Review: Sugino OX901D Compact Plus Crankset – Need low gears?

For those of us looking for a solution to gravel climbing challenges… like “I’m challenged by climbing”, there are now a number of solutions to getting lower gearing than standard road cranksets. If you have an MTB crank, stop reading here, because you already have low gears. However, I am particularly bothered by the Q-factor of MTB bottom brackets, so I have road bottom brackets and cranks installed on my gravel bikes.

46/30 tooth Sugino chainrings installed.

I also find the steep climbs in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Georgia to be harder than they need to be, even with a compact (50-34, 46-34) crankset. A solution I have used in the past with great success is the Wolftooth/Lindarets Roadlink, that allows for a massive 40-tooth cassette.

To solve this crank dilemma, I successfully employed the Sugino OX901D “Compact Plus” crankset that allows for a 30, 32 or 34 tooth small chainring. At the time of writing, there are at least three or four cranksets of this type available on the market.

Note: from JOM, in the past, we’ve reviewed the Praxis Works Zayante M30, and have reviews of cranksets from White Industries, FSA and Rotor coming soon.

The backside of the crankset is relieved to save weight.

I have fond memories of Sugino from my first childhood in the ‘70’s. They were apparently overwhelmed by the success of Shimano, and I thought they had disappeared. Not so. Nowadays, Sugino manufactures a bunch of cranksets, bottom brackets and probably other stuff I haven’t looked for or discovered yet.

The Sugino OX901D is a clever solution to getting a smaller inner ring. The design uses two sets of chainring bolts.

The outer ring is 110 BCD (bolt circle diameter) but mounts to the INSIDE of the crank spider.

The inner chain ring is 74 BCD and mounts directly to studs on the crank’s spider. The chainring bolts thread directly into the spider, no nuts.

This allows for a variety of chainring options. The standard options from Sugino range from 44-52 for the outer ring, and 30-36 for the inner ring. The outer ring, because it mounts inboard of the crank spider, may not accept just any 110 BCD ring, because the countersink for the bolt heads is on the backside of the ring.

Not sure what would happen if you mounted a standard ring on there… backward or forwards. Fortunately, there are lots of rings available from Sugino. The inner ring appears to be a standard triple inner. So it may be possible to mount any 74mm BCD ring. Again, Sugino has a good selection, anyway.

The axle is a 24mm standard (so it fits Shimano bottom brackets) with a steel axle. This seems to be where a fair amount of extra weight comes from. The weight of the crankset, without the bottom bracket, was 780gm. I lightened up the crankset a little, by replacing the steel chainring bolts for aluminum (remember there are 10 of them). Add another 80 or so grams for the bottom bracket. For reference, an Ultegra 6800 crankset with 46-34 chainrings weighed 770gm with the bottom bracket, so you add 90gm using the Sugino crankset. The crankset came with a Sugino bottom bracket, but I already had an Ultegra bottom bracket installed, thus that one remains unused. As far as I could tell, the Sugino bottom bracket was of high quality.

The Sugino crankset installed perfectly into the Shimano bottom bracket. Rather than the proprietary preload gizmo found on Shimano cranks, the preload bolt on the Sugino took a standard allen key (see above).

The fit and finish are excellent, and if that is important to you, the crank looks good and good on the bike. It comes in black and silver, with a “classic” or modern option. I bought the modern version, but it is a bit hard to tell the differences between the two from the website pics. All of the versions are 10-11 speed compatible.

OX901D Classic Compact Plus+ in Silver (photo by Sugino).

How did it perform you ask?

Flawlessly. I used it in two events, and a week of gravel riding in Virginia and a little around Alabama. I used it with my standard Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, 11-32 and 11-36 cassettes.

Pictured above is a 28 tooth small chainring. We haven’t tinkered with it… yet.

The crankset never missed a shift. It was used on well-groomed gravel, barely rideable single track, and a boulder strewn ATV trail and never missed a beat.

The Sugino’s heavily machined big chainring ensure excellent shifting performance.

Another nice feature (for me here in Florida) is the 24mm axle. Rather than fussing with swapping chainrings to ride in the flatlands of Florida and its known sandy spots, I just swapped the Sugino for my regular Ultegra 46-34 crankset, providing more appropriate Florida gearing. Maybe a 2-minute task. I didn’t even need to adjust the front derailleur.

If you are looking for lower gears, the Sugino OX91D crankset is a fabulous option. It is pricey, anywhere from $US 350.00 – 399.00, but less so than some of the more recent alternatives. In addition, though subject to availability, Sugino makes or did make OX8, and OX6 ($US 259.00) versions that are affordable, but a bit heavier.

Sugino Engineering

Note: Merry Sales are the distributor for Sugino in the USA (dealers only). Contact your local bicycle shop for ordering and further information.

21 comments on “Review: Sugino OX901D Compact Plus Crankset – Need low gears?

  1. A 46/30 crank with an 11-32 11 spd cassette gives you a big 11″ jump between the 14 and 16 tooth cogs. Not fun in a hard pace line. Swapping to an 11-36 cassette only reduces the lowest gear 2″ and adds a 13″ jump between the 13 and 15 tooth cogs, not worth the gain.
    Snicker if you like, but I will stick with my beautiful Dura Ace 7410 crankset with 48/39/28 (triplizer) chainrings and a 12-13-14-15-16-18-21-25-32 9 speed cassette. The biggest jumps are 9″ between the 12-13 and 25-32. Plus, the SKF bottom bracket is guaranteed for 100,000 miles!

    1. Agreed, a few of the gaps on the 11-speed 11-32 are not ideal, but it has been working pretty well for me. I’d rather assemble a custom Ti 11-32 cassette, but sadly, Cycle Dynamics out of Canada is no longer in business. No laughing at the 7410 triple… anything goes when the climbing gets steep! SKF manufacture some very nice stuff.

  2. Hi Dr. P. – thanks for the thorough and informative review. Since I too use Shimano Hollowtech cranks and BB’s on my bikes; this is a great option for me. In my case, I would opt for something like the 44/30 chainrings with an 11-32 cassette in the back. Perfect for the short steep hills on the dirt roads of southern NH. Nice, to be able to easily switch to my 6800 46/36 with an 11-28 for the paved roads of the SC Low Country in the winter. BTW, I have 20+ year old Sugino cranksets with SKS BB’s on my Cannondale R1000 tandem. Still going strong on my weekly tandem rides with a neighbor and friend who suffers from Parkinsons.

  3. I live in the Carpathian mountains riding on and off road, adventure and gravel on a CX bike.
    For this, I use an SLX 10-speed triple chainset up front fitted with an inside 28 tooth ring.
    The middle ring is an alloy TA 38 tooth, beautifully made, that gives flawless chain pickup and changes. No outside ring, this has been removed, so it is now a double chainring. Perfect for me.
    Other stuff is an 8-speed Shimano cassette, with Campag 10 speed Veloce ergo levers.
    Best cassettes ever were Marchisio enabling you to choose each individual sprocket size, but it looks like they are out of production. Sad.
    Happy riding.

    1. Look up Miche… they manufacture individual cogs for Shimano 8 / 9 / 10 and Campy 10. I’ve use them to replace individual cogs or customize an existing cassette. QBP imports them, so most dealers can get you their goodies.

      1. I know this is a late response, but FWIW: I made a 14–15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25-28-32 cassette from Miche parts. I used this with a 50–39-24 105 crankset. I had used a Shimano 14-28 “Junior” cassette (as above but with a 20t cog instead of the 32t). The Shimano had flawless shifting & reliability (and, incidentally, together with the crank set gave close ratios that I used for fast Audax events & touring in Japan). The Miche was sub-optimal on the largest two cogs. Unlike the Shimano cogs, these larger cogs are not mounted to a spider; they run directly on the cassette body separated by spacers. They are thin and at least on my cassette warped slightly under load and stayed that way. It was often impossible to get the chain on the 32t cog. The smaller cogs worked fine. I may have had a bad batch, but it would cost a lot to test with another one. I was too greedy for an extra-low gear for those Japanese mountains! BTW, 14-28 with 50–34 works great too, though there’s some big shifts across the cassette.

  4. Very nice write-up and the bit about not needing to adjust the front derailleur is compelling. I had been looking at this crankset and might just order it in the upcoming weeks. https://www.alexescycles.com has it. I have ordered from them and they are legit. 5 days shipping from Osaka to Atlanta.
    -Tim-

  5. I have put the OX901 Classic version of this crank to extensive use, with 46×32 ‘rings. Alas and alack, the stock 46T Sugino outer causes the worst chainsuck I have ever experienced. Worse, it took the destruction of a lovely Shimano CX70 front mech. to discover this. Much worse, I only remembered after the fact that I suffered similar diabolical chainsuck from a 46T Sugino chainring 20-odd years ago.

    I subsequently replaced the Sugino ‘ring with a 46T TA Zephr “middle” ‘ring (intended for the middle chainring of a triple, but which has the chainring bolt countersink holes on the correct side of the ring, as you mentioned in your review) and the chainsuck disappeared.

    The bottom bracket durability was also very disappointing. It barely made it through a mostly dry summer’s riding, including the 2016 DK200, before dying a rapid death (on day 1 of a 3-day weekend, don’t you know?). I replaced it with a King and it has been spinning smoothly since.

    Summary: an expensive crank got much more expensive in order to make it usable and reliable. Caveat emptor!

    1. I see that the stock 46T chainring is stamped 46T-36/34. I wonder if it is ramped to shift up from a 34 and 36, but not from a 30 or 32?

      1. @brando Shifting to the big ‘ring wasn’t a problem. The problem was chainsuck, when shifting from the big to the little ‘ring.

        FWIW, a friend recently suffered from a similar issue with a brand, spanking new Compass crank and a Wippermann Connex chain. Switching to a KMC chain (there aren’t any other chainring possibilities for a Compass crank) helped, in his case.

        I was using SRAM chains with the Sugino chainrings. Perhaps others work better? I am not about to experiment, however…

  6. I put this crank on my nice allrounder road and gravel bike last year w 48-32 rings and Shimano BB. I have Campy Chorus 11 sp mechanical with 12-29 in back. I lost a bit of top end, but I have a very nice low end for climbing higher grades. I love it. No issues, great range and Campy shifters which feel great.

  7. In my search for a 46/30 crankset I recalled this article. I also use a Stages Shimano Hollowtech (6800) left side power meter crank arm. Is the Sugino axle compatible with Simano Hollowtech left side crank arms?

  8. Hey, I know this post is date, but perhaps you have an answer to my question. About two years ago I picked up a Sugino XD901 44/30 crankset. I need to replace the small chain ring. I am wondering if the 28t from the XD601 would work to replace the 30T?

    Thanks,

  9. Thanks for posting this great review. Apologies for posting on a review from 2017 but if could ask & if you remember 🙂 what chainring bolts did use when you switched these out? Do you know if standard Shimano alloy bolts will work?

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