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Old 08-20-03, 10:29 AM
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The way to use 3x8 systems is to use the middle ring for normal riding. You can use all 8 rear cogs, but the chainline at the ends of the range are a bit too diagonal (increased wear) for some people
The large and small rings have a lot of overlap in their range with the middle. The large is for downhill and tailwinds, but you should not use the larger rear cogs .
The small is for uphills and rough trails. Again, to avoid cross-chain positions you should not use the smallest few cogs.
In reality a "24 gear" bike has about 14 separate usable gear ratios
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