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  1. #1
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    MTB cranks on roadbike?

    So I've been searching for the best option to get a lower gear range for touring on my cyclocross bike.

    I was thinking, if its possible, maybe finding a cheap pair of shimano lx or xr cranks, and trading out my compact crankset, to get the smaller chain rings.

    I currently have a 105 front derailleur, so i was wondering if it would work to get a shimano crankset with say a 22/32/44 chain ring combo and taking off the big ring, and just using the 32 and 22. Would it be possible to use the 105 derailleur with that set up?

    EDIT: Or what about getting a road triple, and taking off the big ring, and changing the smallest ring for something a little smaller. and using the 105 FD i already have?

    Crankset FSA Omega MegaEXO External Bearing, CNC 36/46T Rings Bottom Bracket FSA MegaEXO External cartridge bearing

    Front Derailleur Shimano 105 Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra RD6600 Shifters Shimano 105 10-speed (20 gears total) Cassette/Freewheel 10-speed, 12-25T Chain KMC-DX10, 10-speed
    Last edited by 530farm; 05-31-09 at 01:37 PM.

  2. #2
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    Are you sure you want that drastic of a change in your gearing? If so, there are deraillers out there designed for road shifters and small chain rings.

    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...87&category=71

    It's out of stock though so who knows how available it is. But it should have no problems shifting a 22-32 double.

    Have you considered a cassette change instead?

  3. #3
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    Most recent vintage "MTB" cranks are designed for off road bikes with rear suspension and large rear triangles. As a result, they stick out much further from the frame than a typical "road" bike crank set. However, there are some good choices for lower gears if you consider a few other ideas. I use a Sugino XD triple crank on two of my road bikes. These have 24-36-46 rings on front, and work quite well for almost any terrain out there. These are square taper cranks that need a bottom bracket like a Shimano UN54. I use early 1990s vintage Shimano LX or XT derailleurs on my road bikes that have the Sugino XD triple crank. The rear LX or XT derailleurs have enough cage to take care of chain slack, and the front seem to fit the curve of the crank very well (which helps shifting) because they were designed before MTB crank sets went to the "micro drive" 22-32-42. One other note, the Sugino XD crankset has 110 bolt spacing for the large and middle rings, and 74mm bolt spacing for the small ring. This provides a huge choice of rings in both brand and size.

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    zephyr, what shifter are you using with the LX/XT FD?

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Soma Doublecross:

    Shimano XT: Crankset, cassette, RD.
    Shimano Ultegra: STI, FD.

    Chainrings: 22/ 32/ 48
    Cassette: 11-34

    Initially installed stock 22/32/44 rings, but FD cage was so long that it collided with the chainstay when the cage was still 3/8" above the big ring, and shifting was poor. Swapping the 44 for a 48 solved the problem and gave taller top gears. Be aware this is outside the chainwrap specs for the RD. On the small-small combo, the lower chain is about 1/4" away from rubbing the upper pulley.

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    So, you want a low gearing...

    Here are the options:

    1. In case you don't mind the large Q-factor of MTB cranksets, Middleburn offers 44/29 in their RS7 setup, and Surly's Mr.Whirly is another 44/29. Another solution is Stronglight's Oxale2 with 44/29 as well.

    2. If you prefer the small Q-factor of road cranksets, TA Carmina (made by TA Specialites) is one with different spiders, the smallest being with 94 mm bolt circle diameter. It will accomodate 44/28 (up to 56/40). Peter White sells these in the US, and they are expensive. Another contender is the VBC crankset from White Industries, where you can go as low as 42/26 but the shifting won't be exactly butter-smooth.

    A good bet is using a road triple with removed outer ring, and 40/24 or 42/26. Triple Q-factor, but still beats the MTB Q-factor.
    All these solutions would require change of your FD to a double (compact likely) one. Keeping the triple FD with a double ring set would aggravate you sooner or later. The shifters you can keep.

    MTB triples are also an option, which you already covered.

    All cases where you use a MTB crank (double or triple), you need to also recosnider the chainline your FD could offer, because it is unlikely it would be able to shift MTB chainline in a nice fashion. There are solutions like using a MTB FD, or a road one with a large (for your seat tube size) clamp, where you apply a custom shim to offset the FD off-center as needed.

    Me, I also needed low gearing (not as low as your preference), considered every option of the above, and finally went with 50/34 and a custom 12-32 cassette. My previous setup was 50/39/28 with 12-27. My old 105 RD shifts to and from the 32 without any trouble, so I kept it.

  7. #7
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    Is there a reason you want the 22/32/44 combination in particular?

    You don't have to go to the mtb cranksets to get small rings, you could just get an old style square taper crankset like a Stronglight or Sugino "trekking" or "cyclotouriste" crankset.

    I've got a Stronglight Impact triple, 46/34/24 and in combination with a Sram PG950 12-26 cassette, Tiagra (4503) front derailleur and LX rear derailleur. I get a 25" low gear. Of course if I went with a 28, 32 or 34T big cog, I could go much lower.

    Other than finding a bottom bracket width that gives you the chainline that you want, it would only be a matter of if or not the front derailleur cage clears your chainstay.

    You can just duplicate what I did.
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    You can always get a "compact" crank. Double rings, but a wider teeth spread than normal road cranks. Like 34-50, instead of 42-52. Gives you a lower ratio (approaching an MTB) without having to go to a triple crank. Nashbar sells something like that.
    Of course, a short road rear derailleur might not be able to handle the increased spread. Gotta check your particular situation.

  9. #9
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    This has been a really good thread so far. Personally, I don't like standard road bike triples. They're basically a double with a granny gear thrown on. My preference is an old style touring/vintage MTB crank with a 48 or 46T big ring. I seldom use the big ring on my Veloce triple crank and wish I had something like my old Deore 48/38/28 gearing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 530farm View Post
    So I've been searching for the best option to get a lower gear range for touring on my cyclocross bike.

    I was thinking, if its possible, maybe finding a cheap pair of shimano lx or xr cranks, and trading out my compact crankset, to get the smaller chain rings.

    I currently have a 105 front derailleur, so i was wondering if it would work to get a shimano crankset with say a 22/32/44 chain ring combo and taking off the big ring, and just using the 32 and 22. Would it be possible to use the 105 derailleur with that set up?

    EDIT: Or what about getting a road triple, and taking off the big ring, and changing the smallest ring for something a little smaller. and using the 105 FD i already have?
    What rings are on your compact crank now, and which gears do you use the most?
    Do you use indexed shifting?
    What is your cassette? ....how many speeds, cog range.
    What size tires are you using?

    It doesn't sound like you really know what you need. 22-32 rings on a touring/cyclo bike is too low unless all you do is go up, so let's be realistic here

    Are you aware that your compact double, which is a 110 BCD, can use down to a 33t ring?

    A 110 BCD triple is the most versatile crankset ever known. Huge selection of rings.... from many brands. As mentioned, the Sugino triple is a modest choice. A TA Carmina a pricey one, but you can change the BCD if you need to in the future. Bilenky offers a decent price for it.

    A 105 double(9 sp version or less) can do a triple if you're using closely spaced big rings(3 to 5 teeth) and a granny.... like 26/44/48, or whatever you want....down to 24 teeth. Don't worry about capacity ratings of the FD..... they're way underrated(A 105 double can handle 24t, it's rated for 15t). I've heard the new 10sp stuff does not work for this... the cages don't move enough anymore. For a crossover triple, you'll need a triple FD.

    If you get a road triple, which uses a 130/74 BCD, the smallest ring you can for the big rings is 38t. So, if you wanted a 24/38, that would work with your existing 105 FD. A 24t ring is plenty low. But, the 130 BCD limits you. If you wanted to lower that, you could get a Sugino triple, take off the big ring, then you could use down to a 33t for the large ring, and a 24t small ring. 33's are only available from TA, and a bit pricey. A 34 is easier to get for less. You could easily run a 24/34 if you wanted to..... but you'll run out of gears sometime... so you may as well keep the third ring on and run the full triple. If you know how to shop, you can get a good triple FD for anywhere from $10 on up from ebay or retail.

    Or, if you use a road triple.... you could run a 24/38/42 with your existing 105 double FD.

    The issue here is.... you gotta know what gears you want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    A 110 BCD triple is the most versatile crankset ever known. Huge selection of rings.... from many brands.

    The issue here is.... you gotta know what gears you want.
    Great point!
    You might want to check your local bike salvage, if you have one. Ours has like two 5-gallon buckets of loose chainrings. Every conceivable BCD, # of teeth, etc. You can take your crank down and go through the pile searching for several rings that will fit your crank. If they charge $3 a ring, you can gather a whole selection of sizes to try. Once you find the ones you like, you're set. Plus, if your riding or preferences change in the future, you've got the other ones to play with.

    I did this on my Schwinn hybrid, only wanting two chainrings but not happy with the stock sizes. I eventually settled on Biopace 36 and a steel 46. A little extra "umpf" in the lower range and higher wear on the upper. Cost me $6.
    Last edited by bikemeister; 05-31-09 at 09:11 AM. Reason: text

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    I just edited the original post with my drive train info...

    I think i'm trying to get close to a 1:1 ratio at the lowest, as whatever route i go will be used exclusively for loaded touring.

    One of the reasons i am asking about going the route of a road triple, with only the middle and granny gear, is because the rear derailleur is a short cage, so to accomadate a triple, i would have to invest in new RD, right?

    And its a 10 speed set up, so i dont think the FD will accomadte the triple like suggested above.

    I was searching ebay and there is some cheap road triples out there, complete or just arms. Do you think the current drive train could work, with a road triple with say a 26-39 or something, keeping the rest of the parts current?

  13. #13
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    I would not compromise on gearing to save the paltry cost of deraillers, especially a rear derailler. My suggestion for you to get the most versatile road gearing would be to get a road triple, replace the granny ring with a 24/26/28 (depending on your cassette choice), and then add an appropriate cassette. Even with a standard road triple and 30 tooth granny ring, you can get below a 1:1 ratio by using a wide range cassette (for 10 speed, you'd need to use an IRD cassette though). My commuter is (well, was but no need to get into that now) set up with a 52/42/30 triple and an 11-32 cassette (9 speed). Tons of low end for steep hills and heavy loads and no compromise on the top end. I used a 105 triple front derailler and an XTR rear derailler (slight splurge but I couldn't pass it up for $100).

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    530farm.... did you not just get this bike..... I recall you posting about it before you bought it. Touring friendly gearing on CX bike Help

    Don't take this personal.... but you just bought the wrong bike for touring. You're trying to make a touring bike out of gears intended for road racing/cyclocross. You've painted yourself into a corner here. It was the wrong bike to buy in the previous thread, and it's the wrong bike still.

    There is no easy fix.

    Your best bet is to either return the bike, if you can... and get one with proper components, or just buy the proper ones and sell the stuff you just bought! It isn't pretty, but it's the truth.

    All you need is a triple.... like a Sugino XD with 24-36-46 rings... about $100. A tapered BB $20-$40. A new FD, RD and cassette. You don't need 10 speeds, 9 is more than adequate, but then you'll need some more shifters.

    Did you really know what you were buying? We've all made those mistakes... it's not the end of the world. This is very common theme in the forum.... just buying the wrong bike or parts for their intended use. Usually they got "a good deal".... which turns to bite them in the arse. Such is life.

  15. #15
    Senior Member adaminlc's Avatar
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    OP, one to consider is trying to tour with what you have. The beauty of touring is that you don't need super specific components. I tour on a cross check with homemade panniers and stock cassette. I ran a mtb cassette for a while, but when it wore out I went back to the stock cassette. It is more difficult, but can still be done. All I am saying is don't knock it till you try it.
    I like fat tires and I cannot lie...

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    Trust me, i did plenty of research and this is the bike i want... I ride a bike every day, for commuting and enjoyment purposes and the cyclocross is what i want for that, if i'm lucky i'll get to spend 10-20 of those 365 days on a tour... i've done my research and a cyclocross bike is perfectly fine for touring, if set up correctly... the drivetrain it comes with is exactly what im looking for in my everyday ride, though i need different gearing for the RARE occasion when my rig is fully loaded.... And due to the fact that i don't want to change my drivetrain permanently, just have a lower gearing set up which i can throw on when i do get the oppurtunity to go on a trip; i'm just looking for the simplest and most economical option to get that gearing for those 10 or so days out of the year...

    Though i'm sorry for posting another thread... I just wanna make sure i understand all my options and get the best bang for the buck

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    adaminlc--- I know i can get by with what i have, though it may lead to some walking up hills depending on the trip, which i would rather not do.... I did a tour on a my old roadbike with similar gearing and would prefer to have a lower option then i did there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 530farm View Post
    i don't want to change my drivetrain permanently,
    This is a very important piece of information that until now, you have failed to share with us. This thread and your resistance to most of the suggestions makes a lot more sense now.

    Based on the above, I think the easiest thing to do would be to install a 34 tooth chainring on your crankset and then add an 11-34 IRD cassette at the rear with a MTB rear derailler. You'll have your 1:1 ratio and getting back to the stock config will simply mean swapping the cassette and rear derailler (though you could just leave the MTB RD on all the time). The 36 to 34 tooth chainring can be a permanent modifcation that I doubt you'll notice.

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    I apologize for leaving that out, and if i'm coming off stubborn.... I appreciate all your responses...

    Yeah that's what im leaning to, though may just go with a cheaper sram 9speed cassette and a jtek shiftmate, unless you think there is a significant difference in the quality of a basic sram and IRD.

    For a mtb derailleur, what would you recomend? is the deore lx good, or should i spring for the xr, or something different?

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    For both the cassette and the derailler, the only real difference is weight. I used a PG-970 cassette with an XTR derailler and the combo always shifted flawlessly. I had originally intended to use a Deore LX derailler but I bought the wrong cage length (medium instead of long) and had to find something else after I realized my mistake. For a touring bike, you probably don't care too much about a 0.2 lb. savings so you might as well go with the cheaper parts.

  21. #21
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    A Deore RD works just fine. For touring you need nothing more. This one's even a bargain.... http://www.cambriabike.com/shopexd.a...EAR+DERAILLEUR

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    530farm,

    Re-read my previous post.
    I achieved what you seem to need by using a 50/34 front and a 12/27 rear (10-speed) cassette, on which I removed the 16t cog and added a 32t cog from a multitude of MTB worn out cassettes I have laying around. All of them have the middle of the cogset worn, and the 11t and 32t cogs were pretty much OK.
    If you have MTB friends, they could supply you with 32t or 34t cogs from their used up stuff. IRD cassettes are an option, but you don't need to spend the $$ if you could make your own custom cassette. I guess a nearby bike shop would help you out with 32t cogs as well.

    You don't need MTB-specific RD, most 105 and Ultegra road long-cage RD would readily shift to 32 with ease.
    This, and the fact that Campagnolo Centaur and Veloce long-cage RD can smoothly shift onto 34t cog, are the best kept secrets in the bike industry.
    Now, road Shimano RD and a 34t cog may be pushing it. You could use 33t ring in front and 32t cog out back and have your 1.03:1 ratio.

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    It's likely he'll need a new RD. I think he's got a short cage version. $22 plus shipping for the Deore is hard to beat vs. the high price of the road stuff.

    However, I see Cambria also has this, what a deal. http://www.cambriabike.com/shopexd.a...EAR+DERAILLEUR

    Then he'll never need to change the RD.... just the cassette and chain.

    Good Call IK_biker !

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    Ik biker--- i was considering getting a 34 chainring... And i do like the idea of adding a cog to my current cassette to get that granny gearing, I may consider doing the 32t, and a 34chainring and i could probably settle with that. Though i do have a short cage ultegra RD and i heard mixed views on a long cage road RD for a 32t, and wasn't sure if i should risk it...

    Gathr--- Thank you for showing me that website, that deore RD, and their cassettes are at great prices.... and that Ultegra Rd is a hell of a deal, though the description describes it as a gs mid cage, and the add to cart option says gs/long.... while shimano long cages are suppose to be sgs i believe? So i may call to check on that..

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    I did a quick google on that Ultegra 6500 GS RD, and it seems for that model... which is the triple long cage version..... it was called a GS. This was 2004. I would still call to affirm, but it seems correct.

    Here's the Shimano tech doc ... http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/te...9830611842.pdf

    .... now the only issue is the max cog size. If you are considering the 34, the you are safe with the Deore. If you're wondering if the Deore RD is good enough.... I know Rivendell was selling this with their touring bikes..... so it works just fine.

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