Cranksets (and Bottom Bracket sets).
Over recent decades innovation has resulted in changes to bicycle cranksets and bottom brackets. However most of the new ideas and products don't represent improvements for long distance touring bikes.VWRs are using a Japanese Sugino crankset that has been around since before the advent of "outboard" bottom brackets and "compact" gearing.
In the search by bicycle parts companies for an edge in competition by making bikes lighter, the solid bottom bracket axle was a target. If it could be hollow then it could be lighter. But in order to be hollow it had to be larger in diameter.
The development of outboard bearing systems was the key to being able to use a thin walled and lightweight bit of tubing as the bottom bracket axle. In this setup, the bearings are outside the frame.
Touring bike folks are fine with this except for two problems.
First, is that the bearing system itself in outboard bottom brackets is problematic. The bearings are small so have the problems of small bearings that are under significant load. Also, they are not supported on their sides properly. It is common for these bottom brackets to last less than 5,000km, even less than 3,000km.
Second, outboard BB systems need special tools. These are not widely available in many countries. Outboard bearings are sealed in the assembly that screws into the BB shell of the frame. So everytime the bearings flog out, the cups have to be removed from the frame. Because they experience greater loads than any other bearing on a bike, they are kept in very tightly by a long tool.
Parts companies try to integrate everything so one item depends on specific other components from the same company. Bike designers get dragged along to an extent. Here it was not the cranks or chainwheels that were the problem. It was the bottom brackets.We were early adopters of the outboard system but we discovered their problems. We needed a better bottom bracket. So we asked bike shop mechanics if there were any non-outboard BBs that stood out.