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  1. #1
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    Looking to switch out my BioPace.

    Hello all,

    I am currently riding an 80s Bianchi Strada LX, and have been told numerous times by numerous people to switch out my BioPace chain ring. I am somewhat new to biking, and especially any kind of modifications. I know that I am currently running it as a ten-speed bike, so any suggestions as to a better chain ring would be great. Thanks.

  2. #2
    djb
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    I bought a touring bike in 1991 that had biopace, promptly had a knee problem that was probably a combination of too much weight on my bike on a rather tough trip with terrible hills and/or the biopace.

    read and heard after that knee problems were associated with it, more when one would pedal with a fast cadence, or revolution your feet are turning.

    I changed them and am glad I did, the regular round chainrings just felt more natural and my knee was happy again.

    chainrings shouldnt be too expensive, shop around as they can range from cheap to outrageously expensive. Id visit a few bike stores toget an idea of wht is available for that crank. take a look at your crank and you may see that with an allen key of proper size, you may well be able to change them yourself without having the crank taken off. If it need tobe taken off, and want to learn todo it, a crank puller tool is easy to use , probably pretty cheap , i bought mine so long ago I have no idea how much it was.

    in any case, should be a cheap switch, maybe 20-30 bucks for two chainrings. but get an idea at a proper shop.

    dont know how much you ride, but biopace came and went the way of the dodo because of the weirdness it caused for knees. read up on it if you want to get more opinions.

  3. #3
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    Yeah. I've been riding for a little under a year now and haven't noticed any knee issues yet, but figured I'd give a "real" set a try. Thanks for the tips.

  4. #4
    djb
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    if you pedal at moderate cadences and its ok for you, perhaps its not worth it.
    My experience was on a too heavily loaded touring bike, with rather diff hills so I was really forcing the issue, and my knees on the steep hills with not enough of low gearing. In fact, after this trip I changed the range of gearing on my bike, so that it would have lower climbing gears, AND I reduced the weight of my things by a good amount for my next trip.

    and I am pretty certain that I would pedal quickly often, making the weird "up and down" feeling in my knees uncomfortable.

    you can do some tests to see how it feels, but I would caution keeping the cadence moderate. what cadence I cant be specific, but listen to your knees. I certainly wouldnt ride on biopace ever again.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Nothing is wrong with Biopace. It is just a bunch of rumors that they are bad for you or that they are bad for a fast cadence. I have arthritis in my left knee, if I mash, I feel it the next day. So, I spin at a high rate. I am usually around 110-120 cadence. I have never had any problems with the Biopace chainwheels. Read Sheldon Brown's (pbuh) article on Biopace and elliptical chainrings. I have had problems with non-biopace elliptical chainrings.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  6. #6
    djb
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    well, I guess the fellow who is asking this question will have to let his or her knees decide, as there are differing opinions obvioiusly. The unbalanced feeling at higher cadences was real for me (I have never had a cadence reader thingee so I dont know the numbers) .

    your knee mileage may vary, and they are your knees, so decide on your own.

    I would say though in the Darwinian pt of view, Biopace did not stick around. If it was all hunky dory then it would still be around and used for it supposed advantages.

    but like I said, if it works for you and you dont have any issues, just use it, that simple. Have fun on your bike whatever the this or the that equipment, better than watching tv.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    flatlands of Orlando FL suggests, get one chainring a round one, a 42tooth and lose the front derailleur and big ring entirely.
    I like Surly {QBP** stainless steel single chainrings.

    Given the Propensity of Shimano to obsolete itself to make "new and Improved" stuff just means the company can make more money pumping up the perceived value of 11 speed wheels, when 5 was already going to get you down the road enjoying the day.

    But the Mortgage in Osaka demands you have more money for the Bills.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    I would say though in the Darwinian pt of view, Biopace did not stick around. If it was all hunky dory then it would still be around and used for it supposed advantages.
    Maybe in the Darwinian view, but this has nothing to do with that. It is more of a marketing thing. Just like Betamax was better than VHS, VHS won because of marketing. With Biopace, the marketing killed it. They pushed the hill climbing aspect, so people thought it was not good at high cadence.

    I have heard many people tell me that it will kill my knees, yet I haven't met anyone that says that that actually rode with biopace. It's all just rumors and hearsay.

    I say to keep riding the Biopace. If you don't want to keep them, you can always send the rings to me. They are getting harder to find.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  9. #9
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
    I have heard many people tell me that it will kill my knees, yet I haven't met anyone that says that that actually rode with biopace. It's all just rumors and hearsay.
    we havent met, but I am neither a rumour nor a hearsay, just some regular bloke who actually didnt like Biopace on my actual knees.

    I appreciate the Beta-VHS reference, I know I know, there are loads of things in life that get marketed into popularity or out of popularity, dont dispute that.

    again, we have diff experiences on it. I suspect individual knee specs, riding technique, past injuries or whatever , all play a factor.
    All I can relate are my experiences, and the "unbalanced" weird feel for me, which when I changed my chainrings back to round ones, it felt immediately better and more of a natural , forgiving movement for my knees.

    *silver lining to this was that with my ring changes, I read up and discovered "gear inches" charts and as a result got a much better understanding of gearing and how to have diff ratios with diff sized chainrings.
    **I would send you mine but completely uncharacteristicly of me, I tossed them out as I did not want to even have a whiff of putting them back on a bike, so much I was convinced that they had caused my knee problem during my bike tour.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
    Maybe in the Darwinian view, but this has nothing to do with that. It is more of a marketing thing. Just like Betamax was better than VHS, VHS won because of marketing. With Biopace, the marketing killed it. They pushed the hill climbing aspect, so people thought it was not good at high cadence.

    I have heard many people tell me that it will kill my knees, yet I haven't met anyone that says that that actually rode with biopace. It's all just rumors and hearsay.

    I say to keep riding the Biopace. If you don't want to keep them, you can always send the rings to me. They are getting harder to find.
    If they were good for what they claimed shimano would have kept making them. When they make a mistake they simply stop making the item.

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  12. #12
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    I suspect individual knee specs, riding technique, past injuries or whatever , all play a factor.
    All I can relate are my experiences, and the "unbalanced" weird feel for me, which when I changed my chainrings back to round ones, it felt immediately better and more of a natural , forgiving movement for my knees.
    I agree that technique can cause knee pain. If I ride one of my bikes without clipless, requiring me to mash than spin, my knee will start hurting, especially the next day. Luckily, only a couple of my bikes don't have clipless and are only used for walking the dog, short trips to get dinner, etc. No long distance at all.

    When I am spinning a bike that has Biopace, I can't feel any difference than any of my bikes with round rings. This might have to do with my low pressure/high cadence technique. I will have knee pain if I use a slower cadence, more power than my usual technique, round or Biopace rings. I have a bike that used to have Sugino's Ovaltech. I could feel the small ring when climbing a hill. I did not like that. That ring got replaced quickly.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  13. #13
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidad View Post
    If they were good for what they claimed shimano would have kept making them. When they make a mistake they simply stop making the item.
    No, they stop making them because they didn't sell. Not because they were no good.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Don't do it. Biopace is making a comeback.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

  15. #15
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellweatherman View Post
    Don't do it. Biopace is making a comeback.
    In the 70's, Bicycling Magazine had the same ad every month for an eliptical chainring from some small manufacturer. It was much more eliptical than the Shimano/Sugino rings. I wonder if those were noticiable? I never could notice Biopace, I think it was more marketing hype than function.

    OP, I bet you'll find a new crankset is close to the price of new rings.

  16. #16
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    Biopace (or oval chainrings)is great for some stuff like TT, but for serious cycling, etapes, criterium the thing doesnt work at all. Anything that has to do with sudden chances in pacing like a "real race" is not achievable 100% using biopace.

    It helps with the pedaling, helps to keep the pedaling round, the "dead spot" is almost gone etc etc but if you need to go from 80 rpms to 120rpms and then keep those 120rpms you suffer a lot because the chainring is not designed to do that. Biopace was designed to keep the rider pacing, and that in amateur world works fine. The thing never proved to be useful in racing at all, in a matter of fact shimano took them off the line after a few months. I was like 16 when this came up and used it for 1 week then put regular chainrings. Couldnt sprint with it, neither use it in a race. Good for sight seen tho.

    It can be helpful in the mountains also because helps you to keep the cadence if you have problems doing it and if you aren't a climber. Besides that and TT (with the whole gear IN, evans style) i don't see any other use for it all.

    Probably will work fine for the OP, but if the idea is doing some racing with it, i would advice to take them out.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ultraman6970 View Post
    Biopace (or oval chainrings)is great for some stuff like TT, but for serious cycling, etapes, criterium the thing doesnt work at all. Anything that has to do with sudden chances in pacing like a "real race" is not achievable 100% using biopace.


    So, you are saying that non-round rings don't work for "serious cycling"?

    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

  18. #18
    djb
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    I am calling the SPCA

    flogging

    horse

    dead

  19. #19
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    I use bikes having both Biopace and round chainrings and regularly ride at 90-100rpm cadence on flats. I've found Biopace to be easier on my bad knee than round, and prefer them for winter riding (cold and low cadence kills that knee). They do feel weird to me when the bike is on a trainer though, but in actual riding I like them.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all of the tips everyone! I think I will stick with it for a short period of time. Currently, I commute on flats only and was just told that I would go fast, smoother, etc., on something other than the Biopace. I may go out next week and just snag a standard chain ring set and see which one I really prefer. Any good deals, or good brands/models to look for when shopping or are they pretty much all standard fare?

  21. #21
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    FYI, I've never found BioPace to be slower. I actually felt the opposite, that I was faster. I didn't have numbers to back that up either so I'd have to vote for no difference. BTW, do the people telling you this crap have any actual experience? Or do they talk out their asses?

  22. #22
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    Two of the four or so people that have told me worked at my LBS. One of the other two people didn't say "It sucked" or anything, just that it isn't efficient, it's gimmicky, and "you don't need it."

  23. #23
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    curiosity killed the cat.....
    i know its binary i just haven't translated
    what's that mean?
    01101010101010001010
    http://revelstone56.tripod.com/index.html
    Hey technically I'm not crazy. The doctors even said so. I just do what the voices tell me and we all get along fine.

  24. #24
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    if it aint broke..don't fix it. the only one you have to impress by riding is you. everyone else is way in front of you and could care less. the others are so far behind you they pedalling too hard to think about your biopace. ..... if your feet go round, and the bike goes forward, ya done good. keep your money and buy a cold one after your ride. that'll work.
    http://revelstone56.tripod.com/index.html
    Hey technically I'm not crazy. The doctors even said so. I just do what the voices tell me and we all get along fine.

  25. #25
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by revelstone View Post
    curiosity killed the cat.....
    i know its binary i just haven't translated
    what's that mean?
    01101010101010001010


    There's only 1 person that knows. There is more to the signature than others will ever know. Except maybe one other person.
    Livestrong. The personal fundmaker of Lance Armstrong. The company who are in business to not donate to cancer research, but only to inform people that cancer is bad.

    Armstrong. The man without integrity, no care for the sport, and no problem with testing positive for EPO and making donations to cover it up.

    01101010101010001010

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