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Verdict: 
Cleverly tweaked cranks that give slightly lower gears than a compact
Weight: 
749g
Praxis Works Alba M30 48/32 chainset
8 10

The Praxis Works Alba M30 48/32 is a cleverly-designed chainset that drops your gear range a little with no discernible difference in weight, stiffness or shifting quality compared to the benchmark Shimano chainset you probably already have.

For a bit more than a decade, compact chainsets with 50- and 34-tooth chainrings have been standard issue for a cyclists who don't race. You find them on endurance/sportive bikes, gravel bikes, hybrids and flat-bar road bikes, and even some cyclo-cross bikes.

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But some chainset manufacturers would like you to consider an alternative: the sub-compact, with 48- and 32-tooth chainrings or smaller. We explored the idea in a bit of detail in this first look at the Praxis Works Alba and from the comments there it's an idea many of you welcome.

Praxis Works Alba M30 - reverse side.jpg

Praxis Works Alba M30 - reverse side.jpg

What we have here, then, is a fairly conventional pair of cranks, with a five-arm spider and 110mm bolt circle diameter (the same as a compact) cunningly tweaked so that a 32-tooth inner ring will fit. To achieve that, Praxis Works screws the chainring bolts straight into the inner ring, dispensing with the usual nut, and machines a cutaway in the crank spider arms so there's room for the chain.

The right hand crank is permanently mounted to a 30mm hollow aluminium axle, and the whole lot spins on Praxis' own bottom bracket bearings which you'll need to buy along with the cranks. They're £34.99.

Read more: Which chainset is right for you? 

Fitting

Replacing my previous Shimano chainset with the Praxis Works unit was straightforward; the instructions are clear and easy to follow. You'll need the Praxis tools to fit the bottom bracket, but they're only £15, so if you're a competent home mechanic that's probably cheaper than paying a shop to do it.

I found the Praxis chainrings sat slightly closer to the frame than the Shimano rings they replaced, so as well as moving the front derailleur down and taking up the resulting excess cable, I had to slightly tweak the stop screws or the chain would come off the inner ring when downshifting.

Praxis Works Alba M30 - crank detail.jpg

Praxis Works Alba M30 - crank detail.jpg

It doesn't make any difference to shifting, but the rear of my front mech is now a significant distance from the outer chainring. When compact cranks first appeared FSA offered a front mech that better followed the shape of a 50-tooth ring, but it didn't really take off because Shimano tweaked the shape of its standard front mechs to work fine with compacts. If sub-compacts become popular I can see specific front mechs becoming a thing again.

One problem I can foresee is that the front mech mount on some frames won't be low enough to accommodate a sub-compact. You need to be able to lower your front mech about 8mm to go from a 50- to a 48-tooth outer ring. On at least one of my bikes, that's not possible. This isn't an issue if your front mech clamps round the seat tube, but if you have a mount that's brazed, welded or bolted directly to the seat tube, check how much leeway you have.

[h3]Shifting[/h3]

Praxis Works Alba M30 - chainring bolt detail.JPG

Praxis Works Alba M30 - chainring bolt detail.JPG

You press the left hand levers, and shifting happens, exactly as it did with a Shimano chainset. That's no small feat. Shimano is very, very good at the precise design of pins and pick-up teeth necessary for quick shifts under load. Praxis Works rings have a very similar-looking arrangement and they're cold forged from 7075 aluminium, a material choice that bodes well for durability.

Pedalling

If you can detect a two-tooth difference in chainring sizes while Just Riding Along, then you're a far more finely-honed measuring instrument than me. However, I think I spent more time in the big ring than usual with the Alba cranks, though that could just be confirmation bias. Or it could be the hours I've logged on Zwift in the last couple of months.

Praxis Works Alba M30 - shoulder in spider arm.JPG

Praxis Works Alba M30 - shoulder in spider arm.JPG

I certainly didn't miss having a 50-tooth big ring, even on a bike that has a 12-tooth smallest sprocket. I like to go downhill fast, but that's best achieved by getting into a very deep tuck, with chin almost on the stem, bum off the back of the saddle, hands tight against the sides of the stem. Coasting in a very deep tuck an 80kg rider can theoretically hit over 110km/h down a 16% hill. Adding 250 watts of pedal power would add about 3km/h, but moving to the drops so you can control the bike knocks that back down to just over 100km/h. (Curt Austin's Bike Calculator is a fun toy for modelling these things. I've assumed an aerobar is equivalent to a deep tuck.)

In use, then, the Praxis Works Alba M30 48/32 is just like a compact chainset, but with slightly lower gears. I like it a lot.

Who's it for?

The Praxis Works Alba M30 48/32 cranks provide a handy reduction in gearing that brings a typical road bike transmission more in line with what many riders actually need, rather than what we imagine we can use. It's a better choice than a 50/34 compact unless you're fit enough to hammer a 50/11 gear and, lets face it, very few of us are.

In combination with an 11-32 11-speed cassette or '' even better '' a Tiagra 11-34 10-speed, the Alba is also a great chainset for gravel bikes, which can really benefit from having a lower bottom gear.

All that said I wouldn't rush out and replace an existing compact with a sub-compact like the Alba M30 48/32. But if you're buying a new bike, a sub-compact is definitely a spec item you should consider.

However, you may feel that for a sub-compact, the Alba isn't sub enough. Other chainset makers offer 46/30 and even 44/28 sub-compacts. Praxis Works has been very clever in getting a 32-tooth ring to fit a 110mm bolt circle, but there's no way to go any lower. FSA's Adventure and Sugino's OX cranksets get round the problem by having a smaller bolt circle for both rings, or a diddy one just for the inner.

But if a 48/32 chainring combination is exactly what you want, then the Praxis Works Alba M30 48/32 is an excellent choice.

Verdict

Cleverly tweaked cranks that give slightly lower gears than a compact

road.cc test report

Make and model: Praxis Works Alba M30

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's a chainset. It's for, er, people who need a new chainset.

Facetiousness aside, what we're focussing on here is the chainring sizes, 48- and 32-teeth instead of the usual compact 50/34 combo. The idea is that this gives you slightly lower gears for those long, steep climbs. Praxis calls this Micro Compact. We generally refer to this class of chainset as sub-compact.

That aspect aside, Praxis has this to say about the Alba crank in general:

"Every weekend deep in the hills of Santa Cruz, cyclists are brought to their knees by a nasty, four mile, 1800 ft. climb named Alba road. This respected climb was the inspiration for our brand new Alba road crank. With its shapely forged alloy arms connected to our M30 BB and spindle system, the Alba is ready for anything you pedal up against."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

It's important to note that the 48/32 rings here won't work with anyone else's cranks. Praxis machines a step on the crank spider to make room for the chain when it's on the small ring.

Praxis says:

Solid forged arms with 110BCD 48/32, 50/34 , 52/36 options

170 / 172.5 / 175 lengths

M30 AL Spindle – 30mm with 28mm step-down

Requires Praxis M30 BB : BSA, BB86, BB30/PF30 (30mm Drive/28mm NonDrive)

Works with Shimano™ 10/11, Campy 10/11, SRAM 10/11

Approximate weight 775g +/- (172.5 with 50/34)

Forged crank arms

Praxis Cold Forged rings with LevaTime® shifting tech

M30 Spindle/Bottom Bracket System

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Fit and finish is all very tidy. Cold forging is the right way to make cranks and chainrings. Screwing the chainring bolts directly into the inner ring, and machining the spider arms to make chain room is all very clever.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Shifting is smooth and quick. Having a slightly lower gear range is nice when you hit a hill at the end of a ride, and I didn't miss the top end of a 50-tooth ring.

Too early to tell, but the materials used and design details suggest it'll be reasonable to expect a long life. What kills chainrings is chain wear anyway. Look after your chain (clean it completely before lubing it, replace it before it gets too worn) and your chainrings last ages.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

A pair of Shimano 105 cranks weighs 737g and has an RRP of £150, so the Alba M30 is well in the ballpark. Anyone who thinks they can pick up a 12g difference in the weight of their cranks should report to the nearest mattress factory for duty as a pea detector.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well. Shifting is smooth amd quick and the slightly reduced gear range is nice to have.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The looks, the shift quality, the slight gear reduction.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I were building a new bike.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

I really like the Praxis Alba M30 48/32 cranks. They do everything a crankset at this price level should do, and provide a small but handy reduction in overall gearing too. That said, they're decent but not extraordinary value compared to, say, Shimano 105 cranks, especially given how heavily Shimano components are usually discounted, and they don't do anything unusual or special, aside from the facility to fit small rings. They'd be a solid 7/10 without that feature, but it lifts them to 8/10.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 5ft 11in  Weight: 85kg

I usually ride: Scapin Style  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb,

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

27 comments

Avatar
guyrwood [755 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

About time! This looks like a very practical proposition for a lot of cyclists, especially 'new' cyclists or leisure riders laugh

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unconstituted [2355 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Absolutely brilliant. Looking at building a fast tourer at the moment and this would be perfect, if it fits. The frame I've got is band-on so shouldn't be a prob. Wondering what power meter would go with this and if there'd be an issue with the eTap front mech..

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gonedownhill [144 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I would like one of these.  Currently 50-34 / 11-28 on my best bike and could definitely use a lower gear sometimes.

Pretty favourably priced compared to an Ultegra chainset which is about the same price from wiggle. If only it was compatible with a Shimano BB - adding in the Praxis BB and tool puts £50 on top.

In my position getting a GS derailleur and 32t cassette next time my cassette needs replacing is the cheaper option.

 

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Valbrona [177 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Give me a triple any day ...

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700c [1065 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

To look at it another way, running a sub compact could allow you to run a closer ratio cassette, eg 11-23 and still have a ok spread of gears.

It would also save weight over a 53/39 12-27 or whatever the equivalent 'standard' ratio would be..

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jterrier [94 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes

Good but also a bit pointless. A compact with an 11-32 outback will do pretty much everything unless you are desperately unfit. So get maybe 5% fitter to get the same effect as this chainset. Alternatively the 1x stuff from sram with a mega cassette out back does the same for less faff, if its gravel you are taking on.

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SingleSpeed [262 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I'm just going to fix that sentence for you there...

 

A compact with an 11-27 outback will do pretty much everything unless you are desperately unfit.

 

 

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keirik [118 posts] 2 months ago
21 likes

 

I'm just going to fix that sentence for you there...

Ride what you want and ignore the ego driven cyclists who can tell what people should be capable of, age will catch up with them too, and then they'll see why bigger cogs outback can help people keep cycling as they get older

 

Avatar
http404 [4 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes
keirik wrote:

 

I'm just going to fix that sentence for you there...

Ride what you want and ignore the ego driven cyclists who can tell what people should be capable of, age will catch up with them too, and then they'll see why bigger cogs outback can help people keep cycling as they get older

 

Well written, Sir.

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Vejnemojnen [219 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

great, but first, most people should learn to pedal with cadence. 99% of the time, 11t starter cog is just plain unneccesary for a leisure cyclist. even 12t is seldomly used.

 

50-34 with 13-29 block is enough for almost any situation. imho.

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Terence the Tractor [2 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
jterrier wrote:

Good but also a bit pointless. A compact with an 11-32 outback will do pretty much everything unless you are desperately unfit. So get maybe 5% fitter to get the same effect as this chainset. Alternatively the 1x stuff from sram with a mega cassette out back does the same for less faff, if its gravel you are taking on.

 

How is 1x a better option at 4 times the price and a new wheel? Also, in my experience beginners really enjoy being told they just need to train harder, then they can enjoy the sport.

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LastBoyScout [141 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Nope, can't see the point, either, for a 2-tooth difference. Surely it's cheaper and easier to change the cassette for something a bit bigger.

I've got a standard 53/39 9 speed on one bike, which is fine most of the time, although I don't live anywhere particularly hilly. I did once do a very hilly Etape on it by swapping out the cassette for a the 11-32 one off my mountain bike and that worked a treat.

Since then, I've got a new bike with compact 50/34 11-speed and really don't feel the need to go any lower than that - it's great for the hills, but I'm pretty much running out of gears on the flat.

To me, it stinks of creating a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

Avatar
700c [1065 posts] 2 months ago
6 likes
LastBoyScout wrote:

I've got a new bike with compact 50/34 11-speed and really don't feel the need to go any lower than that - it's great for the hills, but I'm pretty much running out of gears on the flat.

If you run out of gears on the flat at 50/11 you are surely a pro? 43mph at 120 rpm.. hmm..

pretty much anything with an 11t is a big gear - e.g. 48/11 is 41 mph ish at 120 rpm. Taking a bit off the chainrings will benefit the rest of the range with lower jumps, less weight, or easier climbing, if you need it. 

Unless of course you really cannot pedal at more than 100 rpm. And if this is the case, I'd recommend working on cadence as otherwise your knees will not thank you for it!

 

 

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Valbrona [177 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
jterrier wrote:

A compact with an 11-32 outback will do pretty much everything unless you are desperately unfit.

People who make claims like that amuse me no end.

They are either young or do not have broad cycling experiences, or both.

When you are middle aged, see if those gears get you up the Mortirolo or the Muro di Sormano or something similarily tough ...

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Jimmy Ray Will [631 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Just to counteract a point... if you reduce chainring size, the jump between gears out back inceases as each single tooth becomes a greater percentage of the total gear. 

I hope that makes sense

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bendertherobot [1407 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes
LastBoyScout wrote:

Nope, can't see the point, either, for a 2-tooth difference. Surely it's cheaper and easier to change the cassette for something a bit bigger.

I've got a standard 53/39 9 speed on one bike, which is fine most of the time, although I don't live anywhere particularly hilly. I did once do a very hilly Etape on it by swapping out the cassette for a the 11-32 one off my mountain bike and that worked a treat.

Since then, I've got a new bike with compact 50/34 11-speed and really don't feel the need to go any lower than that - it's great for the hills, but I'm pretty much running out of gears on the flat.

To me, it stinks of creating a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

But the problem does exist. Hence 32t cassettes, compacts in the first place. 

This is an alternative method to getting an easier gear. It's also a very nice, high quality replacement chainset. 

And that's the the point really. It's not ONLY available in that spec, you can buy a compact if you like. But, if you want to swap your chainset, have an easier time, there you go.

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Bendurance [14 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

For those that think this is unnecessary; have you tried riding a long 10%+ climb with a fully loaded bikepacking setup towards the end of a 300km day?

Everyone Is different but for me the Praxis Zayante 48/32 with a 11-32 cassette is perfect and will be my setup for this year's TCR. 

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pockstone [85 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Well said Bendurance... TCR...3  little letters to silence the HTFU brigade.

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simondbarnes [51 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

Wow, there are some dicks on here!

More gearing options are a good thing. Imagine if the only choice was 53/39 with a 12/23 cassette. There would be a fraction of the people riding road bikes that there are now.

The option for lower gears opens up road (and 'gravel') cycling to far more people. This seems like a nicely specced chainset. If you don't like the idea then that's fine but it will work for a lot of people (and be specced on a fair number of bikes therefore giving a nice low gearing option out of the box)

Some may say why not get a triple chainset? Well, they're heavier, don't shift as nicely and last time I looked there was bugger all made above Tiagra level. Also, as an upgrade is bloody expensive as new shifter, chainset and mechs ideally required.

Some may say ride more and get fitter / stronger. Not always an option for people short on time who just want to go out for an enjoyable ride when they get a chance.

FWIW I run 53/39 on my summer bike but only because it looks nicer  1

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. . [168 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
Vejnemojnen wrote:

great, but first, most people should learn to pedal with cadence. 99% of the time, 11t starter cog is just plain unneccesary for a leisure cyclist. even 12t is seldomly used.

How does cadence help when faced with a 20%+ climb?

LastBoyScout wrote:

To me, it stinks of creating a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

But then you "don't live anywhere particularly hilly."

 

It always amuses me when people get upset about having more CHOICE

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [219 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
. . wrote:
Vejnemojnen wrote:

great, but first, most people should learn to pedal with cadence. 99% of the time, 11t starter cog is just plain unneccesary for a leisure cyclist. even 12t is seldomly used.

How does cadence help when faced with a 20%+ climb?

 

 

Never said it does  1 But it's funny to see, how people whine about not having a low enough gear for a climb, yet, rigidly obsessed with having a 11t starter cog, which they never use  1 ú

a tighter cassette, which gives you a low gear at the end is always better, than a hugely spread mtb-style cassete.

 

the finer jumps allows you to spare some energy on the flats, because you find your sweet spot easier.

 

13-29 with 50-34. my choice.

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maviczap [38 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
simondbarnes wrote:

Some may say why not get a triple chainset? Well, they're heavier, don't shift as nicely and last time I looked there was bugger all made above Tiagra level. Also, as an upgrade is bloody expensive as new shifter, chainset and mechs ideally required.

 

Some may say ride more and get fitter / stronger. Not always an option for people short on time who just want to go out for an enjoyable ride when they get a chance.

FWIW I run 53/39 on my summer bike but only because it looks nicer  1

Exactly my problem, time! No hills of any length or steepness where I live, so I find it really difficult to really train for long Alpine climbs. Plus I'm not as young as I once was, but I still want to do these climbs.

Had a triple set up once, and the 30t inner was a blessing and allowed me to spin up Alpine climbs, rather than grind.

Can't run a triple on my Di2 set up, so running 50/33 using a TA inner.

But a 48/32 or 46/30 might be perfect or extend the range of my Ultegra GS mech to a 34 tooth cassette using a Wolf Tooth road link. Cheaper than buying an XT Di2 rear mech

https://cycleworx.co.uk/products/wolf-tooth?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=go...

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TypeVertigo [314 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Don't like it? Don't buy it! No need to be a dick about it.

The rest of us weaklings will gladly embrace whatever gearing options we can get.

A cyclocross 46/36T crank gives close ratios and a really usable big ring, but sucks when climbing steep roads. Slapping on a 32 or 30 small ring like what Praxis do (there's a 46/30 version I believe, or was it FSA's?) would be GREAT.

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dgmtc [24 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

More choice = more people who will find the exact setup that'll bring them (even) more cycling joy.

Personally I'm waiting for the Rotor 1-piece 46/30 spider/ring to become available for my gravelbike (running 46/34 now) and since I have rotor 3D+ cranks on both by gravel and my roadbike, I will put the 46/30 cranks on my roadbike when I head to the mountains as I am a sh!t climber, but I still want to have fun.

 

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muppetkeeper [21 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I want one... don't care what some of you cycling fascists say, my gravel bike needs this as my 47 year old asthmatic ass struggles up the Yorkshire off-road hills even with a 32 at the back. 

 

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Vejnemojnen [219 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
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a_P [14 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I'm building my Bokeh with the Sugino 44/30 chainset paired with a 12/28 cassette. I reckon that'll give me a good range of gears for most of the kinds of riding I do - day rides, multi-day bikepacking and trips to the Dolomites/ Alps/ Pyrenees. 

I'd looked at this chainset but the custom chainrings put me off TBH as I much prefer to have a choice of replacement rings available from several different sources than to discover a couple of years later that they've been discontinued.