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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 08-21-06, 11:44 PM   #1
Tequila Joe
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What drive train ratios are you running?

Hey Guys,

I'm new to CX and am building an experimental CX bike from the Bianchi in my sig. I will buy a "real" CX bike if I find that I ride this CX enough and convert the Bianchi to a SS.

The question I have is concerning gear ratios. I have a 14-28 cassette and a 42-53 chain ring. I think that 53 may be too high for CX but might keep it as it would be good for my winter commutes.

Should I get a triple/compact chain ring? What drive train ratios are you running?

Also, where do you ride your CX? I suspect that most ride CX bikes on dirt roads, commuting and mild single track. Does anyone ride thier CX bike on really gnarly (wish I brought the FS MTB) single track?

Any other suggestions that help me get this bike in shape for CX is greatly appreciated.

Thanks & Cheers,

T.J.
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Old 08-22-06, 08:23 AM   #2
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Joe,
Are you going to race cx? If so I'd say your gears are a bit off but they will do. For two seasons I ran a single 42 tooth chain ring with a 12x27 and it worked great. Last year I switched to a double mostly because I use the bike as a winter training road bike (just swap wheels). You could leave it on the 42 for almost 95% of most cross courses. Now I run a 38x50 with a 13-26 cassette. I would definitely not get a triple for cross but if you are wanting a commuter/touring bike then maybe a triple is good if you live in big mountains but in a cross race it will just get in the way.

I have taken my cross bike on some nasty mountain trails but a mtb is better.
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Old 08-22-06, 12:56 PM   #3
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Hi,

I'm not planning to race...yet, I'm just experimenting with this discipline for now. I raced XC MTB years ago and always had an interest on CX but never got into it.

I was thinking about runnung a single 42 front ring just as you have. With the 14x28 cassette it should be OK for most aspects of CX. I will leave the 53 ring on for now to see if I use it.

Thanks for your input.

Cheers.

T.J.
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Old 08-22-06, 01:12 PM   #4
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I've seen commercially avail. cross cranks with 38/48 rings, so if you find that the single 42t ain't cutting it, you can replace rings for fairly inexpensive.

I've got a 34/46 ringset on my bike with a 12/26t in the back. There are a few times when I wish I had a slightly bigger cog, but that's rare.

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Old 08-22-06, 06:13 PM   #5
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chainrings: 36 & 46
cogs: 12-25 9 speed.
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Old 08-22-06, 07:41 PM   #6
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38/46 and 13-26. If I did not use this bike as an off-season road bike as well, I'd have a single.
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Old 08-22-06, 08:05 PM   #7
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Cool. Thanks for the input guys, Mec.ca has a large selection of chain rings for about $35 CDN each. I will look into getting a 36ish & 46ish rings if my rings don't workout for me.

Another question or two:
Do you use a bash ring?
Hydration pack or bottles?

T.J.
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Old 08-22-06, 08:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
Hydration pack or bottles?
I have a bottle cage for when I use the bike as a roadie. I take it off for racing season. You can't easily shoulder the bike with a bottle on the frame. When I train during race season, I occasionally use a camelbak. Most often, I stick a small bottle in a jersey pocket.
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Old 08-22-06, 08:54 PM   #9
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Looking at your bike, I'd say that as you begin to "morph" it into a quasi-cyclocross bike, the first thing you should do is put on a pair of cyclocross tires, if, of course, you feel the wheels are strong enough. If not, see about some stronger wheels. You don't need to sink $3000 into a pair of Zipp CX wheels, but even something like $200 into a pair of Mavic Open Pros on any decent set of hubs will work.

As for the gearing, stick with what you have right now. The more you ride CX with your bike, the more you will have an idea about higher and/or lower gearing on your chainrings and cassettes. Some guys race single chainrings, many use double, and plenty use the stock setups thier bikes came with, like 48-39 up front and 12-26 on the rear.

Basically, concentrate on your wheels first, and the more you ride CX, the more you'll know what to modify or replace. This is how the modern CX evolved from the road bike, and unless you lay out the cash for a new CX bike, this is a good way to go. This is also how my old beater/training/commuting/playing-around bike became my first "CX" bike back in HS when I could only afford my road and mountain bikes to race on, plus one beater bike. My new, very real CX bike is a long-overdue gift to myself 12 years later.

I ride my bike on the road until I see dirt. My rides take me through short and long dirt paths that are everything from level to steep, across fields that range from grassy to muddy, through sand and just about every kind of surface the roads and not-exactly-roads that Washington DC can throw at a bicycle. As for the rough stuff, it's all about discretion. I'll bang and bounce over rocks and roots, but with finesse and skill rather than bombing them MTB-style.

I ride with a small Camelback, mainly because I don't want waterbottles on the bike if I need to dismount and shoulder the bike, plus it keeps other stuff like pumps off the bike and allows me to carry everything I need for a long ride.
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Old 08-22-06, 09:00 PM   #10
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My first season I ran a steel beater road bike with a 53-42 and a 13 - 25 and lived. Next year came back with a real cross bike with a single 42 and a 12-25, shoulda had a 27. This year, the same bike but since I'm doing more road work on this bike a 48-39 up front and a 13-26 in back.

I think either the 42 single ring or the double 48 - 38 ish is the way to go. Even with the 14t cog you won't get to use that 53 much.

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Old 08-23-06, 06:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tequila Joe
Cool. Thanks for the input guys, Mec.ca has a large selection of chain rings for about $35 CDN each. I will look into getting a 36ish & 46ish rings if my rings don't workout for me.

Another question or two:
Do you use a bash ring?
Hydration pack or bottles?

T.J.
Bash ring is not necessary but most single ring riders will have special guard rings on either side of the chain ring to keep the chain on. Alternatively to that you can just leave the FD on and it will suffice as a chain guard. I even ground down an old chain ring to use as a guard. If you're going to try to hop logs and barriers then a bash ring may be a good thing and it will work as a chain guard too.

Bottle cages are not good in racing if you shoulder your bike which is the proper method for carrying the bike up long run-ups. Take the cages off and cover the holes with electrical tape to keep the mud out. I put one on when I use the bike on the road. Most if not all of the A racers I know do not drink during a race. I cannot seem to go an hour without something to drink so I either get a hand out or put a bottle in my jersey pocket. Hand outs are not aloud in UCI races so I opt for the jersey pocket rather then a bottle cage. I have used a camel back but I personally don't like them for racing.
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Old 08-23-06, 12:24 PM   #12
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48 / 38 chainring and a 12 - 25 cassette. For me, I found that when i'm on-road I live on the 48 and the opposite when I'm off-road. Triple chainring I feel would be overkill, and just more weight.*

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Old 08-23-06, 04:14 PM   #13
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Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the input. I really appreciate your comments.

I will post some photos tonight to show you how far it is "morphed" thus far. Chain rings, bar end shifters (maybe) and perhaps a CX fork w/ cantelever brakes are all that is left.... unless one of you tell me otherwise

Cheers!
T.J.

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Old 08-23-06, 07:16 PM   #14
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OK. Here are a few shots.

This is a picture of the bike when I first got it. A 1987 Bianchi Campione Del Mondo 1987. I picked it up for $5 from a garage sale. What a deal!

Reynolds CroMo frame, full Shimano 105, Weinmann 36 spoke rims, Sugino Crank. There were slight problems with the free wheel and front brake but nothing that couldn't be fixed.


Here it is today. The morph is well on it's way.

The red Jamis saddle came from my wifes Dakar. $0
One bottle cage from MEC $3 (To be removed if I start racing)
Shimano 515 SPD pedals came with my Enduro. Never used $0


A BF friend, uga8589 generously gave me a much needed longer stem. A nice Bianchi stem at that! $0


Some new bar tape. $12.


A little foam and electrical tape to make a chain stay protector. $0
I may take off that 53 ring but will decide in the next few weeks. If so, I may get the 36ish & 46ish rings as suggested.


I really blew my budget on tires... $30 for 2 Tioga Blood Hounds at MEC.
The 14-28 freewheel was donated by my parts bike. $0


So far, I'm into this bike for a whopping $50. Who says biking is expensive!

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 08-23-06 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 08-24-06, 10:08 PM   #15
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Lookin' nice so far. Just enjoy the tires for now and concentrate on your bike handling skills and being able to assess how much abuse the bike can and cannot take (i.e. grassy fields and dirt trails vs. rock gardens and drop offs). Go slowly at first, and build up when the bike starts to feel more and more like an extension of you when riding technical off-road sections.
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Old 08-25-06, 07:11 AM   #16
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Man I wish I could score something like that for $5 bucks. Thats a nice score.

You will definitely want to go with the barcons. You will see what I mean when you try to shift while riding through a grassy, bumpy field or a trail.
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Old 09-03-06, 09:51 AM   #17
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Update: 53 ring is removed + a few chain links to tighten up the drive train. Barcons are on thier way.

Question. Some folks leave the front deraileur on as a psuedo chain guide. What is your opinion? Leave it or remove?
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Old 09-03-06, 12:36 PM   #18
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if youre going single ring, youll need some sort of chain guide. Theres lots of bumping in CX and the chain will fly off of there.

Ive tried the rohloff and didnt like it.

An old FD is a good bet. and mostly likely free.

j
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Old 09-05-06, 07:47 AM   #19
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I would recommend leaving the outer ring on for a chain guard (or else springing for a "real" chainguard), and also installing a Third Eye Chainwatcher ($10), or something similar (Redline makes one for $5+/-), to keep the chain from falling off to the inside. Glad to hear that you've removed a few links from the chain, as this will lessen the risk of derailment.

As for hydration, I've been using a Camelbak for the first couple of races of the season, and during training. Otherwise, I just chug a bottle of water right before the start of the race.

My gearing is 38t single ring with a 12-27 cassette, although I don't ride on the street much, otherwise I would probably go 38-48.
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Old 09-05-06, 07:32 PM   #20
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Hey lunacycle,

Thanks for the Third Eye Chainwatcher suggestion. I didn't even know they made one. It makes sense so I will get one.


I will also look for a real chain guard and pick one up if they aren't crazy expensive. I presume you are refering to a bash ring in MTB terms? I don't know if I will ever need it on a CX bike given the trails that I ride. However, it may help keep the chain on too.... hmmm. On my MTB, I wheelie over logs, let the big ring hit it and slide over it. Rocks are another story as I tend to dismount to avoid damaging the big ring.

Thanks

T.J.
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Old 09-06-06, 11:18 AM   #21
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Tequila Joe,

Some form of outer chainring guard -- whether it's an old chainring, or a "bash guard", should be used in conjunction with the Third Eye, principally to keep the chain from falling off. Bash rings can get pretty pricer -- probably $30 or more. If you have some free time and a grinder, you could grind the teeth off of an old chainring and use that. Watch out though, grinding aluminum on a grinding wheel meant for steel can cause the grinding wheel to heat up and shatter (or so I've been told).

Good luck, and have fun!
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Old 09-12-06, 01:25 PM   #22
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what width tires did you use?
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Old 09-13-06, 10:56 AM   #23
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you can just use a 53 ring and grind the teeth of it off. I have done this before, and it came out looking really nice and cheap. Best is to use a ring that the teeth are garbage on anyway.
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Old 09-13-06, 07:41 PM   #24
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what width tires did you use?
I picked up some 35mm knobbie tires but in hindsight, I should've went with someting a little narrower as I only have about 1/2" clearance between the rear tire and the chain stays. Oh well, the next set of tires will be narrower.
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Old 09-13-06, 07:47 PM   #25
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you can just use a 53 ring and grind the teeth of it off. I have done this before, and it came out looking really nice and cheap. Best is to use a ring that the teeth are garbage on anyway.
I don't have an old 53 ring that I can grind down. I have a few nice rings that I can't bear to destroy. I'll break the bank, splurge and buy a proper bash guard. After all, the total investment in the bike is only $50 thus far.
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