John Grafton had already established himself as a forward thinking designer of aftermarket mountain bike components, particularly with the Grafton Speed Controller cantilever brakes which put the Grafton name firmly on the map.
Dreams of producing Grafton cranks had been there for a while, but it took a phone call out of the blue from an old acquaintance by the name of Phil Trenerry of Precision Tooling to set the ball in motion. It turned out that Phil and his father John had already designed a lightweight mountain bike crank, but they wanted someone with experience to help market their product. A verbal agreement was made, stating that Precision Tooling would manufacture the cranks and John Grafton would market them as a Grafton product in 1991.
Lightweight mountain bike cranks had landed, and these sleek dog bone style crank arms were at the forefront of a revolution which would spawn a multitude of super-light cranks.
They are machined from 7075-T6 aluminium billet with the arms gently tapering from the bottom bracket to pedals. To reduce weight further, the sides of the arms have machined grooves running from top to bottom. It appears that almost every spare gram of fat has been removed and yet the crank arms still remain stiff in use.
They were only offered with a 110 BCD triple spider which was attached using 3M Scotchweld adhesive, then fixed with a steel 5mm allen head bolt.
One unique feature of these cranks is that the pedal thread holes do not go all the way through the crank arms. While this adds extra strength to the area, it means the option of tightening/removing you pedals using an allen key is now lost.
Colour choices were limited to Black, Polished (non-anodised) and Silver, but other colours were available upon request.
The cranks were very well received upon release, but a disagreement between the two parties brought about a swift end to their relationship
within a year. This resulted in Precision Tooling marketing the cranks under their new Topline brand name as Topline Mountain in 1992, and John Grafton moving onwards and upwards with his own beautiful Grafton Joystix which were released the same year.
Generally speaking, anyone who claims Speed Sticks are a Grafton product is shouted down. The main reason being that Precision Tooling designed and manufactured the cranks and John Grafton had no input other than to put his name on them and push them into the marketplace for a limited time. And as they were then sold for many years later under the Topline brand, many people only ever knew them as Topline.
But for those who are interested, for period specific mountain bike builds, there are subtle differences between Grafton Speed Sticks and
Topline Mountain cranks. The first being that the balls at the back of the pedal threads have a rounded profile on the Speed Sticks, while the balls were machined flat on Topline’s – this resulted in more clearance between the cranks and the frame, so a shorter bottom bracket axle could be used which would reduce the QFactor. And the second difference is that the spider on the Speed Sticks is secured with a steel 5mm allen head bolt, while the Topline’s feature a titanium bolt with its head ground down so it looks like a stud – the spider was never meant to be removed and this ensured it couldn’t be.
Axle: JIS Square taper
Colour: Black, Silver, Polished (non-anodised)
Weight: 432g (175mm) for crank arms only