As of last month, the drive train on my touring bike was cobbled together from different manufacturers: 3x8, with a Shimano 105 front derailleur, Campagnolo front crankset (50/40/28), Shimano RSX rear derailleur, and a Shimano 11-32 rear. It was a Shimano/Campy mix when I got it, but somehow it worked. The shifters are SRAM MSX grip shifts. (I like grip shifts.)
Then I started planning for a camping-based tour through Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. More hills than I generally do, and with more stuff than I've carried on this bike. So I tried to give myself an edge... I got a 26T inner ring for the front.
You see where this is going.
Amazingly enough, it worked -- for one ride, unloaded. Then the rear derailleur started grinding against the big ring in the back when I was in lowest gear (aka easiest to pedal, aka small ring up front, big ring in the back). Well, Shimano hasn't made RSX since 1999, as near as I can tell -- time for an "upgrade". Shimano, 3x8, large capacity, easily available... on went an Alivio derailleur.
I took the bike for a shakedown ride yesterday, and it was just sad. The back end grinds in the lowest gear worse than it had before, and I'm throwing the chain off the inner ring up front when I downshift. Before I started di--, er, messing around, this bike had the crispest shifting I could want. Now, I shift, and things grind for 5 seconds before anything changes.
The problem, of course, is that there just aren't components to handle a 24 tooth range in the front. I could handle a 26 low gear if my front gear were 46 or (maybe) 48 teeth. I looked into getting a replacement chainring, but the Campagnolo parts have a different BCD than just about everything else on the market, and Campy doesn't believe in 46 or 48.
So as near as I can tell, I'm left with three choices:
- Undo - I could just swap things back so that the bike is in the configuration it was 2 months ago. If I do that (simplest, cheapest), I'm doubtful that I'll be able to handle the hills on my trip; I might need to change my plans from camping to hoteling, to drop weight. Cost: several nights of hotel in New England, plus pride.
- New 3x8 crankset: I've got so many Shimano parts on the bike now that it should be straightforward to find a 3x8 Shimano (or Shimano-compatible) crankset and put it in. Problem here is that, as many of us have lamented before, there's an unfair division between "road" (50-39-30 ish) and "mountain" (42-32-22). I'd be pleased with 46-36-26 or 44-34-24. Any ideas on where I could find a nice crankset? There's a Sugino XD600, 46/36/26, which would just add to the meeting of cultures that is my bike...
- New drivetrain (3x10?) -- and, of course, I could just give up the whole Frankenbeast drivetrain and get something new. If I wanted something midrange Shimano, this might even be straightforward -- FSA makes some lovely Shimano-style components that even recognize 48-36-26 for tourers. But I like gripshifters, and I hate thumbshifters. So that means SRAM. And SRAM 3x10 systems start with gripshifters at 250+ for the pair, before deraillers, cranks, and cassettes. Ouch!
- New drivetrain (3x9?) -- or I could go hunting for older SRAM 3x9 parts. These would be less expensive, but harder to source...
I'm rambling, and I have option paralysis. Insights invited.