Plenty of choice over crank length…
… and chainring sizes
Carmina triple chainset 26/36/46 £169.99
Back in the good old days (sorry, couldn’t resist saying that), when derailleur-geared bikes only had five freewheel sprockets on the back, it was common to choose exactly what ratio you wanted. Freewheel manufacturers made a variety of custom options to cater for the demand, all be it from a choice of only five sprockets! To achieve the desired gear ratio it was also normal to choose which size chain rings you used on the front. Back then, normally only two rings were used, since triple chainsets were vary rare. Manufacturers like Stronglight and the more up market TA enabled this to be done; both had a large share of the market as a result; Shimano back then were far less popular than they are today.
As sprockets increased and triple chain sets became commonplace, the variety of gears naturally increased to the extent that it is now less of a problem to achieve the desired gear ratio ‘off the peg’. However, many still prefer to choose a specific set of chain ring sizes. Tourists especially often desire slightly lower all round gearing than the faster set up usually found on road bike specific chainsets, triples included, most of which are 30/42/50 or 52; for many this is just larger than needed.
Stronglight and TA still exist and, as then, offer a full custom built service. TA is still the more upmarket of the two, with very well made and finished products. Many buy their quality chainsets on merit as apposed simply to achieve custom chainring sizes. The most popular is the ‘Carmina’ as used here with chainring sizes from as low as 24t up to 60t and with crank lengths from 150 to 180mm. This flexibility is achievedat an economical price through the use of a replaceable CNC-machined spider. Simply choose the spider that suits your chainring selection and match it with your preferred crank length. There are spiders available for various BCDs and for both double and triple setups.
A triple setup to achieve lower overall gearing is what most buy TA for. 26/36/46 with a 13-29 cassette will give a reasonably high top gear as well as a set of useable low gears that should get even an unfit rider up most climbs (mid 90” top with most wheel tyre combinations and high 20” low). Just as importantly, the most often used gear ratios are also in the chainring/sprocket combinations where the chain line is as straight and therefore as smooth as possible, making the whole transmission also last longer as a result. The Carmina Triple is available either as a standard package with 26/36/46 or 28/38/48 chairings combos but with crank length to choice for £169.99 or as a custom package with chain ring choice of any combination to order for £199.99, which seems a bit odd as, even if you order the standard package, it all arrives separately anyway!
TA offers a ‘JIS’ [Japanese Industrial Standard -ed.] taper bottom bracket assembly. This is arguably less impressive than the chainset as the bearings are not in their own protective housing. This leaves them more exposed inside the frame and easy to damage/crush when fitting should the cups be over tightened; easily and quite often done! However, since I have ridden 3000 miles on one my concerns about the bearings themselves being more exposed are starting to diminish. In conclusion, this is a well-made chainset, not cheap, but to many, myself included, worth the investment.