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The fun and games of bicycle gearing

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The fun and games of bicycle gearing

Old 12-13-20, 08:57 AM
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rydabent
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The fun and games of bicycle gearing

On the forum a couple of years ago I was drawn and quartered over questioning the ever increasing number of gears on bikes. At that time with the latest 12 gear cluster in the rear bikes could have 24 to 36 gear ratios. I suggested that I thot that was too many, and riders were being lead to ever increasing gears by the bike mfg.

Now look what the "latest must have" gearing is-----------one by. That is less than half "must have" number of gears of a year or two ago.

As before I fine this rather amusing that so many are sheep being lead around by the big sheep herders, the huge bike manufacturers. They keep dangling carrots in front of those that "must have" the latest thing.

Dont get me wrong, I really dont care what others buy or if they chase the latest thing. As I say I just find it amusing.
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Old 12-13-20, 09:38 AM
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Was thinking the other day, when I couldn’t find a nice gear to spin in, how nice it would be if someone would invent a CVT for a bicycle with the same weight and efficiency as the old chain, sprockets, and derailleur system we’ve been using for almost a century.
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Old 12-13-20, 09:48 AM
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And there i am, looking to fit a 3x5 in place of my old coaster hub on my 1970s designed folder, thinking that I will be 'with it's.
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Old 12-13-20, 10:34 AM
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I just stick with my 3xN cable-operated systems and let the tides of change roll by...I have a lifetime supply of spares.
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Old 12-13-20, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
I just stick with my 3xN cable-operated systems and let the tides of change roll by...I have a lifetime supply of spares.
+1. At this point the "N" = 10 and I see no advantage to going higher. I also have plenty of spares and they are likely to last longer than I will.

The current fad to 1X takes advantage of the increase in cog count to keep the gearing gaps from being unusable.
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Old 12-13-20, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
+1. At this point the "N" = 10 and I see no advantage to going higher. I also have plenty of spares and they are likely to last longer than I will.

The current fad to 1X takes advantage of the increase in cog count to keep the gearing gaps from being unusable.
I would not be surprised in a year or two that some manufacturer touts their "superwide range" gearing system using a "revolutionary new multiple front chainring" gearing system and start the cycle over again.
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Old 12-13-20, 04:02 PM
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I am a retro grouch who has been grounded for the past 2 years because of breathing problems On bike is a conventual 3X8 with a 20" low. The tourer is a 3X7 half step with a grandpa gear. 10% spacing and 18 separate usable gears. the range is a too low 16" to a too high 104".
The bike industry is not an engineering concern, but a marketing concern with "new and improved" as their motto.
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Old 12-13-20, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
On the forum a couple of years ago I was drawn and quartered over questioning the ever increasing number of gears on bikes. At that time with the latest 12 gear cluster in the rear bikes could have 24 to 36 gear ratios. I suggested that I thot that was too many, and riders were being lead to ever increasing gears by the bike mfg.

Now look what the "latest must have" gearing is-----------one by. That is less than half "must have" number of gears of a year or two ago.

As before I fine this rather amusing that so many are sheep being lead around by the big sheep herders, the huge bike manufacturers. They keep dangling carrots in front of those that "must have" the latest thing.

Dont get me wrong, I really dont care what others buy or if they chase the latest thing. As I say I just find it amusing.
Duh. You apparently fail to understand that the 1x trend is possible precisely because the number of cogs in back has increased so much. Today's 1x12 drivetrain has a larger gear range than the 2x6 drivetrain that was popular when you were a young whippersnapper of 50 yrs old, and with similar spacing.

Pair that 12 speed cassette with a 2x crankset, and you've really got something spectacular that we didn't ever envision "back in the day."
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Old 12-13-20, 08:36 PM
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It's not just gear range, or how low can your bike's gearing go but also what are the gaps between the useable gears. Those of us who have learned to shift a front der well have no need for the "simplification" of a 1x system. Andy
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Old 12-13-20, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Duh. You apparently fail to understand that the 1x trend is possible precisely because the number of cogs in back has increased so much. Today's 1x12 drivetrain has a larger gear range than the 2x6 drivetrain that was popular when you were a young whippersnapper of 50 yrs old, and with similar spacing.

Pair that 12 speed cassette with a 2x crankset, and you've really got something spectacular that we didn't ever envision "back in the day."
I have envisioned a whole lot from “back in the day” to now. I’m not impressed with the limitations of 1x and 2x systems. My triple gearing ranges from a low of about 15” to a high of about 110”. No 1x system can match that range and no 2x system can shift as smoothly between the high and low range as a triple.
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Old 12-13-20, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
It's not just gear range, or how low can your bike's gearing go but also what are the gaps between the useable gears. Those of us who have learned to shift a front der well have no need for the "simplification" of a 1x system. Andy
+1
My 3x9's with selected cogs/rings for my use gives me lots of smaller steps needed for my medical conditions
Mashing is out because of COPD & bad knees. I'm basically a "slow spinner" (65-70 RPM) and need gears that allow me to do that
Wonderful when the wind velocity keeps varying.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:14 AM
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Sometimes when daydreaming, I envisioned a completely smooth gearing for a bike, one without any steps. Suppose you had a chainring made up of arc segments, constructed in such a way so that it could increase/decrease its diameter in a smooth fashion.

I also thought of some way of smooth shifting on the back, since you can't have too much shifting done just on one end to keep the chain tight, especially now that we wouldn't have RD to take up chain slack (well, if need be, we could still have the RD leg to tension the chain). On the rear, imagine a shape like the current cassette but with only a single cog wheel on it. The conical 'cassette' housing would be hollow and inside would be some sort of a gearing setup that would mediate the differential rotation of the wheel axle relative to the 'cassette' single cog wheel.
At this point, when it comes to the gearing inside this cassette, it really starts to be dreaming since I can't quite pull this one off in the abstract (I mean, not even in thought, nevermind putting even a sketchy description of it on paper, that is screen here).

The gear change at both ends would be controlled by electrical servo motors, something like what SRAM has in their eTap shifters. Speaking of eTap system, I was a bit disappointed hearing here on the BF from someone who actually has it, that he didn't find the shift compensation feature of it appealing (when you shift front, it automatically shifts in the back as needed to insure as close gear ratio change as possible). It also has the ability to take care of the front shifting altogether for you. It probably is still great, just maybe not for the higher end of bike riding spectrum.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:28 AM
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LOL. My SA RD5w will put any 1x to shame.
My Rohloff14 will put any 3x to shame.
SA 3 speeds will survive the Armageddon coming.
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Old 12-14-20, 01:27 AM
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You can set up a 3x 9 speed with a 726% gear range for less than the cost of a quality 12 speed cassette. Might cost a little more if you want to go higher up the range than Deore for the RD. That's 200% more than a Rohloff for 20% of the sticker price. Only way a Rohloff can compete is with an ATS speed drive, that gets it up to 830%, but I can vouch that is a lot of metal you need to move in total. If I wasn't looking to buy a new car I'd ditch the Rohloff/ATS and switch to a Pinion, only 600 and something percent, but has a normal freewheel, so rolls better than a Rohloff, no need for super high gears to get max speed down hills.
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Old 12-14-20, 02:42 AM
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Vane171, It has been done, or something like it: https://bikeretrogrouch.blogspot.com...chainring.html
Then there is the NuVinci hub and a weird mechanical hub from the 1910's, probably more.
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Old 12-14-20, 05:46 AM
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I like simple things, so my favourite bike is a single speed coaster brake with no hand brakes. However, my distance bike with its 3x7 or 3x8 (cannot remember whch) safely sorts my needs into three sets: wheeeee, dum-de-dum and omg where did that mountain come from?

Many decades ago I extended the single gear lever of my poor 5 speed Carlton so that I could pull away in 1st and crash it almost immediately into 5th - the other gears were there mostly for the ride, or until a really steep hill got in my way. These days, with our step-by-step and everything for our greater convenience world, the three sets are better for me than pumping away with my thumb to get from one end of the hub to the other.
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Old 12-14-20, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
On the forum a couple of years ago I was drawn and quartered over questioning the ever increasing number of gears on bikes. At that time with the latest 12 gear cluster in the rear bikes could have 24 to 36 gear ratios. I suggested that I thot that was too many, and riders were being lead to ever increasing gears by the bike mfg.

Now look what the "latest must have" gearing is-----------one by. That is less than half "must have" number of gears of a year or two ago.

As before I fine this rather amusing that so many are sheep being lead around by the big sheep herders, the huge bike manufacturers. They keep dangling carrots in front of those that "must have" the latest thing.

Dont get me wrong, I really dont care what others buy or if they chase the latest thing. As I say I just find it amusing.
Totally agree. Last my I bought my first 1x bike. I bought 1x because currently there's almost no option to buy a decent mountain bike with 2x. I came from a 3x10 bike.

To be honest, it works 90% of the time, but it fails catastrophically the other 10% of the time, where the 3x10 had no issues.

When climbing it's fantastic, you never have to worry about chainrings when the trail changes unexpectedly, which, together with chains coming out of the chainring, is the biggest drawback of multiple chainrings IMHO.

However, it's uncomfortable to pedal over 40kph as the cadence gets too fast, on the flats I seem unable to find the correct cadence as there's too much gap between gears, and if I try to sprint on the flats I miss higher gears too.

If I want higher gears, I then need to compromise the lower ones, so it's kind of crap. I don't get why everyone is raging about the virtues of 1x. I feel 1x is full of compromises that multiple chainrings don't have.
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Old 12-14-20, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I have envisioned a whole lot from “back in the day” to now. I’m not impressed with the limitations of 1x and 2x systems. My triple gearing ranges from a low of about 15” to a high of about 110”. No 1x system can match that range and no 2x system can shift as smoothly between the high and low range as a triple.
Sure, different people need different gearing. If I were doing loaded touring in hilly (or mountainous) areas, I would run a triple. But, even in my very hilly area (grades up to 17% on a standard ride), my 2x bikes work fine -- everything from 50-34 & 11-32 to 48-31 & 11-30.
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Old 12-14-20, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Sure, different people need different gearing. If I were doing loaded touring in hilly (or mountainous) areas, I would run a triple. But, even in my very hilly area (grades up to 17% on a standard ride), my 2x bikes work fine -- everything from 50-34 & 11-32 to 48-31 & 11-30.
You missed part of my point. With a triple, I can have a wider range but I also have a better selection. Take a look at this gear chart. Consider the 18 tooth gear on the rear cluster. At 90 rpm, the rider is traveling at almost 20 mph. Imagine that a hill comes into view and both riders decide to shift down to the inner ring. When the rider on the double shifts to the inner ring, the 34/18 combination spins at 14 mph or a 5 mph differential. To keep it at a 3 mph differential similar to the rear cassette shifts, the rider would have to increase cadence to around 110. The other alternative is to continue pedaling at the same cadence and wait for the bike to slow 5 mph. As riders, we do better with a steady cadence than a sudden increase followed by slowing. If the hill were steep but short, the rider would lose momentum, making the climb harder.

The rider on a triple (with a 42 tooth middle gear) doing the same shift has a 3 mph differential (the green arrow is pointing to the wrong gear. Sorry.). The rider doesn’t experience a sudden increase in cadence nor would they have to wait for the bike to slow. It’s a more natural progression and “feels” better. The triple rider also has two more gears to use before slowing to that 14mph.

One of the ideas behind all the gears on the rear is that you have small increments between the gears so that you can find “just the right gear”. A double crank puts a great big hole right in the middle of that idea. Yes, there are tight gears based on the rear cassette. A triple, however, makes for a tighter range of gears on the crank.
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Old 12-14-20, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You missed part of my point. With a triple, I can have a wider range but I also have a better selection. Take a look at this gear chart. Consider the 18 tooth gear on the rear cluster. At 90 rpm, the rider is traveling at almost 20 mph. Imagine that a hill comes into view and both riders decide to shift down to the inner ring. When the rider on the double shifts to the inner ring, the 34/18 combination spins at 14 mph or a 5 mph differential. To keep it at a 3 mph differential similar to the rear cassette shifts, the rider would have to increase cadence to around 110. The other alternative is to continue pedaling at the same cadence and wait for the bike to slow 5 mph. As riders, we do better with a steady cadence than a sudden increase followed by slowing. If the hill were steep but short, the rider would lose momentum, making the climb harder.

The rider on a triple (with a 42 tooth middle gear) doing the same shift has a 3 mph differential (the green arrow is pointing to the wrong gear. Sorry.). The rider doesn’t experience a sudden increase in cadence nor would they have to wait for the bike to slow. It’s a more natural progression and “feels” better. The triple rider also has two more gears to use before slowing to that 14mph.

One of the ideas behind all the gears on the rear is that you have small increments between the gears so that you can find “just the right gear”. A double crank puts a great big hole right in the middle of that idea. Yes, there are tight gears based on the rear cassette. A triple, however, makes for a tighter range of gears on the crank.
Maybe I am still missing something in your argument...But when I approach a hill (ascent or descent), I shift both the front and the rear, in order to go smoothly to a lower or higher gear without a large jump in cadence. In fact, my Di2 bike can be set up to automatically shift the RD (when I shift the FD) to do this.

But I do agree with you about gear spacing. A triple, with a well-chosen cassette, can give wider range with tighter spacing. Absolutely. I would have no qualms, in my hilly area, with riding a triple and a nice tight cassette like an 11 speed 12-25 or 12-27.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:07 PM
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While I agree that it is humorous that the reduced number of cogs is the new thing, the truth is a 1x12 is all about speed. If you want to go fast a 1x will get you there quicker.

Years ago the common chainrings were 52/42. If you were strong you could go with maybe a 24 max cog, racer types used corncobs, while most of humanity rode 12/13-28. I spent many years riding all sorts of terrain with that setup.

So if you get an 11-32 Campy 12 speed cassette with a single 48t chainring you get a corncob and the same 42/28 ratio from 1 chainring.

I don’t see 1x ever going away. I also don’t 50t becoming the norm. In fact I see the enormous max cogs going the way of the dinosaur and becoming a subject of ridicule.

I do see internal gearing that will replicate the effect of multiple chainrings without having to move a chain to a different ring.

John
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Old 12-14-20, 12:16 PM
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I have a 3 x 9 on my bent, and a 3 x 8 on my trike. As I have posted in the past I use the front 3 according to what the road presents. Granny ring up hills-------center ring for flats and most cruising-------------big ring for down hill and with the wind. Then is simple shift across the rear cluster in each of them, as the road angle changes some.
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Old 12-14-20, 12:35 PM
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I do similar with my triple road bike 48/38/30 x7. The 38t takes the brunt of the slight uphill or constant rollers. The 48t is great on more open flats and downhill. And the 30t is there for the steeper stuff. My 24/34 mtb’s are basically the same and for trails only, no street.

But 35 plus years ago I didn’t need a triple, and hardly a 30-34 ratio.

If I had a 1x12 back then it would be great. I’ve got to believe a younger stronger rider would want the same.

John
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Old 12-14-20, 12:43 PM
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Nuvinci is a CVT hub. I am surprised that they have not moved the system to the center of the bike, making it more of a gearbox in the vein of a Pinion gearbox. maybe that's in the works. the Nuvinci hub is HEAVY and it would be nice to at least move the weight to the center of the bike instead of having it all on the rear.

Viral Bikes is making gearbox-equipped mountain bikes.

it's only a matter of time before the industry makes a big swing in that direction, but I see the derailer falling out of fashion at some point. I have no use for such a thing, but I like the idea of not having dangly bits on my bike.

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Old 12-14-20, 02:38 PM
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I'm not convinced on 1x for general road use. The enormous pie-plate cassettes don't appeal to me and it's hard to imagine them saving any weight over a 2x. But I believe it's cheaper for OEMs to spec a bike 1x, and the general public is so hopeless at front shifting and gear selection it's surprising this didn't happen sooner.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The rider on a triple (with a 42 tooth middle gear) doing the same shift has a 3 mph differential (the green arrow is pointing to the wrong gear. Sorry.). The rider doesn’t experience a sudden increase in cadence nor would they have to wait for the bike to slow. It’s a more natural progression and “feels” better. The triple rider also has two more gears to use before slowing to that 14mph.

One of the ideas behind all the gears on the rear is that you have small increments between the gears so that you can find “just the right gear”. A double crank puts a great big hole right in the middle of that idea. Yes, there are tight gears based on the rear cassette. A triple, however, makes for a tighter range of gears on the crank.
I've used 50/34 compacts before and hated them. Always cross-chaining and shifting the front.

The secret is realizing you almost never use those 50/12 or 50/11 combinations and deleting that ring, not the middle ring. After I read Bicycle Quarterly's article "How to Select Your Chainrings" (BQ 40) I tried it and no longer have any triples. My bikes that have multiple gears are 1x (fat bike and cyclocross race bike), 2x7, or 2x8. And I ride the 2x bikes like 1x bikes most of the time, only shifting to the small ring for steep hills. Usually the big ring on the 2x bikes ends up being slightly larger than the middle ring of the triple it's replacing. The cassette is chosen so typical pedaling on the flats is done roughly in the middle of the cassette range. Chainline is setup to favor the big ring which is used most of the time and I never use the small-small combinations anyway. For example, my main "road" bike is setup 46/28 with a 13-28 on the back.
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