycles Campagnolo Pacenti KMC Schwalbe

The 74mm and 110mm mounting patterns accommodate a wide range of chainrings.

Installing the OX601 cranks and bottom bracket was is easy as any other two-piece unit.  The external bearing cups install using a standard, Shimano/SRAM-compatible socket (such as this one from Pedro’s), and the cranks themselves require only 4mm and 5mm hex keys (although I did use a torque wrench to insure that the left arm’s fixing bolts were properly tightened).  While the MB-608-II bottom bracket seemed to have less seal drag than a comparable Shimano unit, I couldn’t detect any actual difference once the cranks were in place.

GRAVELBIKE.com Sugino OX601D Black Mountain Cycles Campagnolo Pacenti KMC Schwalbe

Sugino MB-608-II cupset weighs 93g with sleeve.

For this test, I installed the Sugino cranks on my Black Mountain Cycles bike, replacing the Shimano R4550 cranks that I normally use.  Weight-wise, the OX601D came in at 925g, compared to 900g for the aforementioned Shimano cranks (with Dura-Ace cups, 34/46 chainrings, and alloy chainring bolts).  Where the Sugino cranks really shine, though, is their q-factor of 145mm (the Shimanos measure 150mm).  Riders who want to maintain a narrow(er) pedaling stance without having to sacrifice modern drivetrain compatibility will be well served by the OX601D cranks.

GRAVELBIKE.com Sugino OX601D Black Mountain Cycles Campagnolo Pacenti KMC Schwalbe

The left crank arm is secured with two opposing pinch bolts.

On the road (and trail), the ramped-and-pinned Sugino chainrings meshed perfectly with my Campagnolo 10s drivetrain.  The only necessary adjustment involved raising the front derailleur to clear the larger 48t chainring.  Shifting up and down was quick, reliable, and didn’t require any babying on my part.  Climbing out of the saddle didn’t induce any unwanted flex (that I could notice), and everything has remained silent.  Because the OX601D doesn’t rely on the spider’s width for determining chainring spacing, the crank is compatible with 9-, 10-, and 11-speed systems simply by using different spacers.  And while it’s too soon to comment on chainring durability, the 74mm and 110mm mounting patterns ensure a wide range of compatible replacement rings.

GRAVELBIKE.com Sugino OX601D Black Mountain Cycles Campagnolo Pacenti KMC Schwalbe

Hardware and spacers used for mounting the 48t outer and 34t inner chainrings.

Currently, the US importer offers Sugino OX601D cranks in 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm lengths.  Inner chainrings are available in 30t, 32t, 34t, or 36t.  Ramped-and-pinned outer chainrings come in 44t, 46t, 48t, or 50t.  Shops can order the cranksets through Merry Sales, or you can purchase them directly from SOMA Fabrications.

Disclosure: SOMA Fabrications provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

19 thoughts on “First Impressions: Sugino OX601D Crankset

  1. I am slowly researching a new crank for my Trek 520, and it seems like the options are all pricey. Do you have any thoughts on the Velo Orange 50.4bcd cranks? They seem to be the cheapest at $200, but I have not been able to find a good review other than Jan Heine’s (which would most certainly be biased since he is selling a competing product).

    I have also been looking at getting some vintage cranks, but you also confirm my suspicions that it’s going to be impossible to get them set up properly with modern components (I am using a Tiagra 9 speed group).

    Thanks for the thorough review :)

    • I’ve not used the Velo Orange cranks, but I did use T.A. Cyclotouriste cranks many years ago. It worked fine at the time, but this was long before index shifting, and 6-speed freewheels were considered rare at the time.

      What chainring sizes are you considering? If you can live with a 34t inner ring, Shimano’s R4550 can be had pretty cheaply.

      • I had a Tiagra compact on, but I stripped the drive-side pedal thread and now have a standard a tiagra crank that I had as a spare.

        I think the 50-34 was OK, but I would love to explore the option of smaller rings, something like a 48-30 or 48-34. Also, it would be great to have something that looked a bit closer to the bike’s vintage (1989). Here is a recent snapshot: http://instagram.com/p/Wkv_ZlQx4v/

        Jan does a great job of selling the Herse cranks in terms of durability. This bike gets ridden a LOT on 80-100 mi rides with lots of gravel and hard efforts on the way back home. I think as of now, my best options are this Sugino or the Herse. If I had more info on the VO crank, I would be willing to give it a try as well!

        • One thing to consider is that smaller chainrings will wear quickly. With something like a 30t inner (on a double), it’s best to treat that as a bail-out gear, and pick an outer chainring (and cogset) that will let you use that ring for the majority of your riding. If you go the Herse route, you’re limited to their chainrings (which aren’t ramped/pinned). With the Sugino, chainrings are available from a number of manufacturers.

          Just to muddy the waters further, you might want to wait for these:
          http://somafab.blogspot.com/2013/03/sun-xcd-cranks-and-hubs.html

          • Gah. Those look great!! So much more tasteful than the ugly laser-etched VO logo. I hope you can review those soon to see if they are road-worthy :)

            Thanks again for your help. I think I am going to wait it out. When those Sun-XCD cranks come out, what chainrings would you suggest?

          • I had a CODA (Cannondale) crank with 29/44 rings on my old SOMA Saga. It actually worked pretty well, but if top-end speed didn’t matter, I’d run something like a 30/42.

      • I decided to go with the Sugino cranks reviewed here, and they have been great so far. I have not had a chance to take them on a real ride yet, only commuting, but there is no noticeable flex and they shift super-smooth.

    • No, they’re very different. The Sugino has fewer, but deeper splines than the Shimano interface. It’s interesting to note that the recommended torque for the Sugino left arm is approximately half of what is recommended for Shimano.

  2. Hi,
    Was searching out triple cranksets and ran across info on the new Sugino cranks. Can the the 601 be set up as a triple? I find it interesting that I can’t find a 110/74 bcd, outboard bearing crankset anywhere that has close to a 45mm chainline.

    • While you may be able to run the 601 as a triple, the granny ring would probably be too far inward for it to shift reliably (if at all). Here’s a BikeForums thread that you may find useful:

    • Yes, if you’re only using the 110mm BCD, you’re not taking full advantage of the crank’s capabilities. I’ve been tempted to try something like a 30/42, but haven’t gotten around to it.

  3. Hi, thanks for this post, really useful. One question:

    Is the BB propitiatory? Can it be replaced with a Shimano or similar, or does it require a specific Sugino BB?

    Thanks!

  4. Hello, thanks for the review. I’m wondering if you would mind measuring from the inside of the crankarms to the center of your seat tube on both drive and non-drive side? I’m trying to establish chainstay clearance of these cranks. They interest me greatly and I’m having a custom rando/gravel bike made. I’d love to know that dimension to help in the design of the bike.

  5. I now have an OX801D with 42/24 rings (were 46/30 but swapped for smaller Sugino ones) with a Shimano CX70 front mech and 9-speed Shimano SGS rear mech and it works great. With Shimano 10-speed shifters and a 10-speed Sram 12-36 cassette the range is amazing. This is on a Salsa Vaya.

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