While building a “road bike” for my trainer, I needed a crankset with 3 chainrings bigger chainring being 48t at least. It must be cheap, too, because it will be ridden on trainer only, and I’ve almost all the parts for a 8×3 groupset.
I looked for a suitable second hand road crank. Not to mention 3 chainring versions are no easy find. Then I quit searching, and decided to look for a brand new, Chinese brand 8×3 crankset. Such cranksets are almost at the price range of a Tourney, so I made a new plan: my wife have a hybrid bike with a Tourney 48-38-28 crankset. This is a big bike with 29 wheels, and this setup is ridiculously big for bike and my wife. So I decided to buy her a Tourney crankset with smaller chainrings, and get hers mounted on my trainer bike.
Admittedly, I always thought buying a brand new Tourney crankset, or any Tourney, is a foolish idea. I always knew this is not a rational thought. Almost never bought anything lesser then a Deore before, and usually XT. This doesn’t justify my needs, as I’m heavy, with lots of extra weight. Both on me, and on my bikes. I can live with a crank 200-300gr heavier.
Why Tourney? It’ s cheaper then Altus, almost %60, which already have stamped steel chainrings. Tourney is as almost as cheap as Chinese counterparts. Why not Acera? It’s 2x more expensive, with replaceable chainrings, but replacing chainrings costs more then a new crankset, which is crazy. That’ s the same with almost all cranksets: genuine chainrings costs as much as a new crankset, sometimes a bit more expensive. XT, XTR, Dura Ace, Ultegra or high end Sram’s, others make sense, because you also have an option to buy aftermarket chainrings. They’re not dirt cheap too, so I think replaceable chainrings does not make sense in low or mid range.
Tourney’s are heavy. Any square taper crankset from well known manufacturers except some boutique brands, like Rene Herse, is heavy. This is pure marketing, because making a 700 gr square taper crankset (which is perfectly possible) will negate the use of 2 piece cranksets like Hollowtech 2’s, GXP’s, DUB’s, etc: couple it with a 300gr bottom bracket (heavy, standard stuff) it would be a still 1000gr crankset, which is right on par with older Deore M590’s with Hollowtech II bottom bracket and 48-36-26 chainring. Even SLX’s are no better, and XT’s I have – various 9 and 10 speed models – are just below 800gr mark (like 780-890gr). Tourney is like 1100 grams.
So I’m quite content with my decision – this bike I’ll use for trainer will not probably do 3000-4000 km’s a year. Yes; alloy chainrings lasts better then stamped steel, but still, I think Tourney will last for a few thousand km’s. If it even lasts for only a year, it’s just 20$. A Deore trekking crankset, Deore FC-T6010 with 48-36-26 chainrings is 100$ (well, it won’t fit me because I’m after a 8s crankset, though) And guess what? Only biggest chainring is aluminium, and 36 – 26t chainrings are steel. So I think Tourney crankset is a great purchase for the task.
So, everyone not buying Tourney except premium stuff is stupid, right?
I don’t think so, because Tourney is not the best crankset. It’s heavy, and not very pleasant to shift.
That’ s a big bummer. The missing shift ramps. Well, to be honest, I’ve ridden Tourney for few hundred kilometers before, and front shifting does not feel pleasant. They sound as if everything is falling apart. And a bit late. I have a bike with a SRAM X5 2×10 crankset and Shimano XT front shifter, and they work perfect, even Sram cranksets are notorious for bad front shifting performance. A latency in shifting does not bother me much; but being an ex-mechanic, I’m too sensitive to metallic noises. It makes me nervous, though I know everything is fine, sky will not fall, and shifter gonna shift. But cannot help it.
When I buy XT or alikes, I pay for quality, not performance – because, myself included, most people will not gain any performance out of XT. If you want 10 speed, Deore is fine. And also, if I need anything over 8 speed, options are limited. There is no 10 speed Tourney, or 8 speed Deore XT. That is pretty disappointing too, because for me, 10 speed is the sweet spot, and will go extinct in few years. (If you are not OK with Chinese parts)
Still, I’d go for a brand new 8-speed Deore XT, then a 10 speed Tourney, probably, if that was possible, because quality is important: I know I can leave my bikes in a moist, damp place and nothing will rust or fall apart. Unfortunately, out of experience, I know Tourney’s rust. Especially old front derailleurs rust very badly. Yet that’ s not a huge issue with Tourney cranksets. They rust, but not destroyed by it. Seems like either steel grade, or the chain lube controls rust: it does not penetrate much, unlike the derailleur parts, especially fronts.
Square tapers for frankenbikes
I build strange bikes and ride them some time. I’m not a huge fan of square tapers – not because they’ re bad – nowadays, few companies like SKF builds solid bottom brackets, and they’ re very expensive. I think there can be a huge market for square tapers, if they are done right, especially bottom brackets.
My biggest complain about square bottom brackets is, as with others, very poor sealing. I have seen no properly sealed bottom bracket yet, but square tapers are generally the worst. Another issue with them is, steel bottom brackets fuse together with aluminium, which is no issue with 2-piece crankset bottom brackets, because of aluminium cups.
That means, you have to maintain them well and frequently; with a nice copper grease on threads. They also need a special tool to take apart the crankset. I think Hollowtech II is the best of all: to take apart the crankset, you just need a multitool (if you don’t want to remove bottom bracket).
There is no reason to make badly designed bottom brackets. I hope to see square taper bottom brackets with proper labyrinth seals outside and nice roller or ball bearings inside.
But there are 2 big reasons for me currently to get square tapers: with lots of different size options for bottom brackets, you can adjust chainline for different applications. Let me give you an example: if you have a 68mm wide bottom bracket shell, you can move the crank to one side by 5mm, or set it to center, by using 2 shims, each 2.5mm. So, that means, you can change the chainline by 2.5mm only – for square taper, this is 12 to 13mm. And for both sides!
The second thing I like about square taper is, you can use cartridge bottom brackets, cup and cone spindles, or more egzotic designs like SKF’s bottom brackets.
Mixing and matching Tourney
Another thing I like about Tourney in general is, there are countless possibilities to configure a bike, because Tourney is meant for every bike: its for MTB, trekking, even road! They even have STI shifters.
Most people find Tourney line very confusing, maybe I should came to this one day. In fact, it isn’t – well, not more then any other groupset, at least.
In general, to be honest, I would never buy a full Tourney groupset: their shifters are really awful, compared to XT or XTR – to be fair, it makes sense, as a single XTR shifter almost worth whole Tourney groupset money. But some rear derailluers are surprisingly good, with huge jockey wheels. Some rear derailleur though, are not that good, and in general, they are prone to rust, or newer models that have lots of plastic parts break off easily. Some front derailleurs, especially painted ones are nice enough, but never last long.
Cassettes? Forget about it; there is only one 7 speed cassette I know, which is not compatible with “normal” Shimano hubs. Do not buy it. Do not buy Tourney hubs. They won’t last, and changing hubs is costly. And trying to save on wheelsets is a bad idea. Freewheels? Don’t. 7 speed? Maybe. For a folding or a “city” bike, I may not be that picky. But I think pairing some 8 speed Tourney’s like crankset, rear and front derailleur with some better parts like older Alivio shifters works great. It keeps the costs down; also improves Tourney where it fails.
To sum it up
Tourney improved hugely in time, and I’m happy with my purchase. For under 20$, there is nothing better. It looks nice, not extremely heavy judging its price tag, and nicely put together.
If you do not ride hard on trails, go get it. If you are not a huge guy over 130 kg’s putting tremendous amount of watts for long, go buy it.
People riding over 5.000 km’s, huge and strong, or competitive MTB rider should NOT consider a Tourney crankset. Or any Tourney. Contrary to popular belief, steel pressed chainrings wear faster and not any tougher then aluminium chainrings. Unfortunately, it is a throw-away item. If chainrings worn out, its basically a paperweight.